Two Tree Lane

Historic Renovation, 2-Story addition with a garage, bedrooms, bathroom, laundry, mudroom, kitchen, office, and family room

After living a few years in this 1921 National Registry of Historical Places home, our clients had a good idea of what was missing to suit them and their growing family.

What they wanted and needed consisted of; a larger 2-1/2 car garage with ample storage, a mudroom rear entry, a 1st floor powder room, a kitchen for entertaining that opened up to a family room on one side and the formal dining room on the other, convenient access to the backyard without having to walk around the house, 2-additional bedrooms, a future 2nd floor laundry room and boy’s bathroom, fixing the chronic water problem with the existing basement, and if they were going to do all this work, central air conditioning added to the boiler and radiator heated house.

After a feasibility analysis, the project budget cost estimate was in the $340,000.00 to $400,000.00’s. Remodeling put the value of the house and property in the $700,000.00’s, on par with other homes in the neighborhood. To them, remodeling made more sense than moving.


The property has a very unusual shape. After several design approaches which minimized encroachment on the rear yard setback, some encroachment simply could not be avoided to make it all fit. The encroachment required application for a zoning variance by which, the demonstration that a clear hardship exists must be met. In this city, not having enough space to live in your house does not qualify as a hardship. If the zoning variance was denied, the project was dead; there were not anymore space plan options to meet all of the needs.

Our variance argument focused on the basement water problem created by a green space lot that at its highest point was 36’ to the lowest point of 6’ higher than our client’s property. In heavy rains the flow of above and below grade runoff becomes too much to be completely diverted from the building and it runs into the basement. The addition and new landscaping plan with a series of French drains and grading eliminated that problem, with the garage addition diverting the water past the house’s foundation and down the driveway to the street. The project passed the Zoning Commission Committee by the skin of its teeth in a 2 to1 vote in favor of the request.


On the inside and outside, preservation requirements made it mandatory that details and features remained consistent with the existing conditions with very little leeway. Aluminum clad exterior windows and doors were allowed but they had to be simulated divided lite style. The brick on the house could not be exactly matched in color and texture. Several test boards of brick and mortar colors were assembled and progressively “treated” with dirt and water to simulate how the new brick would weather with time. What was approved and applied to the addition provided nearly a spot on match to the existing once it has a chance to weather for a few years.

Being constrained by how big the footprint of the addition could be, with the exception of the garage and mudroom on the ground floor, the new kitchen, family room, dining area, powder room, and two offices had to fit into essentially what was the existing kitchen and the previous garage. The 2-new bedrooms, laundry, and bathroom are on the second floor of the garage addition where there is plenty of new space for these areas.

Access to the backyard was made possible by adding French doors where a window used to be in the old dinette with a nice patio space created outside. The opening to the formal dining room was enlarged to twice its previous size, new custom made trim and mouldings match the existing, and a beautiful, 5-piece parquet floor of Red Oak is a special treatment in his office. Period lighting fixtures were added to all of the new spaces becoming wonderful focal points.

The future 2nd floor laundry and boy’s bathroom ended up getting finished with the main work; during the project the client learned they would soon be adding another member to the family.

Completely finished, the project was under the high range of the budget at (+-) $398,000.00.