13 February 2009

Useful construction job tips as if I had any idea what I was talking about.


So if you come to visit me today, it is easy to find my house. Just look for a house that looks like a giant blue tarp. Yes, that's the one, with a wood junk pile for a front yard. You found it! The giant blue tarp, left over from the great roof fiasco of 2007, hides what was only a gaping hole for a couple of day and now involves wood and posts and things that you could actually walk on and use to reach a front door. Soon we will even be able to open a genuine, real front door and not have dogs leaping out through and over the void. And get the THING that lives under the house! Very excite. Brian may be a surfer but he is a surfer with kids and a mortgage and he shows up every morning for our construction meeting and then just starts measuring and cutting and hammering while I go off to Home Depot or the door place or the tile place or the lumber yard with my folder and measuring tape to buy him things.

Usually when you are ripping off chunks of your house you want to have everything ordered and ready to go before actual ripping off chunks starts, but since Brian just kind of showed up ready to work and I have been waiting for Brian for years, I had him start ripping and I just drive around really fast and design the front porch in my head in the car before I go buy a piece of it on the way to work. I designed and ordered the tile for the tile deck and stairs that way, and count slats and measure railings in my head. So maybe the front porch is going to look crazy and lesson learned, picking out decorative Mexican tile in your mind while driving might have been, crazy. We shall soon see. Although the fast driving and cel phone helped me find a new front door which is very beautiful and vintage looking yet cheap because was sitting around somewhere, all dusty.

Remember that dog rule, Clear Communication Results in Fewer Nervous Breakdowns for All Parties Involved? That is also a rule for construction jobs when you are your own contractor and project manager and designer and delivery guy. And you know about all of that stuff about as much as you know about being Top Chef. But you are a clear communicator! And good at giving out nervous breakdowns! Here's some of my favorite construction job tips:

Be very, very good at drawing.

Put all pieces of paper in the folder. Take notes on each piece of paper with good drawings. Take your folder everywhere you go. Even to the bathroom. During construction projects, do not ever let go of your folder.

If you do not trust Orson at Home Depot, trust your instinct and DO NOT hand over your folder. Orson might SAY he knows about door jam sizes but he is NOT touching my folder. Something, just off about Orson. Go to the other construction store.

Tape some of your drawings to actual construction site. INSIDE blue tarp, not outside.

Everyone on the job site needs their own tape measure. We all need to measure. Don't be afraid of the measuring! Measure! Then draw it!

Always call Brian when they say words you do not know at the construction store before you hand over a credit card.

The tile will be a nightmare, just order stuff in stock and from vendors that are within a fast UPS range. It helps if you are very good at drawing and can speak spanish at the tile place.

When you are measuring and using the math, also use the calculator and do this three times. Do not do it twice. Three times. This is the whole reason you had to take math in high school. It is all clear. Make sure you have a drawing to go with the math and you should be ok. If you have a Masters Degree in art, and only basic high school math, wish me luck that this actually ends up looking like a front porch at the end of it all.

Oh yeah. And if it's raining and it's Friday the 13th and this is the day you should be picking up an unfinished wooden front door and it's own personal door jam in the unregistered truck with no clutch while simultaneously being at work at the same time, also wish me luck.

2 comments:

Elayne said...

Here's another handy construction tip-hardhats are great for barfing in if you suddenly happen to get the stomach flu on a job site. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything. Plus you can get them in all sorts of fashionable colors nowadays.

Also, you don't have to be good at drawing. The computer does it all nowadays, your wish is it's command. This is especially handy if you never made it past 3rd grade art class and cannot draw a straight line to save your life.

team small dog said...

Next time we rip a chunk of the house off, I want my own hard hat in a fashionable color.

We just draw with pencils on scrap paper and chunks of wood! We are low tech at our construction site. I guess because it is a small chunk of a small house full of small dogs so the drawings fit on small chunks of wood and small scraps of paper.