"Home is where there's one to love us."
I have known Tedd Benson for a long time as a fellow timber framer, member of the Guild and a friend. He is well known in our industry as a visionary and borders on celebrity status as a result of several books and television appearances.
Tedd has made it his personal goal to improve the quality of the homes we build by paying attention to design, materials and construction of homes and how they impact the quality of the product. His early experience of construction was working for a tract home builder where the focus was on the bottom line with little attention to the building's longevity or even suitability as shelter and comfort for its occupants.
This morning I was reading his latest blog entry (www.teddbenson.com) where he talks about meeting with prospective clients and the evolution of the conversation from bricks and mortar to the experience of what home feels like. This got me thinking about the importance of our client's comfort with us and how important it is to earn that trust before we are allowed to build their home. Comfort and trust are developed through empathic communication where both parties feel they are understood, not just heard, but listened to over time.
Typically early conversations relate to price, square footage, and construction techniques, but it doesn't take long to begin focusing on the design and how it relates to the family's needs. I don't hold back on sharing my lifestyle with my clients and sharing particular habits or pet peeves and we have a lot of fun commiserating over subjects like the habits of teenagers, the tendency for one individual to track mud through the house, or the family centipede who requires an entire closet for her shoes!
This is where the communication really starts, we have fun, we get to know each other and I begin to learn from them what home means to them, what is important. Because if we are to succeed we don't build a house we build a home. We build a place where people return day after day for warmth, comfort and shelter. It's a place where we let our hair down, recharge our batteries and be ourselves. It is womb-like, a place where we are nourished and protected; where we grow as individuals and as family. It is the place where our children are formed, the context within which they establish their identities and experience the comfort of boundaries. It is a physical extension of ourselves and an essential requirement for our survival.
One of Tedd's reader's comments contained the first verse of a poem and inspired me to look it up. The poem is by Charles Swain and it reminds me of my love, Becky. Shortly after we met I was describing her to my adult daughter, and in hindsight I realize I was talking from my heart when I said without thinking, "Becky feels like home".
Home Is Where There's One To Love Us
Home's not merely four square walls,
Though with pictures hung and gilded:
Home is where Affection calls,
Filled with shrines the Heart hath builded!
Home! – go watch the faithful dove,
Sailing 'neath the heaven above us;
Home is where there's one to love!
Home is where there's one to love us!
Home's not merely roof and room –
It needs something to endear it;
Home is where the heart can bloom,
Where there's some kind lip to cheer it!
What is home with none to meet,
None to welcome, none to greet us?
Home is sweet – and only sweet –
Where there's one we love to meet us!