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November 15, 2019
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Being general contractor for my most recent building project has reminded me of some universal principles that apply to building almost anything of lasting value.  Whether it be a home, a business, a non-profit organization, or an athletic program, these same things are true:

  1. Much of what you do will go unnoticed but it is critical to success. There are two stages in a home building project where you take a whole lot of work by the subcontractors and cover it up forever; when you pour the foundation and when you install the wall coverings and insulation. There will come a time when the unseen becomes seen. Someday you will flip the switch and the lights will come on because the wiring is there. (See photos below.)
  2. The order in which you do things matters. When the concrete gets poured it is too late to install drains or in floor heating coils without racking up enormous amounts of work and cost overruns. To get the right order it’s always wise to have a good blueprint, professional advisers and experienced contractors in place before the project starts.
  3. There will be days when it feels like nothing is getting done. There are stages of the project where you just have to wait for the next right thing to happen. So wait, because not waiting can bring disaster to the whole project. 
  4. It’s never as easy as you think it will be. Do you ever look at work someone else has done and think, how hard could it be? Unless you have done it yourself, you don’t realize the time, care or thought behind that finished product.
  5. Mistakes can lead to innovation. Example: the day we poured concreteI realized I had forgotten to form out where we were going to install a zero threshold shower. I shared my mistake with the mason but it was too late. The concrete was poured and setting up. But we thought of a way to make it work. We took a maul and broke up the concrete while it was still green.

These principles are not to discourage anyone from building a home or business. Instead, knowing them will help you go into the process with eyes wide open to the realities. Creating something of value is seldom easy but it is worth it. We are creating a better world for ourselves and those we love and care for. 

All this work will be behind walls, never to be seen.
A critical heating system is laid on the floor. Now you see it…
And now you don’t.

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Ideal Partners

The Ideal Partner

November 9, 2019
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Want a good test for finding the ideal partner? Build a house together.

When You Need an Ideal Partner

What they say:

 “you should never build a house during the early stages of a marriage. The stress caused by the sheer volume of decisions, many of which are preferential decisions, can be simply too great for the relationship to survive.”

During 25 years of marriage my wife and I have worked our way through two extensive remodel projects and one new family home built from scratch. Now, we find ourselves building again. This time we are building our so called retirement home. It will be a smaller, one level, lower maintenance home. 

We started this journey when my wife’s parents both expressed their desire to downsize and simplify. We don’t find ourselves at this point yet, but we saw this as an opportunity. We could build this home early, while we still have the energy and ability to do so. We had been saving a piece of property with this purpose in mind. The thought of them getting to enjoy it, while waiting for our own retirement, sounded like an ideal opportunity. 

Defining Ideal Partner

This brings me back to the value of a good partner. Let’s look at a definition of the ideal partner.

Ideal partners value the other’s interests separate from their own. They feel congenial toward and supportive of one another’s overall goals in life. They are sensitive to the other’s wants, desires, and feelings, and place them on an equal basis with their own.

Being an Ideal Partner

My wife, Mary Pat’s involvement in this project has been extensive. She has done most of the “behind the scenes” decor and finishing touches. I, on the other hand, have been managing the day to day workflow and financial aspects of the project. We are currently starting month six of the project. Reflecting on this, it dawned on me how much fun I have had working with my partner on this project. Though it’s been exhausting and stressful at times, she has always, and I mean always, shown me these invaluable characteristics of a great partner: 

  • Verbally appreciates my role, over and over again. 
  • Is supportive during the inconveniences that arise in pulling the whole project together.
  • Asks my opinion even when I don’t really want to give it.
  • Always cares more about me and my well being more than the project
  • Laughs often over the silly things we place a high value on, things that are good but often non essential luxuries. 
  • Willing to compromise if it makes the whole project more bearable. 
  • Able to say “maybe later” to things that feel overwhelming at the time.  

What It’s Worth

I never could have predicted the pure joy this project project has brought me.  I give all the credit to a great partnership and 25 years of practice. Multiple home projects and business ventures, raising two amazing children, and a shared faith has prepared us for this adventure.

Never take for granted what you are going through today and who is going through it with you. The value may be in the unknown future joy you will experience with your ideal partner.

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