Archives for the month of: November, 2010


One of our favorite artists, Harold Balazs, made this years ago. It’s a good reminder when building a house, and for life in general.

The reason the image, and the saying, came to mind is that somehow I’ve allowed myself to get into a place where I’ve been having less fun with the building process than I should. My bad.

There are ample excuses for why this happened–budget concerns, confusion about things that seem like they shouldn’t be confusing, lots of decisions to make, etc.–but in the end, they’re just excuses. As I walked around the site today with K and L, I was struck by how fantastic the house will be. And how lucky we are to be doing what we’re doing.

Flipping through the new Balazs book this evening (which is incredible, and you should buy a copy), I couldn’t help but post the image.


The concrete forming marathon continues. The boys, with Carrie’s (not a boy) direction, continue to build away. The new day for the next pour is Tuesday (Monday’s a possibility), when they’ll fill all of the stem walls for the house, plus the first two feet of all of the retaining walls.

Out on the site, progress looks great. Walking in, the shape of the house is obvious. The entry sequence is apparent, and the scale of things is generally more obvious.

We’ve had a couple of challenges over the past week. Nothing to go into detail about, but I think it mostly comes down to a massive amount of form work, with a set of pretty technical plans that need to be built to a really high degree of accuracy. In other words, plenty of opportunity for disconnects.

There’s absolutely less flexibility when it comes to building with SIPS. If we were stick-framing–traditional construction using 2″ x 6″ lumber–we’d be able to make up an inch here or there if we ran into an issue in the field. Not so with SIPS. In the end a SIPS house will be great, but until then, lots of detailed work. As the saying goes though, it’s all good.

My friend Jake called today with a funny story. He popped out to check out the site and yelled down to one of the guys, “Hey, are you building a Wal Mart?”

The reply, and you need to imagine a thick Russian accent was, “No, not Wal Mart. Costco. I hope for free membership.”

If we get through this concrete work within budget, it’s free Costco memberships for everyone!

Bunch of pics today. Check out the photos with the giant pieces of rebar sticking up. Yes, that’s how tall the concrete walls will be.

I know I keep saying this, but progress continues. By Wednesday we should have stem walls poured, as well as the initial pour of the tall retaining walls. Not too much new to show between now and then though.

Walking around the site the other day I couldn’t help but notice the obvious: there’s a lot of raw concrete, basalt, metal and wood lying around.

For once I had a proper camera with me (no offense to hardcore iPhone fanboys/girls), so took a few happy snaps with my camera in macro mode. It’s fun to look closely at such “mundane” materials. Yes, those quotes are on purpose. The materials are beautiful when you look closely, and in this way far from mundane. At least to me.

If you’re into this kind of idea, here’s a similar sentiment written by the peeps at Build. And one of my favorite architecture books, from one of my favorite architects, has some stunning passages about honesty of materials, which is kind of what I’m getting at with the pictures below.