I walked by the newly-poured cement on my way home for lunch today, and the smell of construction took me back to being 5 or 6 years old, when my parents performed feats of remodelling on our tiny house. I don't remember what made them do it, except that they had two small-but-likely-to-get-bigger children at home, and about 2 months into the pre-construction & deliberation phase they realized that they would soon have three children.
Watching the house get bigger was so dang cool for a 5-6-7-8 year old (it was a long process). When my & my sister Laura's room got knocked out, we slept in the basement on couches (so very fun--like camping but with less outdoors), and the first night we did that I woke up and had to pee and forgot where the bathroom was and peed on the couch (so mortifying). When the new front door of the new part of the house was put in, we didn't have steps and instead had to walk up a plank to get inside (very pirate-y, which I loved). I also got to see how walls are made and how wiring is put in (which, in the case of this house and because we were saving money by hiring relatives with minimal wiring experience, provided amusement for many years afterwards). I probably annoyed the living hell out of the contractors: "What's this? What's it do? Why is it here? What's that? What's it do? What's that other thing? What's it do?"
I'm sure it was hard for my parents--living in 1/3 of a house, trying to make sure the kids don't fall down the new staircase that doesn't have a railing--but I had the best time ever. I had all kinds of new places to explore and hide in and make up stories about, and now the smell of cement reminds me of being small, and I love it.
I remember the torn-up muddy yard full of tire tracks, too. Just not as fondly.