Learning, learning, and more learning
According to the Webster dictionary, naïve means 'showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment'.
Question - Can you be 56 and be naïve?
Answer - Yes.
Question - How do I know?
Answer - I am.
In this case, having been a building contractor in UK, having done several total renovations for customers, and two for myself, I thought I was equipped to do a townhouse renovation in New York.
However, to my defense, I have at least been asking questions and talking to almost whoever would talk to me. This week I had two enormously useful conversations, one with a contractor who is currently renovating a townhouse in Manhattan, the other with an architect who is currently building a small block of apartments in Brooklyn, aiming for the same Living Building Challenge standard that we are aiming for. One highly encouraging point I learned from the architect, who, prior to embarking on this project, had been working in New York for twenty five years, was that he found it a very steep learning curve, made mistakes, changed details, underestimated the timeline, and remains as inspired and committed to this approach to buildings as he was at the outset, if not more inspired and passionate.
One aspect of my naivety has been my willingness to trust people, without closely monitoring their actions and their communications with others in the team. This is part of the requirement for a project manager, and in effect, this project has not had one. I get excited by design elements, beavering away at my CAD program, and I am good at solving design problems, but when it comes to ensuring that the whole chain of tasks is managed, so that the output comes thru on time, then thats not my focus, or wasnt.
It would seem that we are now about six weeks behind the schedule we agreed at the start, and still dont have the permit to start work. We have a great design, with a group of people who are keen to get started, and all members of the team believing in this project and the aims that we are going for.
As I have drilled deeper into the details of the technologies we are planning to use, I see that there are several areas that we are doing something very new, and the people involved dont necessarily have the experience we assumed. Also, we have found that the regulations are so complicated, and often quite conflicting, that we have had to revise our thoughts. We are now putting in an application that does not include solar panels over all the available space, because we have to leave a path for firemen to walk across the roof. This is an area in which one department are encouraging us to install solar panels, and another department are limiting the number we can install. The likelihood of there ever being a need for firemen to need to walk across the roof is negligible, (given that another regulation requires the building to be fully sprinklered), and the cost in lost solar production over the years is considerable, but thats city regulations for you.
We have now made decisions about everything that needs a decision, so we just have to sit back, wait, and eat ourselves silly over Xmas.
Wishing you all a joyous festive season, and even greater successes in 2014.