Hard hats and scaffolding are inside and out at the University of Vermont's presidential home, Englesby House. "Like any old building, once you get into it you find things that you weren't expecting," said Bob Vaughan of UVM Capital Planning.
UVM trustees originally approved $875,000 for repairs at the mansion. But last week that total jumped by $360,000. Once work got under way, new problems with the building's bricks, kitchen and walls were discovered.
"This floor is a good example," Vaughan said. "We were hoping to just pull off the wallpaper and refinish the walls, and once we started pulling the paper off, the plaster started coming with it."
With a price tag well over $1 million, administrators are addressing critics who may think a new home should have been built from scratch.
"The question comes up-- could you have gone and just built a regular house for somewhat less money? Perhaps, but in the end you weren't going to have what you're going to have when this is done," said Richard Cate of UVM Finance and Administration.
The home is on the historic registry which has added to the restoration costs. Its slate roof, kitchen and bathroom stonework will all come from Vermont.
"It pales in comparison to what most university presidents have," Cate said. "It will be a good house for the president of the University of Vermont, but it's not going to be anything elaborate."
University donations will cover more than $700,000 worth of the work. The rest of the money will come from UVM's Operations Fund.
The team leading the effort is pleased with the progress and has a simple wish for when UVM's President Thomas Sullivan and his family move in: "That the president and his wife will be happy in their home and that they won't find any additional things that have to be repaired," Vaughan said.
The work is slated to be complete this October.
New heating and air conditioning systems are also part of the renovations. If crews stay on schedule, Sullivan could move in by Thanksgiving.
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