Chestnut Cottage Chapter I

Part of the charm that made me really like this diamond in the rough we now call home, was the house, garage, and storage shed all boast the same chalet style.  I must admit I was particularly fond of the little storage building.

Many years ago when I first got on the internet I came across an article about Henry David Thoreau’s 2 year, 2 month, 2 day life of simplicity in a small cabin.  That article stirred my childhood dreams of owning a small cabin.  After we moved in I spent several days trying to find that article. Unfortunately I could not locate it, however,  I did find this:

Photo Credit:

A web site that goes into great detail about Thoreau and his cabin.  I discovered our storage building is almost the exact size of  Thoreau’s cabin. I decided to listen to the small voice from my childhood and convert the storage shed into a useable living space.  My first thoughts were to finish it on the inside and install climate control so our ‘storage’ aka photos, papers, etc would not become ruined.

I’ll never forget the day we moved in.  The property manager had a 5 man crew meet us so they could remove all the owners contents from the garage and storage building.  They filled an entire truck with the contents of the storage building.  They said they would return to get the rest, but we never saw them again.  On our own, 10 construction trash bags later, we had it looking like this:

It looks so much better in the winter time, you don’t see the 30 years of wood growth all around it, though the leaves, leave plenty of evidence.

Steve found board remnants everywhere so he stacked and covered them to keep dry.

The two large trees in the front are Chestnut Oaks.  They are 4 inches away from the gable fascia.

We didn’t clean out all the stuff on the right side of the building or under it (right away) – years of who knows what just piled up.

Oh I wish I had taken a picture of the inside before we removed all the stuff!

I give huge kudos to Steve and Isaac for vacuuming out the years of critter stuff.  Sweeping just doesn’t cut it in my book.

Look how the stuff bent the shelves.

The plank floors.  To keep the critters out (not), someone cut strips of tar paper and nailed it at the seams.

The make shift shelving removed – we salvaged every piece, you never know when your going to need a scrap of wood.

Jump ahead to Spring 2010.  Look at how close to the ground the building is!  Steve and I were both amazed it had not rotted, after 30 years.

I found the slate buried throughout the yard. I made a path from the house to the shed.  It’s more comforting to step on slate verses leaves, especially after the neighbors told me there are snakes throughout these parts.

Look at the siding, poor little building is just begging for help!

Digging a deep trench for power with a rented ditch witch.  So thankful for that piece of equipment!  Ran power to the garage first.

Then took power to the storage shed, look at all those roots!  Amazingly, the trees survived the ditching.

Jump ahead 30 days.  Dug around the old footers and poured additional concrete to make them meet building code.  Raised the building (which also moved it back from the chestnut oak trees about three feet).  Installed 2″x10’x15′ boards on all four sides and one in the middle to reinforce the sagging floor.  Built a small stoop and stairs.  Pulled out the slate and rearranged it to fit the new steps.

Clean siding after scrubbing – this little building seems happy again!

This is the right side, notice all the stuff piled up is gone.

It was not fun climbing the ladder to clean the soffit, fascia and gable – very high up there, especially on the back side of the building.

The back.  See all the wood rescued from the shelves under the building.

I forgot to mention earlier that we bought two windows from our buddy Craig (list).  One of the original windows was missing and the other was only a single pane.  These were replacement windows that a homeowner replaced, we got them for $40!  Other than needing new screens they are super nice, they even open inside for cleaning!  Love that Craig guy!

This was my first time installing insulation.  Having to wear long sleeve shirt, pants, face mask and goggles in 95 degree weather made for a couple very hot sweaty days.

Breaker Box – Power Yay!

The old door was cut at the bottom and very rusted, so we invested in a new one.  Installed plywood over the old floor after removing the tar paper strips and nails.

For climate control we opted for a PTAC unit, like those found in hotels.

I took pictures of the drywall process, but I can’t find them for the life of me.  Drywall was the most difficult, mudding the joints was very painful, it took forever to smooth them out.  Drywall professionals are worth their weight in gold!

For a temporary floor, I opted to paint the subfloor with porch paint.  At this point in the construction, Fall was fast approaching and we had company coming.  So I put in a full size bed, a chair, window treatments, and lighting (so long storage idea).  Over the holidays family stayed with us.  Steve and I gave up our room at Chinkapin and we slept in Chestnut.  It’s like luxury camping – we love it!

I’m delighted to tell you the next post, Chestnut Cottage Chapter II is brought to you by New Dimensions Solutions, LLC.  I’ll detail the new pine floor installation with DIY instructions.  Until next time.

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