After a eight-month renovation to our new home, we were looking forward to a little downtime. We planned a summer of projects we could DIY. And with our house structurally where we want it, and we were excited to get our hands dirty making all of the inspiration we’ve gathered into a reality.
And then our contractor found mold in, essentially, all of our exterior walls. There were outdated materials (Styrofoam under stucco) and causing a host of issues. The runoff on the roof was causing extra mold to gather in the corners under the stucco. The garage overhang is moldy. We thought we had time to plan for and budget for our exterior, but it just rose to the top of our list. This affects our health, so it’s priority one.
You might be asking, “Why didn’t you discover this in our home inspection?” Because it’s not something that we ordered. (You can!) When we had our home inspected, there were no signs of mold, so we didn’t order an additional testing of the walls or exterior. We live in a very dry climate, too, so it’s usually not an issue. But in retrospect, I wish we had the stucco tested.
Our contractor is currently removing all of the mold and is applying house wrap while we decide what to do next. We’re nervous because we’ve never done an exterior before. A little overwhelmed because we still have a heap of decision fatigue from the last eight months of our interior renovation. And truthfully, we didn’t even know what an exterior would cost. We have a budget, and we’ve considered the possibility of doing this in stages: replace the stucco… and then the stone… and then the roof. It started to feel like a Frankenhouse.
So, for the first time — we decided to hire a designer. We know we’re fish out of water on this one. We know we can’t afford to redo it if we don’t get it right the first time. We know we’re experiencing major decision fatigue after the renovation we’ve undergone. Also — this is the outside of our house! Way more people will see the outside than the inside! In addition to making sure that it’s safe and designed correctly, we want for it to look really nice (of course).
We gave them our budget, showed them current photos of the house and these inspiration photos I collected on a Pinterest board here:
We also told them that we love the look of stone, but we want something dark and moody. We told them we’re planning a balcony outside of our bedroom, above the new dining room. We like the front porch, but we’re not married to anything really. We told them we needed help getting our home to place where it’s safe, and can look its best for the money we have right now. We asked: Is this even realistic with our budget?
This is what they said:
“Do you plan to keep the existing ledge stone?” Katie Hackworth asked. “I love the look of stone right now, but yours looks too manufactured. (Please excuse my bluntness!)” (Totally excused, and we completely agree.)
“Shutters only work if they match the windows they are paired with,” Katie said. “Either remove completely or create new ones that mimic the window openings. They would make a statement!” We’re not super into shutters, so we’re fine to forgo this line item on the budget.
“Do you plan to keep the existing composite roof material?” she asked. “A cedar shingle (more streamlined than a shake) would be gorgeous. Might break the bank though. Maybe down the line.” A roof feels like something we should budget for. We want to invest in quality materials and do this right.
“There’s a lot wrong with it,” Jeffrey said. (gulp) “I would suggest taking off any soffits at the eaves and doing cut rafter tails like the images you sent me. It would be a tricky bit of framing, but it would help a lot and made easier if you rip the roofing off (and you should).” Well that settles that.
“The house has really good bones,” Studio McGee said. (Whew!) “And the landscaping is dreamy! You are onto something with the new windows and I can totally see this being something very special!”
In the end, it came down to budget, our location, and their availability (We needed it done ASAP before it gets cold again). We’re excited to announce that we’re working with Studio McGee to design our exterior! We’re grateful to Katie Hackworth and Jeffrey Dungan for lending their expertise and will continue to admire their work. (We’ve been in talks with Katie for the last year because we initially hired her to help us rebuild the cabin, but we decided not to rebuild after all).