Designing Olivebridge Cottage 2.0: Part 1!

Perhaps the most stressful period of working on the Olivebridge Cottage project was, paradoxically, the period in which the smallest amount of physical work was taking place. It was almost three months into the nightmarish beginnings of the physical demo and renovation work, our situation was dire, the building department was requiring that the project be evaluated by engineers, the homeowners were increasingly frustrated and anxious, and I was looking for a way to bail on the whole project so they could, in turn, choose to bring in someone better qualified to enact the engineering proposals and turn the situation around for everyone.

So that was fun.

The same day that the building inspector told us we needed engineers, I found engineers at a well-reviewed local firm. I went straight from working on site into their office, covered in dust and debris and looking like a complete mess, and got things set up for a consult later in the week. I was just a *tad* stressed and might have given the impression of being a complete lunatic.

It’s tempting to think that two adult men with decades of experience evaluating structures would be amused by this little project, but they were not.  As it happens, they said  it was the worst house they’d ever seen. Then they told me this cute little story about a house they provided plans for out on Cape Cod, where—if memory serves—essentially an ENTIRE HOUSE was sitting precariously atop a few 4×4 posts, the bottoms of which each rested on a small piece of flagstone sitting right on the ground.  Worse than that. Awesome!

Luckily, they weren’t intimidated. Our problems were solvable. We spent time going through the house and all of the issues I’d already identified, and then they walked around and took a billion photos and thorough measurements and said they’d get to work.

Since I began blogging about this house, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I’d recommend homebuyers avoid falling into a similarly bad situation. That’s the subject of a much longer and much different blog post, but I guess the first part of my answer would be to try to “read” the structure. See that graphic, above? This house is only 1300 square feet, yet it’s comprised of FIVE different structures. #1 is the original cottage (built, evidently, as a little three-season hunting cabin, but in the manner of a garden shed), and 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all additions onto that original structure. 3 and 5 are both enclosed porches, which often aren’t built that well to begin with and then tend not to receive the most sound upgrades during the enclosure process. Of course, it’s also helpful to learn about the housing development history in the area (this kind of thing is actually common where this house is), ask neighbors what they know, and see if there are records for past building permits.

This addition-on-addition approach does not all NECESSARILY add up to structural problems, but I think it’s a good indication that there could be structural problems. It also makes renovation difficult, because each space is constructed differently and to a different standard, and maybe finished (including wired, plumbed, heated, etc.) at different times. #2 and #4, for example, had reasonably solid concrete foundations from what we could tell, but #1 had a few cinderblocks in some places and simple rubble in others. We didn’t know what was under #5, so we had to find out. The house was also on four slightly different levels with steps up and down everywhere, with seven different types of flooring and three different types of heating, which is kind of a recipe for general awkwardness and difficulty when trying to renovate a more flowing, simplified, open space.

This also meant that we had NO IDEA what this would mean from the perspective of our new engineers and how much work they would require us to do. If you have to redo ALL the foundations, at what point does saving any part of the structure at all become ridiculously impractical, particularly when the structure isn’t really worth saving? This isn’t some gorgeous old thing with great bones, mind you. The engineers were understandably hesitant about telling us anything until we got the full plans—I think they didn’t want to be too hasty or misspeak and inspire false hope about our prospects.

It was so stressful and made it incredibly hard to plan our next moves. From my perspective the only thing that made sense was waiting for the engineering report to come in. I was stuck in the middle of trying to keep my cool so the homeowners could keep their cool, while also prodding the engineers to move it along, while also trying to stay in their good graces so they’d be more inclined to really put their thinking caps on instead of throwing their hands up. Finding code-compliant, structurally sound, and as-budget-friendly-as-possible solutions to each issue big and small was a sizable task.

It was tricky.

This is the cottage when I started this job, but what we were really waiting on with the plans was an enhanced version of the cottage, not an exact carbon copy. We were tied to the original footprint due to zoning regulations, but we were all in agreement that the original house—even with our initially planned modifications—was very awkward in a number of ways, particularly the living room set-up. The enclosed front porch attached to the skinny living room space was particularly difficult to work with, since you had to step down to get into it and the living room also functioned as an entryway and the main artery to get anywhere else in the house. Add to this that almost half of it was given over to the wood stove and surrounding stonework, and the room was crazy hard to arrange in a way that didn’t look so stupid.

