A friend of mine had an idea a few years back. He was going to build a couple of small houses on property he owns. A carpenter and building company manager by trade, he had the skills and knew the people necessary to make it happen, and soon had two foundations going with a third planned.
Two and a half years later, one of the houses is in use and the second has flooring and drywall in place. A third has not been attempted.
I found some footage I shot during that first fall when the houses were being framed. I’ve been spending some time at the house helping him with finish work, and it struck me that if you put the old footage side to side with new, you create the impression not a lot has happened. We’re accustomed to seeing housing pop up like mushrooms.
But, just a few days on site has reminded me how slow and laborious the construction process can be. Every step is hard, methodical, and the preparation far outweighs the satisfying steps when you see progress happen. Add to that the work has been done by my friend and the people he works with when they had time, particularly donated labor by a man now living in the largely-completed house.
It’s not a big crew, and they always had to prioritize work for clients over the houses.
Creation takes time. I see that in my video work, when I find a project I expected to take four hours stretching into nine or 10. When instinct tells you sometime isn’t working, you have to start over. When an element of the process is missing, you have to go find it. Creative ideas usually have to be explored, even if it slows you down.
It’s frustrating sometimes, because the client deserved to be charged for that four hours suggested on the estimate.
And yet, in a world that keeps moving faster and faster, I imagine these experiences that take time, sacrifice, perseverance and patience will become the most memorable and valuable of our lives.