On the first visit with architect and contractor last night, we discovered a number of things.
There may have been four successive additions to the house. The first added two bedrooms and a bathroom in a nearly freestanding building connected by a hallway with glass along both sides.
The dining room may not be slab on grade after all. That would be great news. Old drawings appears to show that it floats on joists over foundation walls. But I’m not convinced. We found other drawings of unrealized plans. At teh least, the difference between drawing and construction might be significant.
The air returns to the heating system seem profoundly inadequate. That’s just the start of what’s wrong with the heating system.
Here’s my motto for the winter: We have to take on projects that will have the biggest impact on keeping the heat we have.
Here’s my question: What combination of ceiling/roof insulation, window replacement, and heating plant improvements will pay off fast?
It was a move prompted by a growing affection for the Somerville, Massachusetts neighborhood that I’d discovered with the woman I lived with then. After working for myself for years, it had almost suddenly seemed possible to buy a house. But the more I imaged a future, the more it seemed clear that it would not be with her. When we broke up, I thought, “I’ll never do that again.” The two-family would be my home. Whoever I loved could live somewhere else. Nearby. Naive? Sure. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and it’s messed up.
That house (39WhR) is in a residential neighborhood near a couple of squares that support restaurants, small shops, delis, and hair cutting places. It’s the kind of arrangement that community planners strive to achieve. I described the 1920s wood-frame to friends as a fixer upper that hadn’t been ruined by improvements. I would spend the next 12 years fixing many things and making improvements. Sorry if I have ruined it for you.
The first summer in the house, I met ButterGirl. She offered me some ivy for my barren yard. And chocolate chip cookies. That was twelve years ago.
39WhR has taught me a great deal about DIY, projects, and making improvements. But it is small, simple, and full of old, standard systems. It’s easy to understand. So it’s easy to make good choices. It probably doesn’t prepare ButtterGirl and me for 12MHR. But we love the new place. Naive? Sure. But you know what the heart wants.
After living together for six years without the least sense of loss for not being married, work took me out of town for many months. I realized I didn’t want to live without her. Even though I thought marriage was an iffy idea, I asked her to marry me.
Two years ago, she looked up from her drive to the company where she was a senior manager and realized it was time to make a change. The new business would be a cookie and brownie bakery. At least that was the first idea the came to mind when people asked her what’s next. But the plan was to take a few weeks, regroup, relax, and then make a smart choice. One of the people at her November farewell lunch was a vendor she’d worked with for many years.
“Would you bake cookies as a holiday gift for my clients?” the vendor asked. If you’re in the business of starting businesses, there’s a word for this. Her word for it was, “Yes!” That’s how ButterGirl Baking was born.
That was two years ago. She’s long since outgrown her factory (our home). That’s why we started looking for a house.
If it weren’t for her, finding 12 Moon Hill might never have happened.