When I ran track, the coach’s advice was to keep running past the finish line. If you slow your pace too early, you won’t finish properly. The same advice applies when building a house—keep working hard till all the work is finished, and then celebrate a job well done.
Bob Warden, owner of Eagle’s Eye, showed the merit of this with his own house. Given the amount of work he and his contractors put into finishing the house, no one would have blamed him for sitting in his living room, putting his feet up, and resting his weary bones. Instead, he kept working till the job was done. In this case, it meant working with landscape designers to devise a suitable outside plan and then acting on the plan. The result is a beautiful exterior that meshes perfectly with the house.
It is all too easy to stop short of the finish line. I did that when building Cloud Hidden. Building a house is hard work, and I was exhausted from the effort. Though we moved into it in 2000, we lived in an incomplete house for five years until a choice to move to another city forced a frantic completion of the construction. A one day break from the work became a week, which became a year, and suddenly it was five years and we were moving. The result is that the house wasn’t completely finished until after we had left it.
There are several reasons people pause construction early. I needed a break from the effort of the work. Other commitments might demand time and attention. Mostly the delay is because people don’t budget sufficiently for the work. The rule of thumb I’ve seen most often is to budget about 10% of the cost of the house for landscaping. Obviously this depends on the size of the lot and the ambitiousness of the plans, but it proved accurate for our most recent move.
In contrast to the challenges we faced while living in a 90% completed Cloud Hidden, we really enjoyed having our subsequent houses completely finished inside and out. Bob Warden now knows that feeling—he’s earned that feeling—because he committed to finishing his house completely and properly. I think the finish line is in his living room, where you’ll find him with his feet up, resting his weary bones, and enjoying all that he’s created.
Jim Kaslik is the principal designer of Cloud Hidden Designs, LLC, an exclusive designer of residential domes since 1997.