0 years, 10 months, 18 days to go…
We’ve had our retirement home for eight and a half years now, using it year-round for long-weekends, escape weeks, and longer-term getaways. We’ve spent enough time at the house to now know that 960 square feet is a little too small for our permanent residence. We’ve got too many toys that we can’t quite do without yet. There are three viable options for solving this dilemma; build new, trade up, or renovate. Build new isn’t an option unless we tear down first (which we do not want to do) or buy more land… which carries serious site prep startup costs (can you say “septic, well, foundation, utilities?”). We also spent time with our real estate broker friend recently, investigating the current house market. Prices are pretty good, but nothing on the market meets our needs without renovations, and we already own a house we love that needs renovation, so why bother? So… it’s looking like renovation is going to be the answer for us.
We’ve consulted with architectural designers and architects to see what the possibilities are with the house we have, and we’ve seen various ways to accommodate our needs in various configurations. Our needs/wants are:
- A Quilt Studio; a room big enough to fit Lynn’s long-arm quilting machine and sewing machines and “stash” (a quilter’s stock of fabric scraps for future quilts)
- A two-car garage with room for yard-tool storage (in lieu of a free-standing shed)
- A woodworking shop attached to the garage
- A first-floor master bedroom suite and lavatory with shower, and laundry
- A guest room or two for overnight visitors
- A modest office space for Gene for a desk, computers, books, and room to store the results of genealogy research
- More space in the kitchen (currently a tiny galley-like area)
- More space in the dining area (currently an alcove-like area)
- As many windows as possible for natural light
We’ve never done anything remotely like major house renovations before. I’ve done some minor construction projects over the years; I renovated two bedrooms (re-wall-boarded a bedroom in our ancient first house, and converted a carpeted bedroom in our current house to a hard-floored well-lighted quilting room). I redid a bathroom (new floor tile, new toilet, new vanity, new paint) with help from my brother-in-law. I built a pergola in the yard (initial construction, final landscaping), and I built or rebuilt three decks – one at each of the three houses we’ve owned. But nothing compares to additions and renovations to a house. We will have to think of everything we want changed and what we want it changed to before the first hammer swings, but I think the biggest challenge will be that once construction starts, the new ideas have to stop!
Maybe because of that, and maybe because of the staged sequence that financial resources will become available (a significant… but probably not adequate for all work… pot of money is available now, and another significant pot of money will become available after we sell the southern house and move north permanently), we’re beginning to discuss the possibility of stages of renovations. The garage and quilt studio will be needed right away; the kitchen and dining area renovations will be needed soon, the first-floor master bedroom suite will be needed later, but before we get too hobbled by old age. But it would be so nice to have only one disruption rather than two or three. Decisions… decisions.
The title’s reference to “house cleaning” points to the task of cleaning out and dealing with 30 years of life and living in the southern house. We have to sort through all the treasure and trash we’ve accumulated over those years and do something with it all. Some small number of things we cherish and will move north with us. Some stuff has value – just not to us – so we’ll sell it. Some stuff has little or no value but is still useful to someone so we’ll donate it or give it away. The rest will end up being recycled or in the trash truck.
We’ve got five daunting areas requiring work; the in-law area on the lower level where we stored a lot of stuff, my lower-level office which doubled as the basement storage area in this house with no basement (split-level with a finished lower level); the lower-level family room where stuff seems to collect, the attic (mostly empty boxes, kids’ stuff from younger years, Christmas decorations, and suitcases not currently in use), and….(imagine JAWS-like scary music here) the garage. We’re working on the in-law area now… like I said, lots of work to do.