In our original renovation plan, above, the big changes are obviously to the kitchen and the elimination of the half-bath, but we’d also decided to remove the posts between the living room and the enclosed porch, insert a structural beam, and frame up the floor 6-7 inches to at least level things out. That plan was problematic (still choppy, too-low ceiling height, maybe not possible if the beam would have to be too large, which it probably would be for a 20 foot span…) and never really sat right anyway, so whatever. Adios, old plan.

So knowing that the porch area would need to be rebuilt completely, this became the new basic plan. It’s still kind of weird but I think in an OK way, and makes the living room a real ROOM instead of a big pass-through.

How exactly we should handle that bigger space was never particularly refined at this stage of things, but it felt like there were some good options to do something way cool.

We were going to accomplish this by keeping half of the existing living room roof up to the ridge (right side in the image above), and then running new rafters down from the ridge to the front wall of the house, matching the slope of the existing roof over the dining room. So outside, the house would go from this:

To more like this:

Which is not winning any architectural awards (and would have been further tweaked (especially the street-facing windows), but the basic strokes worked really nicely with keeping as much of the original house as we could while ALSO fixing what we knew at the time needed fixing and ALSO making big improvements to the layout in the process. It’s easy to change out window sizes and stuff before building, but I needed to give something to the engineers to base their plans off of and this is more or less what they got.

The whole process was pretty fast-paced. I think the hardest part for the homeowners to take were these lulls in the physical work, when the house was just sitting without any visible transformation, so they were very anxious to get things underway. This was coupled with the inconvenient truth that we’d worked through spring and most of summer and were headed into fall…in upstate New York. If we were going to start this project before the following spring—leaving the house vacant and in serious disrepair for another six months during the winter—we were getting to a point where we really had to get moving at least on whatever foundation work would be required.

ANYWAY, since we had to affordably re-side the entire house anyway, I proposed a simple board-and-batten treatment in black, potentially with cedar under the eaves because doesn’t that seem cool and fun? I love a little black house in the woods.

We also scaled back the kitchen quite a bit in an effort to keep costs down. BEFORE YOU FREAK, let’s remember that this is a second home for the clients and a vacation property they intended to rent…which makes a small and simple kitchen sort of preferable, I think. If you’re renting a home and don’t know your way around the kitchen, it’s not as hard to find things or remember where to put them away…anyway, it all made a lot of sense at the time.

Check out that sink location. Drink it in. ;)

SO. Lots of waiting. Lots of feeling sad. Then the engineering report came in. Gulp.

The engineers were great about addressing each issue and figuring out suitable and practical solutions. It was their judgment that areas of the house that were still intact could mostly remain that way, so just the fact that we didn’t have to completely tear down the house and start from scratch was a relief.

I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible to follow. Apologies if it’s all just nonsense! Let’s start at the boots:

The living room foundation needs to be rebuilt completely.

The kitchen and dining room foundation was actually permitted to stay in spite of some issues, but at a minimum we would have to trench all the way around it and add rigid foam insulation (I didn’t even know this was a thing people did, but apparently it is done) to protect it from frost heaves. The section in red between the dining and living rooms would have to be completely built (not even rebuilt!) because whoever put in this foundation relied on the living room “foundation” for that run, which was not smart because the living room foundation was literally a pile of rocks.

The front porch slab would have to be demolished, with the new foundation for the living room making up the footprint.

In the back of the house, the engineers said that the foundation under the master bedroom, bathroom, and hall closet (#4) was fine to remain. Hallelujah.

The sunroom—or the other enclosed porch, #5—would need some investigative work because it was impossible to see what was happening below the floor. Ideally there would be a concrete slab (and we thought there might be because the floor was tiled, and maybe they did it right over a slab?) but we didn’t know what to expect, and we were now required to find out. If there wasn’t a slab, we’d have to put one in.

Similar story with the floor framing. All new in the living room. Modifications to the dining/kitchen to support the new joists on that new section of foundation. Again, #5 is a mystery but we knew we were possibly looking at framing in a new floor in there depending on what we found below the existing floor.

Of course, walls! Again, living room and front-porch-turned-living-room are all new.

