Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stopping for Christmas

It looks as though we're halted for the next few days, and winter may have finally caught up with us.
The blocks on the house are done, but the garage won't be finished until after Christmas now. We've got some snow on the ground, which is probably a good thing as it's going to be turning colder this week and we haven't finished back-filling around the garage. The snow will act as an insulator and limit the depth of the frost.
The plumbers got started on the under-slab pipe on Friday, and will finish that up fairly quickly. Then we can get some stone thrown in to the basement, and start the framing before the new year.
In the meantime, Sharon and I have some pacing to do.
When we designed the house, we paid a great deal of attention to room size and traffic flow. For the past two years, we've found ourselves walking in to people's houses and saying "how big is this room? Is it big enough, or too big?" Then applying that knowledge to the rooms we've planned. As architect Sarah Susanka has noted in her excellent books, everyone is afraid of building a house that's too small, which is how North America has ended up building so many houses that are too big.
We've spent the past dozen years living in a house that feels too small for five people, bumping in to furniture and limiting the number of guests we have over. We didn't want too small. But we also know that we won't always be five, and bigger is costlier to build and to run. And we've all been in homes that are too big and feel cavernous. In my line of work, I go into cottages like that regularly. Too big isn't good either.
So we designed what we thought would be the right size of house. Then we dug the hole for the basement and every tradesman who came and looked at it said 'wow, big house.' And we started to have second thoughts.
Then we poured the footings and built the foundation walls. Now we can walk around in the basement and we're saying 'oh. Is this big enough? Will the furniture fit where we thought it would? How does traffic flow in this room?'
On paper, I know it works. We've even used scale models of furniture to map it out. You can see some of them on the table in this photo taken during one of our friendly planning discussions last year. Heck, one day last year, when I was obsessing over rooflines, I built a 3-D model out of drywall scraps. Then, just for fun, I put scale pieces of furniture in it. We know that our rooms are the right size.

But dammit, it doesn't look big enough now that the stubs of walls are in place!
There's nothing we can do about that now, but we do need to work out a few things regarding furniture placement and -- more criticaly -- window and wood stove placement. So, sometime between now and Boxing Day, Sharon and I will go over to the site and stomp some lines in the snow to make sure everything will go the way we think it will.
Hey, if I can find a few scraps of drywall, maybe I'll make some full-sized models and take them along too.

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