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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gray Matter: Contemporary construction

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

 A few weeks ago I told you of the  preparations going on for a new residence on the lot next to mine.  At that time, I conjectured that those able workmen might just wave a wand and a house would materialize. 

Well, it wasn't quite that simple, but almost.  A couple of fellows checked things out periodically until shortly after noon a few days ago. At that time, more men began to gather,  several driving the longest trucks imaginable, each heavily loaded with serious-looking equipment.  Suddenly, I saw that half a house was being guided toward the site.  Naturally, a small crowd gathered, so there were others beside myself to supervise the event.  After lots of action, an unbelievable amount of measuring, adjusting and monster-maneuvering, "Voila!," that piece of a house slowly, accurately, slid onto the foundation.

Next morning, the whole procedure was repeated with the second half.  This time there was a smaller group of on-lookers.  Several braved the gusty breezes to seriously check things out, while others were recording it all on camera.  My good neighbor from across the street joined me so we watched from inside, comfortably sheltered from the wind. When that section slipped into place both she and I had more pressing duties, so the workers had to carry on without us.

Sometime later, after they removed the voluminous plastic protecting the structure, I discovered that the front and back surfaces of the house were already sided.  Meanwhile, the sure-footed crewmen scrambled up and down securing pre-formed struts and completing the peaked roof.  The remaining siding is now in place, so it won't be too long until the exterior work will be complete.

I have been so busy watching things at ground level that I haven't stopped to look up, but somehow I have the feeling there has to be a giant up there playing with his own set of Lego blocks and Tonka trucks.   

I'm putting it lightly, but you can see that contemporary construction remains an enigma to me.  Not only are the processes unreal but so are the materials, by my generation's standards.  The exterior looks like wood, but it isn't.  The house  rests on all of that styrofoam and plastic, albeit reinforced with quantities of concrete.  Windows  that appear multi-paned, aren't actually. Plastic inserts inside a single pane give them that appearance.

From my viewpoint, with which I'm sure many of my peers agree, it all seems oddly unsubstantial. But I've been assured by younger friends,  most of whom do not share my view, that all these materials and methods have been tested and found reliable.

So I'm trying to become a believer.  Occasionally I wonder what would happen if one of our seasonal mid-west storms came through and provided the ultimate test. Were that to come about, someone might have the last laugh if my old conventionally-built house fell victim and the new construction survived.  But  I'm not going to lie awake nights pondering that possibility. 

After all,  I'll soon have a new next-door neighbor, as will several others in our small town,  and we're all pleased to be a part of  this remarkable growth and progress.