Back in the Beginning

March 5, 2008

As I was saying.  When I bought the house it needed everything.  And the first step for me was erasing and cleaning the slate.  After the 92 year old woman died, the family cleaned the place out of anything valuable and left the rest.  This meant a lot of clean up.

For a big clean up project, you need three basic things; water, power, and a place to put all the junk.  The latter is the easiest for a project of this scale.  Get a big dumpster and start filling it.  The power should be as easy as calling your local power co. and have them throw the switch, unless when the dumpster was delivered the wires got pulled form the house causing the entire road to lose power (not recommended for making good first impressions with the neighbors).  The last thing was  the water.  Again, a simple task unless every pipe in the house had at one time froze and split.  Nothing is as easy as it seems.

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Today, March 4, 2008 was town meeting day.  My first town meeting since I bought my house three and a half years ago.  10am to noon at the local school followed by lunch served in the cafeteria on small  trays and miniature tables (its first though six).  Minutes to the meeting….”Welcome…..i pledge allegiance….united states…..one nation….for all…beginning with….article 1….motion….2nd….open for discussion (my favorite part)…..select board….road foreman vs commissioner….”  All the while the slow, hypnotic movment of knitting  needles all around whispers and murmurs and the  meager applause for this point or that.  Glasses on the ends of noses fixed downward at annual reports, agendas and notes with the occasional upward or side glances at so and so. “….plows and mailboxes (13 times)…. bridges, pot holes, roads, library, kids, elderly, handicap access, taxes, budget, pennies per hundred, how much per house hold….”  Kid in the back wants another doughnut.  Where do I know him from?  I didn’t know she lives in my town.  “…..motion to move to vote…..second….yeahs and nay’s….meeting adjourned.” 

I’ll admit that lately I’ve been questioning myself and some of my life decisions.  But when I walked out of that meeting today, it was very clear that I live where I want to live because of where I live.  Vermont is the last state in the union that still holds town meetings and allows everyone who wishes to show up a voice.  An opinion or idea that can be moved to amendment, opened for discussion and voted on by others with their own ideas.  The truest form of democracy left in the country if not the world. 

Sitting in the back watching, listening …I started to realize a pattern.  This was not a meeting of people looking out for themselves!  This was about everyone regardless of age.  The elderly stood and supported the kids summer camp programs to ensure that the kids were being pointed in the right direction.  Young people stood and supported programs for the elderly and volunteer programs.  It was great!!  In the end nobody minded paying a few extra pennies for any programs as long as they knew what it was and that it benefit the community. 

For the first time I felt that I “could” call on my neighbor for help and “yes” they would come and that I would do the same.

In The Beginning

March 2, 2008

  Back   Side   Front

This project began with an early morning drive-by and phone call from a friend, a meeting with the sellers an hour latter and an hour before anyone else, and believe it or not, a hand shake to seal the deal (gotta love VT).  Having looked at old houses with saddle sagging roofs and rotting frames, the first thing I noticed pulling into the drive way was the straight roof line.  The exterior had its issues from the roof to the foundation, and the back porch was sagging and falling off, but the actual bones of the original structure were solid and straight.  All else could be suffered, removed, or re done.

During     After

Inspiration

January 27, 2008

Recently, my girlfriend purchased a home and  became excited, and sometimes overwhelmed, at the prospect of renovating and re-decorating.  “So much to do, and not alot of time or money to do it!”  We worked diligently, even after moving in, to get the place ready for occupancy.  It wasn’t easy, but we managed, and today I write this post, my first, from her cozy couch.  But this is not a blog about my girlfriends house.

Three and a half years ago I purchased a new home and have had many of the same joys and hardships of new ownership.   She started a blog to help track her progress, and was able to solicit help in the form of advice from many of her readers.  It also became a good tool for tracking her progress.  Following her example, I’ve decided to do the same.

The house that I bought is an 1863 cape in mid-western Vermont, on lake Champlain.  The place needed everything.  Pipes were broken, plaster was crumbling, and falling off the walls in huge chunks.  The place was crawling with all manner of critters (including us).   I had made up my mind early on that the place was a do-over. 

This blog will begin with the benefit of hindsight, and track the progress, from demolition to completion of the various stages completed so far.  You will see lots of before and after photos, with commentary.  The good news for anyone interested is that after three and a half years the place is maybe a third done.  That leaves alot of stuff left for input and commentary (and advice).