Friday, August 17, 2012

Putting it right

The Press have a weekly column called 'Putting it right' in which they note the errors of their ways, as pointed out by readers. I was in that column a few months ago, after a reporter corresponding by email assumed I was male and wrote an article quoting research by a 'Mr' V. I'm not convinced that as many people would've seen the correction as read the original article, but it's the putting right that counts... right?

Assumptions can lead to problems. I remember being told at primary school that you should never assume, for you will only make an ass out of u and me. Since that day I've never forgotten how to spell the word, but I've fallen prey to its meaning many times.

For example, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I haven't been updating much recently because I've been busy grading tests/exams/assignments or planning and delivering lectures. Which is true, to a certain extent.

You might have assumed, as did I, that there would have been regular, excited updates on this blog at every stage of the build & fitout process. Believe me, that was the intention in the beginning, and I have been taking lots of photos.

But then again, you might assume that when you contract a design-&-build company to build your house, they have robust systems and procedures for the entire process. Systems that have been tested and proven over the many years they have been operating. You tell them what you want, they design it the way you want, and then they build it for you while you sit back and pop in once a week for a quick look-see.

You might also assume that a simple, single-level dwelling on a flat, suburban section would not present an extraordinary challenge.

You would possibly even assume, when entering the final week before hand-over, that the list of things to do & issues to sort out would be dwindling, not growing.

But, during this build, there seem to have been a number of assumptions made at various points - by many different people in the twisted chain - that have turned round to bite us in the ass, one by one. And sometimes, just for fun, the screwups hold hands and gang up on us, arriving in groups of three or four.

We've not been through this house-building process before and we rely on the experts to turn our ideas into reality. This whole thing is not what we had planned for our lives, but sometimes shit happens and you just have to deal with it. So we're dealing with it. But I'm sure we're having to deal with a lot more than we bargained for at the start of all this. Apparently, this level of incompetency isn't normal, it just all seems to be happening to us.

There have been many times that I wanted to vent. Loudly, vociferously, and profanely. Luckily for me (possibly also for you, and definitely for 'them'), I have a set of supportive & receptive ears here at home, belonging to someone who also likes to join in the swearing. So the public wailing & gnashing of teeth has largely been avoided.

The house-building process/transaction has not yet been completed, and there is still the chance that enough of the work will be completed so we can get our key on the nominated date. There is still time for the stuff-ups to be sorted, and it's only fair that they have the chance to make it good. At the end of the day, if we're happy with the outcome, then it will all have been worth it... right?

But right now, I'm exhausted. And there's still a lot of work to be done before I have any degree of certainty that we will be sleeping in our new house by this time next week.

Time will tell. And it's times like these that I remember something Adam McGrath said when I interviewed him in July 2011 for my doco, about making music after the quakes. He said that maybe one day, he'd have time to sit down and write it all out. He did eventually find some time, and one of the results of that waiting and writing was the song 'State houses by the river', which is on the shortlist for the APRA Silver Scrolls award. Maybe one day I'll write about all this too, after things settle down a bit.

A friend of ours refers to the whole earthquake thing as 'the war'... as in 'before the war' and 'after the war'. Because sometimes it really does feel like living in a war zone round here. It's not just the quakes, it's more than that now. It's the bickering and the battles over land zoning and EQC, it's the grand and expensive city plan that has to be funded by ratepayers according to the whim of the government, it's the plight of the people living in sub-standard housing and shivering their way through another dismal winter. It's a war alright, and I feel like I've been fighting on so many different fronts lately, putting out fires and trying to anticipate counter-strikes by ninja gremlins of the highest order.

I'm looking forward to looking back on this whole process. I can't wait for it to be over, and every day I know how lucky I am that it is almost over. There are many others who aren't nearly so fortunate as to be packing up, ready to move into their newly rebuilt house, and who would've picked that turn of events in September, 2010? That those of us with immediately munted houses, forced to move out as a result of the Greendale shake, would be the lucky ones around here. We used to be the ones people felt sorry for.

But we're not quite there yet. And there's an awful lot of work to be done if we're going to hit that target move-in date. Given how useless I am with hand- or power-tools, I rely on the experts to do their job properly - after all, it's what they get paid to do. And, as the one who is paying for their professional services, I would like to assume they're up to the job. Let's hope it all gets put right, because in the end that's what counts, isn't it?

(almost) Home, Sweet Home


  1. I always thought building was stressful - whatever the ads say! Too many decisions and opportunities for delays, stuff ups etc. But I am glad you are at least getting a new house with an end somewhere on the horizon... I have a friend who has been majorly repaired and has similar tales - is now camping in a house with no windows or heaters with two teams of builders working on it - due to rental issues!
    All this on top of life/work/kids - and we all wonder why everyone is so tired :(

  2. Yeah rental issues could be fun. We've already given notice and there's a new tenant lined up to move in.
    We're doing everything we can to keep this moving but so much is out of our hands. It's all a bit frustrating...