Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Planning and Permits

David Waggonner and Charles Sterkx of Waggonner and Ball Architects have been hired. In addition, I have hired John Voss as the contractor. It has taken several months to make preliminary plans. We first met with one of the Historic District Landmark Committee(HDLC) members at the house. We are allowed to make any changes on the inside of the house but the outside must remain original. We submitted a request to make several changes to additions which were made in the early 1900's. The North side of the house was changed to a rough stucco and a half bath was added. We proposed to replace the rough stucco back to the original smooth stucco. The bathroom is to be torn out and enlarged to use the complete space under the Northern porch. It will be enclosed with shutters which will be inline with architecture of the time. On the Southern side we plan to tear out the wall where the original rear gallery was enclosed and replace it with shutters. This will give the appearance of what the original house looked like when it was a gallery.

Also, we plan to remove the two skinny round columns next to the iron doors on the 1927 addition and replace them with larger square columns. We plan to remove the front stairs going to the upstairs front gallery. These stairs were added in the early 1900's. The stairs are in poor condition and they are not engineered correctly. The top step of the stairs ends at the wall without a landing which is a major hazard. Also, elimination of the stairs will provide greater security at night. One problem we have is to electrify a house that has solid brick walls; to accomplish this the second story siding will be removed and furred out to allow wiring. If the siding is in poor condition we plan to replace them with wider boards that would have been used on the original structure. For the most part we are keeping the house as it is or trying to bring it back as it would have looked originally. Upon hearing our plans the committee member agreed that our renovations would be acceptable. Our next step was to meet with the whole committee which didn't convene for an additional 3 weeks. The members are mostly architects. It was interesting because some were modernist, others classical and a few had backgrounds with historical properties. At times they had different opinions but in the end they all agreed with our plans. Finally, we had a formal hearing with the HDLC Board at a public meeting which was another 3 weeks of waiting. Notices were sent out to all neighbors of the impending meeting. The board, upon recommendation of the committee, agreed to give us our permits to renovate and allowed the committee to approve any other changes we make to our plans. Now that we have their permission we must complete our plans to get our city permits for construction. In the mean time, we got permits to do demolition. Demolition is a process of tearing out damaged materials and to remove materials for the purpose to explore what is need to be fixed. Some examples are: the foundation, walls, ceilings and the roof.

While waiting to get our permits it was found that live termites were swarming in the Music Room. The Music Room is the large addition that was added by Mrs. Helen Schertz in 1927. I found live termites in a door frame and I had it treated. The house had been tented for termite in the mid 90's but it was a surprise to find live termites in the house. This lead to a lot of anxiety and speculation of major damage to the house. All in all, we are finally ready to start work.

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