All posts by Emile Manfeldt

The story of finding a new house.

Change is part of our daily lives. I realized that last year when I closed down my practice to join the wonderfull group of doctors at Worcester hospital. Two years ago I would have laughed at anybody who would have said that I would even consider doing it. But today I can say that I feel very much at home with my new hospital family.

Our family was so fortunate to live in the house we bought at 24 Sutherland street more than rwenty years ago. It is a wonderfull family home that could expand to accomodate any number of people, without ever feeling crowded. Except for our own kids we had many exchange students, especially from Germany and Poland that joined us for a year. All of them enriched our lives tremendously. We had several family members and friends that stayed with us for longer or shorter times as well, and the house accomodated us all.

But, as I said, things change. Kids grow up and go to university, but even though Wilhelmina moved back we know that it would only be short term. As we do not have children at home any more I am not prone to take any more students in, as our own kids are out of the house which makes it more difficult for foreign kids to adapt.

…so, suddenly our beautiful house feels utterly empty. We do not need to stay across from the school anymore, as there are no more kids in school. I do not need to stay close to work many more as I seldom have to rush out at night for an emergency.

Except for the change in the family and work circumstances, we, as people, change with time too. We need different things. The rolls of our lives change, our needs change. Suddenly I feel a need for n different way of living. We do not need separate entertainment area where kids can make their own noises anymore. These days they join us as grown ups in their own right, a fase of our lives that I thoroughly enjoy.

As my favourite architect, Mies van der Rohe said: “Less is more”. For now we need less (and more). I need less rooms. Rather give me one big living area than a lot of separate rooms. I want to be able to talk to my wife and friends while I am busy in the kitchen. I need a living area to live in. Not a kitchen, a lounge, a diningroom, a family room and a separate outside area and braai area. There must be one area to do it all.

So before we could really even decide about selling the house, at the drop of a hat, we spontaneously started looking for a new home. We quickly realized that what we were looking for does not exist. Not yet anyway. We saw countless variations of the same kind of place, in different areas of Worcester. Houses comes with standerd features: gararge, kitchen , bathrooms (usually two and a half of them?), lounge and other usual features.

All houses are built to resemble something else. It is either supposed to look like something in the Tuscan style (that is not found in Tuscany) or it should be built in the style of an African farm house or Cape rural style (that I havent seen on a real farm either) or it should look like something else. Is it really that difficult to just built something origional with contemporary building materials?

But after all was said and done, we saw nothing that Goldilocks would call “just right”.

The shock of that was: We will have to do it ourselves!

Where do you begin? With Julie Andrews we will sing: “Lets start at the very beginning”.

We need to get a piece of land to build on. We need a plot.

Now we have a whole new dilemma. What, where and how. But that is the next episode