When Jason Bretell and Jennifer Pancari first set eyes on a dilapidated old bluestone cottage in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Williamstown, it was love at first sight. The 150 year old derelict structure was left almost frozen in time with decaying tools, utensils, and other remnants amongst the ruins – bits and pieces Jason and Jen hope to salvage as they bring the cottage back to life.
Their grand plan is to restore the tiny four roomed cottage and add a two storey contemporary townhouse on the back…a modern, edgy, industrial style structure that will contrast sharply to the heritage bluestone frontage.
Sounds romantic…but the reality is far from that. Storm water damage to the original footings means that the whole front wall will have to be deconstructed and rebuilt. Finding the right stonemasons with the skills to dismantle the cottage one rock at a time, numbering each in the process and then reassembling again block by block, is a feat in itself.
It seems this cottage is not moving willingly into the 21st century. More grief when the original roof just won’t match with its new counterpart…another unexpected hiccup that threatens to impact on their fixed price contract.
While they’re happy to observe construction from a distance, they’re hands on when it comes to selecting materials and finishes. And with no architect and tight finances, Jen talks on designing the kitchen and bathroom. That’s in between starting anew job.
Jason and Jen are spreading themselves mighty thin to see their project through. With a wedding planned mid build, a stubborn old crumbling cottage and the pressure to finish in 12 months, can they find the balance between the old and the new and salvage this little piece of history?