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Garage and addition: First meeting with the architect

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Image: DepositPhotos

Rebuilding the addition and building a new garage were always “someday” things that we were going to do at some point “down the road.” Unfortunately, with each passing year and each unexpected repair, the time-frame never changed– the addition was always about 5 years away. But with each passing year, I realize I am also getting older and closer to retirement. I realize that if we don’t do something soon, our dream will never be realized.

Multi-phase approach: Start with the garage

We have contacted our architect/project manager to start the preliminary work on the plans for the addition. Our hope is that we can build at least build the garage first. Then, in four or five years tear down and rebuild the addition.

Having a garage will allow me to get my tools out of the basement and out of storage. In fact, freeing up room in the basement might allow us to get everything else out of storage. That would save us some money. The garage will not only be home to my workshop (finally!), but it will also give the contractors a place to set up their shop when they are working on the addition. We should be able to afford the garage and driveway by next fall (a year and a half from now).

Just one question mark hangs over all of these plans, and that is whether or not we will be able to build the garage where I want.

A long anticipated meeting

It is always a good sign when an architect or contractor is too busy to start a project immediately. We have been trying to set up a meeting with the architect to discuss the addition and garage for about 9 months. I finally met with him on Wednesday and our meeting lasted just over an hour.

Even though it will be about a year and a half before we get the shovel in the ground for the garage (phase 2) and likely another five years for the addition (phase 3), I felt that it was important to get the ball rolling now. This way we both have the ability to be flexible. If he gets tied up in other major projects, we have the luxury to put this one on hold for a while without delaying the actual construction.

The garage

Dealing with an architect for a garage may seem extravagant, when DIY kits exist for a fraction of the cost. However we want the garage to either match or complement the house. Therefore, we need to know what the house will look like with the new addition. Building the garage in the fall of 2012 will fulfill the ambition I originally had for the fall of 2003. Nine years is a long time to wait for something that I expected to have within a few months of moving into this house.

The addition

We talked about some general ideas but did not go into too much detail. He will first come up with a general site plan and that will influence the footprint and the interior floor plan. I have a pretty solid vision of what I want and what I expect it to look like. No doubt he will come up with something vastly superior to anything I could imagine.

Questions answered

In addition to the new plans, we discussed a number of issues still outstanding in the rest of the house.

Cracking grout

Some of the grout is cracking in the bathroom and hallway tile work from phase 1. The architect said that he had seen this sort of thing before with in-floor heat and that using a flexible grout should solve the problem

Water leak in dormer

We also have an issue with water leaking in the back dormer. The contractors attempted to address the problem two years ago. At that time, they were three months into a project they originally expected to last a maximum of two months. The water leak was yet another “while you’re at it” task so I suppose I can forgive them not giving it too much attention. They missed the fact that the window has no drip edge– something the architect noticed right away. At least now we have identified the source of the problem.

Stair step cracks in bricks

There is some noticeable settling in the bricks at the front of the house. Many years ago, I called out a foundation specialist and they recommended installing helical piers to underpin the foundation. Not wanting to only do half a job, I asked for an estimate to underpin the entire house to avoid similar problems elsewhere in the future. As a result, I ended up with an estimate for more than $35,000.

Since that time, I have got numerous second opinions. Another foundation company refused to even come out to look at it figuring that it wasn’t a serious issue. I don’t know how they could tell over the phone, but they saved themselves a trip and lost any possible future business from me. And the contractor that worked on our house six or seven years ago theorized that the settling occurred due to vibrations during the construction of the neighboring house.

The architect came up with the most obvious explanation.  The house had been moved to its present location. That was when at least some of the damage likely happened.  The rest of the damage is the result of the house settling onto its new foundation.  Thinking back, I can’t remember if we yet knew about the house being moved when we got the first estimate.  Luckily, we couldn’t afford the underpinning at the time, otherwise we might have unnecessarily spent a huge amount of money. 

The next step

The architect is working on the site plan.  We’ll see roughly how much room we have to work with and then go from there.


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