Embarking on a Big Project

Woohoo!  We’re underway.  Our long anticipated home renovation project is happening.  After years of starts and stops we now have construction drawings, a contractor, and a place to go while the work progresses.  Yes, we’ll have to move out for six months or so. We’ve signed a lease on an apartment about ½ mile away and we’ve started packing for the move.

It’s a big deal.  I’ve put many hours into developing the design and preparing the drawings.  Occasionally I would question whether or not this project was the right thing to do, especially as the costs began to escalate.  I would reanalyze the options, including moving to a new or already renovated place, and the result was always to stay and renovate our house.  A couple weeks ago I realized how much this project means to me. It’s not just about fixing some things up so we continue to have a place to live.  It’s a creative expression, a vision for our future dwelling that Meg and I have worked out over a long period of time.

Meg and I have worked together on this project at every step.  Still, I feel that it’s my integrity as a designer that’s on the line.  I’ve never done a project like this for myself and I find it harder to make decisions about what to do than when I designed for clients.  Or maybe it’s not making the decisions that’s so hard, it’s letting the decisions stick and not going back and reconsidering them over and over.

What’s included?  A new kitchen and two new bathrooms, raising the first floor ceilings to their original almost 9 foot height, replacing the stairs to the second floor, reconfiguring the central bearing wall and removing another wall.  We had the plumber here in January and learned that we need to replace all the piping (supply piping and waste piping) in this 1880 house. That’s when we knew we’d have to move out for the duration. We had imagined staying put and living around the construction work with a temporary kitchen in the back of the house and doing a lot of grilling in the backyard this summer.  However, with the pipes coming out we realized that we couldn’t stay in place.

As I said, we’ve had starts and stops.  For a while we were looking for a place to move to without knowing really when the contractor would be available to start.  Then we confirmed the target date for construction start with the contractor, but we had no confirmed place to move to. The process has created a bit of anxiety along the way.  I think we’re past a lot of that now; however, we don’t yet have the building permit. I hope it doesn’t hold us up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

With excitement in my heart,


One thought on “Embarking on a Big Project

  1. And here are some responses to my original email post:

    Nancy Buell
    Tue, Apr 2, 11:05 PM

    Wow! This is awesome . Hope you’ll bring the design plans to Maine for us to see. What are you doing about hot water? Still haven’t solved getting enough hot water for our soaking tub in Maine. Nancy

    Zeke Holland
    Apr 2, 2019, 11:20 PM
    Thanks for sharing your excitement around this wild project!

    Tracy Camenisch
    Wed, Apr 3, 1:54 AM

    Hi Bill, Wow! What a step! Good for you and thanks for including me in your message. I would be interested in hearing how it progresses. Send pictures if you can and I hope to see the finished project – maybe Summer 2020…

    Best regards to you and Meg!

    Robert Webster
    Apr 3, 2019, 6:28 AM

    Good luck Bill and Meg! Sounds exciting – always rewarding to have a big project to dream about, plan and then make happen.

    Robert Lynn
    Apr 3, 2019, 6:06 AM

    Bill both I and Sandy are happy excited for you! You and Meg especially you have thought and planned for this. We will be with you in Spirit and Love all the way. Would really like to follow via blog if you decide to do that. For now hugs from us both!!
    Rob and Sandy

    Cliff Webster
    Apr 3, 7:19 AM

    It will keep you young – thanks for sharing


    Susan Karbiner
    Apr 3, 7:48 AM

    What a wonderful adventure! Do you have a new address, or will you be stopping by home to get mail? Not that I’m planning to send you anything in the mail; just wondering.

    I remember when Jack and I moved into our first apartment in Manhattan. We designed a new kitchen, hired a kitchen contractor, tore out the old kitchen, had new cabinets and appliances delivered (which filled our living room with only a narrow path between to get to the terrace, where we had a smokeless grille, and a small counter inside the door with a microwave and toaster.) We unpacked the refrigerator in the dining area and plugged it in. The contractor started work, but not according to our directions, so we fired him. It took some time to get a new contractor, so we spent 6 months living in the bedroom and cooking in our makeshift kitchenette. At least it was March to September, generally not too cold. And we did have plumbing!

    I trust that your project will go more smoothly.

    Jessica Lynn
    Apr 3, 2019, 10:12 AM

    So, so exciting.
    Congrats on getting this far.
    It’s going to be awesome!

