Two years ago this week, we were working with John on plans for the house and had just completed a survey of the property. It boggles my mind that it’s been so long, but that was part of our plan. From the very beginning, we saw time as an asset and a luxury.
In those early days, we had an abundance of time, in part, because the house was still a dream. There were no contractors or deadlines. We could design and tinker and propose as we looked for ways to make the finances work. In the first year, the house existed purely on paper and we both loved pouring over the plans and debating every decision.
When we renovated the Hunter House
in 2010, we were fairly new to construction and didn’t anticipate the number of decisions that had to be made in a short amount of time. Once the construction got underway, the clock was ticking and it seemed we were making daily decisions on the fly. The builder needed to know what kind of front door we wanted, what brand of fan to use in the bathroom and dozens of other things. At one point, thanks to solid feedback, we decided to redesign the kitchen and all the necessary decisions happened in a matter of weeks.
In the end, we were extremely happy with how the Hunter House turned out, but also a little scarred by the experience of making so many expensive, pivotal decisions on the fly. We knew we could do better and the house on Orcas Island was our shot to think ahead, take our time, and get it right.
House plans have a way of creating their own momentum. A survey turns into a plan. A plan needs a building permit. A building permit means a contractor can get involved. The contractor has a start date and a window of time before the next project. It all flows together and it can seem like it’s a race to the finish, which is marked by moving in. We both feel the momentum and have consciously tried to balance progress with the reality that we are not in a hurry. Yes, we are excited and want the house to be finished. I can’t wait to move in. But at the same time, this period of the project is magical and something that is a source of happiness.
I’ve written before that, for us, happiness lives in anticipation. It reminds me of being a kid at Christmas. The long anticipation of Christmas morning far outweighed the experience of opening presents. The same is true for vacations or even a meal at your favorite restaurant. The anticipation can be a greater producer of happiness than the experience itself.
In anticipating the house’s completion, we’ve tried to be mindful that this phase is a time of happiness that should be savored. Rather than pushing everyone involved to beat deadlines and feeling the stress of delays, we’ve decided that we’re better off being deliberate and getting the job done right. We have faith that Drew’s team and his subcontractors will do what is needed when it’s time and unreasonable pressure from us isn’t going to help. Quality takes time. Besides, our life at the guest house is comfortable and affordable. We’re better off using that energy to plan the layout of the kitchen cabinets.
Building a house is a complex and time-consuming affair, in part, because so much of the work has to be done in sequence. For example, the great room side of the house is supported by three big steel beams that connect to one another. For the framers to start building the floor and walls on that side of the house, the steel has to be in place.