Bruce’s Sad Small House Story

This is a sad story.

This small house is falling to wrack and ruin on a Maine island. I was told it once housed a (year-round) with kids. The current owner uses it as a large storage shed.

The dimensions were taken on the outside walls. The roof actually is larger than the dimensions shown as it overhangs.

I also went inside to get a sense of the layout. The ceiling is 6′ 9″ high on the ground floor. I did not take inside dimensions as the rooms are full of stuff and it was impossible to go into the shed addition in the back.

I modified the exterior dimensions by a few inches to make the interior rooms line up right in the floor layout plans.

A few things to note about the house. It is built on a very moist are. In fact, the spring rain and snow-melt water pool under the house. There’s no wood stove, but the stove pipe hole let me imagine where it was. And finally, the house is built resting on large rocks with no additional foundation.


I know this is not a beautiful home but I think it is a good idea to learn what we can from old plans and see the potential of an old rundown small home. Thanks for sharing Bruce!

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David - May 27, 2011 Reply

If only it could be moved!! it looks like it still may have life in it!!

    Josh - May 27, 2011 Reply

    it looks like it still may have life in it!!

    Yeah, mice, raccoons, and cockroaches! LOL

Kari - May 27, 2011 Reply

It could be so cute if someone just gave it some love.

Kathleen Morris - May 27, 2011 Reply

Such a pretty house,with very nice lines, but dormer looks like an addon. I have seen houses like this repaired with love and labor. It is a wonder that people could live in such close quarters. Reminds me of being a kid and living in a room with 3 sisters. No wonder we were outside so much, it was to get some alone time.

TR Kelley - May 27, 2011 Reply

Hell that’s totally fixable, my house looked like that before we bought it, abandoned for 2 years. I like the layout and geometry of this place. Thanks for posting the plan.

brooklyngreene - May 27, 2011 Reply

Very cute! Thanks so much! I love bigger bumped out dormers (“shed” dormers”?), especially when they have lots of windows and window boxes.

I’ve always wondered though, on dormers, do you have to worry a lot about the sides where they meet the roof? Is there a particular risk of water getting into the house or the siding on the dormer aging faster and breaking down? And what if there’s ice and snow build up, can that get under the dormer’s side shingles or siding, and lift them or do other damage?


    m - May 27, 2011 Reply

    Yes, flashing must be installed at the roof/wall junction. Technique and material must be appropriate for the roof material used.

Teleia - May 27, 2011 Reply

I love it! It just needs a good cleaning and some TLC. It has great style and good bones.

    2LeftFeet - June 1, 2011 Reply

    Wow, yes, great “bones!” A wonderful little house – and such a lucky guy to have found it. There do not appear to be any seriously sagging roof lines or walls – a good sign of the original quality construction. Hopefully it was cedar framed, being near the coast. If there are no major rot/termite issues, it’s worth salvaging. Will need much sanding, paint, window replacement & shingle work, but can be done on a very reasonable DIY budget. (Shop salvage yards.) Throughly seal out the weather & add insulation, then go from there. Progress updates would be wonderful to see!

Cathy Johnson (Kate) - May 27, 2011 Reply

It really is lovely…lots of work, I wish it could be saved…

Susan - May 27, 2011 Reply

If it can’t be saved, it can at least be the inspiration for other small houses. With an opened up ground floor, it would be a very spacious house.

Cheryl Voss - May 27, 2011 Reply

This is such an adorable small home. With some really needed TLC from someone who could bring such life back to it would be so amazing. I would love to see that happen and would love to see it when it is all redone and remodeled.

Anoa - May 27, 2011 Reply

What a lovely little house. Love the layout of it. I agree with some TLC it will make a nice home.

Bob H - May 27, 2011 Reply

Could be a wonderful little house, has nice lines and good scale.

Cee - May 27, 2011 Reply

I disagree, it is a beautiful house. Even in its current state. There is beauty wherever lives have been lived and have left their marks, and beauty in whatever nature decides to take back and make her own.

Bob - May 27, 2011 Reply

Anyone who allows a house to go to that condition, and uses it to store crap, should be taken out and whipped. That is all!