    Bruce Thompson
    Apr 3, 2019, 10:58 AM

    Dear Bill and Meg,

    Hats off to you for persisting where hopes and dreams are often lost and/or defeated for a host of reasons which can’t be overcome in those moments when they arise, but are a constant source of “what if’s”, later on. I have no doubt that the level of scrutiny that you (individually and together) have given to this project, will continue to serve you well. It is easy for me to imagine that your scrutiny extends to your choice of GC as well. I can only hope and pray that he/she performs to the level of expectation that is the right of reasonable people like yourselves to have.

    Bill, to your comment about not having a building permit yet, I hope that the review of your application is free of surprises and unreasonable demands. I have always believed that AHJ’s (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) are not entitled to go beyond the authority that they are given . . . which means that an applicant can always ask for the reference in the Code (Building and/or Zoning) that applies to what he or she is being required to do. I am happy for you Bill that you have the background and experience that you do. I can only imagine that it would be a pleasure for me as a Building Inspector, to review every aspect of your application with the expectation that if there was something more that needed to be done to merit approval and issuance of a permit, it would be minor.

    All the best to you as you enter the “construction phase” of your adventure.
    With lots of love and admiration, Bruce.

    Katherine Lynn
    Apr 3, 1:13 PM

    This is awesome, Bill and Meg and Craig! Can’t wait to hear more about it. I would absolutely follow a blog about the design and construction of the project. You know better than anyone that renovation is almost always more complicated and nuanced than new building, and progress photos would give texture and detail to the story. Keep us updated in any case.


    Wilma Ronco
    Apr 3, 2019, 11:26 AM

    Dear Bill and Meg,
    This does, indeed, sound like an exciting project. Kudos to both of you for moving forward and making decisions. I’d love to follow the progress!

    All the best,

    Kim Mead Walters
    Apr 3, 2019, 4:41 PM

    This is wonderful news. Please consider keeping the group updated with news and photos so that we can celebrate the changes with you and Meg!

    Meredith Lynn
    Apr 3, 2019, 8:46 PM

    Bill, Meg and Craig,
    Thanks for the update! So exciting to hear about the details.
    Keep us posted on how things are going!


    Anne Webster
    Apr 3, 2019, 3:58 PM

    I’d love to receive the blog! Sounds like an impressive under taking! Best wishes! Love, Anne

    Bill Webster
    Apr 3, 2019, 4:33 PM

    Very exciting, Bill. Congratulations! Last weekend Molly and I peeked in the windows of what I think was one of your early projects, now the Jack and Sheila Norton house on Loop Road. It is presently on the market. Given the large, nondescript out-building, I am not sure how many offers it will get. Those copied on this email might also be interested to learn that the Sanborn cottage is about to go on the market for, I think, $750,000.

    Let’s go summer. Get here!

    Meg Holland
    Apr 3, 2019, 4:39 PM
    Interesting. And, yes, the large nondescript out building that Bill did not design. Being married to Bill all of these years, I have developed a much more finely-tuned sense of design.

    Abby Smith
    Apr 3, 2019, 7:54 PM

    Best of luck to you both! Hope we’ll get to catch up in Maine this year, Hamish and I hope to be in residence from early July to mid August. Abby ————–

    Meg Holland
    Apr 3, 2019, 8:10 PM

    Yay! How early in July? We are there for the week of the 4th of July, and then again the first week in August, Looking forward to seeing you!

    Hallie Holland
    Apr 4, 2019, 1:46 AM

    Congrats for continuing to take steps towards what you want!!! You always have loved ones to hold your hand when you feel unsteady or unsure. Very exciting and thanks for sharing your experience.

    Lisa Mesnard
    Apr 10, 2019, 9:40 AM

    Hi, Bill and Meg:
    Bravo! That sounds like quite an undertaking! I have never built or renovated a home, but I’ve seen my boss do it several times. It certainly requires skill, vision and tenacity. Sounds like a good time of the year to start for you in the chilly northeast.

    I retired last week from the land development company that I’ve been with for over 23 years, just retaining one small accounting job for the owner’s son. It will probably take another several weeks to assist with the transition of one of the companies to new ownership and dissolution of the main company, but that will be minimal work. Still navigating the changes to our personal schedule; it will be a busy year.

    I think of all of you often. Thanks for keeping in touch!


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