The Cross House
I have a problem.
You see, I have X amount of financed construction funds left, and just learned that I have four months to spend this borrowed pool of money, or else the unspent amount gets cancelled by the bank when the loan is rolled over into the mortgage of the Cross House at the end of February, 2015.
What do I spend the money on? I mean, there are 8,746 projects which need doing NOW. But I cannot get 8,746 projects done in four months, nor could I afford to.
So, here are my thoughts:
PROJECT IDEA ONE
Get the carriage house next door fixed up and rented. Great idea!
I do not have enough to get this project done, well, right. I do have enough, maybe, to get it done sorta kinda just OK. But, I have never been OK with just OK. I am more an all-for-nothing kinda guy, even in the face of overwhelming obstacles.
PROJECT IDEA TWO
Spend every last dime getting the main porch fully restored. This means recreating all the missing bits (columns, lattice, railings) and restoring damaged bits. Great idea! LOVE THIS IDEA!
Yesterday my wood guy announced he can no longer accept any new projects till like February.
PROJECT IDEA THREE
There are two Big Ticket items not completed:
1) While the radiator system has had its four new-ish pulse boilers repaired (at great cost), the pipes to many radiators are not connected. Some we pulled apart, and some were pulled out many years ago. Some radiators need replacing. So, I could complete the radiator system! Great idea!
2) I need to install what I call The Lid. This will be a 12-inch-thick layer of closed-cell foam between the second-floor ceiling and the third-floor. This will stop my heated air from the occupied levels from vanishing up into the unoccupied third level, and then out through the roof (85% of heat goes straight UP and OUT). Great idea!
This project seems highly sensible. These are two vital tasks, and each will cost a scary amount. While I could afford these tasks in the next four months there is no guarantee that I will have such a chunk of change in, say, two years.
It would be great, and a relief, to complete these two Big Ticket and VITAL projects. But…this will have no immediate benefit as it is unlikely I will be able to move into the house for several years. I hate the idea of having the radiator system fully restored at great cost…and not use it for years.
PROJECT IDEA FOUR
For the last several weeks I have been quite excited about the idea of converting the basement into an apartment. And a way cool apartment, no less. I had the thought that I would marry the sorta steam-punk look of the basement with a Hollywood-Regency decor. So, old brick, concrete, and exposed pipes juxtaposed with leopard print rugs and crystal chandeliers. Wild, right?
This idea has the added benefit of bringing in some money (the rent would cover the mortgage) and offers the huge advantage of having a living presence in the house (the house has been mostly empty since 1990).
I need to sheet-rock over the exposed wood floor joists as a fire prevention measure; I likely will be required by the city to do this. This is something I could afford, and am even eager for as fire-prevention measures are ALWAYS a good idea. But….but…sheet-rocking the basement ceiling is pretty much the last thing I would normally do. This is a project that one does after ALL the wiring is completed, ALL the ducting, ALL the radiator piping, and, well, you get the idea. I loath the idea of installing a nice new pretty ceiling and then spending the next ten years punching holes through it.
PROJECT IDEA FIVE
The interior of the house looks like a bomb exploded. In every room the plaster walls have large sections of plaster and lath missing, as do the ceilings. In several rooms there IS no ceiling. There is no kitchen. No bathrooms.
Yet, amidst this devastation is gorgeous grandeur: carved mantles, stained-glass windows abounding, an intricate hand-carved staircase, stunning trim and doors, encaustic tile floors, and on and on. And, the grandeur is all there. For all that the house has been through, what was there in 1894 is 99% still there. Really, this is a miracle.
So, I had this thought: Gee. Would it not be great, and highly uplifting, to make the first floor — just this one floor — NOT look like a war zone?
The new rigid cooling ducts are all now in. Most of the wiring is now done. Getting the plumbing up to the second floor is not a big deal. Then I could repair the plaster walls, sheetrock over missing ceilings and other areas, get the floors sanded and varnished, restore the half-bath, and — presto — the first floor would look better than it has in many many decades. It would not be done but it would look good, girl, damn good.
I could then move my zillion books into the library (I cannot get over that I own a house with a room labeled: Library. This sends a shiver down my spine).
What a joy it would be, over and over and over again, to walk through some COMPLETED rooms in the years to follow? Wow. WOW!
And for not too much money or effort (relatively speaking, of course).
I had resigned myself to the idea that that the interior would have to wait until the whole exterior was done, and the carriage house done and rented. But, as I cannot work on the exterior during the winter, and cannot afford to do the carriage house right now, this idea seems to have merit. And the idea just occurred to me today.
Critical Note: The basement and first floor have, separate from the not working radiator system, a forced-air heating system. Which DOES work. Whoee! With the push of a button I could have heat on these two floors. In order to KEEP the heat on these floors, I will have to put a temporary cap over the huge open stairwell. And, I can use this cap as a scaffold so that I can also repair the second-floor ceiling over the huge open stairwell!
With heat, this project becomes an ideal Winter Project.
I cannot think of any mitigating reason not to proceed with Project Five.
What do you think I should do?