I have three projects all running full-tilt right now.
That means that I’m stretched from San Antonio to Tampa Bay.
So, as I work at a fever pitch, I’m going to reach into my mail bag and pull out a lucky winner.
Because knowing how things work means that… um… you know how things work! 🙂
I was at Walmart today and a little girl listening to a conversation I was having with someone asked me:
“Mister, what do you do?”
And it reminded me of a flurry of emails I’m in the middle of, right now.
Recently, I got a letter from a guy who is considering building an ISBU home. He started off trying to convince me to help him build it for pennies.
Seriously. We’re talking pennies. He wanted to build a 1,000 plus square foot ISBU based home for less than $25 a foot.
I didn’t spit coffee, or laugh out loud. I just swallowed hard and started breaking his heart. Sometimes, reality is the best medicine.
“After that wild water rushed over the cliff and he built better boat”, we started talking in earnest about the principles behind building a home.
He told me about how he’d found a place that he always wanted to live.
He pointed out that he’d done a lot of soul searching and he felt good in his heart about his decision.
I pointed out that many times people build where they can, and not where they want. This comes back to haunt them later. Ofttimes it becomes the dragon impossible to slay, later.
(Sorry. You spend three days watching “How to Train Your Dragon” over and over and over again… with a three year old. ) 😉
He told me that he pledged to “build it right the first time” because he needed to meet his needs and lifestyle. This implied that he’d spend a decade trying to build out the rest of it, as time, materials and money allowed.
I told him to USE HIS HEAD, and not his heart, when attempting this. Building your house is a business decision, when it all comes down to it. Sure, the idea is to build the home of your dreams… but you have to get there first.
He told me that he’d save money and time by designing it himself, since it was going to be a “modest yet trendy” home. He said that he wasn’t going to do anything crazy or unconventional, and he’d be careful to read a lot and listen to advise. He had good magazines to use as reference points.
I told him to take enough time to shake “the garbage” out of his “wishlist” and then hone that down to what he really needed… not what a magazine article author said he wanted, but what HE NEEDED.
Pretty magazine pictures are cool but spending time to consider design is one of the best investments that you can make, when building your own home.
He said that he’d do a complete set of drawings.
I reminded him that it’s hard to build a house drawn on napkins. 😉
If he follows the plan he laid out to me, this is what I predict will happen;
He won’t get a house built and what’s worse, he won’t develop the skills required to ever do it.
Here’s what I’ve learned about new building families;
It’s common for them to start out that new life with little in the way of capability or skill and the job at hand immediately presents a yardstick against which they’ll be measured. Some jump in head over heels and rise up. Some quit.
I have to think that blind optimism counts for something, but home building isn’t on that list.
It take recognition of task, perception, scope (of the monumental challenges presented by building a home for your family) and the ability to face your own fear and overcome the obstacles.
On a regular basis, new building families with little experience (except that garnered from watching Norm Abrams on PBS – I swear you give that guy a a handful of toothpicks, a twist tie and a bottle of old white glue, and he’ll build you a three bedroom house with hot and cold running “everything”) vastly underestimate just what an Olympian task it is, in spite of the fact that we try to prepare them for the struggles ahead.
It’s just human nature.
I’m not going to make any friends in the trades by saying this out loud, but;
It’s my job to help him strap on armor to protect him from the perils of building.
My job isn’t just to draw lines or pretty pictures of “what might be”… it’s to teach the client sound principles, to educate them so they can make good decisions, to lead them to the truths that define their builds and then to guide them past the obstacles that will surely come as they starts their trek toward that new project that they are trying to breathe life into.
In my view, THAT is what architecture is about. Architects and Architectural Designers are guides, teachers and sometimes even “handholders”. If they aren’t, they’re just CAD operators.
Go ahead, let me have it…
Photo credit to: Vic Cherubini – Epic Software Group – Proud parents of the ISBU based Creative Co-op!