TimmyG - May 27, 2011 Reply

I would kill for a house like this one! Lay-out is great, I just can’t understand why someone would use this as a junk hole.

I think I’ll use this design when I build my small house (if I ever find affordable land) What would you say the roof pitch is? Guesses anyone?

I am so in LUV!


Catherine - May 27, 2011 Reply

In the uk, the house owner would be helped/forced to make it a family home by a grant and then let out for 5 years by the council, after the five years the owner can rent it or do whatever they want to do with the property. If the owner would not agree there is such a thing as a compulsory purchase order.

james - May 27, 2011 Reply

ok im so copying the design n layout n photos to inspire a guest house and cabin!! so love the design

Angie - May 27, 2011 Reply

I like it a lot, but think where the indent/front door to kitchen is would be an excellent place for a porch. Maybe one was there once upon a time.

mike - May 27, 2011 Reply

i don’t know… i’m sure it was great once but that thing needs total rehab. i’m sure a lot of the wood is rotted (roof, walls and floor); not to mention lead paint everywhere as well as asbestos. not saying it can’t be beautiful again but at what cost (time & money). it is a shame it’s been left to succumb to the elements like that, and i do agree that the layout is cool and unique…

David Lacey - May 27, 2011 Reply

A large part of the charm of this little house is its 13 or 14 pitch,noticeably aharper than 45 degrees. Another interesting feature is the dormer with its off set window. It is the only place in the upstairs where a dresser with a mirror above it or a headboard for a bed can fit beneath the eaves.It is a lovely house although,many houses in Maine that are this small have a tendency to be overlived in and become “sick”, especially without the indoor plumbing or the regular bathing of its occupants. Such a place would require intensive cleaning and deleading for it to be habitable.

Edwin - May 27, 2011 Reply

looks like a lot of earth to wood contact, most likely filed with termites. Would take a lot of man hours and money to fix this little house up.

Joe3 - May 28, 2011 Reply

I think it’s beautiful, and since I’ve saved a house like that in the past, with lots of sweat equity it could be workable. Even the wet conditions are manageable, I’ve jacked up a home 3 feet to put a wood foundation under it, originally the floor was so bad if you stomped on it, your foot would go through. Lots could be done, it just takes a few $$ and much time. It would be a great project for the summer.

Marcia Curran - June 1, 2011 Reply

now that’s just the sweetest little house……

Valerie Thomas - June 1, 2011 Reply

love it – it’s worth saving. and not so small either!

Mary Prevo - June 1, 2011 Reply

Looks like the left side (from front) was first part and perpendicular el was a early addition. The back shed space is completely ad hoc and last. My architectural history prof used to call these bump-outs, “warts.” Interesting to note that the left space with stairs is close to 16 x 10, which is the Golden Section and favorite proportion for venacular builders. Rough, open foundations are typical for this area and helps with the soggy ground. It’s fixable for sure, but might need to be raised or moved. It would be enough space for me.

Carolyn MVaussies - June 2, 2011 Reply

Totally Fixable very cute lines. On the Vineyard, worked on a crew that lifted a 300+ yr old home, that was just built on stacked rocks too. We had to cut out & replace a beam on one exterior wall, but put it back up on the rocks, had lasted 300+. Having the right Drainage is the main problem. Sidewall shingles look fine even(except back of shed, little over hang there), & were done with love & style in the first place. Most the trim looks fine, some new paint, etc. Look like it could use some themopane replacement windows. And the food in the cabinets yet?

ailyn - June 3, 2013 Reply

Oh, I know this little house! My heart leapt when I came across your photo of it. Every year when we go to the island I am sad to see it in more of a state of decline. It is a sweet little gem. Thanks for posting this!

Michelle - September 11, 2013 Reply

Adorable little house. I love the detail on the shake siding. Sad to see it in such a state. Thanks for posting the pictures; it might be a contender for replicating as new.

Dominick Bundy - November 1, 2013 Reply

Bet it was a nice home in it’s day. but now it looks like it maybe haunted…

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