This month, my wife and I have been married for 21 years. I’ve been remembering our earliest years together, especially the year we bought our first house, when I had to step up to some DIY for the first time.
I was something of a novice as a handyman, and didn’t see much value in spending a significant sum on tools: as far as I was concerned, I was resourceful, practical, and able to get anything to work with my claw hammer, four manual screwdrivers (two flat-head and two Phillips), a metre-long spirit level, and a cheap, handheld motorised screwdriver. Surely this would be all I’d need to put up three picture frames and a shelf. I felt confident that the job would be done quickly, and that I would surely impress my new wife with my as-yet undiscovered skills.
The picture frames went swimmingly, and with just the shelf to go, my confidence grew. But I hadn’t taken into account that the pictures had been hung on plasterboard, and the shelf needed to be attached to a brick wall. Unsurprisingly, this part did not go so well. It took me three days to put up that shelf, and along the way I broke four screwdrivers, including my motorised screwdriver, and used almost a kilo of wall filler. And I still didn’t do what I should have done, which was go to a DIY shop and get the right tools for the job.
What was I thinking?! I couldn’t get it out of my head that the tools I had had worked perfectly for the pictures, so putting up the shelf should be the same. But the requirements of the job were different, so the tools I needed were different too.
Thankfully, my DIY skills have improved in the years since (though I’m still not sure I’ve managed to impress my wife) -- but as I reflect on that story, it strikes me that the same principle applies for designing and constructing buildings that are low or zero carbon.
We spoke to a new client this week who told us that he couldn’t understand why the company advising him on SAP and SBEM calculations was causing him more hassle than he’d otherwise have had. He’d concluded the whole net zero idea was a pointless, impossible expense. We realised that he’d been more focussed on the expense of the SAP, and chosen a basic assessor without the necessary net zero experience.
We explained that using a consultant from the beginning of the design process might cost more initially, but would save money in the long run as the build process would go smoothly, and he’d achieve the outcome he wanted without expensive, time-consuming mistakes.
In effect, he was trying to put up a shelf on a brick wall with tools more suited to plasterboard. There’s a place for plasterboard tools. They’re important and necessary, and I made good use of my screwdrivers. But when it’s a brick-wall job, you need brick-wall tools, and only those will mean the job is completed efficiently, with minimal damage to the wall.
Getting the right tools for the right job is a key factor in success. Getting the right people on your design team is a key factor for your success. We’ve just cut the price of an initial consultation with us down to zero, so give us a call to see if we’re a good match for you.