Ed’s letter: The reno has started, and it’s not all joy and creativity.
Julian Davis was pouring a concrete fireplace in his stillroofless Napier house when he looked up and saw storm clouds gathering. He carried on.
“Let’s just let the rain rip across it and see what it looks like on Monday,” he thought – and on Monday he had a minor masterpiece: a perfectly pitter-pattered hearth.
I read Julian’s story (page 70) aloud to my husband Nick the other day. I was making a point. “Sometimes it’s best if you just go with the flow,” I said.
Nick shrugged. He’d slept badly the night before because the concrete truck was booked to pour our garage floor, and he was worried about rain. As it turned out, it was fine – but if you’re a perfectionist like Nick, there is always something to worry about. He’d moved on to fret about how to match the kitchen beams.
Building on our renovation started five weeks ago. The builders are fast and efficient: piles and joists are in, floors are going down. But it is fair to say that, for Nick and me, the build has not been the joyous, creative process that Julian and his wife Kelly describe. Most of the time it feels to us like running a small business: list-making, meetings and constant concern about cash flow.
“Every evening we do another budget,” I complain to my friends. “The money is haemorrhaging out.” “Don’t worry,” they say, blithely. “It will be SO worth it in the end.” My friends are fans of Grand Designs New Zealand, and they know the narrative arc, which is not dissimilar to many of the stories in this magazine. It opens on a family with a vision for a bold new home. It follows them through months of heartache and budget blowouts. Then, in the final minutes of the show, Chris Moller visits the delighted owners in their finished home, and the camera lingers over lovely interior spaces.
That is not our story, I remind my friends. Even if our vision was grand (which it isn’t), there are times in the bleak grey morning hours when Nick and I doubt we will even get the place finished, let alone camera-ready.
But, then, there are other times. On weekend mornings we take our breakfast up to the building site, walk around with our mugs. We look at the shape of our new deck, and agree the proportions are just right. We imagine sitting on it, with the open doors to our new home behind us. At those times, it feels absolutely possible.
Watch this space.