Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lack of Progress

While on my recent business trip in northern Europe, daily emails flying between the lovely wife and the contractors left me somewhat disconcerted. The upshot of the emails was that nothing was getting done on the job. It seems the project manager consistently didn't show up to open the house for subcontractors, or didn't even schedule the subcontractors, and basically seemed unable to plan and execute on the job in a professional manner. This was not something we had anticipated, since the architecture and contracting firm that we had selected, founded by the two guys dedicated to and knowledgeable about green building, came highly recommended.

As it turns out, we and they were victim to exactly the same problem that we had last year with the solar thermal contractor. The project manager had only been working for them for 8 months or so, so they really had little idea about how reliable he was. Hiring someone is always a gamble. The resume looks good, the person looks like he/she will work well with people and is personable (as this guy was), but when it comes time to execute and deliver, they fall short. Perhaps this guy wasn't able to handle more than one project at a time, it sounds like they were asking him to do 3.

Anyway, we've told the architect and the head of the contracting part of the business that we no longer want to work with the guy they put on our project as project manager because he was not getting any work done. In the 2 1/2 months the job has been ongoing, the only thing he managed to get done is have the drywall removed (and even then he missed one wall and the ceiling of a closet), and put in some steel reinforcing where structural problems were showing up. The homeowner inspection  prior to foam insulation was supposed to be on  Sept. 20 and we are nowhere near having enough done for that. Before we had him taken off the project, the project manager said something about the structural engineer wanting additional re-enforcing around the skylights, which might involve having to open up the roof, so we may be more than a month away from the homeowner inspection.

There has been some progress. Here's a few pictures showing the steel reinforcing the framers put in. This one shows how they joined the two halves of the header that the former owner drilled through for the hall toilet vent:

 Here they put a steel plate in to couple the load bearing beam above the header over the sunroom entrance to the header. This is something the former owner forgot to do when he built the sunroom:

 And  here the two sides of the ceiling peak have been tied together. This is where we were seeing the ceiling cracking. The steel should ensure that the beams don't move:

 In addition to structural reinforcing, the framers put up plywood along the two chases where a backing for foam is needed. The fiberglass batt was just tacked on against the drywall, but foam needs a backing to expand against. And they also cut a hatch which will open into the chase so that the HRV system can be accessed for cleaning:

Finally, this past week, the electrician did some work  installing new outlets in the garage, some wiring in the living room for an FM radio antenna, and wiring for the electric skylight shades. You can see the latter in the following picture (yellow wire, lower right):

Hopefully this week we'll finally get the information on what the structural engineer wants to do to reinforce the ceiling. It will likely not be cheap, but since we canned the geothermal, we are running a under the original budget, including the design costs. If we hadn't canned the geothermal, we would have been  about 50% over by the end. But we are now looking like maybe a month or a month and a half before the job is finished, where we had been told it would be done by the end of September.

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