We spent several weeks from January through March 2002 looking for a house on Cape Cod. We started looking in Dennisport, where my brother Bob had his house a few years ago, but the more we looked the more we gravitated towards West Dennis. The problem was price, and every time we found something we liked we were either just beyond our budget or we were outbid.

Late in the process, just when we were ready to give up, a broker we had met called us to look at a property which had just hit the market. She called on a Monday night. I returned her call on Tuesday, and checked the location and the listing on the web. I was stuck at work, but Dorothy was able to go take a look on Wednesday. She called me from the place, and after a brief conversation I told her to make an offer. She and the broker spent a while refining the terms of the offer and then Dorothy headed home. When I got home from work I heard the message on the answering machine that our offer had been accepted! I didn't even see the place until the following Saturday.



Aerial view

If you look carefully in the aerial view above, you can barely make out a small oval due north of what looks like a notch in the shoreline (that's South Village Beach.) Anyway, the oval is an old development that was planned as a race track. The 'infield' has two interior dirt roads, and the place is in there.

the infield

The house faces east, and sits towards the rear of the lot, and near the south border, leaving a reasonably nice and private back yard, and lots of room for cars on the North side of the front.

house in bloom



Naturally, on the cape. there was a need for a new septic layout. It was to be all underground, behind the house, like so:


But in fact, once it was completed, the overall level of the back yard was raised by about 9", due to the height of the tank itself, located right next to the deck. We had a tough time dealing with the installer, and the installation problems delayed the closing. I finally had to do some of the 'restoration' work in the back yard myself, and we got a small financial settlement for our trouble.

Septic 1 septic septic 3what they left

I re-used the old patio blocks and recreated a small patio next to the deck. This created a stiff transition from the new patio down to the foundation, and I had to be careful about drainage around the bulkhead. The drainage of the whole lot ended up even worse than it was, but overall the patio part all seemed to work pretty well.



Original Interior

Inside it was cozy, but adequate. There was a decent sized panelled living room, two roughly equal bedrooms, kitchen and bath. Pull-down stairs outside the bathroom lead up to the attic storage and that bulkhead outside enters a full basement with a laundry. An old furnace provided forced-hot air heating, and we installed an attic fan to help (not much) with ventilation and cooling. The kitchen had a large refrigerator and an old gas stove.

We set up the rear bedroom is set up as the 'master' bedroom with an old brass bed of Dorothy's and an old dresser. Guests are accommodated in twin beds in the front bedroom.

Here are a couple of shots of Dorothy checking it out shortly after we made the room

The kitchen... well, it was a little

Living room as it was in room wide into kitchen

and as it was in 2005 after we had settled in.

new living room living room 2

bathroomAnd note the lovely green bathroom.


Phase two and beyond

The concrete-block walls in the basement had some 'settlement cracks,' cracks which our inspector assured us were 'cosmetic.' Unfortunately, they were more serious. The walls  were bulging, roughly around the frost line, and with the cracks and the poor lot grading, the basement proved to be pretty wet, especially during the unusually wet spring of 2003. Then in 2005 our neighbors to the south added a new septic system to their lot, increasing our overall drainage problem.

From the day we bought the place we'd considered various possibilities for 'elective' work, like maybe turning the deck into an enclosed 3-season porch, raising a cathedral ceiling in the living room and/or kitchen, and certainly at some point re-doing the kitchen. We were also interested in providing an internal stairway down into the basement, and now we knew we had to improve the drainage on the lot to try to make the basement less wet.

In 2004 it became apparent that there was also some mandatory work, like removing the chimney which was on the verge of collapsing, and replacing the furnace (which finally broke down in the spring of 2005.)  So we put our requirements and wish list items together, and hired a local architect.

After a long struggle with the design, the budget and the basement remediation plan, in the Fall of 2005 we began a significant remodel/addition project to fix the basement, re-grade the lot to improve drainage, cathedral the ceilings, and build an addition. The addition would expand the kitchen space, and provide a dining space. The architect devised a new kitchen layout, a loft above the dining space, a new basement space below it, and a nice sunroom flanking an all-new rear deck. We added a gas fireplace in the living room, a new front porch, arbors above both decks, and a small 1/2 bath by the new addition entrance.

Not bad for a couple of kids from Ward 2.


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