There’s a famous quote about war from a German field marshal that says. “No battle plans survive contact with the enemy.” The American philosopher Mike Tyson improved on this sentiment when he said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
I think you get the point. Plans are helpful and necessary but don’t always reflect reality. This can certainly be the case with building a house. Plans printed on a sheet of paper are a representation of the real world that doesn’t always account for being there, walking around and seeing it with your own eyes.
Over the last few weeks, the house and property have started to take shape in fundamental ways. We now have a subfloor on about half of the footprint. Walls and ceiling structures are being put into place and the property continues to be molded by an excavator.
As the house is becoming more real, we’re learning to react to what we see. Our goal is to find opportunities to make improvements now, before nails are driven and change becomes more expensive and difficult.
A simple example is the interior doors. On our plans, the standard door was 2’8” wide and that seemed fine in the plans. Once the subfloor went down, the framers put chalk lines on the floor that allowed us to see, before anything was built, the size of doorways and rooms. One of the framers mentioned that the doorways might be nice if they were 3’ wide instead. He said it would make it more accessible and easier to move appliances in and out. We checked with John, the architect, and he agreed that the change was a good one. Within two days, the doorways were built with openings for 3’ doors and we were thankful. We changed it just in time.
What we want most is to avoid regret. We don’t want to look back and think, “We had an opportunity to make this better, but missed it.” Now that the house is developing by the day, there’s constant pressure to account for opportunities and make decisions quickly. As the owners, it’s our job to think ahead about what we want.
Another simple example involves lighting. We will soon have an “L” shaped concrete retaining wall for our driveway. Between the wall and the house, there will be a walkway that needs to be lit and we didn’t previously plan for how it would work.