Eating an elephant, one bite at a time.
In architecture school, I shied away from the professors who had short careers in the real world before retreating into academia. I was born into a family of self-sufficient builders and engineers, so I’ve long been wary of anyone who lacked the resourcefulness to translate their book learnin’ into day-to-day pragmatism. Now that I’m a registered architect with more than a decade of experience, I continue to believe that there’s no substitute for real world experience. I’ve learned more about building and designing while renovating my own houses than I have from everything else I’ve done in my career. Until you’ve nailed together a stud wall or run a new electrical circuit, it’s hard to really appreciate what it takes to build something.
Today, I’m getting a fresh lesson in the realities of renovation. I guide clients through this process every day, so it’s easy to get desensitized to the stress of working on an old house. Unless your pot of gold is limitless, work on existing buildings is never dull. Projects on the Ordinary House keep me in touch with the gut punches that renovation delivers regularly. It’s the best continuing education I could ask for.
Since last week, we’ve hired a plumber (really) and today a small crew of three guys got started. Two hours into the work day, my phone rang and Matt, the lead plumber, delivered this news: “Man, it looks like the last plumber in here used a chainsaw on your floor joists.”
I had two immediate reactions:
1) Thank you, Matt, for stopping work and picking up the phone. Anxious for a paycheck, many contractors would have gone ahead and done their own hack job to put themselves one step closer to pay day.
2) FML. Somebody remind me again why I enjoy this?
We’ve set up a meeting tomorrow with a county building inspector to get input on what he’ll pass on inspection. Loaded with that information, we’ll develop a plan to reinforce the floor joists and keep the plumbers moving. Until then, I suppose we’ll just have to get used to the toilet sitting in the upstairs hall.