Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Kicking Up The Heels

So we finished building the building rendered in this pretty architect's drawing. This was a little over a two year project, of which I was involved for the last 14 months. This building is 276 apartment units, plus a lobby that includes a library, business offices, a gym and storage areas. There is also a common area on an upper floor, with a small movie theater, bar and billiards lounge. As much as none of us like to be bothered with new buildings going up in our personal lives, the simple facts are that the DC market is growing, and high density infill housing like this fills a big need. I can't in good conscience call any DC area housing "affordable," but with energy costs headed where they are and land being as scarce as it is, along with commute efficiencies decining exponentially, this type of project will play an increasingly important role.

My main job started with supervising the interior framing to make sure that all of the walls were straight and plumb and where they are supposed to be. Following that, I dealt with drywall, paint, tile, cabinetry and carpeting.

Perhaps my biggest challenge was managing the building inspections. Building inspections are a funny thing. Most builders hate them, since there is a general "I know better than those idiots" attitude prevalent. I take a bit of a different tack. Yes, it is an hour or more per day that I have to spend with the inspector, but generally if you develop a good relationship with the inspector, you can get some valuable insight and work with him/her to reach a common understanding of why you did certain things and why what you did is the best option. At the end of the day, when an accident like a fire or an earthquake or some other catastrophe befalls the building, the building inspector is prominent in the culpability chain. Meaning that he and I will both be subpeonad during any investigations, and neither he nor I want to be considered liable for any deficiencies in the process.

The final stage of the job for me was to build out the lobby areas and the 15th floor. These came out really well, we sailed through the building inspection and punch list processes and now we are onto the next thing like Snagglepuss.

The next thing for me is a hotel on King Street in Old Town. It, too, will take the better part of two years. I am the lead dog on that project, which I am looking forward to. The people involved are solid, I had a good draft of the laborers and carpenters from the previous job so my staff is tight, and the project engineer (the totally critical paper pusher/cost container) is an absolute A+ player. There are some challenges already identified, but we'll get through them.

Meantime, I have a week to chill out. So I am getting a bunch of workouts in, working on my tan and generally being lazy and waking up about 3 hours later than normal. Today I left the house at about 10:30 for a TT intervals workout, got home a little after noon, ate lunch, am headed up to the pool, and will head for Greenbelt to the B Race later. Tomorrow I have a Skyline Drive ride on tap. We'll se what's left of me by the weekend and the Reston Town Center Race.

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