A tear down would be really straight-forward; the demolition costs just adding twenty grand to the price of the land. And, many have said that is the appropriate fate for Laughing Gull Hill. We’ve heard that about almost every house we’ve bought. But that was neither in our nature nor budget nor in line with the will of the historical commission.
Along the continuum of renovation approaches, the next cleanest option is to gut the house. You’re constrained by the shape of the box, but beyond that you can do whatever you want, especially if also jack it up and dig a full basement (ours is a 9 foot diameter round “Cape Cod Cellar”). And you can always retain a few details. If you have the time and money do either of the above, you can also opt to retain the floor plan, but pretty much take everything to the studs, re-wire, re-plumb, re-window, insulate (it’s not “re-” if the walls are initially empty),…even run some ducts for central air.
The tricky bit comes in if you are trying to do the job over time. How to you prioritize and sequence the various projects in a way that makes sense? There are so many interdependencies between systems and room layout modifications, that the mind spins. We need to move in by early May, and once we are in, everything becomes more complicated. I keep going down a path of a quick fix here or there, but the thought of tossing that work away twelve months from now depresses.
It sure would be nice to get the kitchen modernized, but if we are really going to seal off the pantry to gain some closet space for the master bedroom (currently equipped with 18 inches of closet pole) then we really need to figure out if we can move the toilet in the one bathroom that is usable in order to gain egress to the pantry closet and won’t we likely just move the bath into the pantry eventually anyway? By the way, that means pulling out the clothes washer next to the stove, so we need to first rebuild the utility room. And, how about gaining more counter space by moving the entrance into the bath off the kitchen; do we really need a shower in there? Well kinda, since there is only a tub servicing 4 bedrooms upstairs, at least until we add another bath, but when will that be? While we are at it, should we fix windows or replace or wait to replace until you redo the shingles, but then do we have to tear up the interior walls we just painted? Oy, there are a million of those.
But there are some things that are clear. Maslow’s hierarchy of house needs dictates that first you need to be able to lock the doors (so you can leave your cordless drill and Bose Mini-Soundlink overnight). Done. Then you work on the more sickening smells: Carpets get carted to the dump today and the Mold Doctor is in Monday – Wednesday. Plumbing will need to be turned up soon, so we can pee inside. Holes in the wall are going to have to get patched, but only after we figure out where the water is coming into the north wall…and now we are into the roof and through which protrude the listing chimneys. Here we go again.
Day 3, daunting. But I’ll feel good to get the rugs out and to move tools into the shed (first step in the parallel project of evacuating our current place by May 6).