Often, to prepare them for what’s to come, we will say to clients that there are ten thousand decisions to make when building a house. I’ve never counted the exact number but it seems like a fair guess! Throughout the decision-making process, architects offer guidance and frequently take on a sounding board role so clients have someone to bounce ideas around with to ensure a confident decision that will not compromise the critical path. But, building our bach, I am both the client and the architect and I’m struggling to figure out if I am coaching myself through the decisions or simply making the decision! And now that we are on site and real progress is happening, the stakes seem so much higher. We are really beginning to appreciate how special the end result could be but there are still so many decisions to make and I worry that I may head down the wrong path and compromise the final product. Although we can step back and admire the progress, at the same time we can see how much further we have to go.

As I know I have mentioned before, I am a detail focused, numbers kind of guy and I am meticulous about a very fine level of detail. Combine these personality traits with my emotional involvement in this project and I have become almost obsessed; I have studied our plans as though I was studying for an exam! Walking around site with Aaron, reviewing the framing, I find I don’t even need the plans in my hands, I know each dimension, every inch of our bach, in fact I know this building better than any other building I have ever worked on.

Standing on site, I can see it all come together and yet, I feel as though we never seem to have time to enjoy the high points, we are always confronted with another issue, another mismeasurement, another time delay. And yes, it is all part of the building process; It happens! But it can be frustrating that we never seem to have time to celebrate a ‘win’ before the bubble is burst by another problem. I think this is another thing that we could communicate better with some of our clients, building can be a frustrating process but at the end of it all the final result is worth it! Every issue that arises seems to be complex and time consuming but it does mean that each milestone we reach feels like we’ve really earnt it!

And as luck would have it, there are some big issues on site early on! There some delays with the delivery of various elements which has a trickledown effect to other aspects of the build. But we’ve had to roll with the issues, sometimes there isn’t much you can do but wait it out and do what you can in the meantime.

That is one thing I have learnt during construction, the big differences between architecture and building. Architecture is predictable, we know how much work we can do in an hour. However, in building, there are so many variables that affect how much work can be done in that time. In building, behind every Plan A there needs to be a great Plan B. When there is a hold up or an issue, Plan B is kicked into action. And on our site, where there are delays with certain components, what can we do? We need not only a great Plan B but also a bloody good Plan C!

The pre-fab components arrive bit by bit. Some are missing! And some are wrong! Oh, the joys of building!! These cause delays but our builders are resourceful and come up with some novel ways to hold pieces together whilst waiting on other components to arrive. As we are building remotely, and a fair drive from Christchurch, we have developed relationships with some local contractors which we hadn’t expected. But when something goes wrong it is very handy to have someone local to pop around to take a look rather than wait for someone to drive the 90 minutes from Christchurch.

Two weeks from the first piece arriving, the last pre-fabricated component is on site and the buildings are up! The actual speed of the construction stunned a lot of people, including myself. It was suddenly there! Especially the folly. On Wednesday, it was nowhere to be seen. On Thursday, there it was! And on Friday afternoon the builders had their afternoon drinks sitting in it! With so much progress over the last few weeks, we can’t wait to get stuck into the next phase.

Published on Friday, March 17th, 2017