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Diary of a Mad Renovator: Swimming to Town Hall

Written by Jaqui Lividini

The house under construction today.

Last Tuesday was the big town meeting we've been waiting for—the one to decide whether or not our plans to raise the house would be approved by our town. (A little ironic because the town demanded the variance in the first place.) The zoning “board” meets every month to determine the viability of house projects that need special attention.  The town invites the homeowners to make a case for the request and asks the neighbors to debate it. The process always reminds me of the old movies where everyone in the small town gathers in the town hall to yell over one another and debate one person’s issue; like a fallen tree, or an extended property line. As with most things in real life though, it’s not like this film image at all.

If you live in the Northeast, you know that to say the weather last Tuesday was dreadful would be an understatement. Torrential rains resulted in flooding everywhere. The moral of the story being, I left Manhattan in a car at 4:30 pm for a 7 pm meeting and arrived at my destination at 8 pm. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Connecticut shoreline (sometimes I wish I wasn't)—the trip should only take about an 1 hour and 45 minutes.

It was a stressful chain of events as I sat helplessly in traffic, already nervous for a meeting that I slowly realized I wasn’t making. Manhattanites—a breed of human used to being in control of every aspect of our lives—all understand how infuriating helplessness in traffic can be.

Luckily our Design Development team project manager, Tim (who was also stuck in traffic), managed to make the 7 pm meeting time. Cool as a cucumber, Tim handled the hearing like the pro that he is. Tim gave me an email play-by-play of the evening’s events (kind of like commentating a tennis match)—and the good news is that the plans were approved; music to my ears. If there had been any sort of fight at the meeting, it would have been stressful beyond belief.  So approved they were, and now it’s in the hands of the engineer—he has to take what is drawn on paper and make it work in reality. Next on the agenda—permits and then we are all set to go, (God willing), and then the lifting begins!

My three and half-hour car ride turned out to be for naught. I arrived just as everyone was leaving—what a stage for the owner of the house to walk in on. If it had been like it was in the old movies, that's when the town mayor would have thrown me in the county jail for tardiness.  A wasted trip was enough punishment for this New York career woman.

I included sketches of the cottage with a 5 ft lift and an 8ft lift.  Which one do you think was approved?

8-foot raise

5-foot raise

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