Paying $1 a year in rent may sound like a great deal, but imagine if you first had to practically build the place in which you're staying yourself.
That was more or less the deal the Schaumburg Athletic Association volunteered itself for when it approached the village of Schaumburg last year about moving into the old carriage house across from the Schaumburg Barn on Civic Drive.
The carriage house, which was where then-mayor Bob Atcher had his office back when the Barn served as village hall, was scheduled for demolition by the village last year.
The decision to tear town the structure came as the 51-year-old youth sports organization was looking to leave behind its leased industrial park offices.
SAA officials found the larger, more centralized and bucolic carriage house last occupied by the village's Family Counseling Center to their liking.
"The opportunity to be in a location like this came to my mind years ago," SAA President Denise Anderson said.
"It's more like where SAA should have been all along," organization spokesman Mike Tracy agreed.
The 85-year-old carriage house could hardly have escaped the attention of SAA officials, as it sits right beside a smaller house the association has been using for storage for decades. But that house is too small for the office and meeting space required for SAA's eight different sports programs, Anderson said.
Though village officials had been planning to simply demolish the building after the counseling center moved to the historic Turret House at 17 E. Schaumburg Road, Anderson had another idea.
She knew that among the parents of the SAA's nearly 6,000 participants were construction contractors of all kinds who might be willing to volunteer their time to renovate the building.
And while the number of volunteers wasn't as high as anticipated, those who did step forward also stepped up their own personal workload and completed the project within eight months.
If the renovation project had been done under a normal contract, it probably would have cost between $250,000 and $280,000. But approximately $200,000 of labor and materials were donated -- leaving just $70,000 of materials for the SAA to buy.
Under the $1 per year lease the village offered, it should take just about five years for the association to recoup its costs, Anderson said.
"And we hope to be here a very long time," she added.
Mike Scharringhausen, the SAA's third vice president, described the whole construction process that occurred after the village granted permission a year ago.
Internal demolition of the existing fixtures occurred in March, leaving just the shell of the building, Scharringhausen said. That shell was improved through the addition of new entrances, more historic-looking shutters and the removal of the many air-conditioning units protruding from the structure.
Residential neighbors have been complimentary of the nicer view of the carriage house they now have, Anderson said.
But it's the inside of the building that's been more dramatically transformed into offices with hardwood floors, new plumbing and ventilation systems and a comfortable conference room with a flat-screen television on the wall.
The former state of the building -- especially its plumbing -- was in worse shape than workers had anticipated.
One of the toughest parts of the project was just the coordination -- insuring that each group of specialized volunteers would be available when their part of the work was needed, Scharringhausen said.
Anderson said she was reminded what the whole project had been for when she walked outside toward the end of the work to be greeted by the sight of seniors making their way home from the senior center at the Schaumburg Barn and the sound of kids playing on the nearby sports fields.
"I felt I was at home," she said. "It was so peaceful."
The SAA, which has just begun using its new facility, is hosting an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at 217 Civic Drive to show off the fruits of its labors to the community.
Anderson said she especially wants to thank the village for its help and show what the SAA was able to do with the old building.
Kathleen Tempesta, Schaumburg's senior assistant to the village manager, said she and many other village officials are looking forward to seeing the renovation Tuesday -- especially the members of the Family Counseling Center who used to work there under very different conditions.