Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Houses and homes

"There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing then they are so engaged? But alas! we do like cow-birds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveler with their chattering and unmusical notes." (Henry David Thoreau)
I have always been fascinated with the idea of building homes. Other than raising your own food, building your own home fills life's most basic needs. I've often watched houses being built, observing each stage as the house slowly reveals itself. Have you ever walked the aisles of a building centre and noticed that there really aren't that many different sizes of pieces of wood? It would seem to me that it's just a matter of learning which pieces go where, like solving a puzzle. Constructing a modest, simple home cannot be beyond the average person, as average people regularly built their own dwellings for thousands of years.

In fact, my grandfather, father and uncles built the house my grandparents moved into for retirement. It is simple, but beautiful, and everything my grandmother wanted. When many people hear of someone "building their own house", it often means something nearly palatial, and custom designed and built by a company. The way I see it, the more space you have, the more area there is for family members to spread out. A big house is there perfect way for everyone to be home and never see each other.

A few years back I had signed up with Habitat for Humanity to assist in the construction of homes in Toronto. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant with Colin, and so was unable to work with the organization, but one day I hope to volunteer again.

Last week I saw advertised in a Home Hardware flyer a cottage. That's right, an entire cottage. They supplied all the materials necessary to build one of two or three designs. I figure if they are advertising it in a flyer, it can't be beyond the average woman!

What a dream fulfilled it would be to one day build my own home. Every day I would lay down to sleep surrounded by the walls I built with my own hands, and perhaps sing with a little more poetry in my voice.

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