Turns out he was the owner! I explained that I was just being nosy, but loved the house and was interested in seeing how the remodeling was going. That loosed a flood of information.
He and his wife intended to remodel the house to make it more suitable for a modern family, but never expected the "remodeling" to go this far. (I kind of suspected that.)
They tried very hard to design the work to qualify for the historical register, but it turns out their plans would meet all but two of the very specific criteria. Unfortunately, they felt that one of the problem areas was simply non-negotiable, because they intend to live in the house with their children.
As it is, they are going to rebuild on the original footprint, plus an additional room on one side, and in the middle of the house, a partial second story that will include two bedrooms. They are determined to keep the original style of the house, with all the bump-outs, pop-ups, nooks and crannies that a Spanish style house requires. But the second story was a dealbreaker: they couldn't give it up, and the historical people wouldn't approve if they kept it, so no go for the official seal of approval.
The rooflines are so crazy, the plans call for 108 unique trusses. There were only about 3 trusses in the whole job that were the same.
When finished, the house will be above platinum certification standards for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) building.
The house was built in the 1920s. They bought it from an 80-year-old man who'd moved into the house when he was only 5 years old, and lived there all his life until now.
It had a porch on it, but that wasn't original to the house so they are not going to replace it.
They got "hate mail" (his words) from people when they started the teardown phase. I guess I'm not the only one who is sentimentally attached to the house.
They saved all the original wood floors and will be laying them down again when the time comes. There weren't any tile floors in the house. I forgot to ask if they saved the doorknobs, doors, moldings, etc. (But I bet they did.)
They have 3/4 of an acre and a guest house on the property, which is prime real estate in that part of town. I can't imagine what that would cost in a neighborhood of $300,000 homes. Meanwhile, the husband and a friend of the family (the other sweaty guy) are doing a lot of the work themselves.
They are not blogging the remodel because they don't have the time.
All this info was volunteered while I was walking across the foundation-in-progress on a very narrow, somewhat slippery plank walkway and getting into the center of the house, which is where these pictures were taken from. Sturdy subflooring was installed where I was standing, although the platform was rather small and a lot of the space was taken up with sawhorses and a power saw, where they were cutting boards for the rest of the subfloor.
This is looking toward the front facade of the house from the inside.
This is looking at the side wall of the house, by turning slightly to the right. They are keeping the fireplace. Directly behind me is where the addition will be.
Here's a partial view of the addition from the outside.
Back inside, this is another slight turn to the right, looking at the back wall of the house. The fireplace is just to the left of this picture, so if these photos were all in a row they would form a panorama. The sawhorses were also behind me in this picture. No way was I walking out on those little narrow boards . . . .
I didn't do a great job on the photos, but will definitely be going back for more as progress is made. The owner said I was welcome to visit anytime, as long as I didn't get hurt and sue him. For a sweaty guy with a lot of hard work ahead of him, he had certainly kept his sense of humor.
I'm thinking the house is in pretty good hands.