Alright so with the foundation for the new addition and garage poured and ready we were ready to rock and roll. We used our local building supply company Shelpeys for all our building needs. Not only do we believe strongly in supporting local business' but we enjoy giving our business to companies that give back to the community and Shelpeys is one that goes above and beyond. We were paired with a sales agent that took our plans and gave us a page by page list that is broke down into stages with all materials and cost. It gives you a clear idea of what your build is going to cost with no surprises. Before we started our construction we had a general idea of our entire project budget. Again some people don't have budgets they're renovation is usually set around their wants as opposed to numbers, but sadly we are not those people. Having broken down our project by stages I then was able to get competitive estimates from different companies. Have I mentioned I don't like surprises? I'm also someone who likes to stick to a plan. I mean little variances here and there are good, you need to be flexible when it comes anything really. But usually, when it comes to my budget I'm pretty much on the nail.
Initially, we were going to frame the project ourselves. Then after some thinking and coming back down to earth we realized if we wanted to finish this project within a year there was just no way we could frame it and finish it ourselves ( considering we are both full-time working and only have weekends available. ) We found a builder who gave us an estimate just for framing and we would still take care of the lumber drops and material. This is not very usual, a builder will usually want to order his own stock. For many reasons but some of the main ones being they have their own accounts and receive discounts that they are able to pass onto you, they make sure they have everything that they need when they need it. They can't have a crew standing around with anything to do because the shipment wasn't placed properly and if there is a problem with the shipment/lumber or anything it makes it easier for them to contact the supplier directly in order to perform a return or replace anything that was damaged during shipping
Framing is something you want to invest in. It's the base for your entire project. Making sure everything is square and all measurements are right will ensure a smooth build. When they started framing I can't tell you how great it was to watch something being built before your eyes. Not to mention we've not performed the work ourselves, So I would leave to bring the kids to school, and when I would return the difference was drastic for me. You'll notice that during the framing I made some quick decision changes. Walking around the space on the top of the garage I realized quickly that we had too many windows planned. I would have no wall space to place the wall mounted T.V I had planned. So we removed one window from upstairs and one from the bottom and evenly spaced them apart. The other change I made was the original entryway door was a standard 6-panel door with a side-lite. Watching the framing come together I would stand outside in the driveway and stare at the space in between the existing house and new garage. It was boring and un-inviting it also didn't balance the space out. So instead we opted for an Andersen french door that was color-matched to the existing dark windows. and then balanced it with a window on each side of it and it was the best decision I think we made. Seeing something on paper and in real life is very different, It was also very cool to see the actual size and what your building is going to be. It took two men a week and a half to get it framed but the day they left we were sad, you get used to waking up and seeing them every day, and also it was nice seeing the project take shape so quickly. Another thing I think is super important and I learned from my husband as he was a laborer for many years before becoming licensed and that is thanking the workers that were on-site and not just the one contractor you hired. You have to remember that the general contractor you hired is making the most money, but the individual workers are making an hourly wage, and even if its a small gift certificate for a coffee shop they appreciate this.
with framing completed and our team gone we were up to bat. Windows were ordered and we were waiting for delivery. I could finally stand back and start to get a feel for new space. My creative mind overflowing with ideas and excitement. I don't know if I mentioned this but the space over our garage will eventually be a one-bedroom apartment that we will rent out seasonally with Airbnb, which in itself makes me want to lock myself in the bedroom with a notebook and Pinterest for hours of fun. ( What can I say designing these projects is the cherry on the sundae for me) Stay tuned on window and siding choices... sometimes things are not always what you expect
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......
