“You know,” said our contractor, William Lowe. “If this were my house, I’d move it back on the property and add a porch at the front.” And just like that, the scope of our restoration project broadened significantly.
Tom and I had already planned to build a modest porch in the six feet or so between the house and the road. What we hadn’t planned on was the law that says we can’t build within five feet of the property line.
There’s lots of space behind the house, though. The property is more than twice as deep as it is wide. Not only would moving the house allow for a decent-sized front porch with an unobstructed view of Settlement Creek, it would also give us more elevation — a huge plus during hurricane flooding.
At first, the concept terrified me. I had visions of our sweet cottage collapsing into a million pieces. But as we discussed the idea and learned that similar structures in the area have successfully been moved, I grew more comfortable.
What we’d like to do is build a new foundation immediately behind the existing one, then raise the house and slide it back. (Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?) William’s looking into the logistics now and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for good news.
Aside from that, the results of William’s inspection weren’t terribly surprising. It was great to hear him say how well-built the house was, especially since my great grandparents cobbled it together from hurricane debris, presumably without any plans or blueprints.
That said, the cottage has endured more than 80 years of tropical sun, rain and wind, and it shows. The southeast corner is sagging (which presumably would be corrected with the new foundation.) The electrical and plumbing systems need updating and we need to install windows and doors. (This should be fun, since not a single opening in the structure is perfectly square.)
We want to fence in the yard, convert the attic into a master bedroom, install air conditioning (though the house is surprisingly cool without) and perhaps add some dormer windows.
Clearly this is a project Tom and I will be working on for years to come. We can’t wait to get started!