Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Cozy Cottage - The Game Plan and the 'Wow Factor'

As you saw from the previous post, there's not a lot of wiggle room on this project.  We want to make it beautiful, but in order to keep it affordable for a future buyer and still have a little profit, we can't get too crazy on spending (and I'm really good at spending!).

Tape holding window panes in place
So.....we went through our usual list of wants and needs (click here on How to Start a Whole House Renovation).  As always - safety, security and energy efficiency go to the top of the list.  And there are a lot of things in that category.  Namely new roof, new heating system, basement waterproofing, electrical (the outlets are only ungrounded 2 prong), new windows (single pane, some held in with strapping tape) and insulation. Yikes, those are big budget items!

And of course we want a beautiful new kitchen and new bathroom - again, expensive projects.

But to my mind, the real bang for the buck in this house, is the living space.  By eliminating the wall between the living room and kitchen, we can get a room that looks and feels bigger.
Look at all this attic space!  
And even better, by ripping out the ceiling and going up into this attic space, this can be a WOW.  This will give us 12 foot ceilings in the center of the room!  What a difference!

But it's not easy.  We had a structural guy come take a look and to do that, we need to install a new ridge beam and new joists - essentially creating a whole new truss system.  While we're at it, I'd like to add a skylight, to brighten up the room and provide some additional ventilation.  Those changes would make this the biggest single ticket item of the whole project.

And I think it's worth every penny! While it's not a big house, this will make it feel much larger and give a sense of drama very few houses in this area have.  That will be the 'Wow Factor', as you walk through the front door.  And I can't wait to put a brand new kitchen in that space!

Of course, we'll make some other changes as well - like adding a bigger window into the small bedroom, to provide more light and a view into the backyard.  We'll also build a small front porch, to give the house some additional curb appeal.  Not to mention the big ticket items at the top of this post.  Oh....and I'm still noodling the idea of finishing some space in the basement.  See, this is why I always overrun the budget!!  There are so many ways to spend money!
We will expand this bedroom window, to provide light and a view to the backyard
So for now - we have a game plan!  And I'm pretty excited about it.  We've scheduled the demo crew and the framers and will start right away.  Stay tuned!

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

It's Almost Like Being There - Virtual Open House!

We didn't have time to do a 'before' open house for this project.  So I was trying to figure out the best way for people to see it.  I published the usual 'before' photos, but they really aren't the same as being there in person.  And I know for folks that aren't local, they'd like to get a better view of the house.

And then I started talking to one of our followers, Mitch from Locksley Consulting and he has this really cool camera that does a 360 degree scan - that really makes it feel like you're in the house.  It creates an interactive video, that lets you literally walk through the house.  And when we finish the place, he can do a side-by-side Before & After!  Won't that be fun to watch?

He came out and showed me how it works and it is really cool!  The camera has 9 different lenses in it, so it films multiple angles at once.
This camera films 9 different things at once!

He sets it up in each room and it spins around to film the entire space (while we hide in another room!).

And look at how great the photos look from the camera!  This is the front wall of the living room.
It builds the house floorplan, as it links each camera revolution.  This will allow the viewer to walk through the room and look in any direction they want.

Ultimately, it creates two things - the 3D walk through and a 'Dollhouse' view, which lets you see the entire floor plan (I loved this part!).
Dollhouse View of Cozy Cottage

And if you have Virtual Reality glasses, it lets you spin and turn to see the entire space, as if you're in the room.  This was my first experiment with Virtual Reality glasses and I couldn't believe how REAL it felt.  Amazing!

So, check it out by clicking on this link. 3D Walk Through  If you use your cursor, you can move forward to each dot and then just use your mouse to move right or left.  It's pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.  It lets you see lots of detail.

So give it a try.  And I'd love to hear what you think!  Do you see potential in the Cozy Cottage?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Not so Cozy Cottage - The Before Photos

So, I should preface this post by mentioning that a top local realtor, who knows this neighborhood really well, has predicted this project won't go well.

