Sunday, March 15, 2009
Can you dig it?
To call our house a fixer-upper seems to be a bit of an understatement. It is a huge project that we have been working on since we moved in 9 months ago. The kitchen had to be gutted (thats a picture of it empty) and built again. Same for the bathroom. We bought the house knowing we needed to fix these things and Nate's done a great job of doing these projects so far. We also knew the house was too small and planned to dig out the basement and add on a third story. Right now Nate's office occupies the front half of our bedroom and I think he's getting anxious for his own space (mostly so he can be a slob without me rolling my eys at him!!) We spent a ton of time prepping for the basement dig out--cleaning it out, getting the plans drawn up, choosing a contractor to help out and enlisting a workforce. One of the things we didn't spend much time on was getting city permits. We had been warned about this part of the process, but haven't had to deal with it so far (none of the other projects were so obvious from the outside...) We were given the permit to put the dumpster out on the street to collect the dirt, but denied the permit to remove the dirt. Boo. Seems there were a few dig-outs that resulted in a few rowhomes collapsing. We are confident that our architect/structural engineer has created a plan that would not destabilize the house, but apparently the city is less confident in our plans. Some have suggested digging without the permit. I am wondering if those people will give us a place to stay when the city condems our home.
This is a hurdle, sure. But we are determined ot eek out more living space from our small city home anyway we can, so we are on to plan B (in case anyone cares, I suggesting finishing the basement without digging it out BEFORE we spent 4 digits on the project!!) And from this setback we have gleaned several bits of wisdom:
You can fight City Hall, but why would you want to?
Get any permits you might need sometime BEFORE the day you plan to begin the project.
Make the architect's pay contigent on a sucessful permit!
Don't get your heart set on a project or the powers-that-be will crush your spirit.
Cleaning out your basement is cathartic!
Anyway I am sure there will be many more headaches to come but I wouldn't leave my little rowhouse for anything!!