I have to be honest with you — I looked up "rumination" to make sure I was spelling it correctly. Much to my delight, the second definition (from Oxford Languages) was "the action of chewing the cud." If you know me, you know I love cows! What a fun way to start my day.
Mooving on (couldn't resist!), my honey and I have commenced the process of (what will prove to be) a significant remodel to her home. The goal is simply to make it larger and more suitable for two adults and (at least) 1 doggo. I have been through a handful of real estate themed projects and decisions over the last decade and have brought you, my dear reader, along for the ride. Why not join me for another adventure?
The first steps we took were related to the size and scope of the project. The location of the home is significant and very desirable. It is not the remote wilderness that I have always dreamed of, but it affords some privacy and a proximity to town that suits us both. Because of this, there are more limitations to which way(s) we can expand both up and out. In order to ensure that we were not dreaming up unrealistic plans, we hired an architect.
"Heidi" (we'll call her) is great and brings decades of experience. Also, being a local herself, she is well versed in zoning laws as well as what will "work" in any given neighborhood. While considering a two-story extension off the back of the house, she pointed out that none of the neighboring homes have this sort of roofline and it would make our home stand out (in a not so good way). We are aiming for a "story and a half" while digging below the current home's crawl space in order to give us the room we want without the "sore thumb" effect of a too tall home. The lesson here is to hire a professional. Always.
The way the home is situated on the lot, we are afforded the ability to expand out the front or off the back. After some consideration of both, we have opted for the back. There are too many factors that impact the front of the home that are just not necessary to have to adjust in this situation. The front door (which also impacts the initial room as you enter the home), the garage and the driveway would all have to be reconfigured (and rebuilt!). Off the back of the home, there is nothing that would not be changed with the remodel anyway. It just makes the most sense.
When you are considering a large-scale remodel like this, it is a perfect time to think about the actual layout and placement of the existing rooms. In the current world climate (even though we can see the proverbial light at the end of this pandemic tunnel), working from home is going to become a pretty common thing. I've been in this mode since 2011 when I started my business. If my honey is going to be home as well, we're going to need some separation. I spend a lot of time on the phone and also really appreciate silence when I'm "digging in" to a project.
With this in mind, this is a great opportunity to spread things out. If we are able to dig down and make our 2-story addition, adding an office in that "wing" of the house is number one on my list. Our offices would be on opposite sides of the "L" that we're creating and would afford us the privacy and quiet we both require for work. The beauty of this is we can always meet in the middle (where the kitchen will be) for a mid-morning snack!
Bathrooms came up in the initial discussion with Heidi and they are, without question, one of the more important rooms of the house. Neither of us are big fans of the double-vanity setup (Why do you need to be next to me while I'm brushing my teeth?) or the wasted space of a tub. Small decisions like these not only help the architect with the layout, but will end up saving us money to be applied elsewhere in the home. The lesson here is to get on the same page before you are sitting down with the designer.
The last thing we talked about is also one of the more important to both of us. What are we going to do with all of our toys?! We both have multiple bikes, loads of skis and now one (soon to be two) street and trail motorcycle. The existing garage is a little snug just with all of her toys. Once we add mine to the mix (with an additional chunk of space needed for tools and equipment) things are going to get messy and disorganized. "Storage, besides linens and food, is often overlooked by buyers and remodelers alike," notes Badger Realty agent, Bernadette Donohue. "Especially when combining the garages or sheds of two individuals, it is important to carve out space for toys and tools for two," she continued.
The solution is two-fold. Utilize the space on the first floor of the addition as a multi-purpose room. Yoga, stretching, movies, exercise bikes and off-season storage. And add a shed in the backyard for the motorcycles. This way we can have a functional garage/workshop for the in-season sports and for easy access to the necessary tools and equipment while the off-season items are in the basement or shed. We can't wait to get started.
Taking on a big remodel like this is going to be very similar to building a home. There will be scores of decisions to make and it will be a test for our relationship as well. If you have never done this sort of project "with" someone else, I will simply say that communication is of the utmost importance. Just keep talking! We're both excited to get started (and thinking positive thoughts about the price of lumber!). See you at the home improvement store!