Friday, January 13, 2012

Lessons from the Shop

I am very glad that we decided to build a shop before we build a house. You learn so much from the building process (even if I wasn’t the one swinging the hammer or nail gun). I think it is especially important if you are trying to build a different kind of house such as a super-insulated one. Here are a few things that I have learned.

Lesson 1 – Get everyone on board. Randy is a good friend as well as contractor. He hasn’t really done stuff like this before, but he is excited about learning and is receptive to these ideas. (He’s now reads Green Building Advisor). Carlton the master carpenter is invested in doing it right. So the 2 main guys are all in.

What I have to do though is show them the significance of every air gap. I plan to do blower door tests on 3 houses – first the Lenore rental house which is a work in progress, my house (which should be done, but I really haven’t finished the attic insulation) and John’s house after we close it in.

My plan is to have them at the house when we do the tests. That makes it tangible. 

The head of the insulation company apparently gets it as well according to Randy. In a previous post I talked about avoiding him because I didn’t want to argue about fiberglass. But he does teach his guys to air seal and understands its importance. Also Randy says he is a nice guy and easy to talk to.

I also plan to invite the guys to dinner and go over the principles that I think are important BEFORE we even start. I’ll pay them for their time. I need the drywall guys there as well because I don’t think they’ve ever attempted an airtight drywall approach before (ADA).

Lesson 2 – Communication is key. It’s really a variation on lesson 1. Sometimes you think and think about a problem, solve it in your mind and assume everyone knows what you were thinking. Example, John planned very precisely where he was going to put his equipment. He drew an AutoCAD plan of his equipment for Don and Buck, the electrical guys. He assumed they would put the outlets about every 4 feet where the equipment was going. They lined up the outlets EXACTLY where he mapped it out on the drawing. See the photo. They put in enough outlets so it won’t be a problem, but it’s not what John envisioned.

Back corner with carriage doors to the side and the fold out stairs  for storage above
Lesson 3 – Ignore John when necessary. My brother was adamant about not giving up square footage on the floor of the shop for either a stairway to the storage area or a small bathroom. Flat out refused. I knew he was wrong, but I could not get him to compromise at all. Everyone who worked on the building was wondering – where is the bathroom? Why didn’t they put a bathroom in it?

John is so happy about all the space.

I should have ignored him on the bathroom issue and at least put in the pipes for a “future” bathroom when they poured the concrete. I can’t believe I didn’t insist on that.

I think John learned something from that as well.

I told him for house, he can do whatever he wants except in matters of energy efficiency. That’s not exactly true but he doesn’t know that yet.

Lesson 4 – You have to be there to oversee the details. The installation of the insulation is the best example. If you are there you can insist on having it done the way you want.

You have to be there to catch little details that matter. 

Here are more photos of the shop. Just waiting on Duke Power to install the power line and for the metal roofing for the awning over the main doors.

Main entrance to the shop. Waiting on the metal for the awning

Beautiful insulated carriage doors built by Carlton and Chris

Stairway to Storage

Front wall of shop

Side wall of shop

1 comment:

  1. WOW! It looks absolutely fabulous! I love the picture of John twirling around in the shop! He is definitely happy! You are the best sister he could hope for. You have made his dream come true!