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The Margaretville cabin renovation begins.

The exterior renovation of our cabin.

Within 2hrs of signing, we met one of the contractors recommended to us, to take a tour of the house and discuss initial plans. We immediately connected with Don. The referral was key to our decision in working with him, but his expertise, recommendations, honesty and candor sealed the deal. We walked through every room and prioritized areas that needed support. This is how we mapped out the phases of the reno: Exterior first, interior second, landscaping third. (If you are new here, go to the first chapter of this story!)


Chapter 4 — The exterior.

Rotting wood and a variety of poorly installed windows were first in line for a facelift!

We closed right after Thanksgiving. With the winter holidays around the corner and piles of snow on the way, we had to put off the official start time to riiiiight after the last snow fall: April 2017. In the meantime, we went old school and started creating a moodboard and whipping up estimates, wish and wants lists, back in Brooklyn. While I was still wrapping my head around this entire project, Phil had a vision and it was an impressive one: Board & batten with lots of glass.

This moodboard grew over 8 months taking over the entire wall of our office. Sadly I can’t find the evolution photos but will post when I find them!

April and May came and went. The demo, reframing for windows, and new siding going up was a dance around the weather but it all came together quite quickly. We decided on rough cut pine, in a board and batten pattern and while we originally wanted to stain it an orangey color, after it went up we all decided it would weather nicely and give us a color close to our original vision.


If you are not approaching a super custom, outrageous design and reno, the windows and the bathroom will most likely be your most expensive parts of the reno (but it’s worth it). These windows were a game-changer; they brought in so much light (and would keep the heat in). If the house’s foundation was up for it, we would have gone through with Phil’s vision: a full glass front. It would have been dreamy, but hey, we’ll save that thought for the next reno 😉

“All measurement shown are taken from the interior of the property (snow prevented us from taking exterior measurements. Diagrams should be to scale.”

This was just the beginnings of the process of finding the right ways of communication with our main contractor, subcontractors and material/supply companies. There is no one-fits-all tool or process (see: new business idea) and we were both blow away with how much information our contractor retained in his head or on multiple notepads in his truck. Being two different kinds of PMs, we obviously but our skills to use. We may not be architects but between pen, paper, sketch and (I kid you not) keynote, we organized specs, visualized changes and generally kept track of things.

A couple of key learnings, tips and notes to leave here from this chapter:

  1. Demolition: You can cut costs if you do it yourself but probably won’t save on time (and if wood’s involved, it’s free firewood to keep— depending on the wood and its treatment). Don’t forget to recycle anything what you can!
  2. Windows: Go with a reputable brand. Depending on your budget, you can go as nimble or as wild as you want. Our ideal makeup was to go with 8 windows at the same size to have balanced light around the house: 1 slightly larger for the top-front-loft window and allow for more flexibility with the front; 6 large panels; some static; some not. Also, definitely get blinds for them on day 1 (tip coming from the future: the sun drenches the house all day and changed the coloring of our new floors — womp).
  3. Treatment to new exterior wood: You can stain it with a colored or clear coat or let it weather. In our case, we didn’t add new gutters to the two ends of the roof — which we later noticed water from rain being retained in a section of the siding causing it to mold. Something that can be fixed but sort out your gutters up front when dealing with wooden siding.

Thanks for tuning in! (Catch the next chapter here!)


Sneak peek into the full cabin reno: https://www.instagram.com/margaretvillecabin/

Siding/wood from:
http://www.curtislumber.com/

Windows from:
https://www.andersenwindows.com/

Our amazing contractor (referred by our realtor Alex!): Don Bender
https://www.bbb.org/us/ny/delhi/profile/general-contractor/dj-bender-general-contractor-llc-0041-235972999

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