In 1989 My wife Melody and I moved to Benicia because we liked the feel of the town and because the large variety of older houses meant we could buy a crummy house and then fix it up into anything we wanted.
After years of being a renter, I would finally get to have a place of my own where I could indulge an irresistible urge to build. This is exactly what we did, performing almost all construction chores on our own.
We turned that charmless one story house into a snappy two story that was ready for the family life that followed, complete with covered porch, a good view from the new upstairs master bedroom, and an honest-to-goodness “secret room” behind a hidden panel. We moved the kitchen so it was part of the newly open floor plan. We then raised two kids during our twenty-nine years in that house.
I experienced what my clients live through. Not just the extreme inconvenience of it all, but sweating the money, agonizing over major (and minor) design decisions, and the joy of seeing it all come together.
Along the way I learned to think like a builder. My Senco finish nail gun and compound miter saw became my favorite tools. Good buildable framing solutions made their way into my drawings for clients. My complete devotion to transforming that house completed my education as an architect.
In 2018 we moved to a new house. Thankfully I had bought and personally remodeled several dilapidated houses in the ‘90’s that I hung onto as rental houses to be sold in the event that I could build a custom house for myself someday. In 2010 I acquired a vacant lot a few blocks away on West 6th Street, made more affordable by the “great recession”, and then took much time design a custom house , which, of course, had its own saga of second guessing decisions and sweating the money. Lessons learned over the years made their way into design decision about the new house. There is much more about this in my blog.