The Unsuccessful Install

Because of the nature of our work, Installs are a necessary evil of what we do.  I suppose if one were to have an unreasonably optimistic view of life they might think that the installs were the best part of the job – shall we say “the culmination of weeks of hard work!’


There are two absolutes with installations-

*they add excitement

*they add stress.

Not too long ago we had a large stair project, two stories of stair, using all reclaimed barnwood of substance. It was a large project with large lumber, heavy and bulky!  The stair consisted of one main 12″ x 12″ beam that ran vertically from the basement all the way to the second floor.  The beam was 25′ long, a tremendous specimen of the wood used in yesteryear.  The 4″ x 16″ stringers, wraping around the beam, were all mortised into that beam.  Four-inch thick treads were also all mortised into the stringers.  The stair was U shaped with two landings.  The landings were of the same materials and method – timber framed with mortise and tenon joinery, the landings were integral to the stair – not built in place.  It was very substantial construction. While it was basically a simple stair by plan, due to size, scale, materials used, and construction methods – it was anything but simple.  Any slight error or miscalculation would result in catastrophy.

I brought in a young gun to help on this one! Youthful enthusiasm, energy and muscle were just what was needed.  Sam worked like an old man, thought like a teenager, and apparently partied like like someone that got paid a lot more than I thought I was paying.  It was three weeks into the project before I learned that he had gone to college for woodworking.  Imagine that! Despite his shortcomings, his young man muscle (5’8” and 135 pounds of screaming force!) and desire to learn kept us going.  We finished the challenging main build on schedule and were ready for the install!

One long day, a tractor, a Sam, as well as a few tie down straps, canvas tarp and we were loaded up.  An early morning wake up, a 2 1/2 hr drive and we were on site before the contractor and crew.

So far so good,  I prophesied!

The job site was the usual confusion.  I had made three calls and untold number of texts over the past week to make sure the GC and the on site contractor knew the exact day and time to expect us, how much extra on-site labor would be needed and how long I expected the job to take.  I could have been a UFO zapped from the grey clouds above, entered the job site with thin green legs an extra large head, and there would have been less surprise that I was there!

Ted the GC was nowhere to be found, ‘can’t make it until the heavy lift…I mean can’t make it for at least four hours’.  Frank, the carpenter in charge, was late. No one knew where he was, but finally, with three calls from the helper – he was reported to be on the way.

Yippie – such efficiency!

Join us next week for the exciting conclusion with part 2

Until then – take five!




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