Yin and Yang

theatre masks

Yesterday should have been exciting, and some of it was. Driving toward Riverwalk and seeing a forest of 2 x 4s marking the frame of our house — that was exciting.

I wanted this post to start “Admiral, there be walls here!” which would be immediately recognizable to those of you who know Star Trek IV is the best Trek movie of them all. And it was going to be all celebratory.

But then we hopped up — for the first time — into our new house, and it is shockingly, shockingly small. House Math times two: the disappearing square footage.

I can’t even pretend to understand this. This is supposed to be 200 square feet larger than our current house, plus the garage. And this is no earthly way this can possibly be the case. No way in hell, even.

Now, Jered did caution Lynn the other day not to panic, and said his wife won’t even come look at a project until drywall is in place. But I don’t see how adding the thickness of drywall to these bare studs will increase measurements that are not measuring up.

Somehow, over the course of 10 months of design time, every measurement that was supposed to be an INTERIOR measurement is now the EXTERIOR. And when I look at the plans, I can see that yes, six inches has been lost on either dimension in a bedroom that was supposed to be the same size as the largest bedroom in the current house. But standing out there (where it was really cold and getting dark, and it hadn’t occurred to me to bring more than the 3-foot tape measure I always carry), it seems like the width lost is already greater than six.

We didn’t provide for a linen closet, so the cupboard in the bathroom was going to have to do double-duty. At first glance, it appears that it’s already only half the size of the existing cabinet, which is full. And drywall still to come. Turn around, and the vanity that is now 42 inches appears like it’s going to be lucky to be 36.

Have you ever opened what you thought was going to be a really cool gift and found something you didn’t want instead? That’s what this is feeling like. Deeply disappointing, especially because it’s supposed to be exciting.

The world’s largest kitchen seems as though it’s going to be about the size of our current kitchen, with less cabinet space. Our huge pantry, that Lynn was planning to utilize her baking shelves in? Somehow it has shrunk from four feet in either direction to three. That’s a loss of five square feet. There is going to be room for a fraction of the dry goods we imagined.

The living area still seems big, and I think I’m going to like my “library,” which is really an alcove, but it doesn’t seem as large as our two current living areas combined.

I am completely stumped as to how we think this is a bigger house. If we carved out space in the living area for the fourth bedroom we currently have, we might have enough space left to match our upstairs living space, but not the downstairs as well.

There’s a laundry room we don’t currently have, although we have half a laundry room, so that’s not enough gain to explain the loss everywhere else. It’s baffling, and it’s disheartening.

We also went to look at gas fireplaces yesterday. Lynn asked Dusty a few weeks ago when we needed to worry about this, and he told her not to. Then, on Monday, he wanted information NOW on our choice. So even though I missed work Wednesday, I played hooky again yesterday afternoon (house building is going to be more expensive than we thought, in ways we weren’t imagining) and went to Mountain Fireplace Specialists. And this is what we learned:

Gas fireplaces are no longer designed for heat. The air intake has been purposely reduced for a less efficient flame (more yellow that way), and glass surfacing expanded at the expense of intake and outflow, all in the name of ambiance. The showroom unit that starts at $10,000 produces almost no heat at all. On purpose.

Our friendly and knowledgeable salesperson, Jordan, was quite upfront that the bulk of their clientele are People of Money, as Ed Quillen used to refer to them. The low-end unit, which may or may not actually put out heat (which is the only reason I agreed to one — otherwise, we’re just wasting gas), appears to have a starting price of $3,500, which is more than double what we were expecting.

Jordan also had this cheery bit of advice: he and his wife built a house about three years ago, and once it’s “done,” he said, you realize how many projects are still left to do. Everywhere you look is yet another project, he told us. So there’s that.

Then we went to Western Lumber to look at doors, and were handed three different catalogues. It’s like when someone wants to know the price of t-shirts, and we say we have to ask them a lot of questions first: what type of wood? How many panels in the doors? How much glass? We must not look like People of Money, because he told us to start with the blue pages of the catalogue — the prices in the first two sections were in the thousands per door. Even in the blue section, walnut doors recently got priced at $800 each. The knotted alder that Lynn liked is in the $450 range — we weren’t given the basic pine price, and we didn’t think to ask, because by then he was telling us not to forget hinge selection and that we can get colors other than silver for the plate under the door. There are decisions everywhere.

Oh, and I heard back from Audrie, with the Clarke Agency, who showed our house on New Year’s Day. The people who looked at it, and liked the layout, have decided it is too small. They want something in the 2,000-square-foot range. If they only knew: it must be a Tardis of a house, because this 1,500-1,600 square feet can accommodate four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living areas and a kitchen — while the new, 1,790-square foot house can only fit three bedrooms (none of them as big as the biggest bedroom in the old house), two baths, one living area and a kitchen that is nowhere near as large as we thought.

Maybe it will look better in the bright light of a new day, but in the cold dark, it was pretty darn disappointing.

frame 0119

Here I am, my first footsteps in our new house. It was exciting, and then I looked a a tiny bathroom cupboard and started casting a gimlet eye elsewhere — and it depressed me. Maybe tomorrow it will look better.


One thought on “Yin and Yang

  1. For the record, when I was watching our house get built I thought the garage was going to be tiny based on the concrete footprint and the frame. When finished, it was much larger than I had imagined and bigger than our old garage – which I would have said was not possible based on the concrete footprint. For reals.


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