Seven Quick (House) Takes

Like most people, I frequently think to myself, “Wow, I wish I could read a blog post full of complaining and whining today.” You probably feel the same way. No? My apologies in advance.

1. We’ve been trying to put a second floor and back wing on our little house for a year because 1058 square feet + baby + two dogs + (loud) TV loving husband = notawesome sauce.

2. We started working with an architect recommended by our contractor, who also happens to be the husband’s close friend. (The contractor, not the architect.) We spent a lot of time meeting with her to discuss long term needs and plans for our family, desired layout and features (hello soaking tub and built in bookshelves), and to try to preserve as much as we can of what’s already here.

We also spent a lot of time working with her on strategically designing the floor plan to avoid requiring a variance. Basically, the City of Atlanta requires a 7 foot setback on all sides in order to avoid a “variance.” (A variance is a huge pain and time suck and to be avoided at all costs.) Our hundred year old house was built before zoning laws and on one side, already overlays the setback by 4 feet. However, this was not a huge problem because the original structure would be grandfathered in, the second floor was designed to have closets directly over this area and “unheated storage” does not require a variance, and the back wing is narrower than the current structure and therefore falls within required setbacks.

We got our plans from the architect (and reports from the structural engineer, and plans from the landscape architect) and were all good to go to submit for permitting.

3. So we hired our expediter. What’s an expediter you say? Oh that’s just the person you have to pay to get your paperwork submitted at City Hall because it’s so onerous and complex to get through the bureaucracy, that you need a professional.

Matt, the expediter, took our stuff down there to submit and they rejected our application. Why? They wanted “more detail” from the architect on the design of the stairs. Really? What else is there to say? Thankfully, our architect was able to appease them by drawing a few more lines on the plans and they accepted the application the next time Matt took it down.

4. The city ordered a “tree prescription” because they fear the construction may damage some of our trees. This involves posting a large orange sign in your front yard, alerting the neighbors that you are a horrible person who places the needs of your family over the needs of an innocent tree. Also, it allows the neighbors to complain about your ecounfriendly ways should they desire. Then you pay “recompense” for hurting the tree and you pay the city arborist (do you see a theme here?) to come out and feed the tree.


5. But now! We are good to go! The city says we should have a construction permit within a month. Happy day!

Just kidding! They’ve changed the rules. Although the original structure was built outside the setbacks, it’s no longer grandfathered in. If we want to do anything other than paint or reshingle, we need the dreaded variance.

This requires submitting a variance application to the city, obtaining a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing date, obtaining a hearing date with the neighborhood association, obtaining a hearing date with the Neighborhood Planning Unit, and assembling a crap load of paperwork for aforementioned hearings.

I spent four hours at City Hall on Wednesday submitting our variance application. We have a date for our Board of Zoning Appeals hearing and this lovely new yard artwork:


Assuming all goes swimmingly with the variance (ha. ha. ha.), we might be able to begin construction in January.

6. In the meantime, we have been doing the bare minimum in the way of house maintenance because, “we are about to move out and into a rental.” But this keeps dragging out further and further and out house is turning into a hot mess.


Weed ridden garden? Check!


Front steps missing a large chunk? Check, check!


Washer/dryer closet (yay for retrofitting old houses!) missing the framing because old washer/dryer died and it needed to be ripped off to put the new ones in and who wants to spend another $150 to reframe it when you’re “about to move out”? Checkity, check, check!

The best part is, I have now hosted two holidays, out of town guests, and am about to have Will’s first birthday party in this setting. Good for the humility I suppose.

7. I know- this content is just riveting. Get excited because next week I’m going to share alllll about my diaper stripping and bleaching. Never one to disappoint over here.

Linking up with Jen, and other undoubtedly less whiny quick takers.


3 thoughts on “Seven Quick (House) Takes

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