Why building a home requires an enormous leap of faith…

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Above: A section through the front of the house – a secondary, multi-purpose dwelling with a mezzanine level (on the left) linked to the main house by a covered, external walkway. Entry garden (centre) and staircase with a bridge to a bedroom (right).

Over the years there have been many times in my life when sayings have rung completely true…when their meanings haven’t just washed over me but sat and resonated and made perfect sense – when I first became a mum eight years ago ‘taking life one day at a time’ seemed to become my daily (sometimes, hourly!) mantra. Since embarking on our recent house building journey many conflicting thoughts and feelings have arisen but the sayings that creep persistently back into my mind are ‘patience is a virtue’ and ‘ignorance is bliss’ – the latter being the most relevant to my feelings and state of mind at the present moment.

When I first created my blog last year I made a commitment to myself to share stories with integrity and honesty…there is little point, I feel, sharing information if facts are sugar coated or omitted…as tempting as it can be at times to leave the grittier, more uncomfortable details out (because baring your soul can be confronting and challenging) – it’s usually those trickier details that enable people to connect, to understand and relate on a deeper and more human level.

So on that note, I would be lying if I said that Mark and I haven’t found the process of building a house to be difficult – it has been extremely trying – in fact, there probably hasn’t ever been a time in our lives when we have felt more deeply frustrated…we never anticipated that it would take as long as it has (patience, it seems, is a virtue we need to work on!), we never anticipated how emotionally drained we would feel and we also never foresaw how costly the exercise would be.

But, on the flip side, there has also never been a time when we have felt more invigorated, more inspired and more alive. Neither one of us have ever shied away from a challenge and to experience this together – to make decisions and suggestions and witness our dream home come to life as a team, is very, very exciting. Just last week our architects told us that building homes requires an enormous amount of belief – it is a process that requires people to take a giant leap of faith and now that we have leapt we need to muster all of our strength and focus and resilience…many unknowns and variants will arise and of course we will continue to be challenged and that’s okay. Because one thing I have learnt in life is that the things worth doing, the things that really count are never ever easy.

Next week, we will receive the tender documents from our architects and over the four weeks that follow, quotes will be gathered from multiple builders. Once a builder has been selected, a start date can then be locked in and building work can finally commence. And at this stage of the process it’s about tempering our excitement and enthusiasm with a little more patience – there is still a longish road ahead of us and no doubt it will have lots of twists and turns but once we can see physical progress…once the slab gets poured and the house starts taking shape and we can walk through the site with the kids, we will be able to experience a true and tangible sense of how our family life will unfold in our new home and I know with absolute certainty that I will never ever take it for granted.

And this is why, for me, ignorance is often bliss…not knowing everything isn’t always such a bad thing. If someone had sat us down at the beginning of the process and explained how long it would take and how costly it could be and how tedious the process could become, we probably wouldn’t have done it – we would have stayed, living comfortably in our old home and never ever taken the leap…and when I see images like the one above and below, I feel the complete opposite to regret…I feel that when we believe and commit and dream in life, wonderful and exciting things will always come…

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Finally…we have our blank canvas…

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above – our little Chloe on site before the old house was demolished…

Knocking down a house is not nearly as simple a job as I once thought…

In all honesty it’s probably not something I have ever given a huge amount of thought but for some reason I just pictured the process to be fast and very simple…the bulldozers would arrive early in the morning and by late afternoon the old house would be gone and the block would be vacant.

I have come to learn (and appreciate) that it is in fact a tricky and tedious job – one which has to be approached methodically and with great discipline. For the past two weeks we have had a team of professional demolishers remove the old house from our block and it happened with care and in stages…first the carpets were removed, then the gutters, roof, timbers and asbestos (all of which were separated and disposed of)…and it was only at that point, that the empty shell of a house could finally be bulldozed over.

Just yesterday the team finished up their work and we now have a vacant block…finally, we have our blank canvas.

For a while there it felt like this would never happen…during the countless trips we have made up to the site I found it very difficult to imagine the old house gone…it seemed such a stubborn and permanent fixture on the landscape. But now that it’s not there it feels so completely right and I can properly picture how our new house will sit on the site and how our little family’s life will unfold in our home.

When I look at the block today, I find it much easier to visualise our own house and it’s filled with family and friends…I can picture the kids playing, learning, swimming, growing and squabbling (!)…I can see myself cooking in the kitchen and pottering in the garden…I can see Mark at the fire pit and stoking our wood-fired oven. And while there is no question that we have a very, very long road ahead of us and I know with absolute certainty that it will be challenging, exhausting and all consuming…it will also be truly exciting and a time that we look back on in our lives with a certain degree of pride and wonder.

I look forward to taking you on our building journey…thank you so very much for joining me.

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How our belongings make our homes…

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At the end of the Summer holidays Mark, the kids and I arrived home from three wonderful weeks in Samoa and the following day we moved house again (if I could use emojis in this copy I would most likely insert three shocked faces here!)…meaning we have now moved two times within ten months. As we all know, moving is no easy task and it’s something I hadn’t imagined doing (for a second time around) when we sold our Avalon home just over a year ago.

Last year we rented a fully furnished, slightly worn weatherboard house that sat on the shores of beautiful Careel Bay. It was idyllic and (as our new house plans were held up in council) offered us a truly magical interlude from family life as we knew it…but while the views were spectacular and the location sought after, I often felt that something was missing…that something didn’t feel quite right…and it wasn’t until we moved this time around that I realised what that ‘something’ was.

Our belongings, our possessions, our things

It seems so obvious to me now but last year I couldn’t pinpoint why occasionally I felt strangely lost and a little at sea…I put it down to the fact that building our house was taking much, much longer than we first imagined…but I now realise (with startling clarity) that it’s because we were separated from our furniture and belongings.

Home today is a fibro beach shack with a kind of cool 1970’s edge…it is humble and imperfect in many ways but it is filled with our own bits and pieces and up until this point, I had little understanding of just how important these things are to me.

Because when I look around the room now I see our life…I see images of the children as babies, I see books we treasure piled high…paintings that capture our hearts and minds and vintage cushions and throws we love. I see our recycled timber dining table with colourful mismatched chairs and a floral vase that was my beautiful late Grandmother’s….when I look around me now I see our passions, our loves and our history…when I walk through the doors here I feel an overwhelming sense of belonging, a sense of peace and a deep sense of happiness.

These recent experiences have taught me a lot – about myself and about our little family. I have learnt that we are more resilient and adaptable than I ever imagined and that the kids are happy pretty much anywhere…as long as there’s familiar items surrounding them and lots (and lots) of love. I have learnt that although moving is not something I would jump at, it’s not all bad either…it has allowed us to cleanse…to get rid of worn out toys, clothes and clutter and it has also allowed us to experience where we live differently. Because in each new home I see our world here on The Beaches through fresh, invigorated and renewed eyes…and I fall in love with it a little bit more every single day.

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