I didn't grow up in a house where HGTV was always on or with a mom that changed pillow covers out with the seasons. Our house stayed most of my life, for the most part, looking the same. I remember in my mid-teens my mom decided to freshen up the kitchen by painting it pink (It was the 90's) came home and started painting. The only problem she started painting mid-afternoon and well into the night by the time she finished it was probably around midnight. We all woke up the next morning to a kitchen that looked like dusty rose had thrown up everywhere. They re-painted the next day and that was the end of that. I did, however, have a dad who was a builder, he built most of the houses in our small little town including the one I grew up in. Watching my mom and dad become a team to build a house together from the ground up was something at the time I didn't think much of. Seemed like that's what all families did. Not until later in life when my husband and I took on our first rehab/renovation project together did I understand. It's not for the faint of heart or the faint of a marriage. I think it's easily underestimated in today's T.V world which will show an entire house renovation or flip in 30 minutes and we are filled with before & after images that make it seem like the process is so seamless. When I started this blog I knew right away I wanted to steer clear of projecting only those images instead my hope is this more of a process blog, what it's like working day to day, waking up in the morning in a house with no flooring or bathrooms or walls or sometimes hot water because been there done that.
This life isn't for everyone and I have some days where I think it's not for me either. I will be in the middle of finishing something important and will have kids whining at my feet for snacks or dinner, three loads of laundry stacked up, and a garden that needs attention. Some days I wake up to three kids in the bed and that's where I want to stay for the day watching movies and cuddling and let me tell you a little secret ...I do just that. In the beginning I can remember pushing to get the project finished. Now I know there is always tomorrow and it's better to quit while you're ahead. It's not an easy road by any means, but it's a rewarding one. Appreciating things you probably would have never notice in the past. As a realtor especially having the opportunity to walk through so many people's homes and I now take the time to really look around. How do they decorate, what finishes did they choose what colors are the walls? These are things that people put their hearts and souls into to express themselves it's not always a total house rehab sometimes it's paint colors, bathroom curtains, and light fixtures but even minor changes have a process. I believe what the ultimate end goal comes down to is turning a house into a home, how we get there is half the fun.
I have no idea where this love came from or when it began or why it fills the space in my head daily. I think there's a part of me that likes to challenge myself and whether it's making cushion benches or re-designing a bathroom the idea that I'm capable of anything I put my mind to sets my soul on fire. I also go back to my childhood and remember my mother no matter how large the task always at least tried to do it herself without asking for help. I'm sure as I sit here some of that is now in me I'm just lucky enough to have a husband that believes in my crazy ideas with a willingness to try new things because even through all the hard times I don't see us slowing down anytime soon.
Ever since we started the reno I had been itching to try a super easy and simple way to achieve high wainscotting that I came across on Pinterest. Now on the grand scale of things it came in as not high importance so over the years we pushed it aside. This past winter usually when it gets too cold outside we start making a list of things that need to be done inside. On the very top of my list was the upstairs hallway. Because we chose to move in while the house was under construction we tackled the second floor first so we could have a clean living area. We removed all the carpets, repaired drywall, and a quick paint job. Initially, we removed the door you see here at the end of the hall and part of the wall above it. It worked well for about 5 years but we knew we wanted to remove part of the wall so that the woodstove heat would be able to travel to the end of the hallway into our master. So we got to it. We had direct access to the attic to make sure no electrical wires were running through this wall to elsewhere in the home. It took us a day to remove the wall between the hall and the stairs, we had two options. One was to remove it completely and replace it with stair balusters. In this case, I would have probably preferred a round or square black iron baluster with a wood rail. The second option and the one we ended up going with was cutting it down to a half wall. The reason we ultimately went this route was a weekend project so the thought of tearing up the wall and having to then patch flooring kind of burst my bubble. and Second I knew the wainscotting would be white and felt it would lighten the space to have more light then dark and because of the limited wall space, I was to unify the area using the batten and board look.
For the board and batten wainscoting, we used 1 X 4 pre-primed pine product that is sold at most lumberyards. We started with the top piece. I didn't measure how high I would like it I simply asked my husband to hold up a piece and told him where I liked it. He then used a level to mark around the entire space and then started with the vertical pieces. First were outside/inside corners we then spaced the others where they made sense visually. I know a lot of DIYers that lay them out perfectly, and it looks great. For my space, I want it to look natural and all that matters is if you're happy with the result. We will be doing this again in our future mudroom and on a longer wall I will lay them out evenly. As you can see where the ceiling was removed left a hole that had to be patched so we simply used sheetrock and mud and patched it ourselves. It's not my favorite thing to do and we usually leave that up to the professionals on larger projects. Only because it takes years and years to learn a good technic. Most drywallers it's all they do. They're the only occupation is installing sheetrock, mudding & taping, sanding, and repeat. Smaller projects are good ways to practice.
