Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Jerkinhead Roof

You might be wondering if we are under construction yet...and I would have to laugh, because no we are not.  The woes of home renovation...the last month has been hands down one of the most frustrating and stressful that we've ever experienced.  When I last left off, we were in the middle of an epic battle with our fabulous historic preservation minded neighbor, Paul.  After we filed our certificate of appropriateness application with the city, and entered the 2 week waiting period with big red sign prominently displayed in the yard, Paul got increasingly annoying.  Letters go out to neighbors announcing our application to defile our historic home (aka add 2.5 feet of completely unnoticeable ridgeline to our roof), welcoming all disgruntled neighbors to join us at the hearing and generally make our life miserable.  Paul invited himself  to our backyard neighbor's home for a memorial day picnic, and was taking pictures of our home from their back deck, and attempting to get our good friends onto his side and join the battle against us!  He was kindly asked to stop or leave--go team Ritger!  A few days later, I pull up to the house to find Paul taking photos in our side yard--when he sees me, he literally jumps off the retaining wall onto the sidewalk and beelines it before I can confront him-seriously, dude?  And a few days after that we are walking back from the pool past his house-his wife and him are coming out of their home and he literally does an about-face and shuts the door when he sees us-leaving his poor wife standing on the sidewalk to deal with the awkward situation.

So, after all this annoying behavior, we get an overly friendly email from Paul inviting us to the neighborhood association meeting to present our application to his committee-awesome, another presentation!  We oblige, choosing to take the high road and ignore the fact that we all know he was sneaking around in our yard the day prior taking pictures (I'm pretty sure that's considered trespassing, but whatever).  Bottom line: the meeting didn't go well.  Paul's historic preservation committee is basically a group of little Paul preservationist clones that are well trained in the "spirit of Grant Park"  (no lie, I could do nothing but chuckle and smile when he accused us of "destroying the spirit of Grant Park").  Our home renovations, were "detrimental to the historic nature of our home".  I'm pretty sure I clearly rolled my eyes at least 10 times during his presentation of why the neighborhood cannot support our project, despite their sympathy for our situation.  Lucky for us, there was Rick, another board member who clearly  saw that this was going nowhere quickly, and before he let Paul pass a motion of neighborhood non-support,  suggested that we all sit down with the architect and builder and attempt to come up with a compromise plan that would make everyone happy.

We agreed (well Johnny agreed, I was so frustrated and sweating and pregnant that I didn't want to give these people anything...this is why Johnny balances me so well).  I spent much time on the phone with our architect the next day, near tears of frustration due to the stress this was causing me, the rediculousness of the situation and the notion that it was looking like there was a really good chance that our renovation was going to be denied 8 weeks before I birth our 3rd child in 3 years and I will permanently have a child living in my bedroom.  I think our architect sensed the stress and urgency that was oozing from me, and this is where the Jerkinhead Roof plan comes into play.  In a moment of architectural genius, she comes up with a plan that while it will require "structural acrobatics" and "engineering precision", it will meet all historic guidelines and still give us the space we need.  She sends the plan, it just might work! We meet with 3 neighborhood reps, our architect, and builder the next day at our home to present the plan, and hot damn, PAUL LOVES IT!  He agrees to write a letter of support from the neighborhood to send to the urban design commission for our hearing in 3 days.  Our architect scrambles to come up with new plans before our hearing date to present in place of the originals.

And that brings us here: The Atlanta Urban Design Commission hearing-practically a date night for Johnny and I.  I have to admit walking into this room was  slightly unnerving as it looked  like we were presenting our case to congress.  Luckily we were about #15 on the agenda, so by the time it was our turn we had a really good idea of what we needed to do/say.  It also was significantly less intimidating than it looked-only 6 out of 12 commissioners showed up, and most of them had very little to say to anyone.  They seemed to have the attitude that the less we talk, the faster we get out of here. We hand our updated "option-c, the jerkinhead roof plan" to the commissioners and ask them to disregard our original submission.  They also had a beautifully supportive letter written by Paul in support of "option c" that actually encouraged the commission to pass this through.  We do our presentation while they look over the plans, and then refer to the staff member who seems to have all the guidelines for approval memorized forwards and backwards.  She quickly reports that this plan is in full compliance with historical regulations, and if we had submitted it originally we wouldn't even be standing here in front of the commission.  They smiled, and said, well do we even need to vote on it? or can we just send these folks home to get building?  They decide to vote so we can have our official stamp of approval after 6 yays and 0 nays!  I cannot express the feeling of relief I felt at that moment.

So now a week later we have finalized floor plans and are waiting on the structural engineer to come out and give his report for permitting.  We have a construction start date set for the second week of July!  Our builder anticipates that we will be into finishings (trim, paint, doors etc) in 8 weeks by mid september!  In case you are wondering what exactly a jerkinhead roof or hipped roof looks like this...Basically the gables turn down on the sides. We will be working behind the original "historic" ridgeline completely by using this type of roof, and we still keep very similar square footage inside to the original plan.  

In order to maximize our space, we are building bed nooks for all the kids that will look like this with build in reading lights cool is that?  Hank is already calling it his cave bed.  

Things are looking up on the home renovation front!  

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