Maxine Speaks Up (at last.)

Some of you blog readers have been wondering just when I (Maxine) might be offering up a view on this house building process. I've been composing vignettes in my mind for a long time and the other day one too fitting bubbled out.

It was a beautiful day and Jake and I had been motoring around town and on the way home we were quiet for a long while just taking it all in (we're both incorrigible daydreamers). Jake finally broke the silence with this question: "Who knows more, you or Daddy?" "Well," I started out out tentatively "probably Daddy, he's a really smart guy..." "Like he knows more about building than you do, right?" "Yes," I replied, "he absolutely knows more about that than I do." We continued the discussion in this vein for a bit then I broadened the topic and reminded him that it can be hard to quantify "who knows more" for each of us naturally gravitates toward what is of personal interest. Seeming like the perfect teaching moment, I went on to explain that one of the greatest benefits of community is the collective knowledge that's gained and shared. There's an almost magical interdependence that makes the whole so much stronger, smarter and more interesting than just the sum of its parts. There was another long stretch of silence as we both pondered that.

I can't speak for what was going through Jake's mind then but I know it didn't take long for me to start thinking about all that's right about Timber Frame Homes by New Energy Works and our quirky little community. Jonathan and I had been talking not too long ago about a recently completed project a NY mag was interested in covering. The owners wanted to maintain their anonymity and Jonathan was worried that it may not be as interesting to readers without that sense of personal connection. As the reader of way too many articles on houses and house design I pointed out that this is common practice and that it just doesn't get much more personal than the process of design and build that happens at New Energy Works. In a design/build project the 5 working groups (design, timberframing/engineering, construction, fine woodworking and our sister company Pioneer Millworks) are right there in the process with the client and with one another basically from day one. Working together makes us better at designing spaces, at building shelter, at leaving a legacy of craftsmanship. The disconnect that can happen doesn't. It's amazing to be able to walk over to the folks in design (or fine woodworking, or Pioneer etc) and say "Hey, I was thinking it might be interesting to..." or "wouldn't it be great to..." and we figure it out together. I love that. Reinventing the wheel each time isn't the easiest way to build or design but the challenge seems a little less daunting when surrounded by the community of knowledge. I personally have always loved going on site and talking with the guys, trying to get some basic understanding of what makes it harder or easier.

The interiors phase of Vermont Street is ramping up so I've been busy detailing things, which always leads to more questions than answers. I've tried to make time the past couple of months to bake more. It's not for us but for "the guys"at the future home. You see, being new to me they don't really realize the pot of trouble I'm cooking up in my mind when it comes to finish work so I'm trying to sweeten it up at least literally. I get ideas that I don't have execution plans for - I'm smart enough to know that these patient and talented guys will know how to build it better than me.

Editor's note: That article Maxine mentions is just on the newstands this week in Rochester Magazine. Don't ask me what newstands, though.