me…  master builder

Dear friends

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 🙂

changes…

Dear friends

It has been a really long time since writing.  I am sorry – I hope you can forgive me.  It has been a very busy time with changes for the family, and at work.

New term, new schools, new journeys, new friends for the children.  Within the visual changes outside with Autumn we often see changes in our lives too, particularly here where the academic year runs from September to July.  They are all settling well and its strange to think their combined age is 50 years!  Time keeps ticking.  I had a friend that once told me that a friend of hers had given her the advice to see difficult times in our growing children’s lives as phases – I’ve done that and this present phase is great.  I am grateful that they are healthy, I am grateful that, generally, they are good friends to each other.  I am grateful that each of them has chosen to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and I pray for each of them that they may stay close to Him, through all the good and bad times to come.

At work, we continue to hemorrhage good staff = 😦  When we work on projects together, I feel like we’re another big family – and as architect, I’m that mother hen who gathers the consultants together and lets them know it’s going to be OK – or I make a terrible mess and forget something crucial – I really should have got that quote for a habitat/ ecology survey back in the summer when they could look for invertebrates (slow worms!!).  It’s hard to explain about how I feel about the other consultants – they are like brothers, big brothers, little brothers, chatty brothers, quiet moody brothers, best friend brothers.  The best way to describe it when you work on a project together, and you stand as lead consultant, as project architect, is that you’re not really any better than anyone else, you’re simply ‘standing on the shoulders of giants‘ and that’s what helps you to see further, to see more.  For me, the consultants are the giants.  I could never be, and have never wanted to be, a structural engineer, a mechanical engineer, a civil engineer, an electrical engineer, but I have the greatest respect for them because without them the thoughts in my head would not stand up, be lit, be warm, or be safe!

I submitted an application to be registered as a conservation architect.  I may have mentioned before that this is something that I’ve been working towards and the current application round closes on Monday.  I started it a while back but to collate the dossiers, on four projects, well, lets simply say I was up until 0100h this morning.  The assistant was off and I had cleared my diary to get it done and in the post by 2pm.  Unfortunately, the printers thought otherwise, and after a couple of trials with the nice paper – the ink not fixing, changing settings, annoying colleagues (oops, a brother 🙂 )who also wanted to print urgent documents (I deleted my 60 page document from the printer queues… I’d selfishly sent it to the three printers not realising it was going to take so long…), learning how to use the binder – I printed on ordinary paper, bound three copies, and met my dear husband after school’s were out and posted it special delivery, to arrive by Monday.  I’m very excited about it and really hope, and pray, that I’m accepted.  There is one other conservation architect in the entire UK business and he’s nearing retirement.  My conservation engineer brother, who sits behind me, is often traveling out of town to far flung corners of the UK, so I’m hoping it will bring some interesting opportunities. I’ve desperately been trying to remember and find a talk which touched me about continually improving and being prepared for work but I can’t find it – sorry, I think it’s by Dieter F Uchtdorf.

And today (Saturday), my dear husband and I spent nearly 10 hours (so Son1 informed me!) away from the children; road trip to the London temple 🙂

And I’ll finish with a scripture a great, thought provoking scripture:

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
2 Nephi 2 v25

a little trouble

Dear friends

His attitude to learning needs improvement

That was what the teacher said and, of course, she is totally correct. Our youngest didn’t want to go back to school after the Easter break and his actions last week showed it.  “He kept saying I can’t do it” Miss X told me and I mentioned how he struggled with the ‘man in the moon’ (language) work.  Miss X looked over her glasses at me and replied “this was maths!!”

I’ve always felt primary school, particularly here in UK, is so difficult for boys. It’s dominated by female teachers and girls often develop sooner the social skills which help learning. It seems the work place is so much more the reverse!

he made it!

Dear friends, he made it!! another half term and our youngest son has made it with his behaviour to earn an invitation to film afternoon at school 🙂 I’ll call our youngest Cam.
The first half term he did not earn this reward – Cam was distraught at being left out but he knew what he had done = deliberately tripping other children in the playground!! The second half term Cam made every effort – parents evening came and nothing was raised concerning behaviour; no warnings were given. But Cam did not receive an invite.  I knew how hard he’d been trying and how quickly his behaviour sticker chart filled up. It didn’t make sense. Why had our son been over looked? was the teacher unconsciously (or consciously) racist? Cam kept insisting he’d not done anything really bad; so I spoke with the deputy head (for whose own son I’d arranged work experience for a few years ago) – I simply said that if you want behaviour to change then the school needs to explain what Cam’s doing wrong to Cam, because right now he has no idea what he’s meant to be improving – in order to get the reward which Cam really wants!
So, third half term, one warning and he was invited!  Fourth half term, this one, a couple of warnings and Cam was very anxious all this week, waiting for today when they gave the invitations.  We’ve not pursued what happened previously – Cam’s older siblings thought it entirely possible that there was some discrimination going on!
I feel the school/ education system can be such a struggle for boys, especially black boys. Our girls have received model reports throughout primary school – despite being very different characters – extrovert and introvert.  Our boys started well but around 7 years things become, let’s say, challenging.  Our local school has now got more male teachers and I think that helps.  Cam has only had female teachers in his first few years – I’m hoping that will change over the next few before secondary school.  
I pray for our children that they may not be adversely affected by the ignorance, foolishness and mistakes of others. That they may grow to be wise, to know that we control our actions, no one else. And when things are not fair, pray for that other person – remember, they have the problem, not you!

Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Matthew 5 verse 44