Adding on

My understanding when we purchased our home was that we would live in it a few years, and then move to a different house and rent the current one out.  It turns out my wife is not on board with that plan and does not want to move.

While our home can fit our needs as currently configured, there are a few things we would both like.  With my wife’s abhorrence to moving, the only option available to us is to settle, or add on.  After much thought, we’ve decided to add on to our current house.  Here I’m documenting the process, and hopefully it can help others.

The first step we took was to consider, in broad strokes, what functional utility the addition had to provide.  We came up with this list:

  • a bigger kitchen
  • an additional office space
  • more closet space in the bedroom that our son will move to (our kid’s currently share a room)
  • more overall storage space

The second step we took was to consider our timeline.  As is commonly known, you can have two of the following at the expense of the third:  quality, speed, cost

We chose to value high quality and low cost at the expense of slow speed.

Finally we decided that any improvement had to be, for the most part, value added.

Our home has a finished basement.  Upon moving in, one of the first things we did, after replacing the boiler with a high efficiency model and replacing all the first floor double hung windows and doors with high efficiency models, was to replace the carpet.  I torn out the old carpet myself, and discovered that the basement floor of our 1951 house had -zero- cracks.  We replaced that carpet, and were quite fond of our finished basement, suspended ceiling and all.  However, now we are in addition mode, and any new wiring or plumbing will have to be placed above that suspended ceiling.  Additionally, the suspended ceiling, in most areas, took away 6-7 inches of potential ceiling height.  So we chose to remove the suspended ceiling.  Estimated value:  $1,000 / Cost:  $10 dumping fee at DPW Transfer Station.

We went from this:


to this:


This allowed me to start to think about how to make the ceiling more industrial looking.

Zoning limitations excluded expanding our house toward the street, or out toward either side, so we had to explore a footprint that essentially blows out the back of our house.  Our back door opens up to a ~40×12 brick paver patio.  I looked at those pavers and thought that by the pound, a waste removal company was going to charge me an arm and a leg, and that would be after I paid someone to remove them from the ground.  Too much cost.  I also wondered where all the dirt from the excavation was to go.  Time to think.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided that some of the soil could be used around the front and sides of the foundation to provide grading that would work to improve rain runoff away from my foundation.  And once I envisioned that, I thought that a small, ornamental paver wall might simultaneously look good as a functional landscape feature.  So I thought and thought, and then started moving pavers.

Eventually I created this:



Those blue boxes contain electrical wire, that is not connected to anything as that requires a permit and a licensed electrician.  Both the wire and the boxes I had on hand.  In the future, landscape lighting can be incorporated into a motion sensor security system.  The wires will have to be thread through a protective conduit to protect the wire from future shovels and the like.  Dirt from excavation will be used to cover some of the lower tiers, providing smooth transition.  Additionally, the pavers will reflect some road noise (as if much penetrates our brick home as is…), and the landscaping, as it grows, will provide increased privacy.  Estimated value:  $3,000 / Cost:  $0

After I removed some of the pavers, I had to remove most of the rest.  I left a path from the mudroom door to the grass, but the dogs prefer to step on the crushed rock (value unknown, but useful!)

Now the backyard looks like this:


but on the positive side, there are lots of remaining pavers with which to build:


Home Depot sells the larger ones at $790 a pallet, and I now have a little more than two pallets stacked neatly.  I couldn’t find a quick quote for the half-sized stack, but I guess it’s the equivalent of a pallet and sells for a similar price.  The end all be all is I either have a nicely stacked pile of trash that’s going to be difficult or expensive to dispose of, or materials for a future project that will enhance the properties value.

The next step is to empty the semi-finished, blue 3 season porch that we’ve been using as a storage locker without climate control.  That may take some time, as I share the space with my wife.