Out of the Mouths of Babes

Little boy sitting on the ground surrounded by the question, "Why?"

 

 

 

 

If We Could Just Get Adults to Be More Curious Like Young People

 

 

Nine months ago, I met with a fine group of Scouts on a job site to answer their questions about construction and business. If adults would ask more questions like this…there would be less confusion between customer and contractor.


Too often as adults we don’t ask questions for fear that we will appear dumb. It’s like we think we should know everything about everything. As I answered their questions, I thought…


If more people asked questions like these , more dream projects would be a dream come true.


Here’s the questions they asked:

  • How much does building a new house cost?
  • How much wood does a new house take?
  • How long does it take to build a new house?
  • How many permits do you need to build a new house?
  • Do you build specially for earthquakes?
  • What equipment do you use most often?
  • How do you dig a foundation?
  • Did you go to college? Trade school?
  • What schooling do you need?
  • What made you want to start your business?
  • What was the first thing you built?
  • What was your first job ever?
  • How much steel goes into a house?
  • Have you ever built a tiny house?
  • Where are the dangerous places in a construction site?
  • Do you do more commercial or residential work?
  • Do you prefer/use more manual or electrical equipment?
  • Do you do more renovations or new building projects?
  • Have you ever broken a hard hat?
  • How often do injuries happen?
  • Do you hire out the electrical/plumbing or does the owner?

 


I thought I should share the answers to their questions with you. Due to the length of the list, I will it break down in future posts by category. Maybe these will inspire more questions to be asked. At the very least you will have these answers.


Check back next week to see the answers.


Communication is the biggest problem for construction customers and contractors. That’s why I have written extensively about it in the past. Here are links to some of those posts:

 

 

If you or someone you know have a construction question, please post it in the comments below and I will answer it too.

 

The Real Answers Are in the Believing

 

Put Me Down as A Believer

 

The small son of a pastor was out playing in the yard before coming in to join the family at the supper table. His mother, as usual, told him to go wash his hands. As the little boy headed to the sink he said, “Jesus and germs, that’s all I ever hear around here and I haven’t ever seen either one.”
Seeing is believing.


This Sunday’s Scripture, John 20:19-29 is the story about “doubting Thomas”. Most of us have heard the story of Jesus appearing to a group of His followers when Thomas wasn’t there. Then a few days later Jesus came a second time and showed Thomas the evidence of the nails in His hands and the spear in His side. This caused Thomas to believe. Jesus said, “You believed because you see me. Those who believe without seeing me will be truly blessed.”


How do we believe without seeing?

 


Believing without seeing is hard. We want to have all the answers. Clarity makes life so much easier.

 

 

When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.


“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: “Pray that I have clarity.”


She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So, I will pray that you trust God.”


Mother Teresa’s Prayer for The Clinger 


I struggle with looking for clarity. I want to know the answers. As a ‘problem solver’ by nature finding the answers is what I do. Seeking answers is not the problem. The problem is getting hung up on seeking them.


We don’t and never will in this life, have all the answers.


If we can’t have the answers why even bother looking. Wouldn’t it be easier to just float through life not bothering to even look for the answers? I don’t think this is God’s plan for us either. It’s about having faith and trusting in God. In Matthew 17:14-20 Jesus tells His followers that if their “…faith is big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move”.

 

 


We don’t need to have all the answers, just believe as big as a mustard seed.

5 Ways to Stop Over Promising and Under Delivering

 

Asking Questions and Finding Answers to Help You Schedule Better

 

Things taking longer than we expect them to. This is a topic of way too many conversations. Just in the last few days I’ve had this very discussion, in some form or another, with customers, subcontractors and family members. Not to mention it’s an ongoing dialog I have with myself.

Why is this such a common problem? Is there something wrong with my scheduling system or abilities? Is there a better way to manage my time? Am I trying to do too much? Is it just the way things are? I know this is a lot of questions, but asking questions is the only way to find answers.

I think one reason we don’t ask questions, is the amount of time it takes to find answers. If it isn’t a simple answer that jumps out in front of you, it’s easier to just let things keep going the way they are. I’m behind, I don’t have time to look for answers to questions.