Dining and kitchen were OK-ish, not great. There was some substantial rot to some framing and a lot of the sheathing, meaning we’d be stripping down to the studs inside and out. We’d already rebuilt the front and back walls, but the engineers wanted us to add a second jack stud to support our headers for the window openings on those walls. It was frustrating because our original framing was actually permissible according to code, but this was one of those things where we were tied to having to do—at minimum—whatever the engineers said.

In the guest room, we’d already gutted those two highlighted walls while framing in different windows and the sliding doors. All that work was fine, but all the walls are 2×4 framing and—short of spray foam insulating the house, which was not remotely budgeted for—we’d have to fur out those walls two inches to accommodate fiberglass insulation that would meet the minimal R-Value requirements (R-21 for exterior walls).

Annnnd the roofs. Oy vey.

The plan to potentially retain the back half of the living room roof and re-frame the front half was nixed, so the living room is completely new. Foundation to roof, all new.

The problem with that is that we had to find a way to tie into the existing roofs over #4 (shingles) and #5 (EPDM rubber because of the low slope) which were both in fairly poor condition. We weren’t being required to rebuild them but we would likely have to re-roof those sections to get everything water-tight and functioning correctly. On the plus side, the roofing would all match? Oh joy.

In the living/dining area (#2), we had 2×6 rafters sistered into the original 2×4 rafters, but both were under-sized for the span of the rafters. So we’d have to sister in bigger rafters next to those, then cut out the space at the ridge where the rafters met to insert a structural beam across the width of the room, with a built-up post down to the foundation on the exterior wall and another down to the header for the opening between the living and dining room on the interior wall. Then we’d need to tear off the layers of shingles and underlayment, possibly/probably re-seath, re-roof, re-insulate on the interior…OH BOY HOW FUN. OH BOY HOW DUMB.

See where I’m going with this, maybe? The dining/kitchen needed major work to the foundation, floor system, walls, roof, insulation, plumbing, and electric. That’s the entire thing! And that’s when you have to think long and hard about what you’re saving, and whether it’s worth it. All that work would still be less expensive than completely rebuilding that part of the house, but is the cost savings worth it? To go through the exercise of redoing the whole thing and then still potentially have a lot of issues with it down the line, still have walls and rooflines that aren’t level, still have an improved but iffy foundation…it’s not great.

I voiced this to the clients who understood but weren’t entirely convinced, and it wasn’t my call to make, so we all went to our separate corners to think it out a little. Now it’s early September, the homeowners want to start construction in two weeks to beat the winter, and we’re deciding what to do about…oh, half the house. Totes normal.

TIME. IS. A-TICKIN’.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from the plans, but they were delivered in the form of a slim 6-page document containing exactly 10 small diagrams, each with a bunch of arrows and a spattering of text. They were minimal. Since we hadn’t yet locked down a contractor (ALL THE PANICS), it seemed very important for me to understand every single thing on those plans. So I set a meeting with the engineers, as one does.

I kept Adriana and Barry, the homeowners, informed of what was going on while this was unfolding. And when I told Adriana about the upcoming meeting with the engineers, she told me she wanted to come. I assured her that it was just a boring meeting about really technical stuff that they included in the report that I wasn’t entirely clear on, and it really wasn’t necessary for her to make the trip, but she insisted on her personal attendance.

“I mean, sure, if that’s what you want to do. It’s your house and your money—I’ll see ya there!”

So we sit down with the engineers and start talking. And we’re going over everything point by point, around which time Adriana interjects.

“Now, while we’re talking about that, Barry and I were thinking. About going up.”

“Up?”

“How hard would it be to add a second floor over the part of the house we’re rebuilding?”

OH. MY. GOD. WOMAN. WHAT. THE. FUCK. The engineer was the first to respond, because I was speechless.

“Not that hard; we’d just have to adjust the foundation specs a little to compensate for the additional load.”

“OK, I think we’ll do that.”

“Sure.”

And I’m just sitting there. LIKE WAIT WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I came to my senses:

“OK, if you’re serious about this then we have to hire an architect who can turn this around quickly.”

“I was thinking you could do it.”

WHAT WOULD GIVE YOU THAT IDEA, YOU PSYCHO? Again, speechless. The engineer turns to me:

“I mean, everything you’ve given us so far is all we’d really need to modify these plans, so that works for us if you’re up for it.”

