Fish Hooks Update: Restoration Begins January 2014

It’s official! The restoration of our little house by the ferry starts in less than three months.

Fish Hooks 2013

Fish Hooks 2013

Since there’s so much to be done, we’ve divided the work into several phases. Phase one — constructing a new foundation directly behind the existing structure, raising and moving the house back onto it and adding a small, covered front porch — begins in early January. Winter is a good time for this work, since the weather’s cooler and rain delays are less likely.

Our front porch inspiration: Mrs. Sybil Hodgkins' house next door.

The inspiration for our future front porch:
Mrs. Sybil Hodgkins’ house next door.

Shifting the house back on the property will give us a little more privacy, and allow room for a little porch from which to enjoy afternoon drinks, and sunrises over Settlement Creek.

More importantly, though, it will provide extra elevation, which will hopefully translate into added protection against flooding.

Last October, during Hurricane Sandy, Settlement Creek overflowed its banks. Most of the eastern end of town, including the ferry dock and our street, were submerged. Though Fish Hooks is already a few feet above street level, the creek rose high enough that water seeped through our floor. Since it’s predicted that sea levels will continue to rise in future, we’re eager to achieve as much extra elevation as possible.

Our street, submerged during Hurricane Sandy
October 2012

I won’t pretend that the idea of picking up and moving my grandmother’s childhood home doesn’t make me  a little queasy. But our contractors Oral and Jason Bethel come highly recommended and we’re putting our faith in them.

Still, I’ve warned Tom that I may not have the nerve to watch, and that I may leave him to oversee the move while I distract myself with some of the other items on our lengthy project list.

Since we want to keep as much of Fish Hooks’ original furniture as we can, we need to replace the settee cushions and make new covers for them, refinish a few lamps and repair/refinish the old wooden dining table and chairs we found in the cottage.

I also want to spend some time in Marsh Harbour, investigating what’s available locally in terms of furnishings, fixtures, appliances and housewares and figuring out what, if anything we’ll need to import.

Now that our start date is confirmed, next steps include working with Jason and Oral to finalize plans for the new foundation and porch, and securing the necessary building permits. Fingers crossed, the latter process will be simple and straightforward.

In the meantime,  here are a few “before” photos of Fish Hooks. Some of these images were shot in 2006 during Tom’s first visit to Green Turtle Cay. At that time, the cottage had been vacant for the better part of a decade and was in serious disrepair. Other photos were taken in 2009 and 2013, and they reflect some of the repairs our friends Mark and Caroljean Lowe made while using the cottage for their golf cart rental company, Kool Karts.

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Related: We’ve Hooked the Small One, Fish Hooks Update: The Inspection, Attic Archaeology, Fish Hooks Video Diary: A Solid Start, Fish Hooks Video Diary: The Cellar, Fish Hooks Video Diary: Beam It Up, Fish Hooks Video Diary: Ready, Set…, Fish Hooks Video Diary: The Move.

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Fish Hooks Update – The Inspection

“You know,” said our contractor, William. “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.

Front of Fish Hooks

Front of Fish Hooks

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.

Rear of Fish Hooks (before its new paint job). The generous back yard means there's lots of room to move the house back, though it may mean losing that lovely palm tree.

Rear of Fish Hooks (before its recent paint job). The generous back yard means there’s lots of room
to move the house back, though it may mean losing that lovely palm tree.

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.

Measuring the house to create a 3-D computerlzed model

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!

One day, perhaps Fish Hooks will look like this beautifully restored cottage with porch and dormer windows.

One day, perhaps Fish Hooks will look like this beautifully restored cottage with porch and dormer windows.

Related Posts:

We’ve Hooked The Small One

Attic Archaeology

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