Order of Operations

No matter what we’re working on, there’s always an order of operations. In Math we have PEMDAS, in baking we have GCMMBT, and in CPR we learn ABC.

In construction it’s no different, we have an order of operations, and it’s important we follow it so we can keep making progress, and not have to go back and undo or redo work already done.

I’ve seen people get in a hurry and skip steps, usually in an effort to satisfy a hasty investor or homeowner, and they find themselves with much more expense than estimated, so now someone has to eat that extra cost.

I’ve seen projects where drywall had to be ripped down so the plumber could finish installing some pipe, or worse, so an inspector could check an electrical junction, and now that drywall had to be set, taped, mudded, sanded, mudded, sanded, and primed a second time (or third, YIKES!).

I’ve also seen damages inside houses where finish work was done in some rooms, but rough work was not, and damage was caused by materials coming through the finished areas.

No matter how big a rush you’re in, it’s always faster to take your time and do things right.


For all the various things I do, Mindset plays an important role. No matter what the task, project, or catastrophe is, I’ve got to have the right stuff in my head, my focus needs to be on the priorities, and my resolve needs to be n+1 where n= the difficulty of the thing(s) ahead.

No matter what you’re approaching, the size of the project, your skill level, or your drive, I encourage you to take a little time, go for a walk with yourself, and figure out what your mindset is. Ask yourself what you’ll do when things go wrong (they will), when expectations aren’t met (they won’t all be), or when something stupid happens (always does). Figure out ahead of time what your MINDSET will be; will you charge forward like a bull in a china shop, letting your anger drive you forward into failing faster? Will you take a step back, pause, and reconsider your position? Or will you run away, maybe coming back to fight another day?

Nothing worth having is easy, but not everything that’s easy isn’t worth having. 🙂

Porch Steps in the desert

One of the challenges of building in the desert is the climate tends to be more abrasive and damaging to our materials. For the project, I was tasked with building a new set of porch steps at a residence in a desert environment, nestled at the base of the mountains, and not far from a huge lake.

The old steps had begun to succumb to the constant beating from temperature swings, long days in direct sunlight, the blistering heat of summer, hot and dry, as well as the freezing temperatures of the winter, and the occasional torrential downpour. The old steps were wobbly, narrow, generally difficult to navigate, and by the time I received my task, downright dangerous.

For the new steps, I started by setting a sturdy foundation; the ground below was solid, so I simply scraped off the loose top layer, tamped out the sections I wanted, and set paving stones for my steps to rest above the ground level. I also setup drainage under and around the steps to prevent water from washing washing out my foundation.
I then built new steps, with rails, out of 2 x 12″ PT boards, and attached everything using Deckmate screws. The new steps are four feet wide at the treads, with solid rails on both sides that will actually hold a persons weight if needed.
With several improvements over the old steps, the residents were quite happy to have safe, solid steps to get up and down, and even better, they were able to confidently carry groceries from the cars in the driveway to the kitchen just beyond the porch!