My hands have only just stopped shaking - I wrote the final cheque today for this past summer's renovations. Let's just say that the figure on the in the amount line would have fed a family of four for two years.
The original quote wasn't cheap but what drove it higher was the dry rot in the veranda ceiling. Can any one explain why dry rot is wet? Given that most of the supporting joists were more sponge than wood, it's a wonder I didn't fall through the floor last December while blithely decking the railings with boughs of holly! Of course, it may be that at -20 dry rot becomes rock solid ice rot. Memo to self: Put up this year's decorations a week earlier when you'll only get soaked through not frozen to the bone. Either way I'll probably get one of those colds that lingers through the entire winter.
We were lucky to find a contractor who understood historical restoration and did an incredible job. Luc and his guys used as much of the existing material as they could - restoring gingerbread, adapting railings and recreating details. Unfortunately when they pulled off the veranda ceiling the above horror (a double click with give you an idea of the real extent of the disaster) was revealed. Luc gave me a choice between a completely new veranda at $4500.00 that would last for 30-40 years or a solid repair job at $1600.00 that would last 20-25. The way I figured it 20-25 years from now I'll be in one room with a dresser, two chairs and a bed so the choice was an easy one. I must say the $1600.00 job looks like a million dollars. And the new windows and storm panels for the front dollar are perfect replicas of the original. Sadly that's the only problem when you restore a heritage home - all that work and money and the house looks just like it did before you started!
One word of advise to anyone thinking of buying a heritage home - and yes there are other fools out there who do that sort of thing: make sure you win a lottery and do it while you're young.