Revising a House

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the leaves are turning and woodsmoke drifts through the morning air.

Did you have strange, and or, disappointingly tedious weather this summer? Here in New England, things were less than ideal. When it was warm enough to feel like summer it rained. When it was sunny the weather was chilly. Mushrooms sprouted in the lawn. Birds muttered from soggy bowers. Tomatoes and cucumbers delayed their arrival by weeks and then only showed up halfheartedly.

All in all, it was not a particularly good summer to spend at the seaside. Fortunately, this was the year my husband and I decided to go ahead and have some long overdue repairs and renovations done to our cottage at the beach. The work has been extensive and of long duration. The back of the house was pulled to the subfloor and entirely rebuilt. The garden is an unrecognizable disaster. Everything from the inside of the house is now in the barn at our year-round home.

I had heard from quite a number of people that projects like this one can be stressful and even unpleasant. Fortunately for me, it all felt remarkably familiar. The process has reminded me, to a surprising degree, of revising a book. The house as it was came off as a first draft of sorts. It was a completed house but, there were certainly opportunities for improvement in structure, flow and tone.

Like with a novel we took a close, hard look at what was working and what was not. We made notes and imagined how things might be done differently within the footprint available. We drew up a budget, which is a bit like being mindful of word count. We came up with an approximate timeline for the work to be completed. Deadlines are something with which I am all too familiar! Making decisions about colors and windows and where to locate light switches reminded me of the constant requirement to make choices while writing.

And then, that day by day, week by week, work began. Like with writing, sometimes the process seemed to be flowing well and moving ahead by leaps and bounds. At other times it was difficult to notice any progress at all even when we knew it had to be there. But, just like a novel, months later it has all started coming together.

Still, it is not done. I would call it close to the end of the second draft. There is drywall still to be installed, floors to be laid and kitchen cabinets to be placed. It can’t really be considered finished until there are working bathrooms and electrics that have gone live. But I ma having that pleasant feeling I always experience with a book that comes as the finished product crystalizes in my mind’s eye and the end feels closer than the beginning. Hopefully, by this time next month, the project will be completed and the furnishings will be returned to their proper places. With any luck, we will be able to park in the barn before the snow flies!

Readers, was your summer filled with strange weather? Do you have any remodeling tips to share?

30 Thoughts

  1. JESSIE: Yes, we also had strange disappointing weather this summer. Wildfires up north caused poor AQ in early June. It was like breathing in campfire smoke for weeks, not good. We had 2 tornadoes hit the Ottawa suburbs in July while I was in Montreal. We have had 4 tornadoes in the last 3 years, and none in the 2010s.

    And it was the soggiest August in 20 years. Cloudy cool weather meant my heat-loving veggies in my balcony garden struggled. Few cherry tomatoes & ZERO 🍆 Asian eggplants for the first time ever!

    Of course, we had record HOT weather on October 3-4, followed by a 40 degree drop in temperatures for Cdn Thanksgiving weekend. Fall leaves are behind schedule either this wacky weather. Instead of being at peak colours, they have 30% colour change this year. Crazy.

    1. What a tumultuous time you have had, Grace! I am so sorry to hear about your lack of eggplants! The foliage here is off too. Here’s hoping that next year is more typical!

  2. Although no experience with remodeling, I’ve had my share with the building process of a new home. The one thing I learned is that deadlines only work if you have complete control. Seems contractors and subs have somewhat different deadlines, which often times seem to move according to demand and availability of supplies and scheduling. However, as I’m sure as it is books, it thought me patience and that things have a way of working themselves out for the best when we use it to calm one self.

    Weather here in the Ozark Mountains has been different this year too. We’ve had a lot less rain than desired or needed. It meant dragging out the water hose if you wanted the flowers and veggies to not turn brown and swivel away. We’ve been under a burn ban most of the time. The major rivers, lakes and private ponds are majorly down in water levels. The forecast here (according the the old wife’s tale using persimmons in our area as well for the whole state) calls for a snowy, very cold winter. At least the snow will add the much needed moisture to the ground, but it would have been nice if it could have came in the form of rain. As it is pantry and freezer is full and the generator is on the ready meaning we are prepared for whatever comes our way. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

      1. We have numerous mature persimmon trees on our property. When we cut the seeds open this year they were all spoons, which predicts a snowy winter is ahead. If the shape would have been of a knife, it would have meant a windy winter and a fork-shape predicts a warmer or more pleasant winter.

  3. I like your analogy!!! We redid my daughter’s bedroom and bath and even just that little bit was challenging at times. 🙂 Good for you tackling the house!

  4. It was a very hot summer in Florida with our county in a drought situation. Not typical for the Gulf area. Now we are expecting cooler weather with lower humidity. Thankful for fall.

  5. I think it was a fairly standard summer here in Pittsburgh. Or at least that was my impression. Can’t wait to see the finished house!

  6. Congratulations on the remodel! We did a renovation in 2009. It was naturally stressful since we went weeks without a working kitchen. It all turned out okay in the end, though. My advice? Be prepared to spend more than your initial budget. Something unexpected is bound to pop up!

  7. All the best with your “revising”, Jessie!! We have had homes built from scratch, and had extensive repairs and reconfigurations done to our homes as we have moved around. I feel for you, because it is a stressful situation, but the end result is what counts, so count your blessings every day, and that final day will come when you can just plop down to admire the completed work. Luis at ole dot travel

  8. I’m so happy that progress continues on the house and I imagine in your writing. We had days of bad air from the Canadian wildfires. We turned to something I never imagined doing — walking in the mall. It opens early, there’s relatively few people, and it was climate controlled. Even on the good air days, when it was very hot out, it made for good walking.

    1. I remember years ago when I worked at a mall that there was a dedicated group of mall walkers. They seemed to really enjoy their morning whips round the building no matter the weather! I can understand the appeal!

  9. We have remodeled several times, including a major addition to our 1939 home in 1998. We had the back wall of the kitchen removed and added 2/3 more space to that room, plus a new three-season porch and new side entry. All my design, so I totally get it. Then we built a new home five years ago, also my design, and that was even more decisions to make.

    My best advice? This too shall pass and become nothing but a memory. Hopefully, a pleasant one! Good luck with getting it all done, Jessie. Looks like it will be totally worth all the hassle.

  10. What a great metaphor! The construction WIP looks wonderful.

    I’ve been referring to this year as the year with no summer, and like yours, out tomatoes were a huge disappointment! So strange.

  11. Well, we did have a hurricane hit Southern California, so we got more rain in one day than we typically do in twelve months. Fortunately, it was a tropical storm by the time it hit me, but we still got all that rain.

    And we got a late start to summer with a cool May and June.

    Glad to hear the remodel is going well. A lot depends on who you are working with.

    1. That must have been a shock to have so much rain in such a short span of time! I’m glad it wasn’t any worse than it was by the time you felt it!

  12. Summer in Connecticut was weird – but it always is a little weird. We had a few heatwaves and alot of rain. My only advice when it comes to renovation is to be patient. Easier said than done. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

  13. We had a lot of hot days. Our garden did not do very well either. We had drought conditions at times. We have not had major construction on the house. I do not have any good advice. Thank you for sharing. It will be wonderful when it is finished. God bless you.

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