Money & Wealth

Ownership by Creation: Home Renovation


There are only three ways to own something.  Either you’re born with it (such as your body and family name), you acquire it (such as by buying it, finding it, or receiving it as a gift), or creating it.

I now own my dream home.  Four months ago, I bought a dilapidated shell of a house.  The home inspector that I hired said, and I quote: “You should fucking level this dump and build new.”  After four months’ worth of blood, sweat, and tears – and a hundred thousand dollars in raw materials and manual labor – the house has been transformed.  Here are some before-and-after shots:





The initial plan was to renovate the house, add real value, and resell it to a happy buyer for profit.  Somewhere along the way I fell in love with it and now even the most enthusiastic buyer couldn’t wrestle it from me.

I didn’t acquire my dream house, as the thing I bought was an ugly old structure suitable only for filming horror films.  I sure as hell wasn’t born with it.  Instead, I created it.

Creation never happens in a vacuum.  A painter must begin with raw materials as well as inspiration.  I didn’t create the individual elements of the house – e.g., I didn’t build the refrigerator from copper and iron that I dug from the ground.  Creation is about producing something larger than the sum of its parts.  In this case, I showed up on the steps of a crumbling house with my vision and determination and created exactly what I wanted.

Most occupations are about creation of some sort.  Most of what we consume, and much of what we enjoy, is the creation of other humans.  I find it an interesting opportunity for self-awareness to reflect on which of my interests, hobbies, and activities are creative – and which aren’t.  Thoughts on your own job or hobbies?


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