Saving A Rare Gem

Rowayton CT cottage following Hurricane Sandy, before renovations

Having to evacuate their home was something these long time residents of Rowayton had grown accustomed to over the years. They had already addressed the issue with their main house as it now sat on piers with only a small crawl space that filled with water each time the tides came over the shoreline. When the flood waters receded after Sandy and they returned, it was clear that their rented guest cottage and garage had not been spared.


By the time we were brought in to tackle this project, we could clearly see the damage Sandy had left in its wake. The backyard was strewn with the contents of the two damaged structures. The tenant had long since left and the homeowners had already started removing sheetrock and insulation to prevent mold from consuming the cottage for fear it would be condemned by the town leaving little chance to keep it. They know once removed they would never get permission to add another structure to the property. The damage to the garage was a mixed blessing given its 70's structure lacked the charm and details of the main house.

Completed Rowayton CT cottage, raised to comply with FEMA and fully renovated by  Clark Construction of Ridgefield, Inc.


The mandate from the town was clear; the cottage could be kept if it was raised to meet the FEMA requirements, reinforced to meet high wind construction guidelines and did not add any interior living space square footage. Building a new garage was not an issue so long as we placed it the required 6’ off the side property line to conform with the town's current setback requirement.


Sounds simple enough but it was, in fact, a lot of work to get this building ready for its makeover. After all, the original part of the cottage dated back to the 1940’s and later additions were clearly built before the time when inspections were required. At the end of this process, little would be left of the original framing. The new design, with the exception of front door location flanked by single windows with shutters, bears little resemblance to the original structure, helping these clients wash away, pun intended, the memories of Hurricane Sandy.


View of the cottage from the front



The only thing charming about the damaged cottage is the shutters.


View of the cottage from the side, showing the propane tank

A side view of the damaged cottage.


The garage, originally built too close to the property line

The boxy garage certainly lacked the charm of the main house, so our clients won’t be sorry to see it go.


storage addition on  the side of the garage

The storage addition on the side of the existing garage will be replaced with attic storage in the new design, far above the damaging flood waters.


inside the cottage, sheetrock removed on lower half of walls

A view from the front door into the cottage.


view into the cottage of future livingroom

This view from what will be the new kitchen, looking toward the living room.


location of future kitchen in the cottage

To the left of the front door will be the new open kitchen.


two bedrooms gutted and ready to go

This angle of the two bedrooms that will remain in their current location.


bathroom before

The bathroom will remain in its existing location but with all new fixtures.



Cottage floor plan, as designed by Clark Construction for this New Canaan home.

Cottage Design


The clients wish for an bright open floor plan was achieved by creating an L-shaped kitchen, living and dining space.


By relocating the mechanicals to a heated room in the attic, we were able to carve out a covered side porch without exceeding the interior finished space permitted by the town.


Since window size and quantity was not a restriction, we offered a plan with high ceilings and plenty of large windows as well as a slider to the new porch.


We limited the windows on the cottage's one side because of its proximity to the neighboring home.



Front elevation of the Rowayton Connecticut cottage, designed by Clark Construction.

The large light and airy L-shaped living space has oversized windows and a slider to the new deck that brings in plenty of light and offers a view of the side yard.


A platform was created off the side of the cottage to keep the air conditioner condenser above the flood line.





Side elevation of the cottage, showing porch and lattice panels under it.

Attention was paid to the placement of windows and the new porch so everyone’s privacy could be respected. Even the roofline at the rear of the cottage was modified to minimize the obstruction of the view and maximize the natural light the rear neighbor gets in their second story windows.


Given the hurricane and flood zone location of this project, special consideration was given to aspects of the construction and the site.

All required anchors and straps mandated for homes being built in hurricane zones would be provided.


The peculiarities of having a raised house meant that the main water and waste lines would be encased in unconditioned space below the cottage. Heat tape was installed to prevent freezing, with an indicator switch inside the cottage providing feedback to ensure it is turned on when needed. Shut off and drainage valves allow lines to the hose bibs and outdoor shower to be closed and drained during the winter season.


front elevation of the garageside elevation of the garageGarage Design


The new two and a half car structure, with design elements to match the main house and cottage, would feature ample room for two cars plus space at the rear for mowers, snow blowers, bicycles and the like.


In addition, we created his and her work spaces with plenty of outlets, shelves and workbenches, and an outdoor shower for the main house pool.




dumpster being delivered

Construction Begins


The first of many dumpsters arrives to start the demolition.


demolition is underway

Given the damage left by the storm, demolition should not take long.

house gutted to studs

With just framing left the house lifters can start their work.


subfloor being removed

Sub flooring and framing is removed as needed to make way for the cribbing.


walls cut out to allow beams for lifting

The walls were cut way from the floor framing to allow the house to be lifted.


cribbing installed for house lifting

The cribbing resembles a giant game of Jenga. The house will rest on steel I-beams inserted through the house.


I beams support the house as it is lifted.

I-beams are located in strategic locations to balance the weight of the house as it is lifted.


Steel beams at the front of the cottage.

This shot shows the steel inserted at the front of the cottage.


side view shows I beam.

