Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bags of Shit

. Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'll be out in the field today attending a coordination meeting with the mechanical contractor. It's for the school that I've been posting photos of. He's got a laundry list of problems that need fixing. Typical stuff is ductwork or piping not fitting because there's a big beam in the way, or I tried fitting 20 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag and I managed to only get 19 pounds to fit and they ask how they're supposed to fit that last piece of shit in.

I'm excited to go because this is the biggest project I've ever worked on. It's a 250,000 sq ft high school and I'll finally get to see my work in person. We normally have a Construction Administration (CA) person take over duties after the project design is completed. But because the list impacts other trades and because time is of the essence, the Contractor has requested I come out there. In some sense, it makes me nervous. Contractors and Owners aren't shy about pointing out any mistakes that may have been made. They also aren't shy about pointing out how much it will cost to fix it. That's an on-going battle between Contractors and Architects/Engineers. Legally, our drawings are "schematic" in nature. There's no way we can literally show EVERY duct elbow and pipe fitting. To be fair to the Contractor, we have to provide drawings for systems that are constructable. So between us, we usually manage to get that last piece of shit installed above the ceiling.

One thing I'm worried about is if I made a mistake that will cost money. First, some background information. I actually wasn't on this project from the beginning. The original designer left the company (but ended up returning only a year later) when the project was about 85% complete. But one thing they say in my industry is that the last 10% of the project takes about 50% of the time. I didn't have any learning cirve and had to meet the deadline. The drawings need to be completed on time so the school can eventually open on time. A school not opening on time is BAD NEWS!!! So because of the time crunch, I had to press the "I BELIEVE" button and trust that the work I inheritted from my coworker was correct and accurate. Bit it never seems to work out that way, does it?

Now we ALL make mistakes. Even us professional engineers. I'm the type that doesn't pass the buck if there's a problem (even if it's not my fault). The Owner might complain that it's going to cost $10,000 to rip out some ductwork that was just installed per the drawings but won't fit above the ceiling. The Owner rightfully expects it be right the first time and he's not paying for it. Sometimes, he'll even ask, "Didn't you check to make sure there was enough space above the ceiling?" I didn't because it's not practical to back-check everything that my coworker did. But I can't just say, "Sorry! I didn't design that part. Richard Rabbit did but he doesn't work for us anymore." That just doesn't fly. So I have to be diplomatic, take the abuse, and (more importantly) FIX THE PROBLEM!