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Diary of Mad Renovator: Raze it or Raise it?

Written by Jaqui Lividini

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 you could even imagine. The entire design we had planned is now compromised, and I’ve suddenly become one of those new homeowners whose house is less a house and more a never-ending work in progress. As an on-the-go personality,  I am more than dismayed by this standstill. At this point, there’s really only one question to consider: Should we raze the house, or raise the house?

Raising the house implies far more of a cost than we had ever expected. So we’ve been forced to ask ourselves whether or not it’s worth it just to tear it down and start from scratch. I’m almost afraid to give myself that much creative bandwidth. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly a woman of simple taste! So if we tear down the house and start from zero – will I really ever be done? Another thing to consider is the beach cottage aesthetic that we desperately wanted to keep intact when we first bought the house. If we rebuild, will it have even a semblance to the house that we fell in love with in the first place?

My Batman, Robin, Superman (and every other superhero I can think of) at Design Development are trying to help me mitigate the costs of raising the house. As of now, the cost of tearing it down and rebuilding (horrifyingly enough) does not seem so vastly different than the budget required for raising it and redesigning it.  Tearing down the house, though, brings a whole other host of restrictions that will rear their ugly heads if we were to rebuild – so it seems we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. I’m beginning to understand why certain New Yorkers never leave New York.


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