This side view shows the same I-beam as it exits the rear of the cottage.


temp service of electrical service

The electrical service is moved to its temporary location.


hydraulics for lifting the house

The science of lifting structures is made easier by the hydraulic control systems.


view down the driveway, house is raised

A shot down the driveway shows the cottage raised to allow the work below to begin.


work starts below the cottages as the old basement is demoed.

Works starts below the cottage to demolish the old basement and foundation walls.


demo of the garage

With the work on the cottage underway, demo of the garage begins.


garage is demoed

It doesn’t take long to take the garage down to a couple of cinder block walls.


new footings

Footings are prepared for the piers upon which the cottage will soon rest.


four cribs supporting the web of steel

You can see how the four cribs support the web of steel that holds the structure in place during construction.


waste lines installed

While the masons work on the piers, the plumbers get to work installing waste lines that tie to the existing sewer system.


forms for garage footings

Forms for the new garage footings await concrete.


floor deck framed, waiting for cottage to be lowered

With the piers set, the new floor deck is framed and ready for the cottage to be lowered.


mason ready to install flood vents

The mason readies the space where one of the four flood vents will be installed in the garage foundation walls.


proximity to neighboring house is noted in this image

Space is at a premium in this town as evidenced by the proximity of our cottage to the rear neighbor's house.


cottage is lowered

Seven weeks since we started and the cottage is lowered to its new resting place.


fill raises the back corner of the property

Fill was brought in to raise and level the rear corner of the property.


outline of new garage can be seen

This view from the cottage shows the full outline of the new garage.


framing on the garage commences

Framing commences on the cottage to give it the charm it was previously lacking and rework the floorplan.


interior framing continues despite a snow storm.

Snow doesn’t stop us as interior framing continues.


framing and sheathing take place on the garage.

Framing and sheathing is taking place simultaneously on the garage.


cottage is tarped from the rain

Tarps are installed to keep the rain out as work continues inside the cottage.


garage is tarped to keep the weather out

The garage is also covered up with a tarp to keep things moving along despite the weather.


House wrap is on, and the siding installation begins.

With house wrap and windows installed, the siding goes up quickly.


covered deck on the back can be seen.

The “new” cottage will include a private covered deck


bat and foam insulation

A mix of batt and foam insulation is used to prevent waterlines from freezing.


foam insulation encases the water lines

Water lines on the exterior wall of the kitchen are encased in foam insulation to ensure they don’t freeze in winter.


sheetrock is passed through the front window.

Like a thread through a needle the sheetrock is passed through the cottage's front window.


slider can be seen in the dining area

The new dining area features a slider to access the new covered deck at the side of the cottage.


large windows overlook the backyard

Large windows overlooking the backyard flood the living room with light.


newly remodeled area awaits kitchen cabinetry

To the left of the front door is the new kitchen awaiting cabinet installation.


bedrooms with sheetrocked walls

The bedroom doorways to the left are in virtually the same location as the previous layout.


hardwood floors are installed

Once acclimated, the oak floors are installed.


kitchen cabinets and counters have been installed

Bright white beadboard style cabinetry and quartz counters add to the seaside charm of the cottage.


completed kitchen, with washer and dryer


A compact kitchen has everything - even a washer and dryer!


Nantucket style cabinets

White Nantucket style cabinets create the feel of a seaside oasis for the next renter.


hardwood floors after finishing

Beautiful hardwood floors.


garage doors with beadboard detail

The beadboard detail is repeated on the cedar garage doors.


garage before paving

The garage coordinates well with the cottage.


completed cottage, before painting

Cottage exterior is complete, ready for paint.



back of the cottage, with covered porch


The side view with its covered porch.


Roof lines on the addition were modified to allow neighbors to keep their view.

Notice how the roofline allows the neighbors to keep their view.


Lattice panels wrap the house on all sides


This is the side of the house next to the neighbors. Lattice panels wrap the space below the house on all sides.


propane tanks with hurricane anchors

Since the cottage uses propane gas for the stove, tankless hot water heater, and heating system, we used special anchors to strap and hold the tanks securely to their cement pad to preclude them floating away in the next flood.

compressor on a shelf

The compressor is safely above the flood plain.


Clark Construction whole house remodel and cottage raising in Rowayton CT: view down the driveway.Here's the view as you come down the driveway.





close up of the Rowayton cottage



back of house

covered porch


Clark Construction kitchen remodel and cottage raising : back porch

The porch is a great place to sit on a summer's night.


side view of the Rowayton cottage

Here's the side of the house. A great place to park your bike for quick trips to the store and the beach.


compressor raised up and hidden behind the bushes

The raised up compressor is discretely hidden by the bushes.



The garage, now painted, with the driveway in place, coordinates nicely with the cottage.


outdoor shower

Behind the garage is the outdoor shower, for the pool of the main house.


outdoor shower




The kitchen is spacious, with enough counter space to cook a great meal. The white Nantucket style cabinets give it a classic timeless, and light feel.


living room

Here's the livingroom, which has lots of natural light.


LR to den

Adjacent to the living room is a den - a great place to work at home. Lots of light and space, and fresh air.





bed #1back of house

There are two beautiful bedrooms.



And the bathroom has simple fixtures and peaceful serene colors.


Clark Construction's Rowayton cottage and garage

All in all, an incredible change from the original cottage structure. Safe and sound above the flood plain, the new stylish new cottage looks great from the main home, and is a delightful place that the new tenant never wants to leave!