Thursday, July 28, 2005

Home improvement

For three years, we've been living in a 1960s ranch house in an older 'burb. The house has been subjected to a number of modifications over the years, some useful, and others unfortunate. One of the unfortunate ones is the three-season porch stuck "lean-to" style on the back side of the house, off the kitchen. Structurally, the thing's rotting badly, having been built below grade. Aesthetically, it cuts off most of the light and all of of the view on that side of the house. And it's just plain ugly.

We finally called up a remodeling contractor recommended by a coworker to discuss some options. We'd like to add a screen porch/deck thing, plus a bunch of windows. I'd got a bunch of books from the library, and scouted some architecture/design sites on the web, and had a head full of nifty ideas. The meeting went well: we talked about some ideas for adding a semi-covered deck area out back, and the contractor will do some sketches and some estimates.

The question is, how do we account for my present level of disability and the possibility that I'll become more disabled in the future? We mentioned to the contractor, in a general sort of way, that we were interested in trying to design something that would be relatively barrier-free. That seemed doable: eliminate the step-down to the porch, wide, doors, etc. But that's only part of the puzzle.

The fact is that if I were to stop working, we might not be able to afford the project. Heck, if I got laid up that badly, we'd need to make the bedroom and bathroom accessible, never mind adding something new. Even if we could afford it, I wonder if we'd be able to get a home equity loan without me working. Is it smart to add to our debt load now?

At the bottom of all this is the question of my continued participation in the work force. How much longer will I be working full-time? How do I decide? Will someone decide for me?

Tomorrow morning: gall bladder ultrasound.

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