In July, 2010, preliminary surveys on #65 Baochao Hutong were completed and full construction began. Thousands of photos were taken during the 10 month construction period, and small set were uploaded to this website along with some commentary about the whole gradual process (ordeal). As you go through it, you might notice it abruptly ending, roughly around the time that interior decoration began taking place. That’s cause we were bored of documenting it, and simultaneously 100% overworked!

Still, it is fun for us to keep online and we hope our guests can use this to help build a better connection to the place they will be staying in, or stayed in previously.

Please keep in mind, newest posts are at the top!

South Room Fisheye

Those familiar with our constantly updated building plans might also be aware of the plans for the South room. Looking from the point of view of Sketchup, this south room evenly fits in two identical small bedrooms with adjacent bathrooms. The reality — and CAD image — however, shows a completely different story; one that was ignored until today. As of now, the walls and foundation are in place. A lot happens overnight! A cursory glance at it shows that if these are both supposed to be wonderful bedrooms with attached private gardens, then aside from beds, they will not have space for much else! Two solutions can be taken at this point: Either the foundation wall separating the garden area moves in by up to 40cm to make the rooms bigger (and gardens smaller) or the main wall separating both rooms comes down, turning it into one extremely large room with an equally generous garden. We have nearly instantly decided on the second option. Recovering the lost room will be a job for another day. The idea of having two rooms minimized but functional doesn’t bode too well for us.

Youngcall wondering why the rooms suddenly look so small

Walls going up around the foundation on the south room

Making use of the walls

When everyone’s busy, Mr. Guo’s little boy has to find ways to entertain himself. Having a yard full of bricks and pipes, glass and dirt everywhere sometimes does have its advantages:

Can’t say for certain who the little boy on the right is though. They said he’s a neighbour’s son, but he seems to spend all his time on our worksite.

Walls coming up!

The walls are now showing up on the new east building.

Mr. Guo surveying some of the work

Mrs. Guo helping to shovel

North-east building’s new private garden!

Laundry room is now up, behind the garden

View from above

Expansion and foundationing

So a decision has been finalized to remove our massive tree, but when this can happen must depend on the landlord’s connection with the city management. It is not so easy to take down a tree, legally.

In the meantime, trenches have now been dug around the area of the tree to lay both the foundation as well as the sewage system. Every few hours someone is asking us when the tree will be gone so they can continue with the foundation work on the other side.

A byproduct of this tree removal will also mean the enlargement of the ground floor indoor space (and thus the second floor terrace space as well). Of course the space must come from somewhere, and it will essentially mean a smaller central garden. No worries though, it is still going to be plenty nice, and green.

Foundation being put in, brick by brick

Foundation setting..

Such a dead tree

Our biggest setback yet has just occurred. Against all logic and that which we all consider sane, the landlord’s 27 year old son has unbeknownst to us peeled off a large 30cm tall ring of bark off our wonderfully tall tree. Starting this morning, nearly all the leaves have either dried up or fallen off. The place looks as though autumn has hit early. More likely we should do a heavy metals test in our water system to see if a high amount of mercury was the underlying seed of his amazing stupidity. Apparently he did this a month ago to help us ‘move’ the tree. So smart he is. The tree is only now beginning to show the effects of his actions.

What will we do? In our state of shock we had workers cover it with clay to at least seal it off from parasites. However, the damage is done and the likelihood of the tree recovering is almost certainly nil. If we don’t have any better ideas we will cut down this great 30 meter Chinese aspen and attempt to replace it with a 4-5 meter tall paulownia tree in the next few days. Not quite the same, but the new tree is a fast grower and at least looks a lot better than the aspen.

Better to be a forest than a tree. What loss one dead tree gives can hopefully be countered by the multitude of smaller trees we plan to plant in its place. Beyond the paulownia, we have plans for several smaller trees in the North courtyard and several of the gardens. It will be green no matter what.

Inspecting the damage

Covering it with clay and doing a tree dance.