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Progress, progress, progress…there’s a word I feel we haven’t seen on this blog for quite some time. I went to the house last weekend and finally everything seems to be moving in a forward motion rather than the plateauing one you’ve all been hearing about.  Thank you Design Development! The upstairs and downstairs bathrooms are all framed, and the ceiling in the upstairs bedroom is... More
As you’ve probably surmised from this blog already, renovating is not for the faint of heart. Believe it or not, I had my first trip ever to a police station last weekend—all the result of an unfortunate situation with an electrician. I’m hoping you will all gain a bit of wisdom from my mistakes.   Our original contractor had hired an electrician whom I directly gave quite a hefty down... More
You know how a few weeks back I said, I’m trying hard to become one of those people who sees a silver lining in everything?  Turns out this week, we found an actual silver lining (if you can believe it) in FEMA’s ordinance to raise the house. However, this silver lining took the form of extremely frustrating news, so I’m not sure that counts as a silver lining…but let’s be positive. We... More
SO, I’m sure you’re all waiting, with breath that’s bated – we’ve decided to: RAISE the house not raze it.  Of course the first step in this decision-making process was to hold another "feet to the fire" meeting with Chip Brian, the head honcho of the Design Development team.  He was brutally honest about the grim realities of building a new house, coupled with the grim reality of what... More
If my beach cottage were actually a houseboat, right now it would be a very, very rocky one. As you know from the last update, FEMA has unfortunately rezoned the Branford waterfront due to Hurricane Sandy. The short version being: I need to raise my house higher above the shoreline in order to meet FEMA standards. Raising the house, though, is far more complicated and far more expensive than... More
Here's our house during an earlier storm. This was on the cover of the Hartford Courant in September '85. We got some news this week: Turns out months after the fact, Hurricane Sandy reared its ugly head one last time. Due to all the substantial damage on the Connecticut Shore Line, FEMA has redefined zoning in Branford.  In July, our cottage will be classified as a high-velocity zone... More
In August of 2011 Hurricane Irene leveled the Connecticut shore and devastated our cottage.  Apparently it was a blessing in disguise that we hadn’t thus far worked on the house, because the house was literally sitting in the Long Island Sound.  Once we rung all the water out, we were left with, well, not much.  We had no choice but to completely tear out the first floor interior... More
It turns out that buying the house was the easy part.  Everything became so much more complicated at that point.  Our mission was to keep the integrity of the house intact.  It’s a 1901 summer cottage, that at one point, had no electricity or indoor plumbing. Of course, it had been wired and piped before it came into our lives – ditto for the unfortunate 1970’s addition to the... More
When you’ve found the perfect house and you’ve fallen in love, but it’s set in a location you’d like to change, it’s hard not to wish that you could simply blink your eyes and move it.  We had that experience with our beautiful house in Connecticut’s Litchfield County.  It was on a lake, and as much as John (Speredakos) and I tried to convince ourselves that any body of water would do,... More
Like you, I have a suitcase in rip-stop fabric, with four spinny wheels to save my back and handy zippered mesh pockets. A marvel of product design, it’s light as helium to hoist up into the overhead compartment, and it does everything but print out my boarding pass 24 hours ahead of my flight. The only thing to distinguish it on the carousel from endless iterations is the tacky red yarn I... More