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007 Commercial Street

A classic ship captains home, this Commercial Street property has some surprises hidden inside

The task of renovating a three-story home with a failing brick foundation seems significant enough, but another layer of complexity thickens the plot of this particular mission—previous owners, back in 1983, had divided Hofmann House into four condominium units, each inhabited by separate owners. One unit was formerly the garage, a second was once the famed studio of artist Hans Hofmann, and another comprises the third floor of the building. Fadi Hanna took ownership of the fourth and largest unit, which included the decaying root cellar along with the first and second floors. His first year of ownership was busy. He built relationships with the owners of the other three units, he chose Bannon Custom Builders and Hammer Architects to help him realize his vision, and he waited for permitting and approvals from the Provincetown Historical Commission. Hanna and the other residents collectively own the building and make up the condominium board; with the green light to renovate, the building team would have to proceed with sensitivity out of consideration for the other residents, including the owner of the third floor unit, who remained in residence throughout the project, even while the building “floated” a few inches off the ground. As Paul Bannon recalls, “Part of the program was to create a usable basement, so we had to pick up the entire building while someone was living upstairs. We had to hand-dig much of this because the neighbor’s house is only five feet away and we had to maintain its integrity as well.”

Hanna and the Bannon team knew that the house was in fairly rough shape before they began, but as they started to dig beneath the surface, both in the dirt and in the home’s interior, new challenges sprang into view. The unit is a vacation home for Hanna, but prior to the renovation, “the house would creak when I was staying there,” he reports, “and from the basement, you could see the floor bounce; the Bannon team did some temporary reinforcement with four-by-fours.” Prior to his purchase, two other potential buyers had walked away, in part because of the asbestos in the root cellar. Hanna says, “It was friable—the most dangerous kind because you can inhale it. This main part of the house hadn’t been renovated in over 100 years.” Other surprises appeared as work began, including a rotten corner post and cracked ceiling beams that drywall had previously concealed. They would also need to replace the entire front wall. Hanna had purchased the unit fully furnished, and Bannon says, “It was unbelievable how bad it looked once we removed all of that, but Fadi had a great vision for the place; he knew what he wanted.” 

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