Play Houses

After going through the details of NZ Employment Legislation with her, one of my workmates suggested that I had missed my calling and I should have become a lawyer. She wasn’t the first person to say this. In fact, my mother always said that I was so argumentative as a child that she was convinced I’d take up law.

I didn’t. I hit the age of eleven and decided that I wanted to be an author.

I used to write a great deal more (and I was better at it too), but that old dream is a big part of the reason why I’m still writing. It keeps those parts of my brain flexible.

I’m not sure if I ever will get off my arse and publish anything serious, but I fell into Event Management purely by accident. I directed shows for theatre, and that led to managing a small theatre, and that led to middle-management at an events centre… and that’s pretty much where I’ve stayed. If you had asked me 20 years ago what I’d be doing if I couldn’t write, I’d have said I’d be an architect.

Despite my love of writing, English was my worst subject at high school (I did very well at university though). My best subject was technical drawing. I got 98% one year. I simply adored it. And oddly it was the technical drawing that led me to directing theatre in the first place. I designed and built a lot of sets before the age of 20. It taught me more than just drawing, but a great deal about the practical realities of physics too. You try building a two-storey house with only two walls.

And just like the writing, I’ve felt the need to keep doing my drawings in order to prevent a certain type of intellectual atrophy. I’ve designed and re-designed five houses in the past year. It makes my dreams seem solid. It makes me happy.

My current tool of choice is an old copy of Microsoft Visio (which is kind of a user-friendly CAD program). Once you get your head around it, it can be used to produce quick, simple floorplans to scale – complete with furniture. You can also go further and use it for dimensions, electrical plans, landscaping, etc. I’ve used it to scale and re-draw several commercial plans (even pointing out to one house building company that their stated dimensions were out by a metre). I’ve added and moved rooms, twiddled about, and then brought in my changes to various companies for re-pricing. So far they’ve mostly taken it with good humour.

You’ll see a certain same-ness to the houses I draw. I want 3 bedrooms and preferably 2 bathrooms. I like bathtubs and cupboards and big pantries, but don’t give a crap about adjoining garages or space for laundry. I tend to put the main bedrooms on the same side as the living areas, so they get passive solar heat. I believe in passive solar heating.

Of course, none of these houses have so far eventuated. Each of the houses or sections I was planning around have sold, and that then led me onto another section and another house plan.

The new Imaginary House is my sixth for the year. I needed to send some site drawings to the plumbers today, so I drew out the section to scale and positioned Imaginary House and Imaginary Garage… and then I twiddled about and started planning the landscaping. I positioned my stormwater drainage and utility sheds. I decided where to put the strawberries and grapes. I’ll share it once I’m done.

Which brings me back to the thing I really should have got done today: the new mortgage application. Nothing happens without the mortgage. The mortgage takes Imaginary House and makes it Real House… That will be tomorrow.



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