Second Floor Reborn

It was disconcerting to see a house with no second floor. Or rather, it had a platform that you could stand on so you were at second floor height, but there were no walls to speak of, nothing that made it seem like a legit second floor that would ever be livable.

Thankfully, the new gable walls showed up quickly to reassure us that yes, in fact, we would one day be able to have a real second story.

In these initial stages of gable-raising, you’ll notice that the roofline is fairly similar to that of the former roof. The only difference is that we increased the roof pitch (from 8′ to 10′) to provide more livable square footage). That said, the real change will be apparent when you see the dormer go on the river-facing side (in a future post). The dormer will raise the ceiling height of the two upstairs bedrooms and prevent us from having to squeeze things underneath the eaves.


As you can see above, the guys started the day with basically a second floor platform. They built the entire gable wall on that platform and then raised it up and into place. HOW they managed to avoid pushing the wall too hard (and down onto the kitchen) is beyond me, but that’s why they’re builders and I am not. Also, please forgive the less than ideal quality. I was spying on the process from the window at my parents’ house up the hill!


Wall is raised and in place! The guys then spent the rest of the afternoon securing it into place – again, how the wall stayed upright and didn’t somehow fly over, I will never know.

Check out a video of the gable raising below!







Level floors are in sight! Once the old flooring came out, the crew put a new sill on top of the concrete foundation wall. Then, after a couple of months of resting on temporary bridging, the back wall was brought back down to rest on the sill. Sigh of relief.


With the new sill in place, floor joists went in quickly and a new, level floor system was born.


Throughout the renovation process, this structure continues to surprise me with its ability to expand and contract. In the previous post, that dirt floor looked so small! It’s always so surprising when the house can seem like a different size from one day to the next. The joists look so long and spacious!

It’s difficult to walk on joists and film it all at once:


Next up is, you guessed it, more demolition.


Jacked Up (one more time)

Now we’ve come to the day when the cottage became a funhouse with the ability to give vertigo to any who entered. The floor that went from the center of the house towards the river was very tilted. Not quite to the point where you felt like you’d fall off the back of the house, but it certainly wasn’t a reassuring slant. As with the front of the house, we had to jack up the back wall so that the floor system could be rebuilt, raised up, and restored to a comfortably walkable angle.

Continue reading “Jacked Up (one more time)”

Isn’t she a beauty?

Welcome to the River House!

Built in 1831, this charming home on the Connecticut River is our diamond in the rough, emphasis on very, very rough. Over the past few years, we’ve watched the vacant home fall into an increasingly sad state, so when the opportunity arose to purchase it, our family jumped at it. The thought of watching the place get torn down only to be replaced by some modern home that didn’t jive with the neighborhood was too sad. We had to save it ourselves.

Originally, my parents had planned to buy the home with the hope of renting it out, but as the plans evolved, Steve and I couldn’t resist the idea of living there ourselves. We’re going for it! Apparently, Steve had a hunch that it would work out this way all along, but it took some convincing and time for me to adjust to the idea of putting down adult roots in the neighborhood where I grew up. I’ve turned the corner though.

Now that the renovation is starting to happen and is actually feeling real, I’m getting increasingly excited. Guys, the river is legitimately right behind the house (in a safe, non-flooding kind of way), you can see eagles from the living room, there’s going to be a fireplace, and, not to sound too stereotypical, but I get to design the kitchen, and I’m pumped.

We hope you’ll follow along throughout this transformation with us!