You would think that would have stopped me from making an offer.

But it didn't.

And while this will surely be our least profitable project ever, I think it can be really, really wonderful.  I get lots of requests for small cottages with one floor living - at an affordable price.  And this will be just that!  It's only 750 square feet, but we'll make sure it has really beautiful features and finishes.  With lots of style!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me share our starting point.

So how would you describe it?  Small?  Nondescript?  Some have said blah and bland.  Would you just drive by it and never notice it? 

Inside, it's pretty tired.  Built in 1962, it's been used as a rental for many years and is showing lots of wear and tear - not to mention end of life issues, but hey at 55, they probably need replacement.  

Here's the view inside the front door.  Not exciting, but a nice sized room, with great hardwood floors.
Living room, with kitchen beyond

And the kitchen.  Probably updated in the 90's, it's ready for a refresh!

I think the bathroom was done somewhat recently - but I'd like to start fresh, take it back to the studs, and do lots of updates.  

The master bedroom is a nice room and with windows on two walls, there's light and airflow.

And there's also a small second bedroom.  I don't understand why that window is so tiny.  It looks over the nice big backyard!  But you'd have to be over 6 feet tall to look out there.  Obviously, we will be changing that.

And the basement, well, I'll share more about that later.  But this will give you an idea.

So, does it need a lot of work?  Absolutely!  Do we know all the problems yet?  No way!  But it has lots of potential and can be a sweet little house.  We're still working through the plans - and I hope to share them soon!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Our Next Project - the Not So Cozy Cottage

And now for something completely different!

So here's the question.  Is it possible to take a bland, boring ranch and turn it into something special?  Because that's what we hope to do with this place.

It's small, only 750 square feet, with two bedrooms and one bath.  And while we don't plan to do an addition, we think there's a real market for a small house like this one in the neighborhood.  (As a side note, I don't really understand the craze for tiny houses - the ones that you see with 250-400 sq ft -  Richard and I would end up in divorce court if we tried to live in one of them!  But 750 sq ft is comfortable),  At this size, it seems perfect for a starter home, downsize home, or maybe a single parent.

It's on a huge lot (at least by SoPo standards) - almost half an acre!  Most of it is wooded now, but it could easily be cleared for a giant garden, garage or more.  And if the future owners want to stay and expand the house, there's lots of room for that.

And while it's seen better days, we think it has huge potential!  What do you think?  Is there a market for a modest sized home?

I can't wait to start sharing our thoughts and plans!

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Before & After: The Journey from Ugly Duckling to Swan - Second Floor

The second floor of the Ugly Duckling saw some equally dramatic changes.  What started as a small, 3 bedroom house is now 4 bedrooms (including a large master suite), with lots of space!

But it wasn't an easy transformation.  It included major structural engineering challenges, lots of new construction, all new everything and of course the stairway to the amazing rooftop deck.

The front bedroom saw some of the biggest changes as we enlarged the room and raised the roofline.

The hallway really highlights the quirky roofline of our 1906 gambrel.  Can you believe the before and after?  The camera angle is slightly different, but it's the same space!!

The middle bedroom got a major makeover.  We turned it 90 degrees (to make room for the new bathroom and laundry), raised the ceiling and installed large double windows - to capture the morning light.
Middle Bedroom Before
Middle Bedroom After
And the new hall bath has lots of features, including a custom countertop, towel warmer and marble floor.  

The back bedroom is totally new construction (so no 'before' photos!).  With 3 windows, it's a bright, light space.

And the master suite?  Well that's all new construction, because it's located above the new garage and mudroom.  Isn't it a lovely space?
Photo:  Jamie Salomon

Photo:  Jamie Salomon
But the biggest wow is the rooftop deck.  It's a big space and has fabulous views of Casco Bay, Spring Point Lighthouse and Fort Gorges.

So what do you think?  Has the Ugly Duckling become a Swan?  Thanks so much to everyone for following our journey.

And now it's time to move onto the next project!  And this one will be really different - stay tuned!

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