Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

It all started with a leak under the cement slab… | June 14, 2010

One chilly November morning I was walking barefoot in the kitchen and noticed a place under the tile floor that was hot.  I called Tim over to see what he thought.  He said it was probably warm because the oven was on.  It took about a week of denying the obvious problem before we admitted that we had a leak in a hot water pipe that lived under the slab.  It took another week to realize that this wasn’t just cheap radiant floor heating and that we were going to have to do something about it.  Tim’s brother Sean, a contractor in Burlington Vermont, was visiting and told us the bad news.  We would either have to reroute the pipes through the attic or jackhammer a hole in the slab and repair the leak.  Either way we were facing a big mess in the kitchen right before Christmas.

Facing finals week for me and the busy Christmas season, Tim and I decided to put off the repair until the first of the year.  Not wanting to saturate the slab we turned the hot water on when we wanted to bathe, wash dishes, or any other hot water related activities, and then turned it off when we were done.   Instead of the melodious sounds of Christmas Carols emanating from our house you could hear “Water On!” Water Off!”   Corrina and Sam came home for Christmas and we had a great time in spite of our hot water issues, maybe because of the hot water issues.  One evening we were trying to maximize our hot water use so we were making dinner, washing dishes, and running a load of laundry through the washing machine.  Depression era American folk music was on the stereo adding to the ambiance.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, the kitchen sink started overflowing.  Corrina, Sam, and Joey sprung into action with piles of towels to sop up the water.  Tim ran into the garage to turn off the water.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but laughter won out and our festivities continued unabated.

Tim and I have always wanted to add a second story onto our house to capture the ocean view.  We planned to wait until after our kids were out of college, but with interest rates so low, and an expensive repair on the horizon we went in search of financing for our dream remodel.  The loan process was a series of good news, bad news.  Bad news—there is a leak in the slab.  Good news—interest rates are at a forty year low.  Bad news—housing values have dropped significantly in our area.  Good news—the appraisal came in high enough for us to get the money we need.  Bad news—the room that the previous owners added onto the back of our house was never permitted so the appraisal has to be redone.  Good news—we still have enough equity to get the loan we need.  Bad news—the loan is going to be more expensive than we thought so we might have to unwind the whole deal.  Good news—the mortgage broker reduced the points to make the deal go through.  Yea!  We got a nice fat check and it is time to get going!

Next time: The Design Process.

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We are embarking on an adventure turning a boring little ranch house into a modern style remodel.

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