In with All Four Feet

Richard and his Pop and the projectAfter nigh onto two years of planning, (designing, assessing, interviewing, adjusting, re-planning, re-designing, heart-searching, pocket-digging, despairing, selecting, and once again adjusting), we have made the jump. The contract is signed, a first check has been written (gaspingly large), and we are committed to the construction of the house. It’s terrifying. It is, naturally, what we had in mind from the beginning, but I’ve become so accustomed to the routine of decision-making and revision, it seemed almost like an end itself. The number and scale of decisions to be made in a house construction project are beyond imagining. It seemed eternal and stable. There is a sense of safety in endless repetition. Above, you can see Richard and his Pop looking over the concept, a year ago.

Here is the first draft of the house, a little model that is now quite dusty and tattered from its travels from the dining room table to design offices, show-and-tells, family events, and back home again.First draft model

It seemed so simple. You can see the little studio-workshop on the left behind the house, the matchstick Linden tree in the front yard, the way the house nestles into the slope, all in Richard’s Styrofoam, plasticine and Saran wrap rendering. And here’s what it has become in someone else’s hands:

Plans, plans

Look, there are little plants in the attached greenhouse! That greenhouse is the primary solar collection engine of the house. You can’t see the solar roof panels in this rendering. This was a recent doing-over of the plan, but I can see red pen on the drawing, which shows where something was wrong. I think, in this one, the floor was not continuous to the soffit supporting the greenhouse roof. Or some other minor thing.

Here we are, still in the throes of decision-making over yet another iteration of the plans, last week.

High level planning session

Please excuse my couture apparel. I’ve been painting. I’m lucky my hair isn’t green in this shot. It was, later.

In any case, we’ve chosen floors, doorknobs, kitchen faucets, bathtub faucets, shower faucets, sinks, lights, a bathtub, ceiling fans, toilets, water heaters, stairs, ramps, windows, toilet paper holders, shower doors, people doors, woodstoves, counter tops, cupboards, shelving, locations of switches, locations of closet doors, and … well, in fact, I’m not sure what else. We’ve made endless “selections” as they call them in the trade, and then taken them, almost every one, out again once we saw the cost. I have a file of photos of wonderful selections we spotted at model houses and home shows: copper kitchen sinks, mosaic tile showers, arched windows, a cypress bathtub, beautiful frosted glass blocks, kitchen drawers with hardwood inserts for implements and spices, hand-built exhaust hoods for the kitchen, and drying cupboards for damp clothing. Gone. All gone.

But, you know, simplicity is a testimony to the good life, and is comfortable to our condition.

All I can say at this point is, we’re in it, both of us, with both feet.

21st Century, here we are.

There’s a reason they call this Green Construction.


Published in: on May 26, 2008 at 11:47 am  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So what do you folks do in your spare time?

  2. Oh, we fool around setting up self-timer photos of ourselves for the blog. Stuff like that.


  3. Wow! It looks great. Congratulations!

  4. The house looks wonderful! May your building phase be glitch-free and actual flowers soon bloom in the greenhouse.


  5. Flowers?! Not many. The greenhouse will be devoted to edibles to a great extent.

    When Susan had her place in Portland, we turned that sub quarter acre lot into a veritable farm. You’d be surprised how attractive carefully selected, although ordinary, edible plants can be. Chard in all it’s guises; eggplant, rhubarb; berries of all sorts; lettuces of several descriptions that can be harvested leaf by leaf; cabbages and cauliflowers of multiple colors; and, of course, edible companion plantings of marigolds, pansies, nasturtiums.

    For fruits, the trick is pollination. Once in a greenhouse, bees and other beneficials tend to beat themselves to death on the glass above them rather than finding their way out. Our budget does not include any operable lites at the top of the glazing – only exhaust fans on the end walls.

    But, flowers or not, our intention is to have a lovely, fertile garden.


  6. There will be flowers… some flowers.

    But as Richard suggests, and Edna Ferber wrote, “Cabbages is beautiful.”


  7. WOW !! That is going to be one amazing house !

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