We’re building

Cottage 2, shown at the left, will remain. The new design for cottage 1 is at the right.

It’s taken four months of design revisions, applications, negotiations, and public hearings but it’s finally happening. We’ve sent a big deposit and a signed contract to our builder, Art Hultin, we have approval from the Town of Eastham Zoning Board of Appeals and Conservation Commission, and now we await only the final permit from the town building inspector (not a minor detail, but we’re pretty confident). We’re building a house. It’s a cottage, actually—and not a Newport “Cottage” designed by Richard Morris Hunt with gilt doorknobs, but a real cottage—about 900-square-feet worth, in Eastham, Massachusetts.

Though it’s a small house, it’s a pretty big deal for us, and for me, especially. Am I the only architecture major who dreamed of building his own little place one day? Presumably not, and I can still clearly remember the excitement of the second assignment in our sophomore-year studio class, designing a house for ourselves and working out where to fit everything, from the home studio to the little eating alcove to the sleeping loft. Getting to finally build something that I’ve designed for my own family is very, very satisfying. But it’s not just for my family. We have a nice group of regular renters who use this cottage, too, some of whom have been coming to this spot for 50 years. I’ve worried, in fact, that some will miss the old place, with all of its do-it-yourself quirks and homely charm. I will miss the old place, too, although for me, the appeal of the new cottage will outweigh whatever sadness I feel about the loss of the old one.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that most of our renters don’t come back every year because of the house. Often, in fact, I know they were (like us) putting up with the old cottage–how cold it was in the wet, chilly months and how blazing hot it can be in July and August. They tolerated the balky heater and the noisy refrigerator and the tiny, stuffy back bedroom. We all come back to this spot because it’s a beautiful place to spend time with family and friends, on Cape Cod Bay where the surf is gentle and the sunsets are spectacular. And in the off-season, before the swimmers and sunbathers come, it’s as peaceful and contemplative a corner of the world as a person could hope for.

In the coming months, I’ll be keeping a journal of this project, in all its complexity. This will be the place to explain the design of the new cottage, and what we’re up to in rebuilding it, as well as to describe a little of the property’s history and why that history is important to us. Those few people, including our renters and a few family members, who are interested in following the progress of the project and finding out more can learn everything there is to know about it by following these posts over the next few months as construction gets under way, at last.

Today’s weather in Eastham: 47 deg. F, rain

What’s happening on-site: Conservation Commission pre-construction meeting

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