Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ponies and Soldiers

Inquiring minds have been asking - what's the deal with the remodeling project? You remember, we bought mid-century house that needs lots of work?

To date, we have hired architects, engineers of many flavors and soils guys and lots of other folks who are experts in their fields. We came up with a very cool plan. In December we got some very preliminary bids on our very cool plan. We clutched our chests and made the international choking sign. I think that George the Elder was rendered speechless for several hours. Holy moneybags batman!! We revised our very cool plan. We derived a modified very cool plan. Now is simply a cool plan. Phase II will eventually make it a VERY cool plan. We will focus on Phase I for now. Very cool things will come to those who wait.

Bids for Phase I were sent out in early February. We are having a few GCs bid. They, in turn are bringing all their subs over to check out the place. All have been here once. Many have been here more than that. The first guy who came said he was bringing over a "few" of his subs. I opened my front door to let the dog out about 10 minutes before the earmarked appointment time. There was a raukus little sub convention going on right there on my street. About 25 construction specialists were mulling about waiting for the GC to show up and usher them all in.

Each of them introduced themselves. Electrician. Cement Pourer. Door Guy. Floor Guy. Steel guy. Heating guy. I promptly forgot each of their names as soon as they uttered them. Except for one guy named Cheng. He looked exactly like Jerry Lewis in "Hardly Working." (Only this guy was a plumber and kept saying "I prumber, I prumber" over and over again. ) I had an audio flashback of those years in Japan.

Several GCs also means that there are lots of "great ideas" about how to do things differently than our architect and many minions of engineers had intended. Everybody has an opinion. Or two or three or heck-why-don't-you-just-do-it-my-way. It's a fricking roller coaster of "What about this way? What about this way?" In nearly all cases so far we have reverted back to the way it is on the cool plan. I appreciate their enthusiasm and their desire to come up with ways to do it better (and more importantly, cheaper), but I'm learning that just cause the GC says he can go out and hire day workers from a random corner of Divisidero Ave. to physically stand there and bodily hold up the house for two weeks while they pour concrete around their feet for FAR less money than hammering in a whole row of steel soldier beams - well I just don't get that excited any more. (And no, not a single one recommended using real humans - but you get the drift...)

Bids are due March 1st. Assuming that these secondary bids for the still cool, but not totally cool renovations do not once again cause heart palpitations and the need to seriously consider that the boys' college funds might be better spent on wood paneling (cause it is now DAMN apparent that prumbers and erecticians make some pretty fine jake when they're good at their jobs e.g. college = overrated) - well, we're hoping to move on out sometime in early April and let the guys with the backhoes and the butt cracks do their jobs.

In the meanwhile, I continue to learn new and useful construction terms while the subs mull purposefully around my house taking notes and talking out loud. I don't know that I will ever need to regurgitate what a pony wall or a solider beam is to a layman - but when I talk to my GC in the future, at least I won't have to keep saying, "you know, those big steel thingys sticking up all along the sides of the house." It helps not to sound like a complete nincompoop in front of these guys. I think they can smell stupidity and then they raise their bids 10%. As for me, I will learn these terms and will sprinkle them liberally in my conversations with them. I'm willing to do anything to avoid that 10%. It just buys me more cool.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Write everything down. Every little thing that you and the GC agree to, get it in writing. Knee wall in the kitchen? Additional Cat 5 connection on the TV wall? Pot filler plumbing? Additional cans in the kitchen ceiling? Write it down. Email provides damning evidence. Make a list. Check it twice. Presume all GCs are on the naughty list.
Also, post pics.