Canadian Contractor

From pilot to contractor: (18) The sprint to the finish

Pilot-turned-contractor John Bleasby is less than one week away from Move In Day on his family's dreamhome, north of Orillia, ON. In this week's blog he talks about the "controlled chaos" he is living near the end of his project.

September 30, 2014
By Robert Koci

With under one week until move-in day, the list of tasks is daunting. Friends shake their heads in disbelief. But my team of trades is very upbeat. They all agree that my house will be ready on time. For it to be so, however, requires that I re-evaluate each day’s priorities and then direct skills where they will be best used. Sometimes it feels like a high-wire juggling act!

To manage the project efficiently in the final stages, I have divided it into three areas:

1. Interior trim: To install the floors and doors, kitchen cabinets, and window and door trim, I brought in a new team of carpenters for the final 3 week push. They’re young, they’re talented, and they listen. They in turn are divided into pairs – floors, trim, cabinets – each with a daily list of objectives.


Mini-Deadlines abound! My carpentry team was tasked with installing at least some of the flooring under the kitchen cabinets so that the stone countertops could be installed according to their pre-arranged delivery. Mission accomplished!

2. Exterior: Although the building is quite secure in its present state, I am no fan of Typar. However, given that the steel siding installer bailed on the project (see my blog from 2 weeks ago, Why I Canned the Man of Steel) I adjusted the mason’s schedule so he would install the exterior stone accents now rather than later. The soffit, facia and roof capping installers will start as soon as their material arrives from the steel mill later this week. Installation of the exterior cladding (now cement board), will begin as soon as that material is delivered in 2 weeks, around the time the soffits, facia and roof capping are finished. This is going to work out quite well.

3. Landscaping: If I don’t do something around the site in the way of vegetation, I will be left with a quagmire in the spring. That, and the fact that I want to have my final lot grading approved this fall so I can get a formal Occupancy Permit, has motivated me to organise top soil and sod deliveries for the week after Thanksgiving, plus the manpower and equipment required. Each piece of the puzzle will be undertaken by individual trades and suppliers booked in a coordinated, non-conflicting manner.

While this strategy may look good on paper, the amount of detail is amazing. Every day I am faced with issues ranging from those of pure design and appearance to those that involve changes due to installation or compatibility issues. Put out one fire and another jumps up out of nowhere! To hesitate with a decision not only delays the implementation of the solution but makes me appear indecisive, and no trade wants an indecisive GC/owner on the site.

But my team of trades have been wonderful. Each tells me to take a breath, that this level of controlled chaos near the end of a project is quite normal, especially with a house as unique as mine.

And I do try to stay calm, but I also wonder how full-time GC’s manage to keep their pulses at normal levels. They must have nerves of steel!



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1 Comment » for From pilot to contractor: (18) The sprint to the finish
  1. John, just saw this blog for the first time in Canadian Contractor. Good for you taking this project on. Knowing your attention to detail this is a natural for you.
    I hung out a shingle 10 years ago and now run a successful professional renovation and custom home building business in Toronto. Drop me an email. I’d love to catch up and share stories.

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