Here are 5 answers that you won’t have to look for:

 

  • Find the balance of accuracy and urgency

This is a big struggle that I have when scheduling. I know that I’m deadline oriented. If I allow two hours to do something it will most likely take twice that long. If I allow four hours, it reduces the level of urgency and I will procrastinate. Something else will take its place. I’ve figured out that If I schedule myself short on time, I focus better, and the increased urgency will get it done faster. Figuring out your balance of accuracy and urgency can be tricky but is critical.

 

  • Give as much importance to my schedule with myself as to others

When I put things on the calendar that are for myself, I tend to be more lenient. This is different than when I have a meeting scheduled with someone else. If I am going to honor God and others, I need to also honor myself. This is hard for me but is one of those areas where I need to be more accountable. If I hope to spend my time efficiently, I need to be realistic when scheduling with myself and honor it.

 

 

  • Stop trying to do too many things

But there are so many important things that need to be done. If I don’t do them, they won’t get done or they won’t be done right. This tendency of trying to do too many things has always been a characteristic that I have been proud of. This is what movers and shakers do, right. Being a micro-manager doesn’t help either. There are just too many pieces to put together by myself. I need some clarity of focus on what my time is best spent on and stop trying to do everything if I want to be the best steward of my time.

 

  • Take in to account the number of things out of my control

The bigger the project being scheduled, the more things there are to schedule. One small delay can have a snowball effect by pushing more and more things farther and farther back. There needs to be some margin scheduled in to cover these delays. The difficult part is to not let the margins become areas of wasted time. It is critical to communicate clearly to those involved the importance of being on schedule. I use two different schedules with projects. One with the customer and one with the producers.

 

  • Plan for unforeseen things that interrupt the plan – 

There are always things that can’t be planned for. It doesn’t matter how well you plan if something breaks down or there’s an accident. The priority and focus can change quickly. This is a thing that is also out of my control. The difference in the two is the frequency and the level of disruption. We can only plan for these things to a certain point. It is more about the awareness that it can happen and being ready to deal with it the best we can when it does.


The key to unlocking the door to better scheduling and planning is self-awareness. It’s about knowing who you are and asking questions. I know that I’m a recovering perfectionist and my level of expectation is high. I know that this makes things take longer. I also know that if I want to build the best business and the best me, I must be willing to ask questions, find answers and put those answers to use. It all comes down to me and my willingness to make the necessary decisions.

What are some answers to scheduling questions that you’ve found?

The Hard Truth About Solid Surface Flooring – Part 2

Working Through the Questions to Get to the Right Answers

 

Last week we went through questions to ask when looking for the right solid surface flooring. I pointed out the importance of starting with the why. Then I went through an overview of the other questions – product choices, appearance, durability, cleaning and maintenance, price, installation options, location and the ability to be repaired.

This week we will go into the attributes of the different solid surface products that are currently available:

  • Solid wood – is lumber cut from trees. It normally ranges in thickness from ½” to ¾”. It typically has a tongue and groove on the sides and ends. It usually is nailed down through the tongue which hides the fastener. It can also be glued down. Because it’s the same material all the way through it can be sanded down and refinished in the future.

 

  • Engineered wood – is similar to solid wood in that wood is the primary material. The difference is that it is manufactured in layers with the grain alternating direction and glued together. Engineered wood might be as thin as 3/8” up to ¾”. Like the solid wood it usually has a tongue and groove and can be installed either by nailing or by gluing. Some engineered wood has a thick enough top layer to allow for refinishing, but often the top finished layer is too thin for refinishing to be done.

 

  • Bamboo – is manufactured flooring made from the bamboo plant. It is typically made by slicing mature bamboo poles into strips. Then these strips are cut into the desired lengths and widths, the outer skin and nodes are removed, and the strips are boiled in a solution of boric acid or lime to remove the sugar and starch. After it has been dried and planed the strips are laminated together, milled, sanded and finished creating the planks with either vertical or horizontal grain. Bamboo can be installed either with an interlocking joint system, nailed or glued. This product can be refinished however staining bamboo can be a challenge.

 

  • Laminated – is a multi-layered synthetic flooring product. It is usually composed of melamine resin and a fiberboard inner core material with a photographic visible layer and covered with a clear protective layer similar to plastic laminate counter tops. It can have many different patterns resembling wood or ceramic tile. It ranges from ¼” to ½” thick and is often made using recycled materials. It is fastened together with a tongue and groove or snap together process. This flooring then floats over an underlayment and essentially becomes one continuous piece covering the entire room. Due to the type of finished surface it cannot be refinished.

