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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Remodel or Rebuild?


Remodel - change the structure or form of (something, especially a building).


The original house
Technically, we are remodelling the house.  The permits we applied for fall into this category. The city considers it a remodel job if one original wall is left in place.  When we were house hunting I used to have fun spotting the original wall in what looks like a shiny new house.

We're not actually moving many walls, but they did have to strip them all down to the studs, and replace some of that underlying structure in the process. Especially since they've found rot and substandard framing underneath.  A few novel approaches to incorporating what used to be porches into the flooring were also uncovered. It’s a good thing we haven't had an earthquake since the last remodel was done.

The 1980s remodel - note how the basic shape of the walls and front roof are the same.
Let’s be honest, at this point it seems more like a rebuilding project than a remodelling job. Remodelling brings to mind new kitchen cabinets and countertops, maybe some changes to flooring and paint; not entirely reconstructed walls and a new roof structure and windows. Our roof will be streamlined in the front, but the little bump out in the walls on the left will stay; the last reminder of the shape of the old house.
The local government website has photos of the house over the years - up to the shiplap that was exposed last month when they took off the siding. The photo of  the original house (top), a cute little cottage perched precariously on the slope is priceless from an historical standpoint. Another couple shots show how our neighbours' houses also expanded from their modest origins (some more than others). The landscaping has changed over the decades from bare grass to lush shrubs, to its current state of large sandy holes in the ground. The excavation for the footings did not turn up a lot of interesting artifacts, but there was one intriguing little bottle.

Inspecting the excavation.
Buried treasure, and old medicine bottle, with cork.

A couple weeks ago we went to a site meeting where two walls and a big chunk of roof were gone from the top floor, and we were beginning to wonder how much more of the house was going to vanish.  Therefore, it was heartening to see the freshly-poured concrete footings on our last visit.

The stair is gone, but not the steel framework that held it up.
At long last, the industrial steel staircase has been hauled away. The work has finally changed course from taking more and more pieces off the building to putting things back on. Though it doesn't look like much of a house right now, at least what is there looks solidly built.  The next exciting event will be when they pour the footings for the radio tower. Right now there are segments of tower lying in the weeds next to the garage and ground rods tucked away inside it. They have to do some more digging before these go in.
Meanwhile, we're continuing never ending the process of choosing colors and finishes and looking forward to when we can sit back and enjoy watching the house take form.