Tarkka Homes, Inc
Serving southern and central New Hampshire 


Satire - Please Don't Ask Me That Again

March 2012

Home buyers are full of questions.  They want to know what things will cost and, more importantly, whether they can have them.  They read magazines, surf the web and make lists, long lists.  They watch cable channels and the lists get longer.  They ask builders plenty of questions, some of which I have been asked literally hundreds of times and others that are so unique that I have to imagine no one anywhere has ever been asked this question before.  And I’m supposed to figure out how to answer it.  Gee, thanks. 

Let’s start with the most frequently asked questions when it comes to building and remodeling.  In my particular case, with my home office prominently advertised as being in Weare NH, I have to endure the endlessly repeated single word query “Where?”, followed by a self-satisfied chuckle for a solid piece of wry wit.  Not original, but everyone seems to think it’s hilarious.  But that’s just me.  For the typical builder, it is the perennial home show question “How much do you charge per square foot?”  The poor fools are expecting me to give them some kind of simple answer, like perhaps a number.  Nothing doing. 

No, depending on the questioner, the cost per square foot response may require a nuanced explanation giving proper weight to the complexity of the issue, due consideration for the informative role of the answer and a tedious red-herring speech about how we arrive at the result without actually divulging the numerical value.  In short, reveal nothing.  It might sound like this: “In order to calculate the cost per square foot in monetary terms, we first plug the values into an algorithm developed by my nephew, who happens to be a high-functioning 12 year old idiot savant in his junior year at MIT.  We take the result and apply it as a proof to Fermat’s last theorem.  If we are successful, we then know that the actual cost is definable as a ratio to the amount of the floor area expressed in foot-dollars.”  Take that.      

I also get some pretty unusual questions.  “Are you familiar with river recovered cypress flooring?  Some of it is prehistoric, over 1500 years old!”  My guess is lumber that old makes you feel younger, at least until I tell you the cost and your hair turns white.  I’ve had “Tell me, why are builders afraid to build a 13th floor but book publishers have no problem printing a chapter 11?”  Good one.  Or, “Do you do straw bale construction?”  I had to Google that one.  Here’s what I found.  The earliest known straw bale building in the United States was a schoolhouse built in Nebraska in 1897.  Unfenced and unprotected, it was eaten by cows in 1902.  To protect these buildings from hungry cows, they started plastering them with cement, lime-stucco or “gumbo mud”.  Home Depot does not stock gumbo mud so, no, I don’t do straw bale homes. 

At a recent trade show, one short older gentleman whispered to me conspiratorially, “You know that they use shipping containers now, don’t you?”  “Umm, for what?”  “To build with.  Pile them up like blocks and make houses out of ‘em, they do.”  Back to Google I go and the first site that pops up is firmitas.org.  The cover page looks promising with the title “Shipping Container Architecture”, but then I notice some other links and articles.  Alongside their tutorial on the home building advantages of shipping containers, the website tells us that 9/11 was a lie perpetrated by the military industrial complex, whatever that is.  They also have interesting articles on the number of different types of atheists in the world.  The blogger has determined it to be 72.  Now I know why the little guy was whispering.  Shipping containers. 

  What’s next, popsicle sticks?  Fudge brownies battered with Preparation H so the squirrels don’t eat ‘em?  Hey, I’m all for alternative building methods that make sense, I mean it, but is it really necessary to promote used tires as a building material?  See earth911.com “Colorado Man Builds House of Tires” if you truly must know.  Sure, he used old tires headed for a landfill, 17,000 of them in fact, but why can’t we recycle them into, I don’t know, new tires?   

To be sure, plenty of these products I had never heard of 10 years ago have now gone mainstream.  I especially like those insulated concrete form styrofoam thingies.  They remind me of my Flintstone blocks when I was a kid so I guess they really aren’t that new.  We use cork now for our kitchen flooring instead of plastic sheet vinyl.  Absurdly enough, we now find plastic “corks” in our wine bottles.  At what point did we decide we had this backwards?  And why on earth do we now use our dishwashers for cooking?  See treehugger.com/green-food for the recipe to make poached salmon while you clean your dishes.  In my house, the dishes are dirty after the cooking, but whatever.  While you’re there, you might also check out their compelling article on “Birch Sap, Nature’s Energy Drink”.  You can’t make this stuff up.


There are currently no comments.

Post a Comment
* Name:

E-Mail (optional):

Do not show my name/email
* Comment:

* Please enter the characters in the image below:

<< Back to Blog