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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 15 – SLOW PROGRESS

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I have found myself in an odd situation. We have become so accustomed to seeing significant change when we visit the site; we went from standing on bare land to standing on the floor to standing in the structure all in a matter of weeks. And now, I find myself standing in the main structure and I can’t see any obvious progress. It is the most deflated I have felt during this whole process, even worse than when the yellow folly was rejected!

The roof is now on, which I had expected, but other than that I am struggling to see any changes. There is a lot of ‘stuff’ on site that wasn’t there before, windows are lying around waiting to be installed and various other bits and pieces are piled up. But all the excitement of the prior progress has suddenly been forgotten. I am wondering how we will get this finished in time, if this is all the progress that has happened since I was last here we haven’t got a hope.

As an architect, I understand the process, I know not to turn up on site in anticipation of seeing a completed item but as a client that is the biggest motivation, the finished product. My ‘architect brain’ knows that we are motivated to deliver the end result in a low risk, well managed way but as a client I just want to see progress! I pull out the program, convinced we are running well behind. But, as I begin to check off tasks, I realise we are actually on track, a lot has been done, but the visual rate of change has slowed.

I pop back briefly, two days later and am surprised by what I find. There are 9 people on site, an absolute hive of activity! Joiners, plumbers, electricians, drain layers and carpenters, measuring, installing and preparing for the next phase. What a difference two days makes!

Everything has been tracking along well, there have been some delays but overall progress has been consistent. We have confirmed the full specifications and my action list is growing shorter by the day. We are close to approving the landscape and he is booked to start on site soon. We’ve even collected some of the fixtures and fittings, our garage is beginning to look like a warehouse, full of cardboard boxes! The oven has been collected and left with the joiner who is prepping for fabrication. The finish line is fast approaching!

Although we had some difficulty in the beginning, convincing others in the design field that the bach was exactly how we wanted it, it seems as though everyone has now jumped on board and understand what we are trying to achieve. However, we have hit another hurdle, almost every subcontractor, from the curtain track maker to the vinyl floor layer, wants to visit site before they begin their job. The curtain tracks for example, will cost us around $350, and yet they wanted to send someone all the way to Hanmer to check our measurements. It took a lot of convincing that the dimensions and measurements we had provided them were 100% accurate!

Unfortunately, that is the building industry, following the process, ‘this is how it’s always been done’. I do understand, people are reluctant to trust the person before them has completed their job well enough that they don’t need to double check first. It makes sense. But I am confident with my work and the plans, measurement and dimensions that I provide subcontractors and know that they can complete their task with the information provided. It has taken a certain amount of tact to get people on board with this, but in the long run, if we allowed each subcontractor a visit to site before they get on with their job then not only would it be a waste of time but our costs would be practically tripled! We have made sure this is very clear before contracts are signed, to ensure there is no confusion later.

We are preparing ourselves for the next site visit, trying not to get our hopes up that there will be a lot of visual progress. I know that the windows should be in, all the pre-wiring and pipes should be installed and the scaffold will be largely down. But who knows what could happen between now and then!

Published on Monday, March 27th, 2017