The mock wall

I’ve been known for creative, sometimes interesting (read: Wild) solutions to everyday problems, but this particular project was a personal pleasure for me, and something I designed and built myself. I love building things, but this little wall made me very happy!

This is a mock wall, 8′ high, 12′ wide, built half of 2×4 framing, and half of 2×6 framing. It’s purpose is to give us a place to mock up the new water management system we’re using on the house we’re rebuilding, and let all the contractors collaborate on how exactly each material and layer fits with the others.


The background here is that i’m the Owners Rep in this project (one of several services I offer!) and i’m handling a wide variety of tasks with the intention of keeping this project on track.

Being an Owners Rep is similar to being a Project Manager, with the key difference being that i’m assisting the owner in handling/managing things, not working for the construction company. This means i’m specifically looking out for the owners best interest (something I always did as a General Contractor or Handyman) and handling the day-to-day tasks and decisions for the owner. Among the many benefits to the owner that I bring to the table are, my extensive background in construction, my high attention to detail, and my vast organizational skills.

Some days are more fun than others, but this wall has been a centerpiece of sorts for me in this project, and I like it. 🙂

The Garage

The garage can be many things to many people, a space to work, a space to play, a space to enjoy, or a space to stay away…
The garage, to me, is where your automobiles go to get a good nights rest, and keep the paint in good shape. It’s also where a lot of fixing things happens if you don’t have a separate shop space.

In this category we’ll be talking primarily about automobiles; cars, trucks, vans, SUV’s… which one is which, what’s the difference, why does it matter?
There’ll be lots of other fun and useful things in here too, so get in, put on your seat belt, and enjoy the ride! (yes, I know you like my puns….)

Tower Time

‘Twas a beautiful, sunny day in Georgia, and the sunshine found me around a hundred feet up in a tower. Some fellow Amateur Radio operators and I teamed up to resolve a weak transmit issue with a local repeater system, and while I freely admit that the rest of the team did all the technical work, I was the only who got high on this mission ;P.

All kidding aside, there were a couple of interesting parts to touch on. The first one, as my faithful readers will have guessed, is safety. I am aware that many thousands of people have climbed a tower in the past, perhaps many times, without all the standard safety gear, and it’s ‘been fine’. Whoopie. Rule #1 is safety, so I was there in full ‘battle rattle’; harness, with suspension seat, helmet, toolbag, and assorted doo-dads and gizmos to help me stay tied off to the tower. I recommend you always use all of the required safety gear, and a little more than when needed, because it’s not fun to get your radio system up to snuff on the tower, only to not be able to play with for a few weeks or months while you’re a body cast.

The second part i’ll touch on was the key issue here: Water. Water had gotten into the connector between the hardline and the jumper. I know, I know, ‘But what about the sticky tape stuff that seals up the connections???’ Yes, what about it? Well, it was on there, and it was sticky, but it still let water get inside. Fun fact: Water will always find a way in, eventually, so the best way to handle this is seal it up as best you can, but leave a way for water to drain out. In order to facilitate this, I set the connection up in a vertical fashion (see pictures below) and the sealed it up to the edge of some heat shrink tubing on the jumper, leaving the tiniest little path for water to drain out, should it ever find it’s way in there.

Lastly, i’ll touch on one of my favorites: Quality. Yes, it took more time for me to clean everything up before putting it all back together. Yes, it took more time for me to line everything up just right so the antenna is vertical, and is blocked the least amount by the tower footprint. Yes, it took more time for me to wrap the tape down and up, instead of just one pass. But you know what? It’s worth every minute spent on it, because that antenna will be up there for a long, long time, and the extra 20 minutes I spent on quality work is a big part of that longevity. In this vein I would urge you, too, to take the little bit of extra time needed to do a quality job, the first time, and every time.

The connection from hardline to jumper is veritical, with the hardline coming in from the top. This helps to prevent water from getting into the hardline.
The first of two layers of the ‘sticky stuff’, you can see I aimed to overlap it 50%, and got it right most of the time.
Keeping an eye on that bottom level, lining it up just right with the bottom edge of the existing heat-shrink tubing on the jumper.
The second layer went on nice and tight.
All wrapped up nice and tight!
I wrapped the vinyl tape around, first layer sticky side out, second layer sticky side in; this helps keep the sticky off the stretch tape beneath, and makes a better seal. It’s also well-secured to the tower so the chafing or banging don’t cause issues.
The antenna looks good out on that standoff, doesn’t it?
The view from up there is great, but not to die for. 100% tie off, stay safe, and enjoy many more days!

Order of Operations – Flipping

The typical Order of operations in New Construction are the same across most facets of building construction. The Order of Operations for other projects (which we’ll touch on later) will vary some, but let’s talk specifically about flipping houses.

When you’re flipping a house, the goal is to get in, get done, and get out with the least amount of time and money needed to get the house rented or sold. I’ve flipped several hundred houses, and in doing so I found that many people stress themselves far to much by getting into a big rush. If they would just stick with the order of operations, they could alleviate an awful lot of stress from the project.

Recon/Review
I always start with a simple review of whatever documents are available, and a walk-through of the house. I often times had an inspectors report that showed everything that was not up to code, which certainly made life a lot easier for me, but I also found things in my walk-through that needed to be address, either for safety, common sense, or my investors wishes.
If needed, i’ll get a landscaping crew to come out first and knock back the growth so I can see all the parts and pieces of the house; nothing like trying to see the exterior window conditions when you’re being attacked by thorny bushes after wading through three feet high grass!

Goals
Once i’ve completed my review, I set specific goals for this project, specific things that need to be addressed in a large scale. Notice I did not say ‘Planning’, I said ‘Goals’.
I will usually get a dumpster delivered, perhaps a porta-john or two, and other job-site necessities.
This is also where I lay some ideas down about where to store materials, and other parts of managing my overall job-site.

Demolition
This phase is all about getting all the old crap out of the house and out of the way. The goal is to get all the garbage out of the house and directly into a dumpster, anything that we need to keep out of the way and into some kind of storage.
Demolition is taken as far as needed to uncover all the problems.

Planning
Now that I can see all the parts and pieces I need to see, I can start planning my work. I’ll lay out my plans, select my materials, and start getting things ordered based on Lead and Need times.

Rough-In
This phase is where we get back to ‘real construction’, and closely match the normal order of ops for new building. Having removed ALL of the crap we want gone, we can now start from the bottom up.
This includes all Framing, Sub-Flooring, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Low-Voltage, and get any inspections needed for work up to this point.

Double-Check
I always make a point of double-checking my rough-in work before I start closing things up; nothing worse than having to tear down freshly hung sheetrock so I can fix a little thing in the wall left behind!

Finish-PREP
An often overlooked step, I build in time to PREPARE for an awesome finish.
We make sure all the framing is level, plumb, and even for the material going on it, which usually means removing all the nails, screws, and junk left behind, as well as evening out some places by planing away some sections, or building up others with wood or cardboard strips.

Finish
With all of my rough-in done, it’s time to get the finish work happening. I’ll turn a sheetrock team loose and keep everyone out of their way until they’re done. Then i’ll get the rest of the people in there to finish all the parts and pieces!

Punch List
There’s always a few little things left to deal with at the end of the job, called a ‘Punch List’. I used to have a team of Handymen who I split between handling Punch Lists, Service Calls, and small jobs.

I’ll go over each of these in more detail, as well as the planning and logistics of jobsite and project management.

As always, stay tuned for more, and remember, why do it okay twice when you can do it great once?