After we installed the vertical battens all that was left to do was paint...easy enough, right? Well, wrong to make it look like custom and not cheesy I first had to use white caulking on every crease between the wood and wall. Caulking if you don't know is a painter and DIYers dream tool. It's perfect for sealing cracks around windows, doors baseboards, moldings, and trim. It is flexible and paintable. I prefer to use the ALEX All-purpose Acrylic Latex caulk and buy it cases at a time. I then used a wood spackle for the nail holes let dry and sanded. I'm going to let you know a secret about me, chances are no matter the project I don't use a primer. If I added up all the hours I've spent painting it would add up to years. Instead, I always use a quality paint such a Benjamin Moore. It will require fewer coats, covers easily, and very easy to clean. In this case, it took two coats and minor touchups and it covered nicely. This may have been the quickest project we turned over but it was top 10 most impactful. I used to walk through the hall to get to the next stop, Now I find myself admiring our hallway every time I walk into it. Up next recessed lighting and a runner we love.
Let's be honest the idea of selling or buying a house is to some stressful in itself. Then add a global pandemic and it seems near impossible, but it's not. Just like many other obstacles we have faced during this pandemic we have also found solutions. Many people buying and selling as we speak it is not impossible it's simply just not business as usual. Currently as we have adapted each state has its guidelines for essential workers and safe social distancing practices. We see things are changing week by week but here are some things that have allowed us to keep everything moving.
Choosing a realtor that you are comfortable with that you trust will help guide you through all of the uncertainty. From my experience the most important thing is helping make the selling or buying experience a positive one above all else. Understanding that most of the time when someone sells or buys a home it's during a big transition in their life. Whether it be expanding because of marriage/kids or downsizing for retirement ,choosing the right realtor will allow you to focus on what's important. Click the link below to see properties currently listed and for more help on buying or selling your property:
First thing I have to say is thank goodness you can't smell these stairs through the computer. When we first looked at the property climbing these stairs were almost my breaking point. The carpet was spongy and stained and there was one door at the bottom and the one at the top both with padlocks. I had a small pocket flashlight a could barely see anything but in cases like this it was better that way. All my experience with real estate said "Keep going, huge potential" but everything I've learned from watching Oprah about a women's intuition told me to RUN. The stairs are centrally located right off the kitchen on the right is a small hallway that leads to what they used as a bedroom what was intended to be a living room and the left was what they used as the living room where they had another door leading out to the side of the house. Because the house is entirely electric with no gas hook-up we knew we would eventually be installing a wood stove somewhere in the house for heat back up. I grew up with wood-stoves in Canada and after living in Maine for a couple years my husband fell in love with having them. That being said the closed-in staircase was not ideal because it wouldn't allow for the heat to travel to the second floor.
We removed the carpet, doors and began opening the rest of it up. The post at the bottom was weight-bearing so we had a couple of options we could wrap it with sheetrock and paint, we could wrap it with wood or we could replace it with a post. We ended up replacing it with a 6 X 6 old-growth straight grain fir post my father in law had it leftover from a previous job when I went to take a look I knew right away I loved the look of it. When it comes to interior finishes I enjoy using raw/lightly stained wood products whenever I can for interior finish. It gives the room a sense of warmth and inviting feeling, personally, I enjoy the smell as well pine or cedar reminds me of a cabin in the woods. For the treads we used oak treads because it is a hardwood and super durable, they will withstand years of up and down, and easily cleaned. They were stained before installation with a Minwax stain special Walnut #224. In the background, you'll see that we got rid of the side door and framed it in we used the corner area for our wood stove and the heat rises nicely to the second floor. We used wide pine in the hallway between the kitchen and living room. Lately we've been thinking about opening the other side up as well but that's another day and another project!
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.