Saturday, March 26th. The shoes I wore to meet the builder.

Numbers are scary. Numbers signifying your weight, your blood pressure, your bank account balance, your age. Numbers, as it turns out, more often than not highlight more of what you don’t have than what you do. Numbers, as is often the case, focus on what’s left out rather than what remains.

We received a significant set of numbers yesterday and went over them this afternoon at our long yellow table. These numbers in particular, list the costs associated with building our house. Five thousand dollars to demolish the garage, ten thousand to demolish the house. Fifty eight hundred for the French doors (WTF?!), but only eighteen hundred for the tub.

We chose Treebird Construction on the advice of our architects, Campie and Steve.

From Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity Color Pairings

We will watch these numbers like a hawk over the next year, sweating the details, looking for creative ways to keep them as low as possible. Will, in particular, will do most of the sweating.

I am too busy formulating the residential color palette.

color palette

For three hours, we sat with Ian, our builder, going through his spreadsheet, line by line (“How do you like working in Excel?” I, of course, couldn’t help but ask). Then we walked to that house on 2nd Avenue to show Ian the siding we like – what a coincidence! he built the kitchen in that house – and then to Top Pot.

Good! he said. Those blonde shelves aren’t too complicated. In fact, I will build them myself.

We feel really good about Ian. Our dogs love him; he’s a Colorado native, too; and he and his wife were married at the Rolling Huts, one of our favorite places in the world. mw|works also designed Ian’s house, which won a design award. Winning design awards isn’t that important to us, but if it happens, we won’t mind.

Reviewing the pricing spreadsheet with Ian, our builder.

Ian holding the permit drawings for the new 1934.

Ian holding the permit drawings for the new 1934.

The chickens will be fostered out. What about the chicken coop? Can we move it to the corner of the front yard? It’s heavy.

He looked at it.

Let’s just disassemble it. That thing will be a pain in the ass to move around.

We have the financing secured from Washington Federal, a loft lined up in Ballard, and an estimate from Door-to-Door for storing our stuff. If all goes as planned, this number will become a pivotal one: 05 15 2016. The date we tear this house down.

Wednesday, June 3. The shoes I wore to meet the architect.

My house is not a piece of software. It is not a computer or an application program. But it is a legacy system. An architectural program designed for an outdated lifestyle. It is a machine designed for a life I do not live.

“In computing, a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program, “of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system.”[1] Often a pejorative term, referencing a system as “legacy” often implies that the system is out of date or in need of replacement.” – Wikipedia.

Initially built in the early 1900s, it has stood here on this hill on a hill, plugged into the city’s electrical, water and sewage systems. On a lot constrained to only 3,600 square feet, it has location going for it. And a spectacular view. But it has no idea what to do with my books or my shoes or my dogs or my bikes. It’s a house with Aspberger’s: greeting me awkwardly when I get home, uncomfortable looking me in the eye and asking what it can do for me today. A house with good intentions, yes, but a house that only either annoys me or gets in my way.

“In Europe, history is more apparent and tangible. It’s especially visible in architecture (schools, hospitals, town halls, churches): buildings are living things that evolve over time and according to the changing needs of people. Beyond architecture, a sense of time and heritage are everywhere in philosophy, cultural traditions, food, language. This is great and at the same time almost too much, as it can be a burden to innovation.

In France, a typical family dialogue could be something like this, ‘OK, let’s rebuild that house but remember, you’re inheriting it from your great grandmother (so it’s kind of disrespectful to demolish the building) and think of your great grandchildren who, one day, will come to visit your daughter in this house.’

Europeans will keep, maintain, restore while Americans will easily restart anything—life, house, job, education, and relationships— at anytime. Both approaches have their own pros and cons.”– Julia Moisand Egea

As it turns out, Mark is a great architect and good friend, but accustomed to bigger projects, bigger budgets, and fewer constraints. So we talked and decided it would be best for us to work with another architect. One with more experience with houses in general and on Queen Anne specifically. One who lives on Queen Anne himself and really gets why we want to stay and design small. Because residential architecture is a different thing. A smaller thing. A fickle thing. A personal thing. At this point in the process, realizing our small budget, we decided to part ways with one and join forces with another. Less “No, because….”, more “Yes! How?” Bonus: there’s a woman on the design team and I really, really like her.

western red cedar

Thursday, March 27th. The shoes I wore to meet the architect….

The wind of the Olympic Mountains has no power over it; the heavy and rigid trunks of this tree defy the power of the storm. It is always silent, no matter if the wind roars in canons and uproots pines and firs; or if the day is calm and full of sunshine, the burly juniper is always immovable, always rigid, like a column of ice, and grand in its silence; and if it dies it is only from old age, for the juniper can brave the storms of centuries.– The New York Times

Birkie clogs.

Birkenstocks for yard work. Seattle, WA.

The shoes I wore weren’t actually donned to meet the architect. They were worn to meet the arborist. The certified arborist who will trim the 40′ Western Cedar in our neighbor’s back yard to make way for our second story. Our neighbors Connor and Mo: he, the radiologist. She, the musician. The tree, whose lacy, swooshy, coniferous branches reach way over into our yard, whispering over the chicken coop, enabling moss between the roof tiles on the garage, disabling any grass that might grow beneath.