People say that building a house is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.
No one said it directly to me, mind you, but in theory people say this to other people as some sort of warning of the amount of stress and effort to expect. And the people they say it to (or don’t actually say it to) listen and agree and don’t fully comprehend what it means. I thought I did, but .. with hindsight, I was in the same boat as John Snow (i.e. I knew nothing).
It’s taken three years to get to the pointy end, and we’re so close now. The house is built, and it’s being delivered to site on Monday.We went and walked through it on the builder’s lot last week, and it looks good. The colours we picked for the floor tiles and the interior walls work together; the kitchen feels spacious and user-friendly (although the cupboards will need retrofitting with those cute pull-out wire trays and baskets); the bathroom makes me happy. I have strong opinions about bathrooms being restful and not claustrophobia-causing. I feel good about the house.
The site on the other hand is a typical building site. The sand pad is in (and it cost $6000 more than anticipated because they found a giant slab of rock and had to bring in a rock-breaker), as are several piles of extra sand and rubble. The sand pad for the crane is in – and the ground to and from it is compacted to the solidity of concrete, and streaked with oil from the various leaky machines. Every time it rains, more of the soil we’ve spent three years nurturing and building washes downhill into the neighbour’s paddock.
The builders have promised to repair the swales, re-contour the ground where they put the pad for the crane, and to take away or move the extra sand. And they’re being as careful as they can. But – it’s hard. I almost wish I didn’t have to see it in this awkward, in-between phase.
On the other hand, I’ll probably look back on this as a positive experience. After all, the house is almost done, things are finally happening. Yesterday we put the first coat of varnish on the bathroom vanity (which we’re building ourselves, and getting a custom stone countertop cut and a custom ceramic basin made for, rather than leaving to the builders). And I have the support of the best and loveliest people I could possibly want, which is something I think is essential to get through a building project – or maybe any big project.
Also, cats. With their fuzzy little faces and their uncomplicated view of the world (can I eat it? I’m gonna eat it), they help a lot with the stress.
This is a big dream. It’s not quite perfect, not quite as I imagined, but – I cherish it. I cherish each stage of the process, each memory, each experience. Even the stressful ones. This is something I chose. I’ve worked very hard on it to make it happen, and I’m proud of the outcome.