Learning from Building

I’ve been spending my days without a single moment to think about the way I feel or look. I have to solve problems from the moment I wake up to the moment I shower and sit to start the book saga. I don’t complain since I like to do things and I am living the rare opportunity of doing two at the same time.

I faced a major building crisis and had to dedicate my whole week to come clean. I am learning with my own mistakes, and when we talk mistakes in “building language” means thinking that other people understand our visions. They just don’t.

A second important aspect I’ve learned over the last weeks is that destroying is a lot easier than constructing. I am responsible for an outdoors makeover, realizing one of my dreams. I had quotations from builders, yet they asked too much. And when I started discussing costs, they usually accepted a reduction by changing the quality of finishing material, something unacceptable in my point of view. So I took the job in my own hands.

It has been a very stressful week, mostly correcting mistakes. I finally feel like this construction mechanism is starting to work. Basically, it took one day to destroy: 1 large store room (just like a garage store room, mostly with car stuff), 2 small store rooms (one from the time people needed a place to store coal and another one supposedly to keep gardening tools), 1 old outdoors toilet e 1 large room for house workers. All in just one day. It was really noisy and in the end my backyard was levelled. My plan was constructing 2 suites with respective bathrooms and an outdoors toilet with enough space to keep workers’ stuff.

As soon as I saw the empty space materializing in front of my eyes, I changed my mind. I opted for just 1 suite with bathroom, 1 outdoors toilet with shower, 1 Jacuzzi, 1 fun shower and a veranda with nice furniture and the white curtains I was dreaming about a few months ago. Add to that a couple of palm trees and you have an idea of my design. We could have a very small swimming pool but there are enough swimming pools and beaches nearby. We decided that the Jacuzzi and a nice open shower would be more fun and functional.

Since I bought this house build on the 50s, during colonial rule, I intended to change the look of my backyard, conceived not to be visited by the lady of the house. Until weeks ago it had horrendous concrete beds where two workers could sleep and I suspect that one of the storage rooms now destroyed could have been used to punish them. I am transforming my backyard in one of the best features of my house, an interior patio accessible from 2 kitchens, the suite I am building, a large veranda, the Jacuzzi, the outdoors shower (it’s an open wood cabin) and the corridor where we park the cars. My initial idea was high quality, but I set for functional, durable and fun.

Where was I? I was telling you that it took one day to destroy my backyard and 3 weeks to build just one single bathroom. My mistake? I asked someone who wasn’t qualified to do the tiles job. It is almost over. A nightmare. The result? I don’t want to see or hear about tiles any time soon. The rest of the job is local stone and I already contacted an expert to do it. No more improvisation. The first toilet is the “public” one, used by workers and occasional visitors. It had to be ready to start building the rest. Today I found a group (walls “genius” Luís, his aid Leonardo Junior, tile expert Jardel, plumber Leonardo Senior and his aid Thomas, besides my talkative guard Albino and cook Tieta) marvelling at the sophistication of the washbasin tap I picked for them. It has a system of pressure and turns off by itself. That toilet is in two tones of grey, light and dark) a touch of black, a little more of white and strong inox fittings. A way different from the colonial headquarters of the past! I stole space (they don’t live here like slaves anymore, so they don’t really needed it) and instead offered almost first class design. I am just waiting for a couple of things to decide how near of first class this job is.

The rest of the construction group includes: electrician Lisboa, locksmith António, doorman Jeito and soon we shall have stoneman Carlos and his aids.

The majority of the construction is going to be about brownish mountain stone. I suppose it’s going to take me 1 to 2 months to finish the whole backyard patio. Almost 3 months to build what could be destroyed in just one day! I suppose the same happens with relationships. It takes one second to destroy years or decades of coexistence. It’s such a shame!

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