We Received the order for this one way back in February for a September installation, it’s great to have something in the pipeline for the future, especially at the start of the year, it kind of instils some confidence in the year ahead. One thing that didn’t really occur to us was how crazy the materials market was going to be.
This was priced in the summer of 2020 and by Jan/Feb of 2021 there hadn’t been much change in the cost of timber products, maybe there were some shortages on the odd colour or product and the cost of a sheet had gone up a couple of pound so I was happy to absorb this in order to ensure we had work in the summer.
So I put this particular one on the back burner and planned to revisit it late spring to site measure and produce the drawings that the client would inevitably want to see.
In march I received a phone call from a project manager/contracts manager asking for working drawings of the reception counter, this is absolutely normal, however, normally the working drawings are based on a site measure and survey. It is done this way because the architects drawing show’s the proposed piece of furniture in an ideal world, usually by the time we get to site there could be something there which wasn’t on an original plan. Such as soil and vent pipe (SVP), an access hatch in a ceiling where a canopy or ceiling feature needs to be. Not to be cynical but these types of things are usually put where the contractor wants to put it, because either there is no other alternative, its cheaper or it is easier. Anyway, along I come and site measure/survey the area where the furniture has got to go, point out to the site manager that this SVP or access hatch or doorway or window shouldn’t be there as it isn’t on the drawing. I get the usual shrug and “no other place we could put it” and I then have to figure out a way to get around it. I use my working drawings to indicate to the client how I propose to do this and it is either agreed or it is rejected and I have to think up another way. Don’t get me wrong, some good designers/architects come up with solutions and advise.
Because of the reasons above I called up to check if I could make a site survey, I explained that the order documents indicated that the counter was needed in September so would the site be ready for me to take site sizes, she informed me it would as they now needed it at the end of April! Blimey, that meant we had about 6 weeks, and as you may remember, we were crazy busy at that point. I had better get a move on, so I called the site manager and asked him when would be a good day. His response was: “We’re not ready yet, we haven’t got the walls up yet, call me back in June…….” Strange….. So I called up the PM who said she just needed working drawings, I explained that I can’t do them without a site measure, to which she advised that I based them on the architects drawings…… I know, I know. I had just explained before why I can’t do that, I know these people have a job to do but common sense must prevail, I don’t think I have ever done this before but I refused the request for reasons explained.
June arrived out of nowhere and I took a very very long drive down to Somerset to measure up. Bad planning on my part as it was the day that the country opened up a little bit after the COVID-19 restrictions, so every man and his dog had hit the road for Devon and Cornwall, the M5 was a carpark!
I arrived in Chard, (a lovely town in Somerset which claims to be the birthplace of powered flight!) bursting for the toilet because of the closure of services etc. (sorry, you don’t need to know this), made my way to the site and met with the site manager who showed me around. He led me to the space where the counter was going to be and yes, you guessed it, there was a SVP smack bang where the counter met the wall, and yes, it was the only place they could put it. Not a bother, this is why we do the site surveys and produce the working drawings. We also agreed that once drawings had been approved we would produce templates to fit on site to indicate the position so other trades could run data, electrical and access cables also it gave a position for the contractors to work to when boxing in the SVP. This would be great for us also as we could fit the template on site and build the counter to that, meaning it would fit on site first time.
I raced back as quick as I could……. Which, because of the traffic, was about 6 hours…… So, the next day I drew the counter and sent it off for approval, they came back with minor comments which I amended, after some chasing they were approved and then we were good to go with templates.
Danny got straight onto this one, ringing around trying to get materials and finding out that there was either no stock or the cost was through the roof. This was not good as we were working on a price that was quoted when MDF was 50 – 60 % cheaper than it was now…… But as you may have read in the past, no matter what it costs, its got to be right and it’s got to be up to our usual standard, so we cracked on with what we could!
Having the template in the workshop was great, using it as a setting out rod Danny built it from the ground up, forming the shape and cladding it, in the meantime Owen machined up the Oak battens for the front detail then Josh and Charlie sanded every single one and lacquered them. While this mammoth task was being undertaken Danny made the desk tops from Veneered MDF and Solid Oak.
Now it was time to fix the Oak battens.
Once the battens were fitted, the final job was to fit the skirting, which Josh and Charlie worked on. Then it was install time!
Danny, Owen and Josh hit the road early to get on site and get the counter fitted. Once the usual inductions and form filling was done with, they installed the counter and were on there way only to be hit by the usual M5 traffic with a nice 5 hr ride home…….
We are extremely pleased with the finish, it took some work to get to this stage but we made it!
Have a great weekend.