NO. EVERYONE STOP. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SAYING.

Here’s the thing. I write a blog that some people read and that’s all very nice. Heretofore, I’d worked essentially as a decorator which people like to call an “interior designer” but they’re actually different things and I am technically neither. I have little schooling when it comes to this stuff, no architecture or design-related degree, no experience with new construction, no experience managing a project of this scope, had never designed a house, and a week prior to this meeting I was trying to hand over my proverbial letter of resignation.

And now they want me to design a new fucking house.

In two weeks.

Top to bottom.

Soup to nuts.

Back to the drawing board, literally. Time to learn about stairs.

Psssst! Olivebridge Cottage is an ongoing series about a renovation that flew off the rails (and then found its way back on)! For lots of backstory and schadenfreude, check out these past posts!

  1.  New Season, New Project!
  2. Plans for Olivebridge Cottage!
  3. Oh Dear, Here We Go…
  4. Little House of Horrors
  5. From Bad to Worse (And Worse and Worse and Worse)
  6. Blogger is Hired to Renovate, Mistakenly Destroys Ulster County Art Piece “House”
  7. Olivebridge Cottage: 2.0!

66 Comments

  1. OMG! Now I am on the edge of my seat! Great job!!!!

  2. I’m nerrrrrrvouuuuuuuuuuus!

  3. When it got a little quiet here on the blog, I knew you must have been busy but – OMG! I’m really enjoying this series. So psyched every time I check email and see that you have a new post.

    I think what’s fascinating, and you made this point, is that this isn’t an old house with good bones.

    I can’t wait to see where this is going – look forward to future posts!

    • Thanks Sally! And yes, that was one of the most interesting parts of this project for me too, since the knee-jerk reaction (mine and pretty much everyone else’s, I think!) is to level the sucker and start over completely. But then, EVERYTHING has a price tag…just re-framing a wall (and sheathing, house wrap, siding, insulation, plumbing and electric where applicable) is an expensive endeavor, so I gained a new appreciation for maintaining/repairing parts of the structure even when they were in poor condition and/or not even nice to begin with. It was an education, that’s for sure! :)

  4. Dude. DUDE.

    Kudos to you all for surviving this with your sanity intact, because DAMN.

  5. You should really write a book about this whole experience…or, at the very least, it should be a substantial chapter in what would obviously be a fabulous memoir/autobiography.

  6. Wow………….that’s all I can say, lol.

  7. Kudos to you for keeping your cool. But I’d have to second your statement “we have to hire an architect”. (Said this architect.)

    At the very least – for others in this similar kind of situation – hire an architect/engineer to walk-thru the property initially and do an assessment, particularly if you know that you’re looking at a complex property and you want to renovate it. I see people recommending inspectors, real estate agents, contractors, designers, etc. for this role. All of these people have useful information, but an architect + engineer is the right team for this task. Always start there on a project like this. Contact your local AIA office and they can help point you to the right firm for the project.

    This project definitely snowballed on you, and working with an engineer was a good move. But others can avoid this sort of pain by starting there at square one. It’s not as expensive or as daunting as one might think. It’s literally what we are trained to do and do on a daily basis. Many municipalities will require signed and sealed drawings for renovation work, and always assume there will be structural work on a building of this age. Insulation is the number two assumption, and that almost always drives structural changes as well.

    Hopefully that doesn’t sound preachy, just offering advice to those readers that ask you for advice on how to start this process (or avoid the nightmares).

    Looking forward to hearing more about this, almost as gripping as the new S-Town podcast, but with less foul language!

    • Thank you for saying this so I didn’t have to. I think many people are intimidated by the notion of hiring an architect but it’s important to understand that all of our very long and fairly comprehensive training builds up to us being able to deal quickly and comprehensively with situations exactly like this.

