Cape Cod Auto Barn

 

 

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Some buildings go up easy--some do not.

This is one of those--and I use the words "go up" more metaphorically/existentially than physically/structurally. We have wonderful clients who are housing part of the crew and have been wonderful to work with right from the beginning. Our client saw another barn we built over a year ago just down the road http://www.geobarns.com/CapeCod-detail.htm so one inquiry led to another and here we are in the middle of one of the worst winters in a while building an industrial building where everything weighs more than usual....and it is either cold, wet, arctic, icy, windy, dark or snowing....with very few respites of good weather to the point that the crew has to literally plan to bring in extra people on a good day to catch up. In spite of all this they have maintained good spirits--ably abetted by our clients making them feel at home and inviting them to family events and keeping them warm in the midst of their gracious hospitality...to quote a letter from Dennis Demeyer, our lead sub on site:

Yesterday Hank and Ann had a big party and had invited us over along with a ton of the neighbors. It was a lot of fun with great food and drinks, including a tequila Hank had just picked up in Mexico City (Tres Generations) I wish we could have stayed longer but they are one quality family. I really admire Hank. You definitely find great people to build for.

On another front, sometimes I try so hard to stay on budget I completely miss the larger picture....and have been learning some painful lessons here. I switched to hemlock and we thought we had found a good source for what was nominally air dried--which turned out to be thoroughly frozen and ice coated and had to be scraped and blow torched to be usable--throwing any potential savings there right out the window....not that there were any windows in the gale force winds on the Cape during those early weeks! I also under-ordered numerous other materials--necessitating a number of very expensive extra trips down to compensate for my "shortcomings....."....

As if the weather and staying on budget were not enough to put my stomach in knots--we have also have a running battle with the town building department over certain protocols we have never had to deal with before. One of the new waves of bureaucratic obsession is reacting to the recent onslaughts of bad weather events such as Irene and Sandy--which coupled with their incestuous relationships with the insurance companies and Simpson Strong Tie connectors--causes them to move all over the map with implementing new regulations which even they do not understand and which attempting to define is the equivalent of trying to nail a poached egg to a wall. We spent the better part of an entire day trying to ascertain which kind of industrial washer was required to hold down our plates--even while the hold downs we use are way stronger than all these washers combined....something they grudgingly acceded to after controversial conversations.

The worst example of this type of regulatory enslavement came to a head a couple of days ago over their requiring us to install some wretched little hurricane clips (again a Simpson product which as they develop these gets all the insurance companies in a tizzy over a new find which they force upon the code officials who in turn then inundate all the builders with the latest and greatest new information which will legally cover certain parts of the town's anatomy). I protested vehemently since we have superb engineers who know that our rafter to beam blocking system is superior to these clips--not to mention an aesthetic no brainer...with the upshot that they said they would consider a stamped letter if I provide one...which is exactly what I am now doing--for a significant investment of time and expense.

The fact is--it is worth it--because if all we do is "follow the code" all we will do is be status quo prisoners of Simpson Connectors and 4x8 sheets of plywood over conventional framing and nothing creative will ever make its way into the marketplace of buildings and ideas. I have fought hard to keep our buildings pure and out of the box and am not going to capitulate to something inferior just because it meets code...there are numerous ways to so things better and my passion drives me to keep on the road less traveled...where we have found beauty, creativity and the joy of fighting the good fight.

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