House number five sets new standard for bad engineering

FTLComm - Tisdale - Wednesday, September 22, 2004
This is not a condemnation of modular houses, nor is it critisism of the way this project was carried out but rather it is an account of plain and simple bad planning. Now we are all guilty of a little bad planning at times but most often things work out provided there are not serious factors that add to the failure quotient

This project began with the sale of the four residential lots on the area that once was the TUCs football field. The town dutifully dug up the street and ran a new water line and and then the utility companies each repeated the process digging in electrical power, telephone, natural gas and cable. This process went fairly well with each doing their best not to damage the trees planted around the area by the Golden Age Centre and they were fairly successful only once chopping up the power line laid only a day or two before.

The lots were measured up for the two house that will be first to be put on these lots and the first one to get started was this one next to the driveway into the Golden Age Centre. It is a modular home with a simple foundation and a nearly completed house to be placed on the concrete.

A crew with a bobcat came on the scene and scooped out the area for the footings then took two full days and evenings drilling in the pilings. Had a local contractor done the job it would have been completed in about four hours. Once these holes in the ground were painstakingly created cement was hauled in from Melfort. Clearly, the cost and time of hauling cement for half an hour could not be more economical than using the local supplier.

As everyone knows the weather this summer has been less than ideal and this project seemed to suffer more than others but a few days after the footings were dug in Rise Construction began a house at the old goal line. This was a tradition stick built house with a wood basement and garage. As of today that house is now finished being dry walled, the basement and garage floors have been poured and the driveway ready for surfacing.

After sitting idyl for some time a crew came and installed the foundation then realised that the house would need water and sewer and the contractor had to do that process backwards working under the newly poured foundation. Natural gas and electricity are yet to be installed.

Last week the two portions of the modular house arrived and were spotted nearby the foundation. Houses are moved into town routinely and it takes only a few hour for a mover to set a house into place using beams, jacks and winch.

Yesterday, a crane arrived in town driven all the way from Regina and it took until long after dark to set the two pieces into place. In the process it up roots the new trees and the crane got itself stuck in the two lots west of the site and had to be pulled out by Chupa Excavation.

This morning there were workmen on the site joining the two sections and putting gravel around the yard.

It isn't fair to compare the stick built house with the modular one in that there may have been other problems that interfered with delivery and the work schedule but in this case side by side the stick built house is way out in front as far as completion and readiness for the owners to move in.

As a sidewalk superintendent it just looked like this project was planned badly right from the beginning. Sequence, sourcing and method all looked to be poorly planned and the nasty weather just made the whole thing even worse. Perhaps the most poorly planned part of the project was the costly decision to bring in a heavy lifting crane from three hundred kilometres away when the mover could have set the modules in place when they were delivered in a couple of hours rather than taking a whole day to lift and position.

The new modular home still needs to have its dry walling touched up, the two units spliced together, electricity dug in, natural gas dug in, the garage built, garage floor poured, the fill for the driveway put in and then the final finishing of the interior. The neighbouring stick built house started a week after the modular project is in the final finishing stage all other elements are complete or nearly complete.

(click on the pictures below to see them full size)

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
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