      • OK I have to dash out the door and will come back to comments later, but just wanted to say YES RESOUNDING YES. This situation was complicated in a number of ways by so much of the house being covered up or inaccessible to inspect, unpermitted past work (including extensive remodeling from the 90s) and blatant misrepresentations (achem, lies) by the previous homeowners—so while it’s true that an architect and/or engineer may have been helpful earlier in the process or even prior to the sale, nobody at the time was really thinking about this as a “complex property” requiring major renovation. The original plan was pretty much just a kitchen remodel! That being said, YES YES YES. Regardless of what WE did and didn’t do over the course of this obviously screwy and imperfect (and time-consuming, and heart-aching, and very expensive) process, the LAST thing I want is for anyone to think that undervaluing or not seeking trained professional advice is an advisable thing to do. I’ll be talking more about that in the next installment, but just wanted to make that clear! :)

  8. I literally HATE MYSELF for enjoying the Olivebridge Saga so much. (And for laughing out loud at “we’re thinking about going up.”) LOL
    And I say this, having been through an extensive renovation myself this past summer about which I’m still in doubt about some of the things that were done. Never again.

  9. omg, Daniel. However, this is how we learn (or go suicidal, your choice). I cannot wait to read the next installment!

  10. Oh, I’m so, so glad that instead of your website fading away quietly (like too many of my favorite blogs have) that it was quiet so it could deliver this amazing story!

  11. You are my hero, truly. We built a custom home last year and that just about put me over the edge between the general contractor and subs not communicating about our customizations with me having to triple check that things were done the way we wanted. This is like A MILLION TIMES more complicated and stressful and I would surely have had a nervous breakdown. I can’t wait to hear more!!

  12. This is my favorite soap opera ever!

    I can’t wait for the next episode. I also hope we’ll get to hear about Bluestone Cottage again soon.

    • I second both of Juliet’s comments!

      Best of luck, Daniel, in whatever craziness ensues from Olivebridge Cottage!

  13. I love your blog. I freaking love reading about construction and renovation.

  14. Now this is exciting. What a writer you are! Can’t wait for the next entry…..

  15. Even though I know this turns out okay in the end, reading this story stressed. me. out. Oh man. OH man. I might have to go do some deep breathing.

    Good work, Daniel, and good storytelling!

  16. Do you carry extra underwear around with you all the time? “We’re thinking of goig up…” is a good teason to.

  17. This is so fascinating. Keep in mind that a lot of people have built houses that are STILL STANDING after 100s of years (more than you can say about the work of most modern architects and builders, whose work has been torn down or deserves to be torn down after 20-30 years), and these people had no schooling or degrees. Just hands-on experience.
    Even though this is very visual, I can almost hear it as a suspenseful podcast.

    • I really don’t think that’s a fair assessment of the work of *most* architects and of other professionals that participate in creating buildings. (And in the case of Olivebridge, it’s clear that no architect was ever involved!)

  18. OMG the suspense – CLIFFHANGER!!

    I mean I know what happened, but HOW this went down is insane. “I was thinking you could do it.” This is crazy!! But kudos to her for seeing this in you and for you having the courage to go for it. “You had the power all along, my dear.” Well done. Can’t wait to hear the next instalment!

  19. Yikes! Having recently acquired a 160 year old property with issues, I can relate to so many of your woes. But it’s obvious you are quite smart and very resourceful (with the help of Google) to figure this sh*t out. I look forward to the next installment!

  20. Can’t wait to see the next post.

    What ever is happening with Bluestone Cottage?

  21. Somebody hold me.

    Daniel. I. Wow. Like, wow. Like…wow.

  22. breathlessly awaiting the next installment!

  23. This is like a TV show I would love to watch!

  24. obviously can’t wait for second installment…..and TWO posts in one week…..what are you? Superman?

  25. The twists! The turns! Thanks for sharing and good luck!!

  26. Do you happen to still speak to the homeowners? Because, uh, wow.

  27. So excited to read this saga. Serious nail-biting going on. How many hats fit on your cute head, Daniel? Storyteller with a sense of drama is one of them. OMG. This is my fave blog for so many reasons and just gets better, all the way back to your student-era desk.

    THANK YOU for treating us to this pace of new posts. I metaphorically pinch your cheeks, young man (but would never do so in person, even if we were related).

