As we slide into the ‘pre-festive’ slump I thought a project update was in order so here goes.
The rebuilding projects this year have not been as obvious as they were last year but nonetheless the building has seen another year of significant investment and improvement. This year we have actually:
- Stripped, re-decked and re-roofed the majority flat roof with a membrane system.
- Replaced a further 7 windows, 1 door and porch with hand-made oak to match the first phase.
- Built a bin store to house the growing collection of refuse receptacles.
As an indication of the complications of pub life, especially when an engineer is commissioning works, let me expand on the last item the ‘bin store’. The task was as simple as it sounds, that is to build a store in which to place bins, but nothing ever turns out that easy though does it?
At the North end of the site there was a small, and rather pointless, patch of grass and this was (after some consultation) considered to be the best place for the bin store. Now if we are digging up the grass then we should, of course, replace the concrete all around the North end and improve the drainage, after all if a jobs worth doing…. The boundary fence in this area was supported by wooden posts set into concrete, if we are digging the concrete up it would make sense to replace with concrete posts wouldn’t it?
If the posts are being replaced it would make sense to replace the fence with close boarding wouldn’t it? after all there is no point in doing the job twice. A block work shed is all that is required for the bins but…. its roadside at the North end of site, wouldn’t it look better in pressed stone? are you getting a feeling for how the little tasks develop in the pub?
So what you see below is what two months of work culminates in, well its a bin store of course.
It rests on new concrete, uses new drainage and is bordered by new fencing it is, in short, what happens when an engineer designs a shed!
After months of rumours regarding what we were building my bins are now comfortable and the envy of every other bin in the street! But the shed looks right, it suits the building and suits the longevity with which I view this project.
Of course what you don’t see and really can’t appreciate is the dance which I go through to engage the builder on these projects. I always kick off with ‘I’ve had a thought’ which is cleverly countered by the builder declaring that he has to be somewhere else and promptly leaving. Over the course of a month or so I keep bringing up the idea that I have had in order firstly to let him know that it won’t go away and secondly to persuade him that the more I am left alone the more elaborate my idea will become.
After four to six weeks I have the builders attention and we scale back my madness to a workable project with an idea of when it will start. As we get closer to the start date the builder will concede more points and also add several ‘we might as well’ items each of which is added with the requisite shake of the head.
Finally, just before we start, I will get a request for a drawing. Of course I don’t provide a drawing, since none exists, but we sketch some stuff over a pint and walk around the site. This last stage is critical and seals the deal, it also usually happens the day before we commence! In case he should ever venture on to this blog I will caveat this description by saying I wouldn’t want it any other way and he is a top class builder.
Next years project is the garden but again this is far more complex than it sounds. Firstly we have retaining walls to build and fencing to erect, then the soil level needs to be reduced to a workable level which will involve the removal of over 100 tons of spoil. Toilets have to be moved around in order to provide access to the garden and repairs made to the 1800s wall which has been rotting under the soil for decades. Like any project we have added some ‘while we are there’ tasks so an extension is going on to the rear in order to make a lean-to space more permanent and therefore more usable.
The architect has started work on the plans and after Christmas I will start the dance with the builder. For those of you who are wondering how we fund these projects let me let you into a secret, I am also wondering. In so far as the business I am a firm believer in a quote attributed to the American football coach Lou Holtz:
“In this world you are either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow”
In my view stagnation does not maintain a stable business rather it slowly erodes it. As business owners we need to reach out and take the risks that enable our businesses to grow and develop.