5 To Do's for the first Construction Weekend

The foundation is in, the first load of building materials arrive tomorrow, now it is time to plan for the construction team.

Here are my five To-Do's in preparation for the weekend:

1. Inform the Construction Team
If you have been following, I am fortunately to have three adult and strapping sons who are all know which end of a hammer to hold. The trick is herding them together and at the same time. The first weekend of construction is critical so I need all of them to pitch in.

From the start I have created a project plan and kept my sons fully in the loop as to timing -- they all have booked this weekend for the first big push. In fact they have all checked in to ensure the plan is still on track.

2. Keep it Safe, and Sane
Just because this is a family affair doesn't mean that all the needs of a safe construction site should not be observed. So be sure to ensure that all members of the construction team have all the necessary safety gear and appropriate gear, such as:
  • Hard hats
  • Work boots with steel toes and shanks
  • Sun protection - sun screen, long pants and shirts, and hats
  • Gloves
On site there are a few more rules that need to be effectively communicated and understood, including:
  • Proper use of power tools
  • Proper carrying techniques
Understand that with the summer heat, tight time frames, and potential set-backs, that you and your the members of your family construction team will be frustrated and that tempers will flare. A cool head from the leader will help to minimize the impact of frustration.

3. Grub and Hydration
Construction is hard work, and the hot sun and humidity play a significant part in the wellbeing of your construction team. So plan for great meals, and plenty of fluids. The issue of fluids can not be stressed enough. Keep these points in mind:
  • Have them always easily available
  • Have plenty
  • Keep them relatively cool
  • Pick fluids with good electrolyte balance (e.g. like Gatorade)
  • Ban alcohol during the working part of the day
The beer should be kept for the end of the day celebration of accomplishment, over dinner and the camp fire. Just keep it in moderation because remember construction starts bright and early at 7 am sharp the next day...

On meals, I shouldn't need to tell you to keep them nutritious and simple.

4. Accommodations
If you are building in the great outdoors like we are then there won't be a hotel nearby so it is important to plan for as comfortable sleeping arrangements as possible. After a hard day of swinging a hammer the body needs its rest so it can start all over again the next day. My recipe for sleeping arrangements includes:
  • Tents for every two members of the team
  • Portable bed mattresses (single)
  • Summer sleeping bags
On the subject of making is as comfortable, you need also to consider:
  • Outdoor Kitchen: BBQs, coffee machine,
  • Outdoor dining: Picnic table
  • Covered area: in case it rains - it won't of course...
  • Restroom: a portable toilet with a tarp over and around it goes a long way to making the female members of your team comfortable
  • Washing arrangements: This will likely mean a bar of environmentally-safe soap and shampoo, a towel and the lake.
  • a clothes line...
5. Teamwork
Remember that the family-based construction team are generally not professional framers and such, so building of the family cottage tends to be part learning experience. Take the time to communicate what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Good communication leads to a good understanding of what needs to be accomplished and in what order:
  • Describe each task clearly
  • Assign tasks appropriately taking in consideration the skill and experience level of your team members. Pair up one experienced members with an inexperienced member.
...and there is one more key thing to remember...

6. Keep it fun
Everyone on the construction team is there because they want to. They are not being paid. They are doing it as a labour of love, and to share in the benefits of a family cottage. Don't make it a job -- try to keep everything upbeat! Even when disasters happen. Get their input, ask their advice, keep everyone involved.

So what is the plan for this weekend?

When we arrive tomorrow the foundation will be in and backfilled. The sonotubes for the surround deck will be in place. I intend to arrive early in the morning to set-up and receive the first shipment of materials. I also need to stop by the city offices to pickup the official building permit, and also to drop by Dale's Home hardware to pick up some of the small, loose material I need for the weekend.

The construction targets for this weekend are:
  1. Frame the lakeside wall of the basement
  2. Install the engineered floor: joists, rim boards and floor sheathing.
  3. Install the plumbing in the basement floor in preparation for pouring the floor next week.
This is a tall order but if we don't encounter uncooperative weather it is doable... Keep you fingers crossed!