a bar too high?

For my entire life I have been plagued by the haunting notion that I should be doing a better job. Certainly I'm not alone in this, as without it, we'd lack a great majority of the forward push that so describes the human condition. And CERTAINLY I have NO interest in trying to delve into figuring out why: at least not here, in front of YOU, for gosh sakes! (Many years ago at a particularly low life-spot, at my one and only effort to get professional counseling, the guy with the degree was really bummed when I said, Sure, we can talk about anything, except... well...and by the end of that list of we're-not-going-there's he was looking pretty forlorn. Hey, let it lie, wouldja, there are homes to build!)

We're human, and we're often driven. I'm okay with that. Some of that drive makes us work harder to do better things. Progress, and evolution. The downside for some of us is that there is little peace, not much real deep level rest.

Val and I are already writing a list of things here at The Vermont Street Project we could do better... next time. Thankfully, these seem to be mostly procedural. I'm praying hard that few of these gotchas get translated in finished product. Some things would be easy to fix, like the wrong mirror in the bathroom or the door swing in the library. The other end of the spectrum holds nightmares like bad bathroom usage/design (see comment at end of post*) or the wrong cross-linked polyethelene pipe in the radiant slab (see#3) below.) So far so good, and relief that it is coming together so well is morphing into a sense of awe at our new home.We've been told by a bunch of clients over the years that after living in the finished house for a while they can't really find anything they'd change, or that it "fits us like a glove and how did you do that?" The tough side of me has wanted to discount the compliment, thinking that they're just not trying hard enough or perhaps have rationalized their way into this love-trance. The angel on the other shoulder whispers softly to let it all come in, baby, because that's how it's SUPPOSED to feel after all this work.

While I'll let you know if it fits us like a glove in a year or so, I do know that I screwed up on:

1) Financing. Next time I would be more arduous and act more quickly in setting up a permanent solution. While resolved, the extra time and headaches caused other problems.
2) Decisions. A few more would have been tackled earlier, even if I don't think it humanly possible at the time. Some of these include: outside hardscapes and final grading; exactly what interior wall section will be eventually covered by tile, panelling, built-ins, etc., so we're not scraping off expensive and thoughtfully applied clay plaster; and who would fill some of the subcontractor roles sooner than the day before they are needed.
3) Heating contractor. Just because the heating system is mostly piping (boiler, radiators, etc.) doesn't mean the otherwise very good plumbing company should do this scope.
4) Get the heating system installed and functional much earlier... see #s 1) and 3) above. We're now bringing the interior temperature up to normal, and seeing some movement in the wood floor that will cause some extra work.Oh there will be others, and this is, in retrospect, a rather sissy list. Here's what I wouldn't pretend that I could have done differently: Be set with a vast percentage more of decisions at the outset. Yup, would have been easier to build. Yet it would not have been the dynamic, knowledge based opportunistic and cohesive result. Design is a process, not a product, remember?

And we're only human, remember?

* Postcript on our bathroom. The main house has a powder room, a lower level full bath, for guests, mostly, and one main bath. Our son may have a killer bedroom occupying the full tower level with the best view of all, but Maxine and I are pretty convinced that making it easy for our paths to cross as a family, in the bathroom, is okay. With a nod toward some privacy, we've sectioned off the toilet and shower from the vanity and soaking tub. So Jake will have to traipse downstairs and join his family in his adolescent years, by design. Ask me in a year about this particular glove.