How to Un-condemn the white cottage- part one

The white cottage had been condemned 10-15 years ago after suffering extensive damage from a fire that burned down the barn behind it. The previous owner ran no interventions to restore or repair the cottage, leaving it to deteriorate. Even the water main pipes running from the street to the cottage had crumbled in the decade plus of neglect.

After the closing Will and I walked through the cottage making a long list of the improvements necessary to bring everything back up to code. A moldy damp basement with antiquated heating system, a rotten front porch, a bathroom housed in a fire damaged shed, a fireplace and chimney in questionable condition, roof and siding in serious states of decay.

The list was endless, almost overwhelming, but the bones were good; the vintage 1920s charm resonated despite the decrepitude.

The architect we had planned to work with on the red house was unable to begin work on the cottage for several months. Because it was just shy of 625 sq. ft. we decided we could shoulder a lot of the reconfiguring ourselves and reached out to a well known “boutique” carpenter who had a wonderful sense of the period, a real traditionalist with clean Shaker sensibilities.  He drew us two floor plans to work with, one with the existing walls, and the other simply a footprint.


White Cottage existing floor plan
White Cottage existing floor plan
The footprint of the white cottage including the front porch and shed
The footprint of the white cottage including the front porch and shed


Will and I played around with reconfiguring the space and along with the carpenter came up with a workable floor plan which included tearing off the back shed and absorbing the bathroom into the main house space.

White Cottage - Floor plan proposed by boutique carpenter
White Cottage – Floor plan proposed by boutique carpenter

It was fairly modest plan but accented with a few extra touches that transformed it out of the ordinary-transom windows, opening the back exterior wall to the yard, exposed fireplace…and then we got his estimate! Approximately $450 a square foot to renovate………ridiculous!

Back to the drawing board.

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