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June 24, 2014

Living Next Door

Did I mention that we live next door?

Our current residence is this cute little 1902 grandma house right next door.  This affords us the unique opportunity to keep a close eye on construction.  (Maybe too close of an eye?  Something something sausage being made, etc.)

We get to come home from the office every day and walk the site; experience its daily development.  We can start each morning in conversation with the subcontractors, to make sure we are all on the same page.  We get to experience the first backhoe of the morning over our breakfast, just like our (so far very understanding) neighbors. 

Living next door makes it convenient to jump in and do as much work as necessary. Items that fall between the subcontractor's typical scope-of-work, or items that you just want to devote a little extra attention to.

I sometimes do office work from home to be available.  It has been useful to immediately answer questions or whip out a layout drawing for the guys in the field.

The convenience of having all your tools on hand where you need them has been nice.  Did I forget to bring out what I needed?  It is just a few steps away.  After a particularly muddy task, I can simply walk next door and take a shower; meanwhile the other workers toil onward in the grime. Sometimes I try to balance my karma a little by dragging out a cooler with beverages.

Living next door was also a great boon to our design process.  How often in our professional lives do we get the chance to live on a property for a couple years before starting design?

We could watch the shadows move across the site, dial in the views and privacy concerns, observe sun angles and obstructions all year 'round, feel the prevailing winds, etc., and really get a sense of the property.

Lisa and I set up ladders, and moved chairs around the site all year, and thought about what rooms go where, and what was important to each location.  I'm sure neighbors might have been a bit mystified by our behavior.  ("Look honey, they are sitting in the field again".)

The little house next door has turned out to be a very pleasant place to live. It is not what we would have bought for ourselves had it not have been packaged with the lot, but we've grown to appreciate it for more than just its proximity.

We call the 'grandma house' affectionately, partially because of the appearance of the house, and partially because of what the interiors were like when we moved in.

Here is an image that conveys a sense of this:
Ahhh, that carpet!

We did put a bit of effort into fixing it up (yes, the 'supernova' carpet had to go), but we had to exercise a LOT of restraint to save money for the other project.  One day this place will get the kitchen remodel it deserves.

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