As Nancy and I have considered the possibility of purchasing a 50 year old abandoned church building in Lititz, PA and converting it into our home, we have encountered a number of issues that have threatened to torpedo the project. Most recently we learned that the cost to repair the rotted foundation would make the price of the project untenable.
We recognized three options. First and not realistic, we could follow through with the project as planned and try to find money to cover the extra costs. Second, we could raze the building and start over. This is an unacceptable solution because our interest in the property is primarily the building. We like the idea of preserving the legacy of a former generation of worshipers and we enjoy the building’s beauty. Without the building, the property is not interesting to us. Finally, we could abandon the idea and look for a more traditional solution to our housing need.
We were close to giving up and accepting the third option when a fourth option became apparent. This option now seems so obvious that I am embarrassed to say that I did not see it until it was almost too late. Nancy and I were talking about what to do and she started tossing out every idea that popped into her head. Most of her ideas were not very good.
However, when she said, “What if we keep the front, finished part of the building and knock down the back,” it was an “a-ha” moment for me. Of course! We believe the front of the building is pretty-much sound. It is the unfinished back of the building that has caused us to struggle. Let’s raze that part of the building and do new construction in its place. This gives us the opportunity to preserve the church building and newly construct the back. We will keep the historically significant structure and stay within our limited budget.
An added benefit to this plan is it gives us greater flexibility to build a house that will fit our needs. Working entirely with the existing structure would have created an awkward floor-plan and wasted space. Adding new construction will enable us to build a more efficient overall structure.