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A Home Where Bulldozers Roam

August 28, 1987|MEG SULLIVAN | Times Staff Writer

Some people bring their work home with them. Ed and Donna Dill do it the other way around--they take their home to work.

As project manager and secretary for the first phase of a $150-million development project at California State University, Northridge, they live in a one-bedroom, Komfort trailer just south of the north campus construction site.

"We love it," said Ed Dill of the unusual arrangement. "People come by and say, 'Hi, glad to have you here.' "

The Dills left a four-bedroom ranch house in Colorado Springs, Colo., when they moved to a dirt patch near CSUN's running track at the end of July, he said.

They arrived about two weeks after site grading began for five dormitories scheduled to house 800 students in the fall of 1988.

Since then, the Dills have made themselves at home on Lindley Avenue, laying AstroTurf, pitching a screened porch, setting out lawn furniture and planting nasturtiums and sweet peas.

"It makes it seem more like home to us," Donna Dill said.

Still, there are disadvantages. The din of tractors leaks into the trailer. The floor sometimes quivers with the activity of heavy equipment nearby. Employees stop by to talk over problems after work.

"You lose some of your privacy," Donna Dill said.

But the advantages outweigh them, her husband pointed out. At 60 paces from the project's field office, the couple is able to lunch occasionally at home. Dill can also keep an eye on the site at all hours, boosting security and easing scheduling with subcontractors. Also, their presence appears to be improving community relations.

Donna Dill said the couple has been showered with home-grown vegetables from some of the very neighbors who were supposed to oppose the development.

What she misses most about home, she said, has nothing to do with physical surroundings: "I miss my children and grandchildren."

Foundations are to be laid next week, Dill said. The project, a joint venture of the university system and North Campus Associates, a private developer, includes an athletic stadium, hotel and restaurants. A formal ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 18 and promises to be "about the biggest deal in the history of this campus," said Lael Morgan, CSUN spokeswoman.

David Parker, the vice president of Watt/Parker, a Santa Monica general contractor, said none of his company's employees have lived on a site, so he was "ecstatic" when Dill offered to move onto one after being hired in January from a Colorado firm.

Ray Sealy, executive director of the Building Industry Assn. in Los Angeles, said there are a few construction workers who would move to a site, "but most don't."

"Human nature would tell you that a guy who's married probably doesn't want to go out and park himself and a family on a construction site."

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