Friday, July 26, 2013

Home Maintenance - Go Ahead and Do it!

Recently, my husband and I have been pouring over realty listings and visiting intriguing properties in our hunt for a new home. We felt a real love pang for a quirky custom built home that had sadly braved the world without caretakers for a few years. How bittersweet to fall in love with a run down house full of potential when we were intent on finding something ‘move in ready.’

You always hear those nagging reminders for repainting after X number of years, or changing that filter every X months, blah, blah, blah. Maybe sometimes you do it and maybe sometimes you don’t. Well, I have now seen a once beautiful home fall into disrepair due to simple neglect. It was such a stark contrast to the similarly aged well-maintained home we’d visited earlier that week. Every house needs some TLC on regular basis, no matter how superbly built.

Our visit to this deteriorated home created one of those moments where it clicks: this is why it is so important that homeowners follow those recommended maintenance schedules (even for a vacated house)...because otherwise, the splendor of the once new and smoothly functioning house slowly slips away.

On one hand, I feel bad for the owners trying to sell this ‘as-is’. What may have driven them to abandon this once lovely home? Will they lose money on the sale due to the simple fact they didn’t maintain the house while it sat empty? On the other hand, I’m feeling fairly excited, because my husband and I (both in the construction industry and fully aware of what it will take for some rehab) might soon be closing on this discounted quirky custom built house that needs a lot of TLC to reach its fullest potential.  One thing I know for sure is that we WILL complete the required but pesky home maintenance to keep it at its best!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Communities and Design Pride

I was one of two members of the BuildSense team that attended the 2013 AIA Convention in Denver. The event was packed with educational sessions and fantastic speakers but there was a whole lot to Denver outside of the Colorado Convention Center worth talking about.

During my stay, a close family friend played tour guide. A graduate of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, he moved to Denver for three reasons: relatively affordable land, a growing urban condition, and a nationally renowned appreciation for architecture. These ingredients make a recipe for paradise in the eyes of modern architects, and relocating to the “Mile-High City” is mighty tempting to young designers.

I’m staying put. The first two reasons I listed are apparent right here in Durham. The third is evident in pockets and I see tremendous potential for growth. An appreciation for designed spaces doesn’t develop overnight. It demands an intimate relationship between the population and designers. The population must observe and feel an increase in standard of living or quality of life due to the sophistication of successful planning and designing. To produce truly successful work, designers must live and breathe the needs of the population. This is by no means a call for everyone to hug their local design folk. This is a call to be critical--critical of the new as well as critical of the old. The most common criticism of a new project I hear is that it doesn’t look like everything else around it. I encourage far deeper considerations. Does it serve the population by bringing new life and a greater pride to one’s community? Does it make responsible use of materials that are less harmful and longer lasting? Will it require less fuel consumption? Will it require less maintenance? The list goes on and I encourage you to dig deep.

We must let go of an asphalt-shingle mindset where fifteen years is the required foresight. Don’t accept work designed and built to the minimum standard. Don’t permit negative contributions to the built environment. Live for the long haul. We must take pride in who we are, how we live together, and what we are making. A client last week told me, “If I’m going to invest in a new home, I’m going to make it something special-- something I can get excited about.” Fan that flame. Stoke that fire. Let it spread. Take pride in design and the designed.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Preventing Crashes

I was sitting at a stop light the other day. I was making the best of my honey do list running errands by motorcycle on a beautiful day. The light changed for traffic crossing my path and the cars took off. The first car pulled out at a reasonable speed, the second seemed to be tailgating a bit, and the third was apparently in a hurry or marching to another drummer. It accelerated rapidly and plowed into the second car, which in turn ran into the first. Sometimes, the building process can be like this. No, I’m not saying it’s a car wreck, but there are a lot of parties involved in the process. Not unlike many processes, each party observes the same information, but does not always interpret it the same way.

The process of Architecture is an effort to define and communicate an intended result essentially from drawings and written directions. The construction process is the effort to create this drawn item. It is necessary to provide the proper information and direction to prevent any crashes. The greater the communication and understanding between parties, the better they see and perceive the same information, the less likely there are any nicks, dings, or crashes. An integrated Design/Build process fosters that communication resulting in a smoother process and mitigates the likelihood of mistakes.

Oh yeah, the second two cars stopped, but the first drove off with its bumper dragging. I'm not sure it ever stopped.