Friday, January 25, 2008

Overwhelming

(Brendan)

So, thanks to Molly, I have discovered the wide variety of home construction books at our local library. We went to the library early this week and I checked out roughly 15 huge books on custom home building, working with contractors, designing for affordability, etc., etc., etc. Molly calls me a "datahead," and it's true that for stuff like this (or drawing or painting or apologetics, whatever I get passionate about) I have a voracious appetite for information and will mentally devour books in short order.

The issue with these books is that I am overwhelmed by what our next year will be like planning this house, and even more overwhelmed that in many ways a lot of the work will have to be in the next six months. The following book is a MUST READ for anyone looking to build a custom home of any kind. It's like the custom home-building manual.
Now, I borrowed lots of books from the library, and some of them were of the "Well, I don't think I'll read this, but might as well check it out anyway" variety, and this was one of those. Judging the book by its cover (which of course we're not supposed to do) it looked like some sort of tabloid-style book with no real meat in it -- something that would be offered for "one easy payment of $19.99" on TV. I've rarely been more incorrect on a book. This book is amazing, very detailed, goes for the highest level of information, is written by a complete expert, and on and on (they need a different cover design). I'm going to have to buy a copy simply because it does act as a manual for every step of the process, and it assumes that you are building a unique, even architecturally-designed home, which was very surprising to me. The main reason anyone looking to build a custom home should read this book is that it is very heavy on information regarding contractors -- how to interview them, how to bid out a contract, how to manage them, etc. I'm not referring to trying be your own general contractor, but to the more standard method of hiring a general contractor and working with that person and your architect to build the home. Long story short for us: if we are going to bid out the contract for our home, we have to have as many details as possible picked out as soon as possible (fixtures, lighting, flooring, etc.), have our construction documents done, and any detailed specifications finished all PRIOR to asking for bids. This was a shock to the system, as I was not planning on this. So we're going to have to work hard to try to be ready to bid out our home construction by late summer or fall.

The second book I recommend is this...
I know, I cringe when I see most of those "Dummies" books too. Except for most topics, if your read them, they are actually quite helpful. I again expected this one to kind of pander to the lowest common denomenator, and it does for a lot of the construction details, but it is REALLY useful for explaining construction loans (another necessity if you want to build a custom home). Construction loans are very complicated, and this book is co-authored by the CEO of a financing company that specializes in construction loans. The book has four chapters just on the construction loan process, and I learned a lot. One caution is that the book (rightly) talks about having a lot of cash on hand to build a home, which can be scary for those of us who don't. But then when you discover that the authors consider the equity in your home to be "cash" and even the money in your 401k or IRA to be "cash reserves," then the big numbers they throw out can be taken with a few grains of salt. But the importance of knowing if you can fund your project is highly emphasized.

All this learning is just in time to interview contractors next week!

On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to pass on this picture that I found of a home recently built in Woodbury, MN (where I grew up) with a home chapel (click to enlarge).
Actual pictures of the interior of home chapels are rare, so I was happy to find this. I very much like the altar and the built-in cut-out behind it, it seems like a cheaper way to create a "sanctuary" type feel around the altar without having to alter the rectangular nature of the room (which keeps costs down). For some reason this seems to double as an office though, which I don't quite understand. It takes the focus away from the room being a chapel, so I don't like that part. But it looks like a beautiful room, and the family is solid. I see the Liturgy of the Hours opened on the desk, and it looks like they've invested in beautiful artwork. Not a fan of the St. Michael the Archangel statue (there are far more interesting poses out there). He looks a little bored with his job of leading the Church triumphant against Satan and his minions. Anyway, have a nice weekend!

5 comments:

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I agree about the St. Michael statue. I've always like the old one in the St. Michael Church (St. Michael, MN). I actually think the new one (in the new church) is the same one pictured here. The colors are kind of funky. I think it's because I'm used to the faded colors of the old statues that I'm partial!

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Beautiful chapel. I tend to like the "old school" statues better as well but they can be challenging to find these days.

Shelly said...

I Totally agree about the St. Michael statue! At first glance I thought it was a plain ole Knight! I thought, hmmmm...that's weird...

Vincent said...

After becoming arrested by your serious and detailed coverage of home chapel design, I was definitely surprised to "LOL" at your comments about Saint Michael. I have to agree, he doesn't appear to be under a lot of stress. Hopefully this is his manifestation as Patron Saint of Radiologists. Thank you for sharing your thought processes on designing a practical home and chapel for many wonderful children with homeschooling in mind. My on-the-path-to-Sainthood wife and I have 5 children at home (9 today, 7.8, 6.5, 4.5 and 2.7) with an 8 week old "bun in the oven." We consider ourselves "tightly blessed" to be living temporarily in military housing in Hawaii, but certainly dream of someday designing (or redesigning) a home to better fit and suit our lifestyle and give glory to our God.

Brendan Koop said...

Thanks for your kind comment Vincent, I hope you continue to follow our blog, and God bless your beautiful family!

I love your phrase "tightly blessed"! That's such a great way of taking joy in whatever God give us in whatever phase of life we are in.