 

  • Ceramic tile – Is made from clay that has been shaped and then is fired in a kiln. Then it is glazed and fired a second time. It is offered in a variety of shapes, sizes and finishes. It is currently even available in a wood grained finish. It has the most durable finish but is brittle and can break or chip especially if not supported well. Installation of this product is done by adhering it to either a concrete slab or concrete board subfloor with a troweled on thinset mortar. After the adhesive has cured the joints are filled with a complementary colored grout.

 

  • Luxury Vinyl – should not be confused with either sheet vinyl or the self-adhesive tile squares that used to be installed in homes. This product is made of resilient polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with a top layer of urethane. It comes in planks (to look like traditional wood floors), tiles (that can look like ceramic, stone, granite, marble, etc.) and is even available in patterns that resemble carpet squares. Luxury vinyl will range from 2mm to 5mm thick. It can be installed either in a snap together floating system or glued down.

 

  • Sheet vinyl – is made from PVC the same as the luxury vinyl. It comes in rolls normally wide enough to do complete rooms without seams. This product is available in a variety of stamped patterns, some even resemble wood grain. The thickness of sheet vinyl is 10-30 mils (mils are a thousandth of an inch). This product is installed with either a full glue or perimeter glue process. Due to the thinness of this product it requires a smooth underlayment underneath.

 

I hope this explanation of these products helps you to better understand them and their differences. Next week we will dig deeper into comparable questions and what the pros and cons are.

How to Determine If Someone’s Trash Can Be Your Treasure

What’s the Purpose for Your Re-purpose

Recently my web and social media coordinator, Stacey, gave me a list of questions from her husband, Daniel. One of them was “repurposing ideas?”. I am assuming that he is asking about some specific ideas and that list would be pretty long.

So, this answer may not be exactly what he was looking for, but more of a reasoning and thought process. I hope it will give him and you some direction when you are considering repurposing.

Repurposing is currently a popular trendy topic. Not that there is anything at all wrong with repurposing. On the contrary it can be a frugal and thrifty way to be good stewards. This kind of thing has been done since the beginning of civilization. Cavemen didn’t just go down to the store and pick up a hammer. They made one out of repurposed sticks, rocks and leather.

I grew up repurposing, before it had a cool name like that. I remember as a kid setting on the concrete step of the barn straightening bent nails that had been pulled out of used boards. We had cans full of them and when doing a new project, we would repurpose them.

Repurposing ideas are as big as your imagination. The internet is full of ideas that range from using discarded toilet paper tubes for storing cables and cords to using old picture frame corners to tile a ceiling or using old bathtubs for furniture and a grand piano for an outdoor fountain. Some of these ideas are simple and easy to do, some, not so much.

 

To find the answer to your specific repurposing questions, ask WHY, WHAT, HOW. These questions will be as wide ranging as your imagination. For Example:

  • Why do you want to use something designed for one thing for something else?
  • What is the intended outcome?
  • What is the cost going to be?
  • How is it going to be achieved?
  • How much time is it going to take? 

Old wringer washer, going to become a laundry sink

 

The answers are where you separate the realistic from the unrealistic.

  • Everybody is doing it
  • Saves money, less expensive than buying
  • Improved use of original idea
  • Better than throwing it away, not being wasteful
  • Currently not being used, just sitting around and taking up space
  • Physically not going to work
  • Too costly
  • Don’t have the time needed
  • Don’t have the skill or ability
  • Historical or sentimental value
  • The finished product “cool factor” is worth it

A couple months ago I wrote about turning used grain bins into a home. This is a sizable repurposing project. When considering this project these questions and more have been and are being answered. This project is going to be a big repurpose full of smaller repurposes.

I told you that I would be sharing the project as it moves forward. We have met a couple of times and reviewed design ideas. I have set up an online project notebook in OneNote and Hannah has listed product thoughts and idea links. This is the current elevation and floor plan drawings. Sign up for our weekly solutions for more construction and repurposing ideas.

 

Repurposing is a great solution in many situations, but don’t do it just because someone else is doing it. Have a clear purpose for your repurpose.

Let me know if you have some specific repurpose questions or share your repurposed projects in the comments below.