You Choose, You Lose.

Oh the horror of choices. There’s a certain torture in having nobody but yourself to blame for the decisions you make when you have a home designed for you.

I know what you’re thinking, “Stop complaining Steve, it’s a privilege to be in the position you’re in. You could be starving, wondering where your next meal is coming from and instead you’re building a new home designed by a Japanese architect. Get some perspective, son.”

But there is, as they say, devil in the detail. Those little things you agree to that seem so insignificant at the time, can in time become little niggles that grow into excrutiating tortures the longer you live with them; things like the shape and angle of your garage.

How will that choice play out on those days when I’m tired, grumpy, running late and trying to back out of a too-tight space? The compromises I make today may come back to haunt me. And my side mirrors. These are potential tortures you understand. There are dangers in choices.

For weeks now, the design team of Yo Shimada, Yohei Omura and Paul Hotston and the engineer Rod Bligh have been agonising over the position and construction of the garage of the X-House. The process has been made more difficult by the fall of the block, which angles steeply from the platform at the top where the house will be built, down to the street where the garage will be dug.

Digging is dangerous and expensive. To prevent landslides, the hill will have to be secured with retaining walls and anchors that have presumably been gold plated and diamond tipped, based on the size of the potential budget blowout that has been bandied about. Or, and this is where our energies have been spent this month, we could all relook at the shape, orientation and construction of the garage to see if there’s a compromise available that my side mirrors could live with.

Here then are the options that have been offered up. Consider them at your peril:


Option One. The original plan. This one is expensive, requiring maximum digging and much over-priced retaining, but it’s the most aesthetic and straight-forward.


Option Two. I’ll have to brush up on my charm when I ask my immediate neighbour for the relaxation required to drill directly under their property, because this garage design requires a shift to the left, right up to the boundary where the slope is less dramatic and the digging less expensive but more invasive for my neighbour.


Option Three. This option requires some lateral thinking. It asks the question, “What if you didn’t drive straight into the hill? What if you kind of just swerved in and parked alongside the hill? Then you wouldn’t have to dig expensively.” I like this idea, but it’s unconventional and it may challenge my parking skills too much. It will also require a relaxation from my neighbour, touching their boundary the way it does. As much as I like relaxation, I shouldn’t have to ask for it from my neighbour.


Option Four. This asks the question, “What if you didn’t have a garage at all? What if you just had a carport?” To which I replied, “What happens if it hails?” It hails a lot in Brisbane in Summer. This is the cheaper option of course. I could probably afford a few seasons of repair bills to my hail damaged car with the money I will have saved on this one. And who knows? I might actually come out on top, especially if we get the El Nino that the long range weather forecasters are suggesting is coming. Still, that doesn’t take into account the sun and nobody likes getting into a hot car in Brisbane in summer.


Option Five. This one requires a shift to the right. I’m not sure why. Apparently there’s less digging required, but it looks to me like there’s more precision driving required to park this way so let’s not even consider that option. My side mirrors say, “No”.

The five choices, each with advantages and potential irritations have been weighing heavily on me.

So, I spent a day in the carpark of Toombul shopping centre trying to decide, by mapping out the various garage dimensions in chalk and then rehearsing my vehicular manouvres in and out, just as I would be doing early in the morning and late at night after a hard day’s work. (It wasn’t so difficult to mimic doing that fatigued and half-awake since this garage issue has already cost me plenty of sleep.)

That process helped me decide on Option Three, the lateral solution that reorients the garage so it sits parallel to the street. It seemed simple enough to enter the chalk garage and my doors swung open without hitting the chalk walls. Of course we decided to move it in from the boundary to alleviate the need for me to go next door for relaxation from my neighbour. Awkward.


And here it is in model form. There’s a clever stair that emerges through the roof of the garage to begin the journey up. We’ve spoken about this journey before. It’s a long one, but at least I’ll have somewhere stylish and secure to wait out a hailstorm till it passes.


We’re sending a modified Option Three to Council for an ammendment to the DA and also for Building Approval. The DA and the BA are on their way!

In the meantime, while I await the due consideration of the Council on my plans, I notice that some inconsiderate sod has left a shopping trolley right across the entry to my chalk garage at Toombul shopping centre carpark. Some people! How very dare they!