Managing a construction project was not one of the things I had on my list for 2004, but when one writes up an ideal scene with a great deal of intention, wheels start turning immediately and progress occurs.
We have been fortunate to engage a contractor who is cooperative and hard working, but his organizational skills are being taxed by the circumstances of weather and some other things going on in his life. As a result, I have become more involved in the planning and scheduling of this project than I ever expected.
On the good side, I have 40 years of running projects involving tools and technology that I did not initially understand. (First you get assigned to a project, then you learn the technology very, very quickly!)
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I now know about skylights, large dumpsters, venting systems, and 40 foot high man-lifts. I will not add this to my resume, as I have given up that practice, but I expect to be consulted by my neighbors on their future projects.
Our kitchen is swathed in plastic and has a great hole cut in the ceiling. It looks like an abandoned X-files set. We have set up a temporary field kitchen in the living room, but I will be taking Gretchen out for every possible meal, in order to preserve our relationship.
During the day, she is in her front room office telecommuting while workmen hammer on the roof and in the kitchen. I listen to her handling a two hour conference call, while saws scream in the background and boots clump up and down the basement stairs. Telecommuting at our house is not for the faint of heart.
Gretchen is also our resident weather expert and knows the schedule for the next two storms, plus those which are still out over the Pacific ocean. When sounds of construction slacken and she sees workmen leaving the property, she envisions our gaping roof left open to the elements. My job is to keep things moving so this does not occur.
Today's schedule calls for installing the skylight and framing in the ceiling vault above the kitchen. If, by some miracle, we don't get snow today the workmen will also strip the shingles and tarpaper from the entire back roof of the house. The game plan is to lay new tarpaper on the roof before nightfall so we have protection if it rains or snows.
We could allow a more relaxed schedule if it were not for the fact that we have an expensive lift standing by at a cost of $200/day.
The configuration of the back of the house makes it almost impossible to use ladders or scaffolding to reach the 20-foot high eaves. A man-lifter with an extending boom is a necessity. Bad weather can run up our costs dramatically.
Like most of the projects I have worked on, this offers multiple challenges: freezing weather with possibility of snow and rain, a steep roof pitch requiring safety harnesses, a skylight design we have not seen before, and asphalt shingles that will shatter in freezing weather.
Nonetheless, we will get it done safely and correctly. While there may be a slight lack of experience, we expect to work our way through all of these difficulties and emerge with sanity intact.