One thing that greatly surprised me during my interactions with the actual people who built my house (as opposed to the general contractor) was the many times I would find them trying to figure out how to deal with a particular challenge. It seemed like every time I turned around there was something new that they had not encountered before. There was much learning on the fly and I learned right along with them. I would recommend that anyone contemplating building a house plan on spending at least an hour a day (broken into two visits) at the site interacting with the various sub-contractors. With our house it was the only way to keep things on track.
It is surprising how non-scientific and exact the act of building a house is. There is a lot of guesswork and “thinking on your feet” that I really would not expect. I mean people have been carpenters for at least something like 5000 years – couldn’t they have it down by now?
Another thing that is much more art than science is putting up a boulder retaining wall. i am just hoping that there is enough art to look nice but just enough science to keep the wall in a more or less vertical orientation. Photos to be posted when I find my digital camera.
Considering building a house? Don’t. Unless of course at least 2 of these 3 criteria apply to you:
1. Money is no object
2. You don’t care about moving into your new home anytime in the next year.
3. You are a masochist and enjoy pain.
One of my passions has always been homes, buildings, and architecture. I wanted to be an architect, like many kids, but then I realized that it is a dying profession – thanks, in large part, to the cookie cutter mentality of many builders today.
It has always been clear that eventually I would want to aid in planning and building my own home. After reading The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka, some of the ways to do it became clearer. The Not So Big House presents several very attractive ideas for home building. Most center around building a home that you would want to live in for your entire life and even pass on to future generations much like homes of the past. This idea serves as a stark contrast to the huge suburban homes being built with only square footage figures and cheap materials in mind.
Here’s a quote illustrating this point:
“The current pattern of building big to allow for quantities of furniture with still more room to spare is more akin to wearing a sack than a tailored suit. It may offer capacity, but at the cost of comfort and charm.”
Additional thoughts expressed in the book are of building simpler homes with higher quality, recycled and recyclable materials, that are energy efficient, and provide their inhabitants with practical, and in some senses, spiritual satisfaction.
The Site, though not much to look at, has some very interesting information (with links to more) in regards to concepts such as New Urbanism, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and spatial proportions and geometry (including some very interesting links to geometry related sites, including: The Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Section, The Infinite Fractal Loop, and The Meru Foundation. When I get some time I will try to post something about “sacred geometry” – a topic I am very interested in. Here’s a link in the mean time.