Do you have that one property that inspires you? A picture or vision from a magazine or t.v show that is exactly what you would do to your dream house? Well, this is mine, I came across it on Pinterest and no matter how many pictures of houses I've seen this is the one that has stuck with me. I guess if I were to have to name it I would call my style modern farmhouse with coastal touches? Our house is not the typical quintessential Cape Cod-style house. If you take a drive around the Cape you will see a cedar shingle siding, white shell driveways, and onion lanterns overhanging the front doors. There is a mix of Captain houses, ranches, and a two-story Capes that people now also use across the country to describe the style of a house. So when I started talking about dark windows, board and batten siding, and a farmhouse porch I'm not always greeting with understanding even from my husband. It took a couple of years and Pinterest for him to start seeing the light of day. I also learned early on two vital things that have probably kept us going this long. Number 1 is only talking about the project at hand. Even if we are doing something simple like staining a deck it's not wise to bring up the next three projects I have going in my head. I think it's when I throw to much at him and bury him he can't see the light and it doesn't make for a great motivator. Number 2 you make them think that doing the project my their idea. Even though I know before I start anything all of the logistics that are involved and how exactly I want the end result to be I will still add a "What do you think or how should we do it? Something about that makes him just as excited about the project as I am.
Last year we decided we were going to build an addition to our existing home. We were initially toying with the idea of buying and flipping a second house to use for a rental property. The rental property market on Cape Cod is very reliable because it's high a tourist destination. At the same time, we struggled because we needed more storage space for all of his "Man Stuff". We figured two birds -one stone we decided on a 28 X 28 Garage with a one-bedroom rental above, along with a 16 X 10 new entrance that will connect the current house to the garage.
Since it's sometimes so hard to just get started I thought I would explain what I went through and the beginning steps of what it's like to get an addition up and running for those of you thinking about managing one yourself.
First thing's first I started by sitting down with the architect to start designing, for this you will need to know at least 80% of what you are looking for. Not knowing what you want in some shape or form will make this an extremely long process and there are so many options available and questions they will ask it will make your head spin and you'll start to second guess why you started this
. Before I met with him I had drawn and designed the garage with ideas for the rental that I thought would look good for our house. It took a week's worth of sit-downs to finalize plans. That was because he was able to take my sketch idea and then use the standards for the local residential building code to get things up and running. Some of the big items you need to think about beforehand are the size of the entire structure, location of doors, and possible window placement. He will help you using the RBC (residential building code) & IBC ( International building code) which is the standard of what is "allowed" and with their computer-generated programming your design will come alive right before your eyes. It's pretty amazing actually. Your 2-D rendering can with a click of the mouse become 3D and you're able to even take a tour of the inside of the structure. It will also show an aerial view of your before & proposed structure. Watching something you dreamt up in your head become a reality is probably one of the coolest things you'll experience. It's also super frightening. I was the only one designing it with the Architect so the entire time I'm thinking oh boy what if Tucker doesn't like this. Thank goodness my husband is easy going and trusts me to make big decisions, but it didn't stop me from thinking things like what happens if we start building and the garage is too small? I just trusted my architect would steer me in the right direction.
When you're happy with the design next up is contacting a land surveyor, he will survey your current piece of land with existing structures, plot the proposed new structure using the dimensions from your architects' plans. You will receive an "existing & proposed" set of plans this can take a little while. So while that was happening I made a call to a local septic company that preforms septic inspections you will need this first before heading to the building department for your permit. Below is a picture of my proposed buildings placement. It allows the town to see if you're within the towns set back requirements from the property lines.
The health department has to sign off making sure your current septic system is compliant and is in good standing order, with their certificate in hand your set of architect plans and your new surveying plans you're ready to head to the building department to get a building permit application...woohoo! Listen as intimidating as it sounds it really isn't, the application itself is very easy to understand, some towns even have it online now and in my experience, our local building department staff is always willing and eager to answer any questions that you might have. It usually takes a couple of weeks for them to review and issue your building permit. After you will get a call that's all set you pay your permit fees, pick up your placard that must be placed in plain view and you're ready to hit the ground running.
So all of these steps vary from town to town and state to state. Before beginning any big project the best place to get any information is right from the source so head to your local town office and talk to the building department, most of the time they have a check-list & requirements pack that can help you get your project started.
I couldn't tell you how excited I was to begin. Another thing to keep in mind is while the town is reviewing for your permit it's a good idea to make yourself a list of all the contractors that you will need for this job and start contacting them. Many contractors are booked months out, but connecting with them and sending them a copy of the architects' plans either hard copy or via-email they can give you an estimate of cost and an approximate date they will be available. Having already done this once I had the permit I was able to give a call to my excavation company and let them know I had the permit and was ready to go. We never set any dates of when this addition needed to be finished since we knew we would be doing most of the work ourselves. There are things you can't control, like the weather or sickness we knew we would just try the best we could. When the excavation company showed up and started the dig for footings & foundation it was a dream that was quickly becoming reality and for the kids better than anything that was on T.V. And so it begins......
HI, I'm Meagan -aka Meg, I'm here to share what it's like Living, Working & renovating life on Cape Cod . We're making our house a home one renovation at a time. Home wasn’t built in a day, but the journey is half the fun.