Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How a building a house is different than writing a book

I'm attempting to compare two skills which probably nobody in their right mind would compare.
I've had the privilege of being my own general contractor for building this house, and I want to compare that to working on a book, something I'm more familiar with.

Each requires commitment and creativity.
Either job takes about a year from concept to reality but involve a few months of fairly intense effort.
But how are they different?
Let's see...

When you leave a few holes in your plot, there's no worry about a leaking roof sometime later.

Crows don't watch you when you are writing a book.

When it's pouring rain, you can still work on a book (provided your computer is indoors, you doorknob)

There's nothing dangerous about using your word processor carelessly.

Unlike your friendly carpenter, your editor would get pretty ticked if you called them for advice several times a week.

You don't need protective clothing to write a book. In fact you don't need to get dressed at all.

The building inspector doesn't care if he's seen the same design a few times before - he'll accept it anyway.

If your concrete truck is coming that morning, you can't stop and go for a coffee.

You welcome all kinds of help when you're building a house.

Everyone sees the job you did today, and yesterday and the day before that - good or not.

In house building, you can't redo the beginning parts a few more times to get it right. They're probably covered with drywall.

Unlike an editor, when you call a sub-contractor you don't have to wait a few months to hear back from them.

At no point are you obliged to climb a ladder when working on a book.

There's usually not enough trash left over for a decent garbage fire when you're writing a book.

The coffee truck doesn't come around to your house at 10:30 when you're writing.

You get to choose the outside colour and design when you build a house. With a book you're lucky if the cover has something to do with the plot.

Where writing is painful, so is hitting your thumb with a hammer - for the second time that day.

Your best friends are the people who drop by when there's something heavy to lift.

With a book you need to be creative, but with a house, the fact that joists line up properly is more important than creativity.

You can work on your book anytime you don't have to wait for daylight. You can even take your book (in your laptop) to Tim Horton's and work in there. Try doing some construction work in Timmy's sometime.

Post a few more ideas for me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

So here's the house now.

This is the way the house looks on the outside as of a few weeks ago. Shirley is dressed in the work clothes she is looking forward to burning in the near future. The winter has been excellent for building, with hardly any missed days at all. It was also excellent for us accommodation-wise, since we were able to stay in the 'Mallard' (house trailer on site) until late November and then had the use of our friend's Tony and Linda's studio - a separate little chalet with a great view of the lake, for the rest of the time until we moved in.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Call it more research...

Greetings! I'm back blogging after seven months building a new house. I could call it research, but I'm not sure yet how or when I could write about this project, since we're still in the middle of it. Every day there is something new like hanging doors (and making sure they close in the right direction so I don't have to remove the door, chisel out different places for the hinges and rehang it - don't ask) Suffice to say some day I'll work it into a story line.
Our house is built of ICF (Integrated Concrete Forms) which I've been studying for some time as a great and well-insulated way to build a house. I posted some pictures on the blog when I went to Thompson
in 2010.

Our house sold in May of last year and Shirley and I began this next adventure soon after. Our first job together was wading through the exquisitely slimy muck after the excavation and laying out the corner posts for the footings-guys to follow.
The fact that they moved the entire rectangle a metre or so to the southeast has nothing to do with anything. I'm sure
Since that beginning the work has been steady, with hired tradesmen, friends, and family putting in long hours with us in completing this project.

I barely had 20 minutes a week to answer emails from our dial-up connection in the trailer we lived in on the building site. So the next great teen novel didn't get written, or finished. Or started for that matter.
Here's a couple of photos.
The upper one is this fall, with a view of our 'back forty' and the side of the house.
The next photo is our place back in late August. Airy isn't it?
The foam walls have concrete poured into in them and in this photo the upstairs walls have just been finished.
Maybe next posting I'll show the finished house.