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Brooklyn crafted, impermanent house gets wiser with owner

Tim Seggerman bought his Brooklyn home (Crown Heights) at an auction in 1987 for $140,000 (his down payment of $14,000 was his entire savings). It had been abandoned for 20 years and had holes in the roof, but Seggerman was trained as a builder and carpenter so he began working on it himself.

Over the past couple of decades the home has grown with Seggerman’s changing needs: a lofted bed became an indoor cabin for kids and when the nieces and nephews had grown, it became a lofted bed again; the bedroom was once divided to provide workspace for his ex-wife, but after the divorce the wall came down; and a once-open corner office became a shuttered workspace and is now- in preparation for Seggerman’s retirement- is morphing into an open movie library.

Seggerman is both architect and builder, as well as a master carpenter, and he’s crafted all of the home’s furniture, mostly out of scrap materials and local woods.

He believes in taking his time to build and that a home is never finished. It’s an idea embraced by the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: everything is impermanent, unfinished and imperfect. In Seggerman’s home cables and pipes are uncovered and molding has been removed to leave the caulk line visible.

“The idea of being unfinished is very important. Houses are there to be lived in. They’re there to be personal expressions of people. So many architects you’re dealing with fine lines and everything is precise, insanely precise, but you know that in reality, you get out and there are so many things that go on. You can build it perfectly and it might look nice today, but you have to allow for life.”