Right now, writing at a Starbucks in Gainesville, my motor is idling though my brain is on fire.
Our permit was approved for our addition and I’m trying to stay focused on just the one step at a time while my construction memory keeps leaping from one thing to another, spinning with all the pieces and parts, threatening to lock up like this computer does from time to time, spinning the beach ball of paralysis.
I breathe and reflect on the advice about how to eat an elephant; one bite at a time.
It’s ironic in that I taught a class on basement remodeling for 19 years at Southeast Community College back in Lincoln, Nebraska, and that’s the advice I’d give my students. I wrote a book on the process, Remodeling A Basement, published by Taunton Press, that I used as my textbook. It was a hands-on class where we actually remodeled the basement of one student, start to finish, while teaching the process. I wrote the book using the real-time experience of two semesters in one basement.
The book sold well for Taunton and for me, and I think it was because the book followed the process in a very linear, simple fashion.
I thought it would be fun to replicate that how-to book idea with a slab-on-grade addition here in Florida, where basements would have to be built like submarines, what with the water table at about grade level.
An addition on our home here would be the perfect candidate I thought, as I wouldn’t be under the time pressure of a client, other than Tracy and me.
Then of course comes the flock of nay saying crows to roost in my brain, cackling and cawing, joining the spinning cacophony of doubt.
My friend and editor on the first book, Roger Holmes, is 1500 miles away back in Lincoln. He arranged most everything on that first book, the editing, layout, drawings, revisions…handed it to Taunton as a package.
Another friend, Roger Bruhn, an amazing photographer both commercially and artistically, is also back in Lincoln. He took all the photos under the watchful editorial eye of Mr. Holmes.
So it was the three of us Rogers, a Three Rogers Production, which logo we added to the credits page of the book.
Roger H. said he would still be interested in editing, which will be helpful in culling the excess verbiage from my over-indulgent prose, but that’s about it. Roger B. and his camera are too far away for that to be feasible.
My son and his wife, both journalists and photographers/videographers of note in Brooklyn, loaned me a camera, as mine is sadly out of date. I’m still trying to figure out which buttons to push, and how to make photos of me swinging the hammer and setting trusses while focusing the lens.
And here’s another thing, but one of the reasons I think it would be a good book to write.
I’m not a contractor here.
I know only a few people in the business, ones I’ve met in the two short years we’ve been here in Gainesville, as we’ve worked on other projects on our home.
So, though I do have years of experience in the trades, I have no network here, no list of subcontractors in the trades I can lean on for advice and expertise, no people I know on a first name basis in codes and inspections. And the permitting and inspection process in Florida, Gainesville in particular, is a whole different alligator than up in the Midwest.
I am much more the homeowner building an addition on my own. With Tracy’s help of course. More than she knows she bargained for, but we’ll keep that just between us.
I know we’ll get the addition done.
The book, well, we’ll just do want we did in Peace Corps.
Start where we are, do what we can and use what we have.
One step at a time.