Peter Hirschberg

Monday, January 1, 2007

In The Beginning...

So, some back history. I collect vintage arcade games. The large coin-op kind. At the time of this writing I think I have about 70 machines. Our collection has outgrown the entire basement of our house (which we had finished into a pretty large gameroom to begin with), so we decided that we needed to expand.

The easiest option was to add another outbuilding to our existing property (we own about 2.5 acres). I purchased a set of plans for a 2 story 6 car garage that was pretty close to what I wanted. It was 40' x 60' (which I later modified to 40' x 65'), had 12' ceilings and wide open space on the lower level, an upper level, and a bathroom. I modified the plans a bit to fit in with my design, found a contractor willing to build it, got the financing (which involved refinancing our house), and that was the start of our new gameroom!

As it turned out, things were a little more complicated than that.

Where we had wanted the put the building was across the driveway from our house in a large open area on our property. Our county however has a restriction that buildings beyond a certain size have to go behind your house (and this was way past that size). Our house is sort of wedged way into the back our our property. It would be difficult, but not impossible, to fit the building there. We measured and found that it would fit if we relocated the well (expensive) and jammed the building right up against our house. We got talking with our neighbor (neighbor A) who's property adjoins along that edge of our property, and he was actually willing to sell us a small piece of his land that would be large enough for the building to fit! Cool! We made plans to have the land surveyed and appraised. A short time later, our other neighbors (neighbor B) expressed concern about our plans. In talking with them, initially the concern was that the building was going to be a large ugly metal structure. I assured them it would look just like the house, with cedar siding and stonework accents. But when I told them where the building was going to go and how large it was, they were shocked and did NOT want the building located anywhere behind our house, as it would block their view. I could understand that. I told them I would do my best to put it somewhere else. Whew.

We first had the contractor try and petition the County to obtain a waiver so that we could locate the building where we originally wanted it - across the driveway. After weeks and weeks of trying, the final answer was 'no'. Crud. Rethinking things, we knew that the County's restriction on having outbuildings behind the house didn't apply if the structure was within 4' of the house. Aha. There actually was a space within 4' of the house where the building would fit and also not interfere with the neighbor's view. Problem - it was where the septic field was located. Estimated cost to relocate the septic field: $10k (it ultimately ended up running us around $12k). We hadn't budgeted for that when we got the financing, but had little choice but to proceed. We figured we could make up the difference as the building was being constructed.

Months and month of having an engineer design the changes to the septic system, paperwork back and forth between the Health Dept, the builder, the County Planning Office, and us, we finally got the septic system changes approved. The last obstacle had been removed!

I decided at some point to keep a journal of the construction process of the new gameroom. After some thought, I figured the best format for the journal would be to make it a public blog. Then, later, after construction was complete, I could use the blog to announce "Game Days" and such. In fact, I might as well make the blog about all my stuff - not just about the arcade. Thus was the start of this blog. I always hated blogs, but it really does seem to make sense for keeping people informed of the status of my many projects. So...welcome! We'll see how it goes.

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