Gently sways the carriage house

When I got to the house Saturday morning, I was ready to start tearing the roof off the carriage house. Our friend Ryan drove into town from Wisconsin to help, and a dumpster had been delivered for depositing the carnage. But you know the day is going to have a twist when Andy, our contractor, greets you with “You want the good news or the bad news? The good news is it’s a sunny day.”

When Andy had climbed the ladder to the carriage house roof, the entire building shifted. Further review of the structure inside made him believe the entire building was listing to one side and might possibly be ready to tip over. Our plans for the day were immediately scrapped and reorganized, and we made some calls to get a second opinion on the carriage house’s condition. I did my best to remain calm.

Andy seemed keen to tear the whole thing down and start over. My position was that unless the repairs were untenably expensive, I’d sooner repair the existing structure. There’s a big difference in my mind between “Check out the original 1899 carriage house!” and “Check out my… garage.” If the structure had to come down, it probably wouldn’t get replaced very soon.

And remember, I’d already contracted for the new metal roof on this building that might now be unsalvageable.

Our architect friend Jim came by and had a very different take. The listing inside was an optical illusion caused by the way the builder flared the ceiling joists a bit. While the garage door had certain compromised the building (added by a previous, inept owner), it seemed like something that could be corrected by rebuilding that wall and straight forward reinforcements inside. We’re also getting a third opinion from Jim’s dad, who’s a master carpenter. At the moment, I feel cautiously optimistic, and certainly better than when I was half certain my carriage house was about to topple.

We had precious few people helping over the weekend. Besides Ryan, only Jeff and Jackie came by to volunteer time. We definitely made strong progress for how many of us there were, but we didn’t get nearly as far in the remaining painting as I’d hoped. The contractor work (boiler, chimneys, kitchen floor, plumbing, and more) looks like it will be wrapped in the next two weeks before our tentative move-in date.

I’m at the house nearly every day now, working on the front porch as the various tradesmen come and go. As summer ends and our volunteers grow scarcer, the tradesmen are at the climax of activity and my bank account will soon be wholly depleted. If this week goes well though and we’re able to have a successful inspection next week, we’ll be in a really good place.

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