Small house, big plans.

‘How do you eat an elephant?’

It’s an old phrase/analogy/coping mechanism for putting a large project into perspective.   This house, she’s one of my elephants.  I have Arguably the biggest tangible thing I’ve ever gotten myself into.

It started with this:

This is our house.  Or, *was* our house.  Back in ’98.  So, it’s an old picture and totally not representative of what we were actually working with.  But it makes for an awesome ‘Before’ picture.  Here’s the ‘After’:

(Not the best shot, but I’ll try to get one more from the front once things green up a bit.  And when I decide to put the shutters and molding up on the left-most window)

Last year we decided to change things up a bit.  We needed to update the house, make some room for our family.  We started by dreaming a little.  On paper.

I had been saving a file folder and it was overflowing with sketches and magazine pages of things I wanted in a house.  Every time I saw something that looked our/my style, I would tuck it away in my ‘someday’ file.  That file grew like you don’t even know.

After a lot of playing around with designs and ideas and ‘are we really going to do this?'(‘s), we jumped in.  Both feet first.

We hired a designer/architect to take my graph-paper scribbles and turn them into reality.

(This was the first of our many rough drafts of plans.
The second floor ended up coming in at about 1,298 square feet, I think)

It was amazing to see it actually laid out on paper.  To have actual measurements of things and to be able to get a feel for what this was going to turn into. It was happening!

However, before we crossed that bridge, we needed to cross a a couple other smaller bridges.  Bridges that go by the name of ERCA and the Town of Kingsville.  Because we live on a major waterway (Lake Erie), there are precautions and rules that need to be followed to make sure that we aren’t damaging wildlife or putting the environment in harm’s way.  For a relatively small fee, I had to fill out some forms, show our intentions in the form of plans and design reports, put on clean pants and visit with the fine peeps at the ERCA offices.

(I can tell you right now, they look at you funny when you ask to take their picture while they sign the approval documents.  I promised her I wouldn’t get her whole face.  But I got her watch.  Her Mickey Mouse watch.  They can’t be *that* tough if they’re wearing Mickey Mouse watches, can they?)

Everyone that I spoke with regarding the ERCA approval process said it would be a HUGE pain in the ass.  I don’t know if it’s because the work that we were doing didn’t encroach toward the water or if I actually read all of the instructions and submitted my paperwork properly, but we were approved.  Quickly.  Without a single hesitation.  I like to think it had something to do with my clean pants.

I practically broke into a run when I left their offices.  I was all, ‘Seriously?  That’s it?  Is there a catch?  There’s gotta be a catch…  They can’t take back their approval if I leave quickly.’  I was the lady in the IKEA commercial.

But it was real and we were approved and we were ready to get this show on the road!  Yeah!  Let’s do this!

Hold up.  Wait a minute.  Stop.

We need to get the town to approve us and fork over a building permit while I fork over my first born in place of the indemnity deposit.

***Spoiler Alert – we were approved, even if our wallets were much, much lighter.  The bright side to the whole process is that once the final inspection is done on the house, we get the indemnity deposit back.  And let me tell you, I got that puppy spent!

Next, I’ll take you through the the day-by-day process of ripping your roof off, how I overcame my fear of inspectors and why my lawn looks like a gravesite.  Plus, I’ll be documenting all of my projects so that you can follow along at home.  Don’t worry, I’ll get the callouses *for* you.


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