1991 January 9

If You Build It…

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Cover of "Basic Home Building" book

Another experience feeding into the whole “commune” concept was how Jacob and I were spending our breaks. Our inner circle of B-CC friends all returned to the DC area over breaks, and we’d hang out together most days and nights. (A lot of those late nights involved endless rubbers of bridge, which if you’re paying attention you’ll find plays a part in this story.)

So we were already enjoying the near-constant company of a select group of individuals, and I think neither of us wanted to lose that as we left college and entered the Real World. At any rate, Jacob seemed amenable to the idea of communal living, and we started kicking around ideas for what it would actually entail.

While discussing economies of scale, we decided that a communal village (families in separate houses) would be terribly inefficient. Things like a good library, a pool (billiards) room, a great home theater setup—these are things you want to have once where everyone can share. Why have 5 to 10 dining rooms when everyone could eat together in one? (Again, think of the college experience.)

It seemed unlikely that we would ever find an existing residence that would suffice, and commissioning an architect and building company to create this custom home would obviously cost mucho dinero. I wasn’t sure it would be affordable for young graduates, even with pooling our resources. Perhaps as a joke, perhaps not, Jacob suggested we built it ourselves.

He had helped with his parents’ home renovation, and I’d done some construction work for stage crew. John Manwell, a potential recruit, also had some experience. We did some research on DIY home building and discovered that plenty of people were crazy enough try it. Maybe we could be just like them!