Home is where the heart is.
It’s also where our lungs are, where our eyes and ears are, where our whole bodies, and where our minds are.
The home is where we are, for 70-90% of the time. Think about that. The average person spends about three quarters of their day, in their house.
The home is where we sleep, where we eat, where we play, and where we dream.
Yet for many, the idea of having a true home, IS the dream.
Why do we Build?
Recently I asked a group of builders why they build. Why do they do, what they do? For most, it was the way they made money and most days, that was reason enough. But I pushed them for more. There are after all more ways to earn good money these days, than doing hard, physical work.
Perhaps it’s the joy of putting things together, of creating? Building. I encouraged them to realise the special gift they each had of being able to transform lines on a piece of paper into complex structures. That’s a craft and an art that’s worth celebrating.
Perhaps it was problem solving.
Perhaps they were inspired by someone when they were younger and decided early on that they wanted to build.
And now that they are a builder, are they not inspired or moved in that moment, at the end of a project when they hand over the keys. Do they realise at this point, that for many of their customers, they’re fulfilling a dream?
A house, after all, for most of us is one of our biggest ever investments, not only financially, but also emotionally.
I proposed also, that they are probably NOT builders because they wanted to save the planet. Nor did they set out to be health professionals.
But here’s the thing. Our buildings and the way we use them, are making our planet sick, and they’re making us sick.
So like it or not, anyone in the home building industry has a responsibility, and therefore an opportunity to create good homes.
Houses Affect Health
With so much of our time spent inside our homes, how can our homes NOT be affecting our health? And in turn, how can the designers and builders of those homes NOT be, in part, responsible for our health?
I put it to all members of the building industry that we have just as much, if not more influence on health, than the medical profession. Let’s face it, most of the medical industry is not about health, it’s about sickness. We go to the doctor usually only when problems arise, when the damage has already started on our bodies, our hearts, our lungs.
And as for consumers and buyers of houses, your responsibility and opportunity is to give builders permission to build a good home.
What is the purpose of a house?
As Gaston Bachelard described,
“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
If houses are only there to generate profit for the supplier, then we have succeeded in making the house a disposable commodity. And with that, we risk disposing of health, disposing of community, of posterity, and disposing of dreams.
Do dreams have a place in the modern business? Are the ideas of French philosopher valid for the modern world?
Designers and builders today run on tight margins. They have a responsibility to themselves, their staff and their own families to run a profitable business. And as consumers, we have real budgets. Isn’t all this talk of sheltering the dream a bit air-fairy? A bit vague and ideological?
The Great Kiwi, Australian, American…. Dream
If talking about dreams is irrelevant, then why do we talk of ‘the Kiwi Dream’, or ‘the Australian Dream’, or the ‘great American Dream’. What do all these dreams have in common?
A house. Our own place to call home.
So it’s not such a crazy idea to create a business, to make a living, by making something that’s good, something worthwhile. It not only makes sense, but I think it’s our responsibility to go beyond the bare minimum of building codes, wherever you are.
The sceptic might ask if it’s wise to build a healthy life or successful business based on dreams.
Others might reply, is there any other way?