  28. AHHHHHHH! This is so exciting!! And I’m so happy you are posting. Thank you for letting me follow along!

  29. I have to repeat the many OMGs in these comments. Oh. My. God. I actually laughed through the entirety of the end of this post, and then had to read it aloud to my husband. You are incredible and hysterical and I can’t believe you made it through this process in real life without dissolving into a puddle of goo. Actually, I can believe it, just as I can believe someone handing you the reins to this project even when you have no actual schooling in architecture. The thing is, from reading your blog, we all can recognize that you don’t just “do” projects for your house. You research exhaustively, educate yourself meticulously, and when you make mistakes you don’t shrug and move on, you figure out what you did wrong and fix it, and remember what to do next time. I think that is probably why they handed you this, despite you feeling out of your depth. I’d do it, too, knowing that the person I was entrusting would do it right.

    Now, whether you are comfortable with this amount of trust is a whole other story, I imagine! Anyway, fantastic stuff as always, and I will anxiously await the next chapter in the saga!

  30. Today’s my birthday. I was having a terrible day, but you gave me a great big laugh there at the end. I have never experienced something *quite* like that, but I know the feeling well. We all know you did a great job and are very excited to hear more.

    Also, you shouldn’t​ be surprised that people have such high confidence in you. As a friend says “You’ve got this gurl~”

  31. I had to sit down and reread this again at the end of a long day, and I noticed your comment about not having a design-related degree, which surprised me. What did you major in?

    P.S. Super excited to see how your project turns out with Chris & Julia and Kim & Scott!

  32. This will be a challenge for sure, but a good one at that! Sometimes the best things come in the most unexpected way, this will challenge your skills and once its all said and done you will also be able to show off your amazing design and home decor ideas. Looking forward to reading and seeing more!

  33. How exciting! You can do this job! Your clients have faith in you! This is amazing! When you look how much you have achieved since you moved in to your house it is incredible. I am a major procrastinator, I have lived in a tiny apartment in London for 10 years and done, comparatively, bugger all. My husband has OCD and moved from his modern new build apartment to live with me in my wonky Victorian apartment. He can’t cope with the fact that nothing is straight or even and believes that the whole flat needs to be gutted and rebuilt. Actually it just needs to be finished better. He wants it to be straight lines and perfection underneath the floor boards and inside the walls, ha ha ha ha! I love this blog, keep up the good work!! I believe in you! (This should mean quite a lot coming from a reserved English person, I don’t write this kind of thing to all and sundry, admittedly i’ve had a glass of wine… but only one :-) xx)

  34. O. M. GGGGG

    Dying over the suspense of it all!!! Go Daniel go!!!!!

  35. Your reaction to going up question made me LOL!

    I’ll say this again, love your blog and your writing, Look forward to next blog post :)

  36. Daniel, after the first three paragraphs, my big sister save-your-siblings mode kicked in and was ready to hop in the time machine to go back in time to save you! Thank God you survived so I don’t have to live with the guilt of ages. Now maybe I can read the rest of the post. (I’m so sorrrry!)

    • Ok, I finished the post ( and a lot of wine during which time I posted my testimonial on FB!) and I am astounded you not only survived but are willing to write about it. If such miracles as yours and mine exist and have been posted for God and everybody to read, then saving the USA from Russia should be a snap.

  37. I was wondering where those indoor STAIRS were going! You can’t get anything past me. Hurry and tell us more, please. Photos, photos, photos.

  38. Thank you for explaining that a decorator and interior designer are not the same thing. People tend to think they are twins. I had to burn my eyelashes to earn my interior design degree because yes, I had to study architecture principles which goes far beyond color and fabric swatches.

    But, you Daniel, are a natural. Feel proud. You’ve accomplished beautiful things.

  39. I feel so guilty for loving and laughing so hard at this series. I’m in Australia and grew up in a half-built house (still under construction 27 years later!) so this cottage reminds me a bit of home. But in sunny Queensland we don’t have to worry about snow, frost, storm windows, insulation, heating and all the things that stress you out that I’ve had to google to understand. (Seriously, the fact you need to work around winter is a completely foreign concept to me. We can do whatever, whenever here.)
    It sounds like you were well and truly thrown in the deep end, but I’ve loved reading all about it. Can’t wait for the next chapter!

  40. I am RIVITED! Can’t wait to read more!!!

  41. What amazes me the most is that you don’t have a book deal yet.

  42. This is wayyyy better than the season finale of The Walking Dead… When I see your blog in my e-mail the hardest thing is deciding if I should stop right then and read it or wait until I get home and get comfy… this particular series has me on pins and needles! I just know it’s going to be amazing!

