So we are embarking on a whole home renovation on an old colonial at 557 Winnetka Avenue in Winnetka, and there is a ton of work to do. Maybe two tons. I recall some good advice when I first peered down a steep mountain:
Cut the mountain up into slices. Then ski your slice.
The total project feels colossal at the moment. The permit was issued (more on that later). One slice. We have the fences up to protect the trees. Another slice. Enlist your 10 year old to clean up the 91 year old doors. Keep slicing.
Now a quick word about construction permits in Winnetka. The village requirements are stringent. The total cost of the permit can be breathtaking.
Any major renovation requires architectural plans and most likely a survey by civil engineers. We'll start the ball rolling with $10,000 or more out of the gates. We need to remove some trees to build a new garage, so the forestry department has to approve the plans and ensure that the remaining trees are adequately protected by chain link fence. It also requires a $10,000 refundable cash deposit. If you remove a tree greater than 8" in diameter, you will not only need the permit and have to pay the deposit, but you also have to replace removed trees with new trees of equal diameter or greater. In other words, be prepared to plant at least 30" worth of new trees if you take out two trees totaling 30" diameter. Landscaping costs begin there. We also need to upgrade the electrical, and the village requires us to use the village department for connecting the street power to the home via an underground cable. That's a bit more than $9,000 just to get 200 amp service running into the home. Gulp. The inadequate water service needs to be upgraded, too, which requires a directional bore from the water main under the street through the basement wall. Cha-ching. All of this before a single dumpster arrives on the lot.
The important thing is to retain your sense of humor.
As I walked away from the village cashier's desk, I jokingly asked her whether I looked any lighter. She smiled and said I looked as handsome as ever. I definitely paid for that compliment.