Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Out in the Field

. Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm actually going out in the field tomorrow to my courthouse that under construction (the one that I've been posting pictures of). It's horribly behind schedule because the contractor and his subs are totally inept. Our MEP CA guy has been hounding the mechanical sub lately about the improper installation of fire dampers. He flat out asked the guy if all he's done was residential work and if this was his first commercial job. If I remember the schedule correctly, the job should be about done now, and the contractor will be getting into liquidated damages soon.

Anyway, what I was really going to write about was how much I enjoy going out in the field. Staring at the computer all day laying out ductwork, writing specs, and drawing control diagrams starts to be a drag sometimes. Going out in the field is a great change of pace. Going to courthouses are cool because some of them are really old. I get to crawl around in the attic or in a crawl space or basement and pretend I'm Indiana Jones. Haven't come across any snakes or rats yet. I saw some court documents from the 1600s at the courthouse I mentioned earlier. Visiting jails is also kind of neat. It's a little scary at times though. I remember one time I was at a jail and was up on a ladder with my head above the ceiling checking out some sanitary piping. A coworker of mine was holding the ladder for me. We were in the computer lab and class was about to start. The inmates were sitting in the chairs along the wall waiting patiently for us to finish. I heard one of the inmates mumble something about "I'll show you who the bus driver is" or something like that. Another inmate at a different jail had a pretty neat chess set made from toilet paper.

The best part of going out in the field is seeing my design come to life. I spend almost a year designing some large projects. That's a long time to be staring at the same building on your computer. It almost becomes one of your kids. It's part of you. Going out in the field is like watching your child being born over a several month time frame. If you're lucky to have a good contractor, he mostly installs the stuff just like you drew it. Seeing your design in real life helps you visualize it in your head better during the next project. Sometimes the contractor does things a little different and you go, "Hey! That's cool! I'll have to layout that ductwork or piping that way next time." Of course, sometimes you get a crummy and/or crooked contractor. That can be fun too because it becomes a game of "Find out where the contractor skimped on things and didn't install things correctly." You get to learn the dirty tricks that contractors do after a while.

I also try and look at things from the mainenance guy's perspective. It think my designs have improved over the years. If my design isnt too good, the contractor might be able to install it OK but it might be a pain in the ass for the maintenance guy to go back later and change the filters.

I've also become more of an architect over the years. I try hard to minimize exposed ductwork and piping. And really big on symetry too. I remember feeling totally pissed with myself that a couple of slot diffusers weren't centered properly in a large locker area. I looked at my drawings and the contractor installed it just like I told him too.

So I'll take some pictures at the courthouse tomorrow and post some more on my blog later on.


Anonymous said...

hey, if you don't keep up with the updates, I'm going to drop you from my blog-hopping list.

come on, boo!