Martin Acres Pop-Top planning
Im a Realtor, home-owner, investor and property manager. For more than 12 years I have lived in Boulder County, served its people and watched the market change and grow. I’m going to share with you, a new story though. I will be doing a pop-top on my Martin Acres home this year. As I foray into the world of permitting, construction, working with all the people it takes to get such a project completed in time and within budget (fingers crossed), you’ll have the chance to walk the path with me, follow along. For better or worse, this post marks the first of many honest accounts as we take a South Boulder brick ranch from 1955 design to something more “me” for 2017.
From the beginning…
Let’s get one thing straight; My 1300 square house with it’s two bedrooms and office, was plenty big enough for just me and for many years, I loved living there alone. The kitchen had been renovated in 2010, the back room in 2009. In 2013 I splurged for new windows and a tankless, on-demand hot water heater and finally this house was becoming the more efficient little box that I knew it could. But even then, it wasn’t winning any awards. I had cold spots around the edges of the wood floor from the lack of insulation in the crawl space/at the foundation walls. That same crawl space still sported an old water heater that I had been unable to remove (along with the other 2 I had down there!) because it was trapped behind the furnace. The furnace itself is now 16-18 years old with an expected useful life of 20 years. When it was installed, it was 80% efficient. Every door was drafty… and every electrical outlet too, it seemed. So yes, I was running into some dilemmas. I could keep throwing money into this house and get marginal improvements for the money, or really look at the house as a whole and make a new plan.
A year ago, my significant other, Mark, and I decided to live together. This Martin Acres ranch, with it’s amazing neighbors and proximity to everything I love, was my first choice for us… but it was too small for both of us and honestly, was “all me”. We needed a place that was “us” to start our new phase. I agreed to temporarily move to Longmont while we came up with a plan for living in Boulder together.
I met Ken Storm in July 2017 – just about the time he finished working on my neighbors house. He had completed that job on time and within budget and they had so many great things to say about him. Ken has references out the kazoo and they are all glowing! This was the guy I wanted to work with.
By September, Ken had worked up some draft plans/ideas based on what our needs were and an estimate of budget. We had our first official meeting October 5th and another the same month. Plans were being tweaked left and right as Mark and I learned the process and each other! Two more meetings in November and the plans were pretty much done.
December 2016: I met Ken and an engineer at the house. We were at the “getting ready to submit to the City” for permitting phase. The engineer was able to ascertain that my back room, an add-on from 1959, was not set on a foundation and couldn’t be built on top of. He also took some soil samples and shuffled around in the 3′ crawlspace, assessing things from below. The question then became do we cantilever out from the main part of the house, over the back room, or do we tear off the back room entirely and rebuild it?
I’m a “don’t throw good money after bad” type personality and immediately went for tearing off the room and rebuilding it. I know what you are thinking… Did the cost of the project just go up? Sure it did! Nothing is free when you are building a house! Hahahaha. But at the end of the day, that room will be both better built and have a deeper crawlspace under it, that will now be concreted and used as storage. Storage is one of the more challenging features of these 50’s homes. I also liked the idea of now being able to connect the house to the back room with ducting for heat and A/C. The back room was a CHEAP add-on by the original owners. The floor was a concrete slap poured on top of the existing concrete patio! It was a cold floor in winter and the only heat source for the room was a gas fireplace. This is one of those energy efficiency matters that I had reached a dead end on, previously.
In January we had another meeting with Ken and the plans were submitted to the City of Boulder for approval. I was notified by email when the first permit was issued. Demolition of the back room!
Last week we hit the T-14 day. Ken came for dinner and we had a great time going over the giant, official plans and shooting the breeze about all sorts of other stuff. True to reputation he is a wonderfully likeable person, professional all the way. He has faithfully listened to our needs and wants, asked a ton of questions, kept in close communication and kept us on track so far.
Ok, confession time. I’m on a budget and saving every penny for this project, but from time to time I see fixtures and such online and I just want to buy them for the new house! Lighting appears to be a weakness and despite being a rational, common-sense driven gal, I am fully capable of convincing myself that if I buy a light fixture now, it comes out of a different budget and doesn’t count in the overall cost of the pop-top. This has happened twice. I give myself a pat on the back for it only being twice, actually!
The first was a chandelier that I thought would look fun over the tub.
The second (again the lighting obsession) was something I saw on the Mapleton Hill House Tour 2016. The classier side of me took out my cell phone and snapped a picture of it. Yes, there were whisperings about this. It took almost a month to find something similar in my price range, or at least in a price range that I could rationalize in order to give it to myself for Xmas!
Ok, so I think I have that side of me under control for a while. Besides it won’t be too long before I will be called upon to make more decisions than I care for and right now I’m going to focus on my real estate clients and their design/house needs, until Ken gives me the go ahead. You should know by the way, that upon hearing of my late night penchant for chandelier shopping, Ken reminded me of the budget. Thank you, Ken! That is exactly the support I benefit from.
Today is T-7!!!!
On March 1st we begin taking down light fixtures and fans. The appliances will be removed to storage and the kitchen island is going to have a box built around it. The floors will be protected the best we can. I hope to try and save a few things from the garden before the demolition guys arrive with vehicles and such.
Mark and I go into this with so much hope and excitement. We are co-creating a new home and understand that with that comes risk to the existing stuff we wanted to keep – interior and garden and neighborhood relationships. For me, the most anxiety right now lies with offending the neighbors! One of my key reasons for wanting to be back in this house on this street, is the amazing and totally rare, loving relationships I have with all my neighbors there. For the next 6 months they will be putting up with noise, vehicles and a view that is just awful (for a while). I’ll be trying to make it up to them!
That’s right. The goal is 6 months to completion. 🙂