Garage-centric

garage slab 1218

You haven’t had a house report in awhile because all that’s happened is concrete has dried, and yes, it’s every bit as exciting as you might imagine.

So we have a garage floor now, uncovered and cementy-smelling, and that’s about it. There was a small sign of activity yesterday, on Saturday: while Oz and I were gamboling about, Bret/Brett climbed into the foundation and began shoveling out snow — which at this point isn’t really snow so much as iced-over ice fused on the earthen floor. Lynn and I had considered doing this part ourselves, but while I was watching Bret(t) work up a sweat gouging into ice, I wasn’t sad that he was doing all the work.

I was a little confused, though, and Bret(t) wasn’t much help. I understood Dusty to say they would shovel closer to the time when the crawlspace will be covered, and I wasn’t expecting any work to be done this next week. Bret(t) made it sound like he was shoveling because more snow is predicted, and he’s trying to stay on top of the load.

[Although that prediction is dwindling by the day. Initially it did look like it was going to snow almost every day this next week; as of last night we were down to two days of “a.m. showers.” The snow we’ve been getting is right in that annoying spot: too much to ignore, not really enough to shovel. We are going to pay extra, during construction, every time Duty’s crew has to shovel out the house — and if the winter keeps up as it has, we’ll be paying lots of times for little dribs of snow.]

Bret(t) also thought framing would commence “in a few weeks,” and I was under the impression/hope it might be one week.

As is our wont, Oz and I spent our Saturday morning circumambulating the neighborhood, checking out the competition other houses under construction. I shouldn’t even begin to call it competition, because we’re quite clearly in third place and falling further behind by the week. You know, there’s usually still a ribbon for third.

We ran into a Some Day neighbor (whose dog was responsibly on a leash) on our way to check on the houses, and he noted the speed with which the winning (not a competition!) house was “dried in.”

I hear this term all the time in reference to construction (they use it on the House-Building Channel or whatever it is we watch), and I can make an educated guess, just based on the sounds: dry-ed in, but I’ll have to get back to you with an official report down the road.

Which is where we went, down the road, to the winning (but we’re not in a race) house. Now, we can call this the Even House on the Odd Side of the Street, or I guess we could just say the Oros House after the homeowners, who probably don’t feel at all like they’re winning, because this house was supposed to have been started (by a different contractor) in the summer of 2017. So, really, they’ve been waiting a lot longer than we have for their construction, and by that measure, we’re way ahead of them. If it were a competition.

Because it’s dried in — the neighbor yesterday said the contractor was smart, wanting to close the house in and be able to work inside while Bret(t) and his co-workers endlessly shovel inch after inch of snow off our exposed floor — we have not been able to note much progress on this house for several weeks. It looks the same outside.

So then we moved on to the other house, which we can call the Odd House on the Even Side of the Street. (Despite all the fuss about “ugly spray-painted address boards” at the HOA meeting, the sign is still up, still proclaiming an odd number on what is supposed to be the even-numbered side of the street. This doesn’t appear to bother anyone but me, although I remain unoffended by the notion of a spray-painted sign during construction.)

Or we could call it the Meeuwsen House after the homeowners, who apparently are south for the winter and probably completely unaware that by the week they pull further ahead of us on the way to being the ninth house constructed in Riverwalk.

A week ago Saturday they had a floor. Now they have 2 x 4 walls. (I think they’re 2 x 4; last week Lynn and I shamelessly trespassed to walk around their foundation with its expensive — or so we keep getting told — architectural bump-outs on all sides, and what looks like it’s going to be a beautiful rounded bay window out the back. This week I was with a clearly law-abiding neighbor, so I stayed on the road and didn’t get my up-close inspection. Perhaps today.)

What all three houses, in their various stages, have in common is that the garage is the main architectural feature of the front. I call this “garage-centric,” and generally speaking, I’m not a fan.

You know, there are fads in planning just as in anything else, and I no longer attend planning commission meetings, but back when I did, there was a lot of lamenting about architecture that led to alienation rather than neighborliness: you drive into your front-and-center garage and enter into your house without ever having to so much as wave to your neighbor. I personally object to it more on an aesthetic point: it clearly states that we are a car culture, and this is the most important thing about us.

Before construction started in Van Tuyl Village (back when I was attending meetings), the city encouraged the developers to direct garages toward the alleys. But cities often aren’t any more rational than the people who populate them, and I felt compelled to point out then that while the city wanted garages off the alleys, its snowplow procedure (then and now) puts alleys at the very bottom of the priority list.

What we have at our Some Day house is a nomenclature issue. What I consider to be the front of the house, Lynn and Dusty refer to as the back. They are considering the south end of the house, with its large bank of windows and the living area, to be the “front.” To me, since the north end, with the garage most prominent, faces the street and has the door that visitors will come to — well, that’s clearly the front.

And, when pre-designing the house, I wasn’t wild about putting the garage foremost, but it is the north side of the house, where you want to minimize windows. Before we bought the lot, we looked at several houses, one of which was a condo at the very end of Fairway Lane (out by the golf course with a name like that, obviously). On the trip down this lane, I was aghast at how many garages, most of them windowless, were needlessly placed on the south side of houses. What a waste of passive solar heating and just general home ambiance.

So the garage will be the first thing you see at our new house, as well as that of the Meeuwsens and the Oroses. But hopefully we’ll all be out strolling the streets and walking paths and we will be neighborly then, perhaps even friendly, as happened yesterday when Oz and I came upon Lisa out shoveling her driveway with dog Amos — not on a leash but on his own property.

And we will chat, and be enthused about each other’s houses, garages and all (Lisa’s house actually looks quite similar to what we envision for the front/back/streetside of ours), and not at all bitter about where we finished in the competition subdivision.

 

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