Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 204: MoCo Approves!

Big night tonight in Silver Spring: The Montgomery County Planning Commission approved our application for an Historical Area Work Permit!  (Hooray!  And hooray for lots of capitalized words!)  Although this was not a contentious thing-- we knew we were recommended to be approved by the staff, and we were placed on the consent calendar, which means there was pretty much nothing wrong with our application-- it was still one of our last obstacles to get this darn thing moving.  And it took a grand total of about three minutes.  At 7:30 they called the meeting to order; by the time I silenced my cell phone they had introduced the agenda; by 7:33 I was walking out the door, my and four other applications approved by unanimous consent.  Not bad.

So here's where we stand right now:

  • We've got permission from both the State of Maryland and Montgomery County to go through with our plans, as modified of course;
  • We have to bring whatever architectural drawings we have to the County in the next few days to have them approved, which I'm told takes hours, not days or weeks or SIX AND A HALF MONTHS, which is how long we've owned this house without legally being able to do anything to it; and
  • Once the drawings are approved, we have to apply for building permits, just like anyone else does working on any other house.  Again, days, not weeks or HALF A YEAR.
  • Also, we just got "approved" for a six-month extension of "work" by our loan servicer.  Kind of ridiculous, if you ask me, because there was no way we were doing the whole thing in six months, but we had to put that down initially and extend after that was over.  Then they loan people were apparently going to give us shit about not having stuff done, as if we had been sitting on our butts the last six months, just paying this enormous mortgage and enjoying our shell of a home.  Weirdos.

The State did reject not only our choice of shingles, but the very thought of anything other than extreme top-of-the-line shingles or regular old cheapo Home Depot shingles, which does suck.  Apparently in the 115-year history of the house, there have only been two documented types of roofing: the original cedar shakes, which would cost upwards of $40k to install; and the current army-issued cheapos, which just look cheap.  We tried to argue that having higher quality shingles that look like cedar shakes should be good enough, but the State argued that their goal is to avoid the Disneyfication of historic areas-- only historically documented materials are allowed, and reproductions are a non-starter.  So it looks like we'll be searching for the best cheapo shingles we can buy, and dealing with it.  I'm disappointed, not only because I wanted to be able to upgrade, but because the Dutch Windmill's owners replaced their dilapidated roof with beautiful cedar shakes.  But, alas, we can't break the bank on roofing.  Maybe when I win the lottery... which I don't play...
The shingles we can't afford.
The shingles we wanted.

The shingles we'll have to get.
 Anyhow, it looks like we're now reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.  And that means, hopefully, more things to update on the blog.  We were hoping to decorate the place for the holidays, but we had to run out of town unexpectedly and only got back two days ago, so Bungalow Christmas Part One is going to have to wait until next year.  But I'm looking forward, albeit very warily, given all the crap we've had to deal with just in the red tape, to getting moving.

And I promise, if we all take sledgehammers over to the house this weekend as a Christmas present to ourselves, I'll definitely take pictures. :)

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