I just got back from a weekend visit to PA. Funny how your entire world-view can be flipped in one unexpected moment–Los Angeles is no longer home for me, now that Dawn is in PA. I didn’t expect that, but I realized it when I opened the garage door.

First the good news: The township gave us our building permit, in spite of the newspaper article which accused them of “burying us in red tape” (what bad timing), so we can move forward with the project.

Now the bad news: The bank turned down our loan request, so we can’t afford the project. We also got the estimate from the contractor, which was $400,000 more than we could afford, so obviously a loan is an important factor here. We still have the fallback plan of selling our LA house, but we’re going to look at some other options first. (Our accountant says we can borrow against the LA house, use the money personally to restore the mansion, and then claim it as a business expense. I’m a little leery of that option.)

We spent four hours with the contractor and managed to reduce scope by $50,000, so we are making some progress. Unfortunately one of those reductions was the back porch, so now I have to revise the web site to remove any references. Dawn also got tasked with a ton more work: Stripping paint and wallpaper, refinishing windows and shutters, finishing the basement, and gutting the summer kitchen. Obviously Dawn isn’t doing all of that herself, but she’s responsible for getting it done. I assure you, she’s thrilled.

Otherwise, the demo crew is making good progress: all of plaster in the attic is removed, the old bathrooms are gone, and the plaster in the main hallway (under the bathrooms) is gone. They’ve exposed quite a few hand-hewn and hand-planed beams that the contractor thinks we should remove and display; he thinks it is a shame to seal them up again under plaster. We told him we’d take pictures.