Lovely spring day makes everything look better

Today was a lovely spring day and I even got to take a little bike ride. That puts me in a very good mood. So one of those constant screw-ups that occur here on planetcommercialconstruction struck me as funny rather than annoying. Viewing commercial construction as a comedy of errors is not as unreasonable as it might seem.

In other industries people build prototypes to discover problems before they build the real thing. Since we build large-scale prototypes (that is what a new building or road or park is) we are constantly finding new possibilities for errors. Because so little is “standard” in this business, even processes tend to be non-standard. Last month I was surprised when a plant submitted samples of two shades of red, got an order for some mockup pieces with the right mix number attached, and somehow, despite apparent good business process, managed to make and crate up 4 full size gray pieces. I did not laugh when that happened, but it wasn’t yet spring.

Today’s laugh came in the context of a job that is getting overripe. I sent samples to the GC and they took two weeks to get to the designer.  Those were rejected because they had the color and the finish that was specified  (rather than  what was “intended” –  that’s life on planetcommercialconstruction). We have run out of time. So this time I gave the plant a transmittal with the name and address of the designer so samples could go direct and we could get approval and get this into production. This AM I saw an email from Fed Ex saying they had delivered the package. Great!  I sent the designer an email so he would know it was in his mail room. So when I showed up at the office and saw that a carton about the size of two 12″ square samples had been delivered to me I was surprised.

I looked at the label and saw that the plant  (not the same one as switched red and gray) had put the designer’s name on the label, but not his address. I had failed to read and verify everything on the FedEx email; had I done what every sub is contractually obligated to do, which is to read every one of the gazillion pages of paper, email, drawings, etc. that get sent to us in a project and scour them for conflicts, then I would have detected this earlier and avoided the embarrassment of telling a designer the sample had arrived at his office when it was actually at mine.  The good news is that I took a short bike ride today and so it’s just part of the comedy of errors of commercial construction.


About Leo Schlosberg

Graybeard with experience in commercial construction and IT, and an interest in information flow and process. Aware and respectful of the enormous complexity, technical, legal, and other, embedded in every structure that is part of the built environment.
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