Nothing can prepare you for certain life events: The birth of a child, marriage, the loss of a loved one, or building a house. No doubt, Roy and I feel blessed to create a home in the lap of the Airpark Lifestyle, and doubly so to build that home at beautiful Hensley Airpark. Yet, living the dream also has moments that feel like bare feet on the sunny side of the sidewalk-a bit too warm, and foot-hopping uncomfortable.
Building a house requires trips to the fixtures store, the tile distributor, Lowes, the fireplace store, the sheet-metal manufacturer, and Greeneville Builders. Roy and I spend our days’ eyes-balls deep in decisions about faucets, sinks, cabinets, flooring, heating, cooling, bathtubs, and showers. Fortunately, we have help.
Mary, at Furgeson’s supply, helped me figure out the oven door needed to open to the right, and what exact size and shape the vent hood for the cooktop needed to be.
“Where ya’ll at in your build?” She asked, at the end of a two-hour meeting. Roy and I sat at her desk between the mock-up kitchen displays and a plethora of lighting fixtures and fans hanging from the ceiling.
“The framers are almost done with the inside walls,” Roy replied.
“That far already?” Her eyebrows lifted up on her forehead. “Then you’ll need rough-in valves.”
“What’s a rough-in valve?” I asked.
Mary leaned across her desk and gave me a look that said, You poor ignorant child. “It’s okay. I’ll help you. Just pick out which brand of bathroom fixture you want.”
I looked back over my shoulder at wall upon wall of faucet displays. My brain already felt about to melt out my ears from figuring out right-hand vs left-hand drains, and hood fan CFM’s and sones. I wanted to cry, but I know how to tug up my big girl pants, so I blinked back tears, reached for Roy’s hand, and said, “We can do this.”
The next day, Davey, kitchen designer and math wiz, greeted Roy and I outside his office with a smile that matched the warm, sunny day. “How’s it going?” He asked. His business, Lick Creek Kitchens, resides in an old house on the banks of its namesake creek. Cows wander in the pasture opposite the creek.
“The framing is almost done,” Roy replied. “They put the roof on yesterday.”
“We just got our most recent bill from JS,” I added.
Roy followed Davey to the kitchen showroom and perched on a barstool. “John told us to sit down before we opened the bill.”
The walls of the old dining room were lined with colors and styles of cabinets, and the entire tiny space felt like grandma’s house.. “Y’all are probably getting tired of sitting down.” Davey said. He looked somber for a moment, then his face broke into a sly grin. “Why don’t cha’ get a cot, so you can lay down instead?”
“For when I feel faint? Should I have a bottle of bourbon with me?”
“That might help.”
We all laughed, then unrolled our kitchen elevations. Two hours later we came away with the plans for our dream kitchen.
Every day we drive from our temporary home at the Lazy Llama campground to Hensley Airpark to witness the progress on our house and hangar. Travis, Todd, Honk, and Lucas make up the framing crew. Roy and I say we are building a house, but these guys are the ones doing the work and it is damn hard work. Roy and I – mostly Roy – envisioned participating in the framing. As I write this, Roy is doing exactly that by placing the crane’s hooks in the trusses and rotating the trusses into approximate position with a rope as each hangar truss is lifted. In my past, I’ve spent hours on my hands and knees in cramped, dirty spaces running wires. I’ve repaired computer boards in 100-degree heat. I’ve mopped floors and hauled 25-pound bags of flour around in the middle of the night. I can say, hands down, none of those jobs was in the same order of magnitude in terms of the physical demand of framing a house. I have the utmost respect for these guys, and without them, there’d be no house.
Last week we drove out to John Seaton’s office to go over the ‘sitting down’ bill. Talking about money is hard for me. Discussing money is less difficult if you think of it in terms of choices. For example, how many scuba diving trips does one type of tile cost over another? Will I lose sleep over the purchase of a particular bathtub? I value my sleep more than I do a high-priced claw-foot tub, and I am willing to give up a few scuba trips for a tile we’ll walk on every day, but I’ll choose a less costly option before giving up scuba all-together.
Discussing money is also easier with someone kind and patient like John Seaton. I love the sign above John’s desk that reads, “Whatever God brings you to, he will bring you through it.” John gave God a hand and brought us through receipts, stepped through the estimate buckets, helped us fill out what’s done and what’s remaining, and translated from construction-ese to American English.
“The bottom line,” I said, my fingers tapping on my iPad keyboard, “Is will we have any scuba diving trips left in the bank when the house is complete? Circumstances beyond all our control will cause us to miss some scuba trips. This is a first-world problem. Loopback my beginning statement: “We are blessed to create a home in the lap of the Airpark Lifestyle.”
Nothing prepares us for certain life events, but if we are fortunate, hands reach out to help and guide us on the journey. We count ourselves very fortunate indeed.
And now, for some fun. Roy and I joined the Greeneville YMCA. A crowd of teenagers piled into the pool area as we were finishing our morning swim. The young people were high school senior engineering students. Their senior project was to design, build and race boats. The materials list: cardboard, garbage bags and duct tape.