Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cheney Cottage: The Video

Eric Angress, who worked on the cutting and prep of the Cheney Cottage before we moved it, sent me a link to this video - it's definitely worth watching:

It really didn't go that fast, and I didn't remember it all being in German, but other than that, this tells the story.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Plans They Are A-Changing

It seems that our plans are going to have to undergo significant changes over the next couple weeks, thanks to the delays gifted to us by (you guessed it) the City of Berkeley's Permit Center.

We had hoped to get the Delaney House moved back and the Cheney Cottage moved to 62nd Street in May, so we would have the summer to work on the houses. Both houses need significant amounts of work: new foundations; wiring; new bathrooms; new kitchens; heating; plaster wall and ceiling repair; floors refinished; windows repaired; doors fixed and replaced. The Delaney House needs an entire first floor built, plus a staircase to the second floor. The Cheney Cottage needs just a crawl space. Both houses need extensive exterior work (new roofs, painting, new porches and stairs).

The way Tom and I can afford these houses is we do the work ourselves. The only exception, on the whole list above, is foundation work. Everything else, and I mean, EVERYTHING else, is being done by the two of us.

It now looks like we will get permits and sign off from PG&E some time late this week or early next week. So we may have the house move permit (just for the Delaney House) by the end of August. Four months later than we expected.

What this means is, we can't do it all. The plan was to move the Delaney House and put it up on cribbing, then move the Cheney Cottage and re-attach the two floors. We would then put the new foundation under the Cheney Cottage, and do the restoration of the house. Once that was done, and we can get people living in it, we would turn our full attention back to Delaney, and get the foundation done, the new first floor framed, and do all the interior work.

Now it seems we will move the Delaney House to the back of the lot, without demolishing the entire basement, and we will not lift it. Instead, we'll put the house back down, probably on blocks or on a thin slab - enough to keep it steady - and we'll leave it there. Then we'll get the Cheney Cottage moved, and hope to finish the restoration by the time the rains come. In the Spring, we can then go back to working on the Delaney House - we don't want to have it sitting up on cribbing during the winter, when it could be damaged by water and storms. This will cost more - we'll have to put the temporary foundation, and then get Phil Joy back to lift the house in the Spring.

This will put the Delaney House at greater risk for the coming winter, just as the sluggish permit process has damaged the Cheney Cottage by forcing us to leave it sitting in two pieces out in a field for 4 months - during the rainiest Spring and Summer in recent years.

So hat's off to the Berkeley Permit Center - they have managed to endanger a historic structure, endanger an 1880s victorian house, and keep needed housing off the market far longer than was necessary.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

By now you're wondering: did the boys get the permit? And the answer is: no.

Marsha Cook, who is a "Permit Specialist" (which in Berkeley is an oxymoron if ever there was one) has evidently gotten the approval on our Soils Report (this is the one we waited two weeks for). So today, when Tom called her (repeatedly), guess what? No answer, no call back, no response to email. We know that she now has to get some signatures to issue the permit, but our belief was that this part was pro forma, that everything was done, and that we could (finally) get the Delaney and Cheney permits. So we could actually start really working on 62nd Street.

No such luck.

And now that Marsha has ignored our calls and emails, the Permit Center is closed tomorrow. So the very earliest we will get our permits is August 16th.

I thought my reaction was quite calm and measured:
More fun next week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel

We do not have our permits in hand. But by this time tomorrow, we should have the Delaney House Permit, and we should receive the Cheney Cottage Permit by Friday.

Tom just got word that the final piece, the Soils Report, was reviewed and approved today (after a two week delay). So we can pick up our permit tomorrow from the Permit Center. The Cheney Cottage Permit should be following close behind.

Careful blog readers will recall that the original plan with the City was for us to get permits by May 15th so we could move the Delaney and Cheney houses that week. So we are receiving our first permit on August 12th - three months later than we expected. Not to mention all the added expense we had to go through, the various additional charges and reports the City heaped on - all the time telling us they really supported what we're doing. As I've mentioned in several other posts, this is the reason so many residents of Berkeley circumvent the permit process.

But I have spent enough time kvetching about the City of Berkeley. Let's look forward:

Today, the last of the landscape work is happening (removing another tree, cleaning up all the plant debris left from prior tree removal, etc). We will get PG&E to cap the gas and disconnect the power, and we will cap the sewer line. Then, Phil Joy and crew will return, and lift and move the Delaney House to the back of the lot. The new site has already been staked out, so we know exactly where to put the house.

On the first available Sunday after that, they will bring the second floor of the Cheney Cottage to 62nd Street, and lift it up high in the air on cribbing. The following Sunday, they will bring over the first floor of the Cheney Cottage, carefully position it below the second floor, and gently lower the second floor down onto the first floor.

And then the fun begins: reattaching the first and second floors of the Cheney Cottage; fixing holes in the walls and siding where the beams went through the house; replacing the trim removed prior to cutting the house in half; new foundations for both houses; building the new first floor for the Delaney House; new wiring and plumbing and heating systems for both houses; interior stairs for the Delaney House; new kitchens for both houses; restoring the Cheney Cottage bathrooms; landscaping; patching plaster; refinishing floors; fixing windows; painting the exteriors of both houses........

Stay tuned - we're almost on our way.