Did you know, and you probably do because you are into words :), that the origin of the word architect is Greek from
arkhi – chief + tekton – builder
Literally meaning chief or master builder.
In the last month I’ve had several experiences which have reinforced my confidence as a master builder. I’ll share one of the experiences. Warning: if you are not into construction you may want to look up some of the technical terminology… but I promise to limit archi-speak.
The builders were questioning my detail for the main external, upper wall, which is timber clad. In particular, the position of the breather membrane, which as the name suggests, allows the building to breath. This is typically positioned on the external side of insulation. So we’re standing on the roof and the site manager states that the builders are saying they usually put it behind the insulation, otherwise you have to make good around all the brackets (which penetrate the insulation to help pick up the battens for the cladding). Are you still with me? How? Why? He was questioning. Knowing I had researched the detail and discussed with my own manager (who has 25+ years experience) I was reasonably confident and said words to the effect of, use double sided and single sided tape which are the accessories for the membrane. I finally told them to contact the manufacturer, which a couple days later on the Friday afternoon, when no further progress had been made and the quantity surveyor was now getting concerned that they were going to have to re-do the insulation because they weren’t sure of the detail, was exactly what I did. (I think builders, or is it men, lack humility)! I explained the wall build up from inside to outside, the product on site and the query to the technical department of the breather membrane manufacturer. Yeah, builders often want to put it behind the insulation but it should be in front, helps protect the insulation; they probably have concerns about workmanship; you could use a different product and staple to the battens but not with the one you have on site. Your detail is correct and they fix it with the double sided tape and make good around the brackets with the single sided tape. What pleasure I had writing the email to confirm all that!!! Me – master builder! 🙂
In this last week I visited site and the carpenters called me to see them. Up two ladders and onto the flat roof and I stood as they explained a real size mock up of the detail with smaller brackets (another issue). It’s still too far out I commented as they tried to rationalise but my detail asked for 10mm and this was 25mm. I’d been doing more research on the brackets detail following an early morning text message from my colleague who is the contract administrator for the project asking me to visit site to see the brackets. So I was prepared. As I contemplated losing the counter battens and how to tell them I wanted the brackets closer (a bit exposed), the carpenters explained that wouldn’t work around the window jambs, and then it hit me. Smaller battens and closer brackets. The carpenters found two battens same size, mocked it up, yes, 10mm space. And they could deal with the jambs. A little discussion about the membrane well, we’re not paying more to change the membrane so you can staple; I was told the membrane is on site; you’ll have to discuss with the main contractor. And that was that – I reported to the main contractor, who seemed relieved to not have to get another batch of brackets, and the carpenters could get on with it.
I absolutely love being an architect, master builder 🙂