In 2006 I decided to take a break from the virtual world, and find out what it takes to make real things.
So, I decided to build a house.
I had some knowledge of construction but was not formerly trained in building or
architecture, so I set out to learn what I need to pull it off. Within 6 months;
I had a solid grasp of Revit for the drawings and model, the building code, and designed a one off series of buildings that would be built into a rock,
cantilevered over a river and constructed almost entirely from recycled materials.
my role -
Project Architect, General Contractor, Project Manager, Landscape Designer,
Interior Designer, Flooring Contractor, Stonemason, Carpenter
My main role was as architect/general contractor. At the beginning of the project I was tasked with sourcing recycled materials.
This was a little bit chicken and egg, as I would come across resources the design would change to accommodate them. Sometimes this meant dramatic alterations so the design was always in flux right through the detailed design phase.
Day to day I project managed all sub contractors and consultants while working full time on-site.
the materials -
The goal was to use as much recycled material as possible. With this goal in mind, natural materials were the go to option.
These beams came to N.Z. in 1886 as ship ballast.
Non recycled, used for external doors and windows.
All interior joinery, and exterior cladding
120 Tonnes, 100% recycled from 100 yr old hospital
Cold rolled iron
10 Tonnes of recycled tiles for internal floors and walls
All exterior glass was low-e double glazed.
Hand ground concrete made from local pebbles.
Recycled bench-tops from Italy's famous quarry.
Made from natural materials, this flooring gives a rustic feel.
It all seemed very straight forward in the beginning. Start at the bottom and work your way up.
what i learned -
There was a point during the project where I realized how important project management is.
It was about the time I received the first bill. When you have up to a dozen people on site, a crane, and consultants in the background, the cost is significant.
When it's your money, you tend to pay more attention. This lesson plays forward and is valuable in understanding project dynamics.
Another important lesson is communication.
The architecture industry is the pinnacle of efficiency in communication. A set of construction documents describes what and how to build every aspect. The less that is left to assumption, the faster and more efficient a build can go.
I have never experienced this level of detail in any other industry. It's especially important when you consider, theres no 2.0 release. Once it's built, it's built.
Lessons learned running a large complex build like this apply across all disciplines.