Construction has finally started on our project, a small addition, for a single-family house in Eldorado Springs.
Of course, what the start of construction really means is usually mud. As you can see, some careful excavation (by hand around the tree) and a late spring snow has left a construction site of mud, dirt and a general mess. That construction almost always starts with about the largest mess you can imagine in your house and finishes with a full professional cleaning, the shine gleaming off every surface, is the great work of construction: counteracting the second law of thermodynamics, the course of entropy, or creating order out of disorder. The general contractor would not like their jobsite described as “disorder”, but it is certainly not the order of everyday life, of domestication.
That difference, the difference between a domestic order and construction order, plays out most distinctly in the first and last few days of every construction job. The sudden surge of construction personnel, the violence of excavation and demolition, always slightly shock a homeowner with their ferocity and loss of privacy. The opposite end of this sequence, the completion of construction, also sees the same tensions. As a homeowner moves back into their house, workers are still finishing last items, fixing small issues. The various painters, laborers and carpenters still see the house as a jobsite, not someone’s home. They come and go as needed, often without knocking, and parking vehicles and placing equipment as required for the task, not the order of a private house. As a consequence, the first experience so many homeowners have of their new house or addition is not the secure, grounded feeling of home, but rather a strange limbo of living in a house that is part jobsite, part home. This quickly fades as the workers slowly disappear, but the few days of a kind of co-habitation, like the beginning of construction, are the true marks of the ends of a project, not the contract signing or completion of Substantial Completion forms. That the violently creative act of construction is bracketed by an ambiguous shift from ownership to stewardship and back, is endlessly fascinating and needs careful navigation.