“The new residence was…to be of some mysterious size and proportion, which would make us both peculiarly happy ever afterwards…It was neither to cost too much nor too little, but just enough to fitly inaugurate the new happiness.”
In 1865, the writer Thomas Hardy published a short story called How I Built Myself a House. I came across mention of it in a Writer’s Almanac post, then googled it.
I was delighted to find that, apparently, not much has changed since 1865 in the realm of residential real estate. In the story, the dynamic between Hardy and his wife is very similar to what I see on a daily basis.
Thomas and Sophia shared many hopes for their new home near London, but disagreed on numerous details. After arguing about whether or not trees should be felled to improve the view (Sophia — in favor of the ax — prevailed) the Hardys quarreled over the floor plan. Thomas writes:
“I made my sketch, and my wife made hers. Her drawing and dining rooms were very large, nearly twice the size of mine…We soon found that there was no such thing as fitting our ideas together.”
Later, when costs get out of hand and Hardy tries to staunch the overruns, Sophia tells him, “…Elegance and extreme cheapness never do go together.”
And here’s a delicious bit that reminds me of a scenario I’ve witnessed a hundred times during home inspections:
“We were standing beside (the house) one day, looking at the men at work on the top, when the builder’s foreman came towards us.
‘Being your own house, sir, and as we are finishing the last chimney, you would perhaps like to go up,’ he said.
‘I am sure I should much, if I were a man,” was my wife’s observation to me, ‘The landscape must appear so lovely from that height.’
This remark placed me in something of a dilemma, for it must be confessed that I am not given to climbing.”
And so forth and so on. To read the entire story, click here. It’s most entertaining.
Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.