Cottage wrap-up

3/31/2019 in cottage
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After nine months of on-again, off-again work, the cottage project is finally done!

To recap: a few years ago we were tremendously fortunate to get to build our dream house with the amazing folks at Build LLC. I wanted to carve out a small detached space-for-one in the back among the trees that echoed the design of said dream house, both in its interior and exterior.

You can now go to the portfolio page for a bunch of curated photos, courtesy of a rented Canon 16-35mm F/4 IS lens, and then go back to what we started with and keep reading.

Lessons learned

Just do it right the first time

Never take shortcuts if you want to create high-quality outcomes.

Whether I wasted a $200 router by skipping a proper bit fastening cycle (cost: $200 + trip to hardware store), dropped a wall overboard by not nailing off a safety (cost: two hours of jacking the wall back up), failed to double-check a materials order and got the wrong roofing parts (cost: half a day of grinding), failed to build a proper work surface and struggled to get siding panels bent correctly (cost: three days and a wasted panel), or didn't fully think through the required depth of the front stoop (cost: one day on extra framing and concrete work), the lesson remained the same.

I'm generally good at this so mistakes like the above are relatively rare; however, I still seem to require the occasional reminder. There's also that one time I broke my wrist falling off an end table because I couldn't be bothered to get a step stool so there's another $10,000 occurence of that same lesson...

Of course not everything needs to be high quality but the further in life I get, the more I realize that building high-quality things with care and attention to detail is what I like doing most.

(This is the same lesson, whether it's carpentry or software engineering.)

Use good tools and materials

While it's possible to polish a turd into something wonderful, it sure is a lot more satisfying to use high-quality tools like those from Festool and high-quality materials like engineered framing lumber from the get-go (which, as it happens, worked out perfectly - no drywall shimming or shelf scribing for me).

The joy brought by good tools and materials often provides the extra fuel needed to choose to do the right thing when the temptation to just wing it comes calling.

(This is the same lesson, whether it's carpentry or software engineering.)

Plan everything

Getting the floor-to-ceiling windows to interface evenly with the base trim, finished cedar ceiling, and walls required to-the-⅛" planning before a single piece of wood was ever even ordered.

Getting the siding panels aligned perfectly across all elevations required a lot of planning as well but I was able to defer that until I actually started working on the siding itself (with all dependent measurements then being known).

Plan everything as early as need be (lest you fuck it up) but no earlier (lest you either plan wrong or lose your mind).

(This is the same lesson, whether it's carpentry or software engineering.)

What would BUILD do?

When in doubt, strive to do the most BUILD-ish thing. Given their amazing blog it's easy to take hero worship to the next level.

The final example of this working out in my favor was following their guide on architectural photography for my portfolio shots for this project. I rented a Canon 16-35mm f/4 IS lens per their recommendation and it made for some awesome photos (as well as oodles of post in Adobe Lightroom).

(This is not the same lesson in software engineering but maybe it should be.)

A few more pictures

These didn't make the cut for the portfolio page so I'll just put them here.

The roof has now lived through a fall and winter and did so wonderfully. I'm really happy with how it came together even though (or especially because?) I passionately hate heights.

Finished roof close-up
Finished roof close-up

The exterior finishes are an exact clone of what Build LLC used and it's just a joy seeing my structure in relation to theirs.

Exterior shot looking out towards the main house
Exterior shot looking out towards the main house

Finally, in the weeks after I framed the floor and before I put on the roof, I spent many a break just lying on my back and looking up into the trees. The view was so beautiful I briefly considered making a glass roof but ditched that pretty quickly for any number of obvious reasons.

Here's a small indication of what the canopy has to offer (and it's not even properly Spring yet) - come visit and find out for yourself!

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