Children, before you were ever born, I wondered what building a house actually entailed. When your Dad and I decided to start a life together, I moved out of my house and did not need to wonder anymore. I found out for myself.
At stage zero, we had a budget plan and a contingency plan (a.k.a. The apartment we almost lived in) and a few more contingency plans.
First, we looked at a lot—I thought this was the easy part. Find a space I could call my own, and a space your Dad could call his own.
It was a nightmare.
Every area I absolutely adored, he hated, and vice versa. We probably looked at half the city before we decided on a perfectly ordinary looking lot with vines wrapping themselves around the ‘For Sale’ signage, and a view overlooking nothing.
But it was a space we could call our own, so we did.
Then, there was all this business of testing the lot conditions—think of it as geology, only we aren’t looking to take anything out, we were just making sure our house won’t sink when built. Things seemed all right, but looks can be deceiving. More on that later.
Second, there’s the blueprint: how we wanted it all to look.
I don’t know how architects or engineers can make sense out of rectangles on blue paper (your Dad knows this about me—see, he’s shaking his head now!), but I didn’t find this much fun. I knew we’d have a kitchen, a living room, a study, three bedrooms and bathrooms, a decent sized laundry room, and a garage—and that’s all I could make sense of.
Third came the paperwork.
Fourth came the waiting for the paperwork to get approved.
Fifth came more waiting whilst revising the paperwork and resubmitting it to this or that municipality.
Sixth was the buying of the materials.
Seventh was perhaps the most exciting part of the whole project: we broke ground!
The whole building process was exciting, but in anything you do, the most trouble comes when you’re actually laying the first bricks. You plan and plan and plan, and planning is great, but not everything will go according to the plan. That’s why our house had to be built on stilts: when we first started building, the whole thing began to sink.
I don’t consider this house perfect, but building it was one of the best mistakes your Dad and I ever made: we learned how much effort it took to make something functional—I did not say beautiful because the house we had up in our imaginative little heads was much nicer than this place, but we make it work. And we’re happy with what we have.
Children, sometimes, you need to build your house on stilts.
Because sometimes, things don’t go the way you’d like.
And that’s not good or bad.
It just is.
But what you do will yield what you’d like it to be.