Building From the Ground Up
My husband and I have been talking forever about building a house from scratch. We bought the house we’re in now twelve years ago, before we had children. It’s a great house, and it’s served us well, but we’ve outgrown it.
Our backyard (or back strip, as I call it, with it’s tiny patch of grass) was great when I had toddlers, but when my kids play back there now they look like giants running around on an area designed for Stuart Little. And we don’t have a guest room, so when my mother comes to visit she has to sleep on an air mattress in the playroom, which doesn’t have a door. Also, the kitchen is on the top floor, which means that every time I go to the market, I have to schlep all of my grocery bags up two flights of stairs. Which was fine was I was twenty-eight and shopping for two. Less fine now that I’m forty and shopping for an entire family.
It is, simply put, less than ideal. So when an opportunity arose over the summer to buy an empty piece of land in a neighborhood we liked, we jumped on it.
In telling people that we’ve undertaken this endeavor, I’ve noticed that there are two schools of thought with regard to building a new house. One is: How exciting, you get to have everything you want custom designed just for your family and they way you live. The other is: Holy crap, why would you do this to yourselves? Don’t you know that most people who build houses end up selling them a year later in the divorce?
Somehow, my husband I seem to be the only ones in the first camp. We’ve done several remodels on our current house, and we got through those just fine (except for maybe the couple of nights where we slept in our bedroom even though one wall was open and covered with just a tarp). But maybe we’re naïve. Or, maybe everyone else just doesn’t understand my husband.
My husband takes anal retentive to entirely new levels. In addition to thinking that he’s a contractor and an interior designer and an architect and a landscape architect, he also has the focus of a Russian ballerina. He spends several hours each night - from approximately eleven p.m. until two in the morning - staring at the architectural plans for our house, a ruler in one hand, a tape measure in the other, searching out flaws and inefficiencies.
After he types up a three page email to our architect with everything he’s found, he builds spreadsheets. Spreadsheets for how many square feet of tile we’ll need, spreadsheets for how many windows and doors, spreadsheets for how many pounds of cement will be required. I’ve said this before, but my husband can not be soothed until all of his anxieties are placed into little boxes in Excel.