Archives for posts with tag: Tamara Baker

Patricia (architect) conducted a team meeting today with our structural engineer and contractor to review our first printed project timeline. Suddenly there the project was, stretching on for three pages like reticulated building blocks measuring out the next six months of our lives. Oh, the things we will see from our little camper window.

Antony Rieck (photographer) and Jorge Brunet (art director) showed up as the meeting ended to capture images of our intrepid team. I stood observing these three successful, self-employed professionals in front of the camera who also happen to be women – mothers, sisters, daughters, wives – posing for serious as well as silly photos that poke fun and celebrate them as females. When the Hatcher House was built 44 years ago, no woman would have been a principal on such a project. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Just as the past holds its stories, so certainly will the future. Last year Patricia, Jorge, Richard and I sat with the Hatchers on this property and looked at the images they had captured and preserved forty-odd years ago of the home being built and of their young family. I like to think that I will sit on this property forty years from now and tell young new owners about our experience, show them the images of our project, and consider how we got from here to there.

Nothing is happening with the house on Richard’s and my end. I sat thinking about this today and wondered why I’m not bothered by that. We’re paying for a house we can’t live in, we are paying people to create plans and work on the house we can’t live in, we’re paying for a house we CAN live in that we keep freakishly clean and tidy in the hopes of selling it, but I’m unconcerned.

Why? Because our team is pondering. I love that. Patricia has gone away to think and plan and research and think more. Tamara has been solving puzzles regarding how to construct, repair and renew our house with careful respect for its origins. The contractor is pricing materials and labor and creating a timeline and budget based on Patricia’s and Tamara’s plans.

Life is so fast-paced here, there is so little thinking time. Or at least it is in our household. And for me it makes life a little flat. I treasure my time to ponder, to be creative and silly just to myself, and although I do have my moments when I get butterflies in my stomach because “nothing is happening” with the house, I know…I remind myself…that the pondering is the most important part.

I’ve made it pretty clear to all involved that I want a bathtub. A four story house and no bathtub?! But as we went through the house today with Tamara, Patricia, and contractor folks, and I listened to them talk about the various problems with the structural integrity, all I kept seeing was the scene from The Money Pit where Tom Hanks just wants a hot bath but when he fills up the tub it goes crashing through the floor and he finally, finally goes insane. Perhaps I should start practicing that laugh now.

But I think I’m getting an inkling of how the team works…Tamara will draw up structural plans for the contractor, who will price the plan to repair the structure and implement Patricia’s design. Yep, that’s pretty much all I understand so far. They discussed a work start date of mid-February. Fingers crossed.

The one saving grace, the pool, is blue and beautiful. I need to call and thank Parry Pools for giving us one operational feature to enjoy. Y’know the pool sorta looks like a big bathtub…

We had an exciting day. This morning we met with our architect extraordinaire Patricia McQuaid, our contractor, and our structural engineer, Tamara Baker. An all female team. The three of them are familiar with each other even though they haven’t all worked together, and they are all excited about the project. I know it’s normal to bid stuff out, but Richard and I decided for this unique project we were more interested in the right fit. We have talked with Patricia before about modern design and she’s very familiar with William Morgan’s works, Tamara thinks the house is amazing and can’t wait to knock holes in the walls, and the contractor is LEED certified, has a good reputation for being on time and in budget, and has done commercial buildings, public buildings and residences. (Editor’s note June, 2011 – contractor was neither on time nor on budget nor had experience with renovations. We had to finish home on our own.)

We met with Patricia and the contractor for about four hours to have a good poke around and let our conversation range from conceptual to practical to the occasionally ridiculous. Tony Rieck took photos for Patricia to refer to during the project, the contractor and I talked about broad details like flooring and windows, and of course we discussed the budget. Still way too ethereal for my comfort. We can dream big, but of course there is always the price tag to consider. I can only imagine all of the hard choices we will have to make.

I still don’t have a good handle on how the architect, structural engineer and contractor work together. I’ve only figured out that the contractor needs the architect to provide the overall design, but the contractor said on a project like this it is even more crucial that she get detailed drawings from the structural engineer. Probably once I don’t need to understand I’ll get it.

After our meeting we met with another lender to discuss funding. I gave a little spiel about his needing to expect that this will not be a standard loan process, because nothing about this house is standard. He said he feels comfortable about us getting approved.

I called Tamara. We had planned to engage her for our structural work anyway in this imaginary project, and here she already had knowledge of the house! She stopped by a few evenings later to talk with us about the house, a budget, and provide names of possible contractors who would be right for this unique project. She also mentioned the word “docomomo,” which I’d never heard before.

The next day my business partner called to ask the name of the architect. When I responded “William Morgan,” she told me she saw an article about him in that morning’s paper. That afternoon, our next door neighbor stopped over with a copy of the article, which said the local AIA (American Institute of Architects) had organized a walking tour of William Morgan public sites. Then I went online to research DOCOMOMO (an organization that promotes documentation and conservation of buildings reflecting the Modern Movement) and discovered that the William Morgan tour was in recognition of Docomomo’s annual day in October to highlight and celebrate modern architecture. Really, c’mon, do we need to be hit over the head?

Richard researched the Hatcher house online and found an angry blog written by a previous potential buyer. The blogger outlined details of the price negotiation and portions of the structural and inspection reports. He even included a photo of a bat he said was found inside the home. The blog was quite a find, all these details about the problems with the house without paying for an inspection! A few days later I received a cryptic text from Richard at work, “click on the bat.” It took me a minute to figure out he meant the photo on the blog. I fired up the computer, found the site and clicked on the bat photo, which enlarged it. I could then clearly see the blue paper folder on which the bat was laid out, with a name embossed on the paper. “Baker Klein Engineering,” the firm that conducted the structural inspection! Tamara Baker is our neighbor. Is this a sign or something?