Tuesday, February 20, 2018
This ain't my first time at the rodeo, Shirley
So the Husband and I were at the Late Late Early Late Winter Cocktail hour the other night chatting and drinking and looking over the gay boy couple's addition (learn by seeing the mistakes of others) and we bumped into Shirley, the neighborhood busybody.
"I was talking with LaVaughn and she tells me that you are planning an addition," Shirley states.
Shirley *thinks* that she is the self-appointed committee on architectural review for the civic association. Make her a couple Manhattans, and she becomes the design Stassi. She has created numerous headaches for people and scared off a young couple that we met at our local watering hole who said: "She started telling us that we had to buy all new closable shutters for every window and all of sudden the house got more expensive than we budgeted for."
And she has no authority to do this. Nothing but her big old nose.
The husband and I knew that this was coming and we had been keeping the plans under our hats until we knew exactly what we are doing. Now that we know, we are waiting for the money to make it become possible - hopefully before 2022.
It's a modest remodel. A small (120 square feet small) with a small area with a new foundation, but we're building up, not out. Doing that will allow us to reconfigure three bathrooms and redoing the kitchen remodel. So we are only adding a wee small area of the new roof. Nothing near the 1,000+ of new structures being tacked onto the houses around us. We are building up, not OUT.
Shirley started lecturing us on runoff - if anything, this will fix the current runoff problems around our foundation and it will not impact any neighbors. We explain that we have had the expected runoff calculated and would love to show her the figures.
Then she states that the design will have to be reviewed for its appearance to verify that it conforms to the style of the house. We explain that the architects are known for their work in Homeland, Ruxton, and Guilford, and we would love for her to see the plans.
Then Shirley - clearly getting frustrated that we are neither afraid or rattled by her says that the neighbors will have to sign off. Done.
Finally, Shirley states that the design will have to be approved by the Board, and this is the kicker. Shirley isn't on the Board. Husband is, and of course, he has to recuse himself for the vote.
Shirley waddles off, perturbed and Jack, the Chair of the Board, comes up to us and knows my background in historical architecture and preservation and says "Man, she was hammering you and you were ready."
This, I explain, ain't my first time at the rodeo. "I have doing battles with her ilk for decades."
Then Jack lays something on me. "Hey, you know that David and Molly are moving, and David has been the architecture committee since Shirley got booted. How would Cookie like to become the review committee?"
I ask if I can appoint some helpers to aid me, and the answer is yes.
Here's my thing, when you live in an older neighborhood that has design standards you can do one of two things. You can either become Shirley and turn off everyone to the point where they start getting defensive, or you can use it to educate people and make suggestions to help them to help them see what makes good design and will enhance their property.
The idea is to help people become excited so they do the right things, and hopefully steer them away from doing things that will present them with headaches later on.
"A pool? Great? Have you looked at the increased price of liability insurance and the fencing costs? Have you formulated a plan on what to do during a water restriction or drought?"
"Great fanlight for the front of the house. But have you considered using a thicker molding around the outside with a keystone or another design to make it stand out instead of making it look skimpy?"
One of the other duties is to go out and measure the site to make sure the 10-foot buffer by the property line stays in place.
I can live with that.
As for Shirley, I'll invite her down for some Manhattan's and let her feel included. Isn't that what we all want - to be included?
Like I said, this ain't my first time at a Rodeo.