Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Shape of Things to Come

Centennial Cottage - Starting Point
We've made so much progress in the last couple of weeks!  What started as a set of plans is starting to look like a real house.  The structure is coming together and it's really taking shape!

Future Cottage with large addition

Framing goes pretty quickly, which is a good thing, since we want to get everything sealed up before winter really sets in.

The first floor addition is a large living room and new staircase.  The original staircase wasn't good for anyone over 5 feet tall - this will be a HUGE improvement!

The second floor will be the new master suite.

And the third floor is a bonus room with a rooftop deck.

As we got to the third floor, we were pretty excited to see the view.  Which is prettier?  The water or the copper colored leaves on the maple?  Ah beautiful!
And of course there is a lot of other work that will be done.  We are upgrading the service and moving the electrical meter to the new corner of the house (farewell electrical wires going across the front of the house!!).  The new service will let us install a heat pump, which will save on heating bills, and provide air conditioning!  That will be a fantastic change- my tenants told me that there was no airflow in the bedrooms over the summer.  It was stifling, so we obviously wanted to change that.

Will we get it all closed up before snow flies?  Well let's hope so!  At least we're off to a good start.
Executive Summary :-) 

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Centennial Cottage Inspiration

By the time we start on a new project, I have a pretty clear vision of what the finished home will look like.

But not this time.  I've spent countless hours agonizing over the design and styling for the interior.  There aren't any original features to highlight in this house, everything has been removed.  It's all drywall and 1980's pine trim - nothing for inspiration there!  So that means we could do something really different, which could be really fun.

My first thought was to go super contemporary.  I loved this home in New England Magazine - traditional on the outside, but modern on the inside.  I love the clean lines and simple style.

But most of all I wanted one of these sleek, modern staircases.  You see, the staircase will be the primary feature between the living room and the kitchen.  So to get a real open floor plan, it needs to be unobtrusive - something you can see right through.  Something like this, with lots of glass and 'floating' stairs would be perfect.  But then I went out and got a quote - $45,000!!!  Um, that's not going to happen!
For the kitchen, I thought about going with a wood/white oak finish, that's incredibly popular now.  Lots of warm wood finishes.  But as I talked to more people, it made me wonder if buyers are ready for that much wood yet.  White painted finishes are still the norm.  But I do love white oak (maybe that's why there is so much of it in my own home)!

So I kept looking and suddenly stumbled across this photo.  It's 'the one'.  I can't tell you how much I love this room!  It's warm, it's inviting and it's still light & bright.  And with our long living room, a fireplace focal point at the end of the room will be perfect!  I'm using this inspiration to start building the rest of the design plan.
So how do I describe the inspiration for the Centennial Cottage?  I think 'transitional' is the best term.  Lots of clean, somewhat contemporary finishes, but still has a connection to a traditional cottage.  Do you think that will appeal to a future buyer?

Oh, and I'm still trying to figure out how to get an affordable open staircase!!!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Demo Day!!!

So it feels like we're doing things a bit backwards with demo coming so late in the game!  But all the trades are so busy here in Maine, you can't always do things in the usual order.  So we had the demo crew going on while we started the addition - we could do both things in parallel!

And as usual, we found some funky things during demolition!  The big story in this house - insulation.  We need to make huge improvements in the home's insulation!

For example, the first floor bathroom was added onto the outside of the house - so it's hanging outside of the heated envelope of the house.  The floor, ceiling and 3 walls are exterior walls.  I would have expected it to have really robust insulation.  Instead, we found this 1" styrofoam (kind of like the stuff you find packed in a box you get from Amazon).  And some of the walls had nothing!!!  How in the world didn't that room, with lots of water pipes, freeze all the time (or maybe it did!)?  Obviously, we need to make changes there.
Bathroom wall with exhaust fan
While we're on the topic of insulation, the second floor ceiling is insulated - but it's installed upside down!!  The way it should work is the vapor barrier (the brown Kraft paper you see on the other sloped walls) should be on the warm side of the building.  Installed this way, it allows warm air to get trapped in the insulation which could create mold and rot.

Maybe that explains why we found so many mouse nests (see all the mouse poop??) in the ceiling!  Ick!!!
And that's what it looks like when mice live in your ceiling!!!!

And the final insulation discovery was in the basement.  There was some foam insulation sprayed around some of the walls (okay, a lot of foam, look at that big bubble of it!!), so I assumed that the walls were insulated and they were just sealing a few gaps.

Wrong!!!  We opened them up and discovered there was nothing in the walls.  Add that to the list for insulation as well!

Did we have some nice surprises?

Well yes, now that it's opened up, it looks so much bigger!

Here's the view from the front door before:

And now you can see all the way through (and it will be even better once we remove that load bearing wall!)

Here's the view once you step into the living room before and after demo.  Removing that non-load bearing wall made a huge difference!

Remember the two small bedrooms upstairs - that barely had room for a small bed?

Well by removing the closet (we will relocate them), now there is room for a larger bed and a dresser!  It's still a small room - but it's a huge change!  And the flooring looks fantastic under the old closet walls.  That's a bonus!

We also tore out the old floors on the first floor.  It was a mismatch of fir, patches, laminate and vinyl. The updated house needs a cohesive floor throughout the entire first floor, so we are starting from scratch. 

So now that we've pulled it apart, it's time to start putting it back together again.  Stay tuned!  

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Getting Started!

We have some big news!   We broke ground for the addition!!  It's a major milestone that takes a lot of work.  The old deck had to be ripped off the building and then the digging started.

Once the hole was dug, the guys got the footings poured.

They set up for a day and then the foundation wall forms were put into place.

It was fascinating to watch them pour the walls - much like a well practiced dance.

And when they pulled the forms off, we had a perfectly level foundation.

But we still needed to pour the floor (this will be a tall crawl space, but we wanted the convenience and benefits of a concrete slab for the floor).  The guys started this bright and early one morning and quickly got the concrete poured and started to float it out.

With that milestone complete, we're ready to start building!

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Centennial Cottage: Do We Have Views???

When you buy a house 1/2 a block from the beach, you start to wonder what kind of views it might have if you build up.  From the first floor, there are great winter water views between the houses.  Upstairs?  Well, the windows are so low and tiny, it's tough to tell, even when you get on your hands and knees to look.

In the past, we've used ladders and cellphones on sticks to try and figure out if we had a view.  But that's so old school!  So I hired a drone to come help us take a look.

And the verdict?  It looks like we have year round views of Willard Beach!  And in the winter you can see Cushing Island and more of Casco Bay.  Woo hoo!!

The new 3rd floor deck is going to be the perfect spot to sit and watch the ships sail in!! Now we just need to get it built!

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