    • Right!? I’m ashamed of how many of Daniel’s posts I’ve read on my miniscule phone screen, chortling and squinting on the streetcar.

  43. WOW…. very excited for the next chapter.

    What is happening with the first little house you bought to fix up and sell?

  44. I really thought that two giant bulldozers were going to be the starting point of the Olivebridge Saga! But, then that is not what you do on the Manhattan Nest blog, You enjoy using any tiny bit of the original structure– figuring out how to breathe new life into everyday useable spaces. Your owners seem ready to take on the unknown, I really like that. Everybody is going to learn a lot here, Can’t wait!

  45. You are wonderful. That is all.

  46. Ahhh, such a great story! So many blogs are real time. I love, love, love that you are serializing this story and taking the time to craft a really beautiful narrative. I know this was stressful to experience, but what an incredible learning opportunity for you and a brilliant story for us!

  47. Adriana is like some sort of mythical creature, in the guise of a woman, who came into your life to force you into situations that the Fates knew you were completely capable of handling.

    Trial by fire, baby!

    This is some Odyssey-level shit right here.

    And you, my dear, are obviously some epic, classic hero, did ya know that?

    That’s pretty fucking cool! :D

  48. Daniel, REVEAL purlease!! Besides, all this building up to the grand finale makes me want to find out what happened to Bluestone Cottage now. Pray tell!

  49. When I saw the first pictures of Olivebridge Cottage it struck me how much it looked like a home in my childhood neighborhood that was made out of cobbled together chicken coops and a shed. I worried for you but kept my mouth shut because you were so enthusiastic. In a funny way, the challenges of Olivebridge have probably taught you so many skills that will benefit you forever or at least as long as you want to restore and renovate homes. Congratulations on your sticktuitiveness!! I look forward to all your posts!!

  50. the best cliffhanger… have to learn about stairs…. cant wait for the next episode…

    btw this could be the modernday Mr Blandings Builds A House!

  51. For those wanting to avoid these issues when looking for a home, I agree to look closely at the additions to a home. I grew up in an old farmhouse in Washington that had two additions built by the previous owner. For me, this is a red flag now. We had so many heating and rotting issues on these additions. Especially when it is an old home mixed with new additions, most likely it is not done properly. Now that I’m a home owner myself, my opinion is only confirmed further. Anytime I want to start a larger project, I’m always strapped for cash to hire quality professionals. I often am NOT thinking about the long term because we are going to be in our house for only five years. That might be okay for certain cosmetic things. But when it comes to structural changes, it really needs to be done right.

    I cannot imagine the stress of this project. Good for you for being so transparent and honest in the process.

  52. SHEESH!!!!
    I watch this FANTASTIC tv show called Grand Designs (UK) and this post reminded me of an episode – or part of one. Maybe you should go back to school and actually train to be an architect (or at the very least an interior designer). The formal training plus your natural talent plus your hands on experience would be an explosive combo!!
    Show, book, whatever; I’ll pre-order.

  53. So I totally cheated, and found Adriana’s Instagram, and was following along on there, because I neeeeeeeeded updates. And it looks gorgeous. But it’s so much fun hearing the back story as well. I thinrd/ fourth/ fifth? the Bluestone Cottage update as well!

  54. So. Excited. To. Read. Olivebridge Cottage Part 2.

  55. HGTV wishes it could be even a fraction this engaging, informative, and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful!

  56. I little off subject regarding your lathe hoarding obsession: Okay I get it and I like that you want to integrate back in what was once a piece of your home’s history, that’s pretty neat. So here’s a crazy idea – refresh the basement walls with them. Then you don’t have to worry too much about every nail or rough edge and you can get totally creative with it as a total wall treatment without worrying about it being so “Oh that’s overdone and tired” because hey it’s the basement so everyone will be all…”That’s so cool in the basement, someone really loved this house!” Bonus it’ll make your basement less scary hole drop zone and more cozy cared for drop zone. :)

    Inspiration: http://www.designsponge.com/2017/03/before-after-a-modern-laundry-room-makeover-for-an-ohioans-childhood-home.html

  57. Hello! I was checking to see if there was a new post and just remembered: Bluestone cottage! Is that still a thing? Please, tell us (curious people) about it?!

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