Here are various shots of the exterior masonry work on the Church house. We added a door out through the middle of the apse at the stair landing, which came out great. We also did various patching of holes from relocated windows and doors. A big part of the job was putting in 100 linear feet or so of new stone retaining wall. This substantially improved the look and function of the back yard.
One of the big moves architecturally for this renovation was to excavate the side yard so that the entrance to the lower level could be at the level of the sidewalk. Originally, we had to climb a half dozen steps, traverse a few feet of walkway, and then step down a half dozen steps into the “basement.” It was actually my idea, which the architect liked, to excavate next to the house and make it a straight shot into the lower level from the sidewalk. That worked well; getting in and out of the house is a breeze.
Before I invested a lot of money in my lower level with all its new plumbing, I wanted to make sure that the waste line was reliably connected to the municipal sewer. I had replaced some of the sewer main the previous winter and was pretty sure that there was a lot more bad terracotta pipe between the house and the main sewer line. Sure enough, I had the plumber snake the video camera down the line and he declared that the terracotta was basically gone (100+ years old) and that my sewer line was really just a tunnel through the dirt.
Replacing a sewer main is not that big a deal normally. It involves a backhoe, two guys, two days, and a check for $10-15 thousand. You have to reseed your lawn too. Except nothing is normal about my house. Turns out that my sewer main runs 200+ feet down the block under my neighbors sidewalk to the sewer line on the next street down the hill. The plumber said that replacing it would be $20-25k for his part, plus $15k or so to replace the half block of sidewalk and curb that would have to be removed.