A Day in the Life of an Architect: Construction Site Visit

Join me for a construction site visit as the Island Outpost project enters rough framing, the point where the initial sketch of an idea is finally rendered in physical form. For an architect, it’s probably the most exciting phase and it’s taken us many months to get here. Site and foundation work are time consuming and embody a lot of effort, but progress is often slow and much of the work is hidden in the finished project. By contrast, framing moves quickly and there’s much to coordinate between the trades: plumbers, electricians and mechanical subs.

**Want to see the floor plans? http://thirtybyforty.com/outpost

The culture of HGTV has tricked us all into believing that construction happens in the space of a 30-minute show segment. But custom design + construction takes time to complete. And, custom construction on an island takes much longer (I’m learning). That’s because building on an island is subject to an entirely different set of rules. All things being equal, given the choice between plentiful, profitable work on the mainland and work on an island, most contractors have been choosing the work that’s easier to access and execute. That’s not something I had fully anticipated at the outset of construction and it’s proving a difficult problem to solve. The building boom here in Maine has caused a significant labor shortage and that’s hindered our ability to secure subcontractors willing to make the journey out to our remote site.
There are no hardware stores, or places to run to if you need an extra bag of concrete. Everything we build with comes from off-island and thus, bringing the necessary materials to the island requires a special weather window and, if it’s a load delivered by barge, the right set of tides to land and leave the beach. Winter wind and heavy seas have conspired against us more than a few times too.
The work continues though and I’m thankful for the dedicated crew acting as my hands in the field to realize these ideas in spite of the wind and weather. So too, for generous, supportive clients – dear friends by now – who patiently watch as their home takes shape. To navigate these opposing forces and turn them to your advantage takes skill, hard work and the work of many. And, perhaps that’s the reason the creative satisfaction in the end is so great.
My sincere thanks for watching and following along. It really is as much fun as it looks!

00:00 Driving to catch the Mailboat
00:52 The hands of the architect
01:05 An unforgettable commute
01:35 Outpost materials arriving by boat
02:02 Importance of observing construction
02:22 My favorite drone sequence
02:36 Entry approach + building tour
03:30 That view, right?
04:11 How I conduct construction site visits
04:40 Why architects are involved in construction?
05:08 One of two, incredibly generous clients who made this possible
05:30 Changes…(good ones)
05:45 What I bring with me
07:35 Field reports
08:17 “It’s good to be the boss…sometimes…”

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