Preparing to dig

This is a joyless post.

In preparation for the start of construction, we needed to clear out our back garden and remove a tree that would block the foundation.

The result is stark. It is sad to have to remove things from our yard which were perfectly healthy and attractive. I’m telling myself that it had to be done, but it brings me no joy.

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The concrete contractor is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday to begin work on the foundation for the addition. To prepare, we have a few tasks: clear the deck (they will remove part of it), clear the back garden, and remove the mulberry tree.

Had our contractor given us a solid start date for the project, we could have been prepared for things, but they didn’t, and we’re not. We didn’t even definitively learn we would have to remove the tree until last week. So, we’ve been scrambling to pull everything together at the last minute.

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There has been some progress to report. I’ve finally come to accept the cost increases I reported in my last post.

We have hired a plumber to upgrade the water service to the 1 1/2″ required. Our contractor has worked through the final details of the permit, and we finally have the official permit. The police department will allow us to park our car on the street during construction. The contractor has finally given us a rough start date for the foundation work for the addition (in the next week or two). The project timeframe has been extended from 38 weeks to 1 full year.

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July 14 Budget Update

Happy Bastille Day.

We continue to rack up the overages on this project. Our project manager emailed us today with some bad news. Winnetka sent us feedback on our permit requests.

First, we need to upgrade electrical to 400 amp and bury our electrical line, rather than just move it. That’s an $18k fee. Winnetka owns its own power utility, and evidently charges far more than is reasonable.

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July 7 Meeting

We met with our contractor today to finalize the finishes and plans for the renovations.

The contractor has received approval on the project from the state’s historic preservation board, so we need to begin work on the tax freeze application. The contractor began the permitting process two weeks ago and today received feedback from the village, which includes several exciting (read: costly) items.

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A history and our vision

The story of our relationship with this house begins with our twin house next door. Four years ago, in a hot and competitive real estate market, my wife and I fruitlessly searched for a home to buy for our expanding family. After seeing one boring home after another, this was a breath of fresh air.

It was truly unique. It was impeccably renovated and every surface was new. The spaces were small, sure, and it lacked a bath tub and master bath, but it had the spaces we needed. It even had a beautifully finished basement. What it lacked in spaces it made up for in finishes and unique architecture.

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Welcome to Orth House II (Carnsland)

Orth House II is one of two twin Prairie School style houses in Winnetka designed by Walter Burley Griffin as an investment property for William S. Orth and constructed in 1908. Griffin worked for Frank Lloyd Wright before striking out on his own, and these twin houses were one of his first commissions after leaving Wright. He is most famous for winning an international competition to design the capital city of Australia, Canberra. Orth House II is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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