Some Assembly Required. . .

I am at the stage where some of the systems that were installed months ago are coming to life. There is almost always a 30 to 40 page instruction manual written in 50 international languages to go with every house I build. Swell. Just give me the basics to get me started so I can experience some satisfaction with the operation skills – or make a fool of myself trying.

Part of the problem is this litigious society we live in. Companies want to protect the most uneducated individual from killing themselves and others, so “do not operate the electric hair dryer while in the sitting in a bath tub full of water.” Do not put your fingers into electrical outlets. Don’t stand on the top rung of a ladder. Do not eat the toothpaste you brush with every day. All of these things will kill you, or at least maim you, and risk lawsuits against the company because they didn’t warn you not to be stupid – or make assumptions on the functionality and safety of the devices they demand you buy. After you wade through all of the obvious warnings, you might actually get to the point that yields useful operational procedures.

It is wonderfully fulfilling when a device comes to life and fills my imagination with the anticipated effect, a hopeful moment where I declare loudly, “WOW! I can do this myself!” I was actually was able to forecast the 3D conditions that were to exist and interrupt the coming conditions with forethought!

The most disappointing aspect of this whole project is my own inability to control building costs. I can control the devices I put into my new Cottage in the Woods, but I’m struggling with budgets and cost projects verses reality.

I have builder friends of mine who insist we can build a good home for a $150 a square foot including their profit. That’s what they say, but it isn’t working that way for me. At the point I’m going, it looks like I’m going to be right at $200 with no profit! It’s always the little amounts that add up to huge expenditures. Interior wall insulation, extra recess light cans, extra operable windows, small cabinets for convenient drop off and storage, an added electrical outlet, really efficient appliances, durable counter top materials – all of these details add up, especially when it comes to your own home. Just like the instruction manuals, you have to think of everything before you’ve thought of anything, covering your ass from all directions to ensure your budget meets your real life needs.

That’s reality in home building. You anticipate everything, but the details get you in the end, adding up.

Same with working with those wanted but complex new gadgets and gizmos I’m adding to the house. It’s the details that will always get you.

Now where did I put that instruction manual for the skylights? Wish there was an app to find something wherever I put it down. Sigh.

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