Renovating an old heritage house

January 15, 2017

Restoring an old Straits era heritage town house doesn’t require one to learn anything new. Not at all. If anything it is a process that requires one to unlearn how one usually plans and proceeds with building works in the 21st century.

Old methods of building have to be reclaimed and brought back to life. For example concrete and cement is no good – lime is the way to go. Try to shortcut it and in a few years, it will all crack and give way and one is right back where one once started.

Do it right. Granted it may be prove painful and at times even slow but at least it will last for another one hundred years….but all this requires knowledge and above all understanding of a bygone age when artisans took great pride in the idea of dignity of labor.

These days many of the tradesman and joiners have all but disappeared. Only the cowboys and short cut con artist armed with power tools seem to dominate the market.

This has led me to do my own research.

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Me and the happy contractor standing before the shop lot.

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‘To gainfully make progress in work, life and play. Society has successfully scripted all of us to believe fast is good, fasterer is even better and eating chicken rice, SMSing on the go and working is the best – this the cult of the instant 2 minute maggi markets as the most reliable way for one to lead fulfilled lives – we all need to throw out the old and buy into the new, it seems. To put it in another way, to always pry open our brains like a can of sardines only to pour in the new and improved in the hope that it will all get better…can only be better.

But at times to make meaningful headway by running an enterprise to managing relationships with our boss, parents or even our dearest other . All we need to do is UNLEARN many of the robotic ways along with modern thinking that has managed to encrust themselves mindlessly into our way of life.

This process of letting go is very unnatural for most – as we have all been schooled to take exceptional pride in the knowledge we have spent so much time and energy and opportunity cost to accumulate all our lives….hence letting go is not easy. As it requires us to first come to terms with our ego along with cultivating the highest level of honesty and patience with oneself.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all old things and methods are necessarily good……only to live well. One would do well never to opt for ‘new’ or ‘improved’ blindly and mechanically. As in life many good things don’t ever change….the conditions that fosters love and respect between two people…they don’t change….the way good shoes are made…they don’t change either. The time it takes to cook a wholesome and delicious meal…that hasn’t changed at all. The factors that nourishes real friendship…they also don’t change.

Many things it seems don’t ever change and once these good things are thrown away….it is not a case of grabbing them from the tool box again. As usually they are lost forever.

Research and study this well. As it applies to all things in life. Above all know the value of good and valuable things….as if they come to you….it is a privilege to be savory and not to be mindlessly rushed over…don’t follow the crowd. Go with what you know to be true and worthy. Above all take your time about it.’

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