Sunday, December 4, 2011


My dad used to frustrate me with his approach to project planning. Let’s say he was going to build a deck. He’d decide how big the deck would be, and its shape. Then he’d go down to the building supply store and load up all the materials he’d need. He was usually pretty darn close to having exactly what was necessary to do the job.

Dad didn’t seem to be following a plan. Like an author without a outline, he’d start the job and finish it, all without referring to anything.

In contrast, I have a friend would couldn’t do anything with sketching it out in fine detail first. If he was going to put a new handle on an ax, he’d draw out the process first. No kidding. The guy grew up to be a successful engineer, so I guess the attention to detail served him well.

As a kid, I though dad did some sort of magic. It wasn’t, of course. Dad did have a plan, but it was all in his head. Let’s take the deck example. He knows what sort of materials are needed for a safe deck. Then he’d figure out in his head how many of each item required to build the deck of a certain size. His method was a combination of experience and mental math.

Now if he was doing a sizable job, he would jot down a few things -maybe enough to fill a 3X5 note card. Not bad, considering that would cover everything from foundation to roof, including, heat, plumbing, and electrical.

My method? I explain the project to my wife. By the time I have enough sketches and materials lists so she understands the job, I can then build the project.



  1. It's usually in my head. I gather material, sometimes takes I'm pondering how to construct.
    Has drove my wife nuts at times.
    Then again...there are those projects which are intended to never be completed. Less boredom always have something ongoing.

  2. Last time I completed a house, I sold it. Don't think this one will ever be "done."

  3. I like you plan of explaining it to your wife. Great plan.

  4. a little off topic.what did your wife say when she saw that corroded pump and relized all her water had come out it?I know they look like that as they age but women are DIFFERANT {on some things}.

  5. Dizzy: whatever works.

    Gary: Almost no interest at all. She's not squeamish. What she really wants is for me to haul it to the dump.

  6. I couldn't build a deck with ten page detailed instruction manual.

    My late Grandfather built entire houses from scratch with a little pocket wire rimmed notebook.

    Foundation, electrical, sweating copper pipes for plumbing, he did it all, including the roof.

    To his dying day, when he talked to me, there were measurements right off the top of his head about the latest project he was working on. Down to an eighth of an inch, over the phone.

    I hope you both have a wonderful holiday season and thank you so much for stopping by my place.


  7. Hey Busted! Thanks for stopping by. I bet your Grandfather and my dad would have gotten along just fine on a construction job.

    Thanks for the well wishes and the same to you and yours.

  8. Most of my stuff doesn't get much past my head. My boat was built entirely from my head, and a few numbers scribbled on the wood I used to build it. However, when I built my shop at the old house, I did draw it out on a couple sheets of graph paper. That was mostly for figuring materials. The real "plan" was in my mind's eye.

  9. Craig: If you can imagine it, you can create it.

  10. Heh - we 'city slickers' moved to the country, and I took one look at one of the grain storage sheds and decided it was going to be my barn. One of the old-time farmer neighbors dropped by shortly after we'd finished, and asked Hubby how the heck we'd figured out what we wanted to do, and how to make it all work (there were some odd internal walls and measurements). Hubby shrugged and nodded at me...and I said I just looked at it and thought a while. They all think we're weird, but we get a little respect, at least ;)

  11. Weird but respected. Could be worse. Hey, whatever works for you.