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it would have been easier

April 27th, 2010 by

Read my sweetie’s post, below, and you’ll understand.  It would have been easier to buy a house.  That was how I started when we decided to chuck it all, retire early, and move to a place where land is measured in acres, not square feet.

After all, I said then, my needs are simple: I want lots of big windows, so the sun streams in and opens up the house.  I want openness, spaciousness, a feeling of clean, clear and easy.  At the same time, I want privacy, so everyone in the neighborhood isn’t looking in those big windows and watching what we do.  (We have a neighbor now who is a wonderful neighborhood-watch kind of person, always knows what’s going on, but on the other hand I’m not sure I want anyone to know EVERYTHING I do.)

Kevin had already begun to influence my architectural appreciation, and I agreed modern would be good.  So of course we’ll find a nice, existing, modern house with clean lines and the conveniences we want–like zoned HVAC, double-paned windows that keep the heat out in the summer and the cold in the winter, a nook in the kitchen for my espresso machine.  Of course.

Well, I love Eichler’s courtyards, and Neutra’s off-kilter sense of style, and I’m a big fan of Frank Gehry’s studied weirdness.  But they don’t have houses for sale in a warm place at a reasonable price that aren’t also in great need of …a little love… and a hammer and nails.

So we started looking into affordable ways to “build,” at first, particularly prefab.

prefab house

One of Marmol Radnizer's prefab homes, from the Skyline series.

And while they were affordable (if built near the factory), and interesting to look at, and had the windows and clean lines, we still had the land issue; building near where they are tended to mean paying through the nose (ouch) for the land on which to put the house.

Believe me, we had some animated, painful, lively, difficult discussions.  I kept insisting we should buy an existing house–that didn’t, so far as we’d seen yet, seem to exist–and Kevin kept insisting we should build.

But it’s cheaper to buy!  I’d say.  Buy what? asked Kevin.  Something we can’t stand to live in?

I hate it when he’s right.

making a commitment

January 22nd, 2010 by

So today we’re really there.  Still saying we might buy a house, but that’s a façade only we believe (and we don’t).  Mostly me.

We wrote a check—and signed our names and the date to the agreement to have them do the study.

So we’ve committed.  To having a design/build firm start working on our “program,” which for some bizarre reason is architect-speak for the plan to build our house.  I have a strong hunch that we’re both about to learn a whole new corporate-speak language, much like “new paradigm” and “facilitate” and “iterative” crept into every conversation at work in the 90’s now we’ll learn why they call it a “program” and probably whatever the modern architect’s words are for floor, ceiling, and airy open space.

To get to this point, we have been through several epiphanies—some of them painful—and a therapist, with me learning to deal with the stress of what’s certain to be about two years of uncertainty, and with Kevin learning how to relax and let me approach this home-building process my own way.  Though he still wants me to read all the books he has collected on how to work with an architect, how to work with a builder, how to work through the way the architect works with the builder and why the builder hates the architect while the architect condescends to the builder.  (Good thing we’ve already let our architect know we have a lot of books.)