I had an interesting conversation with a contractor the other day – it centered on job site culture and how to create the right sort. I’m not talking about Fight Club sort of culture or stuff found on toilet seat sort of culture, this is about setting expectations for what sort of standard level of care and service will be expected from everyone working on the project.
This conversation happened when I was complimenting the contractor on the job he did installing the wood ceiling that is on the rooftop terrace of the large modern house I have been working on. I covered some of this in Monday’s post (Exterior Ceilings – Here’s an idea for you) but I thought it would be interesting to see another one of the patios because, in some ways, this covered patio is even more impressive than the ones I featured on Monday. I also decided to cover this today because it is a holiday week and people are starting to mentally check out and I thought just looking at some pictures with minimal text would be just about the right speed.
The topmost 3d picture was a design study that I had created early on into the design process and all the photos today feature that covered rooftop and trellis. The picture immediately above shows an intersection where you can see the rough framing in two quadrants and the finished ipê wood ceiling in the other two quadrants. Take note that there aren’t any exposed supports for the ipê wood boards and that each section starts and ends with a full-width piece. That isn’t an easy thing to coordinate when the structural steel is being erected (about 15 months ago). But wait … it gets even better and far more impressive if you are a detail nerd like me.
In the upper right-hand quadrant of this photo, you can see the in-line radiant heater (Infratech is the brand)that will make this rooftop terrace nice and comfy on those freezing 50-degree Fall Texas nights (brrrrr). Again, please note the full-size boards …
This is a picture of one of the two guys installing the ceiling. The ipê wood boards are glue and finished nailed into position … you can get a little better view of the entire wood ceiling where you can see the recessed can lights and the in-line radiant heater.
Okay … this is where it starts getting really good. See how the length of the in-line radiant heater fits nicely within the wood ceiling and none of the boards are cut to accommodate it? How about the 2 lights to either end? See how they are centered into the joints between two boards?
A detailed look at how the spacing for the boards, lights, and heater all come together … perfectly.
Here is one of the other bays where all the recessed can lights are ALL centered on the joints between boards. This stuff doesn’t happen on accident people!
I included this last picture to show how the full-width board in the corners were slightly radiused to accommodate the weld where two pieces of steel came together. That is attention to detail and once you start to realize that this sort of attention to craft is occurring, you start to recognize it everywhere on the project. The very best part? I didn’t actually have anything to do with it – this was all on the contractor.
This finally brings me back to my conversation with the contractor about creating the right sort of culture on the job site. When I was there taking these pictures, the contractor wasn’t there bird-dogging every move made by the two guys working on this particular task. The expectation and attention to the finished product had already been established by everyone else who had already done some work on this job site. Nobody wants to be the guy, or the crew, that sucked. The bar is set high for everyone to pay attention to every move they make so that every little bit contributes to the whole. Everyone on this project has pride in their work and it shows … and it makes everyone look good.
One of the modern-day 7 deadly sins – pride, or hubris, is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins and is considered the source from which all the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self.
It is also what separates a good contractor from a great contractor.