I’ve always wanted to sail the 7 seas. I used to watch Pippi Longstocking and Swiss Family Robinson shows as a kid and imagined life on some distant South Pacific island. Then when I was 20, I found the book Dove, in some second hand book store in South Carolina. Dove, is the real life story of Robin Grahams’ journey of sailing around the world at age 16. To this day, that is one of the first books I recommend or give away as a gift.
Unfortunately, my life as a professional baseball player for 7 years was about as much adventure I could handle and I never made it to the high seas, instead, I settled into life as a carpenter and remodeling contractor near Boston. However, I often use ocean and sailing metaphors when describing my business, so I thought I’d do a short piece paralleling the adventures of sailing and remodeling as they both are very deep waters that require an iron stomach to get through unscathed.
For homeowners who choose to venture out in the pirate filled waters of building and remodeling, life can be a little rough. Just take a stroll down to your local home center any Tuesday around 7:00 A.M. and just watch the water for a while. These are the jokers that you have to choose from AND also avoid at the same time! I’ve been in the business for 17 years and they scare the crap out of me! What the hell are you going to do? How in the world are you going to navigate your family and kitchen remodel, from point A to point B and not get hijacked or drown? The remodeling business is full of good guys and bad guys, just as the ocean is full of sharks and fish and unless your careful, you might end up as chum at the bottom of the ocean.
Thinking of your project like a ship trying to get it from one port to the next, without incident, is a great analogy for your next remodeling adventure. Just like taking a voyage on the open ocean, you need a few things in place to give yourself the best chance of reaching your planned destination in one piece.
The first thing you need is a good ship. Your ship is your house and it must be suitable for the voyage. It also must be worth the effort that you are planning to invest. Evaluate the condition of yours and make sure it’s up for the journey. Does it have good bones? Does it have what it takes to get the job done? Often times it’s not fit for the journey and you’d be better off selling it to the scrap dealer and buying a better one.
The second thing you need is a good map and plan.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
You can’t get to where you’re going without a good map and since you write software for a living, you have no idea how to read one let alone make one, so make sure that when you go buy your map (your plan) you are getting it from someone who understands where you are trying to go and how you want to get there. In other words are you looking to race through the nite and eat granola bars and desalinated sea water or do you want to take a luxury cruise sipping mai tais and eating 5 buffets a day? if you are trying to get to Bermuda from Boston in the least amount of time, make sure you don’t have a map that takes you to Cape Fear North Carolina first! The anolgy here, in case you missed it, is that often times homeowners buy a plan from a designer or architect that they cannot actually afford to build. Don’t make that mistake or simply hire a design build firm. Wink, wink.
So now you have your boat and your map, but no one who knows how to read it or drive the boat for that matter. That leads to the third thing you need- The captain. The GC. Someone to lead, steer and manage the crew and also read the map! Someone who has sailed the high seas of remodeling and knows where the reefs are and where the pirates like to hide. If you were really smart, you hired a captain who also drew the map and built the boat, but at the very least, find a suitable captain.
The 4th thing you need is plenty of treasure to pay the captain and his crew. Don’t even think about setting off to ports unknown without a treasure chest full of silver and gold doubloons!
The last thing you need is a willing and ready family who wants to take the journey with you. I pity the man who kidnaps his unsuspecting wife and subjects her to 6-9 months on the high seas of remodeling without her consent. That will lead to mutiny and you’ll be wishing for pirates and sharks by the end of the project.
Be careful out there.