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.

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