A (kind of) Concrete Plan… and practicing patience.

As Christmas was approaching, I got to thinking about the practice of patience, the the feeling of anticipation, waiting, and hope.  The season of Advent is all about these things; the anticipation of the birth of Jesus, and the waiting with hope of his second coming.  Children practice patience as they count down the days for Christmas for Santa to come and bring them gifts.  As the days get closer, the anticipation and excitement grows with hope for what’s to come.  We can all relate to how much sweeter it is to experience something good when it required a period of waiting and a bit of heartache to get there.

“Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.  Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.  Those who do not know how it feels to anxiously struggle with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them… For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait.”   – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Now, while a house project is not an example of life’s deepest questions, it does make me reflect, and has caused me to practice being patient.  I can only dream of how much sweeter this journey and home must taste when we finally get to live in it after a year of anticipation and excitement that has been a struggle (at times) along the way.

Below is our video of the concrete process.  This was back in spring, mind you, when the grass was green and the rain never stopped.  Kansas City had two huge storms with major downpours, flooding, and high-winds while we were trying to get our foundation down!

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My Concrete-phase Hiatus

I’ve been a bit deflated and irritable during the last 2 months.  I haven’t posted anything on here for a while due to a slow-moving process during that time.  It’s funny how excited you are when the smallest thing is changed when you stop by the house on your way home from work.  Things as little as new tools delivered to the site, dirt scooped back into a hole, or a dumpster delivered make you feel like there is forward movement no matter how small.  Compared to how bummed you can be when you drive by and nothing has been touched.  You feel stagnant.

It’s not like I think the world revolves around me, or my house.  I understand many have multiple projects that overlap, and heavy rain storms played a big part in our delays.  But some professionals aren’t the best at setting up your expectations accurately through communication.  I’ve learned it is so much better to tell clients something is going to take longer than I think, or cost more with the hopes of being able to out-perform those goals.  Rather than tell them something to keep them happy at the moment such as, “I’ll be there tomorrow to work on it,” and then not show up for another 3 days.  It feels deflating in the end.  It’s almost better to hear bad news letting your head wrap around it and soak it in with time, rather than to have high hopes and expectations based on what you’re told then to have nothing fall in line with those.  It makes you feel less in control, more chaotic, and less trustworthy of others.

The footings were poured first.

The slab form-work was done and plumbing was ran to specific locations.

Re-bar was added and ready for the final pour.

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Concrete was poured into a buggy and taken around back rather than having the large truck with a hose over our house to save us some money.

The slab is poured!

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The kids loved watching the concrete pour.

It’s a weird feeling to have the hopes that the people working on your home care about it as much as you do. Because that’s not realistic.  They have their own homes, own families, own schedules, and life outside of working on your house.  But don’t we all just want people to love and care about it with the intensity and passion that we do?  That’s what makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.  We always want an advocate.  I do have an advocate in my contractor, but it’s hard balancing the extreme yearnings I have with the reality of life.

Last concrete project was the patios.  There is a small patio to the side of the house that will have a fence built for privacy.  In the back, we have two sections designed so we can plant a tree in-between for needed shade around 10-2.  We will later add a flush deck between the concrete pads like drawn below:

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I am well familiar with studying the emotional rollercoaster journey that remodeling (especially an addition) can take homeowners on.  I researched it, saw it first hand for the last 10 years, and am now experiencing it fully.  Any of the slower-moving parts of the process (or moments where bad news is delivered; usually referring to money) are typically where people feel disappointed.  When you see quick changes (such as in demolition, framing, and drywall) you feel a bigger sense of progress happening.  If anything, this experience is teaching me a deeper level of empathy for the emotions my clients go through.  I found a couple of graphics to better demonstrate what I’m talking about.  They vary a bit, but have the same general idea.

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The one below is pretty funny when you take into account the children and dog line:

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Correctly shown in the above images in absolute full bliss is the elation at the end of the project where you want to throw a party!  That spot is higher than all of the other happy points; even higher than when the project began or when you dreamt of it.  This is because you just saw and experienced a dream becoming built-reality.  Not many people get to experience this.  It is euphoric when you have a design and then see it come to life.  Any child that has seen their drawing become a mural, or a long goal of yours finally gets conquered, or the music you worked so hard to create gets played on the radio…

This is the moment it’s all worth the dirty, emotional, crazy.

This is when the open heart surgery becomes life-saving.

This is the moment that I tell clients to keep a hold of when they aren’t sure they ever want to remodel.  The end result is worth it!  Good design makes your life better.

This is why I will probably never be able to stop improving spaces; even my own.  No matter how hard the process is.  That vision I can’t help but see in a sad space, of the potential, the possible, the what could be is way too enticing to ever make me quit.  It motivates me more than most things in life.

I guess I’m right where I should be… (among the crazy)