CS and the City Sean Lynch


My dad is a builder.

When I was young, my dad would take my brother and I to visit real estate. Show homes and open houses, we'd even occasionally sneak into places under construction to have a look. My brother and I would run between rooms imagining which ones we could claim as bedrooms, but dad would inspecting the layout, looking for the details in construction, and critiquing the use of space. He taught us to estimate the dimensions of the rooms with our feet: one foot length stopped in front of the other.

For us, it was an adventure. For him, it was an opportunity to consider the features of each design, and visualizing whether they'd help or hinder the owners, pointing out the obvious-to-him issues that construction firm had missed. Money was tight growing up so a new house was out of the question, but that didn't stop him from looking and planning for a day in the future.

This weekend, I visited my parents new home. They've retired now, and finally have the time and resources to build a new one. My dad walked me around the house, pointing out things that, the contractors missed, changes in the design he insisted on, and mistakes that slipped through anyway. The place is beatiful, spacious, and thoughtfully organized. And still, I know that same familiar combination of pride and frustration.

I'm a builder too.

As we walked around, we talked about how he'd do it differently if he did it again. The lessons he'd apply, the subcontractors he'd call in (or blacklist). I immediately fell into it, brainstorming ways to solve the problems the remained; how to properly wire the house or evaluate the true color of paint in the light of the room. In these situations, my software brain spins to life but I also found myself thinking about building well-designed houses too. And though I haven't ever had any inclination to the construction industry, I was immedately excited about the option.

I've been building for nearly all my life, but walking around with my Dad reminded me where I received that spark.

And I can't wait to start building again.