Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I'd do differently

Marcia has a great saying, I think it's from Dutch: "The first house you build, you sell to your enemy; the second, you sell to your friend, and the third, you keep for yourself."

I take it to mean that you learn as you go. Although we love our house, and it's turned out almost exactly as we had hoped, there are certainly things I would have done differently.
  • The big deck should be deeper. It seems fine until you fill it with an outdoor table and six chairs. We've found ourselves shuffling around the edges of the table, and an extra meter of length would have made a big difference.
  • Because the whole side of the house is glass, the far part of the house by the front door is comparatively dark; the nearest window is over the couch. I think a window in the door would have helped that. And I'd add a small window high in Grant's room; the bunk beds are like a little cave up there. (Although I think Grant may disagree).
  • The bathroom door should really swing the other way. Today, you exit the bathroom right into the living area. Make sure your towel is firmly wrapped when you leave! Opening the other way would provide more privacy.
  • I would have oiled the deck boards much earlier and more liberally, as they are weathering more than I'd like, especially on the long stretch by the front door.
  • Speaking of that deck, I had made it a meter wider than the original model, but I didn't extend the roof on that side, so it receives more weather than I had intended.
  • I mentioned the jarn vitrol in a previous post. Ideally, I would have stained the house before the beams even went up. That stuff is nasty.
  • The jury's out on whether or not I would have made the house itself smooth on the outside as well as the inside. The rough finish helps keep the house from looking like a geometric cube, and it weathers much more naturally. However, glue drips come with the rough finish, which are still annoying, and in some places, it seems like it has weathered an awful lot already. Time will tell on this one.
  • Although I'm OK now with the structural soundness of the foundations, I wish we had been a bit more precise with their placement. The house is so neat and square, but some of the pillars are a few inches off in places. I think it spoils the look a little bit, but then again, I'm a Mies man so I love my right angles.
It may seem churlish to air these little dissatisfactions but I am trying to be open to you, dear readers, about the design and building process.


expateek said...

There's one about children as well: "Kids are like waffles, you need to toss the first one out."

Fortunately, your "first one" is a lovely keeper, I know (HI GRANT! YOU'RE WONDERFUL! Adorable!!) You guys are so lucky to have such a wonderful, close-knit, and loving family. Not everyone can say the same. Life is such a gift!

Super insights on the house. Decks and patios are problematic... they're never quite big enough, especially if there's a significant drop-off at the edge.

Well done on a super project. You are quite the Builder Bob.

Whenever you want to sell, give me a jingle, eh?

xx to all, e

Margaret said...

Excellent post, but you forgot one major thing that you would alter:

2 months vacation rather than 2 weeks/1 month!

Don said...

Miss E- I appreciate the familial observations. And should I ever sell, you and your gang could store your bikes in the little house.

Marg- you are absolutely correct! Not much I can do short-term, but at 55 I can take early retirement, and Grant will be out of university by then. Hmmm...