Archive for May, 2010

This project has completely opened up my eyes to the vast support of our community.  I never would have thought that we would have so many donors and contractors who would be willing to help us pro bono.  Over the last week the construction team has had to play catch-up since we were a tad behind schedule at the end of the first build weekend.  If it wasn’t for companies that did turn-key work I don’t know if we would have had the ability to get done what we did.  I have to personally give out a special thanks to Jack’s All American Plumbing, Wicks Roofing, Drywall Dynamics, and San Luis Mechanical.  These guys all did an excellent job providing turn-key services for the addition!

From the Planning and Building department perspective no Poly House project has been as big as this year’s nor has it ever gone as smoothly during inspections.  As normally planned, a Poly house project typically takes place over two weekends for a total of six days.  This year we started a week early to get the foundations for both the new addition and garage done, and we haven’t stopped since.  During that first week the construction team easily put in 10+ hour days while managing to fit our other classes somewhere into our schedules. Easily this project has been a full time job that has been full steam ahead for the past six weeks.

Now that the construction team’s responsibilities are winding down, the interior’s team finally has a home to work in.  We’ve got a long way to go and these next couple days are going to keep everyone busy putting on the final touches!

-Shane Schimke

Construction Project Manager

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So far for me, this class has been a wonderful experience. It’s extremely stressful when it comes down to the work weekends to make sure that everything is lined up and if anything goes wrong, it’s scramble time to fix it. But that is a good thing as it’s an amazing hands-on learning experience. Even if something goes horribly wrong, there’s always a way to fix it and any setbacks may seem huge to completing the project on time, but everyone has managed anything thrown upon us and we’re still on track. We’re coming up on the second work weekend and there are still some large projects to complete before the reveal. This weekend will have a lot of interior and finish work. I’ve been amazed at the dedication of all the students as well as volunteers and donors. There’s no way this project would have been possible without all the generous donations from everyone. It’s been a really crazy few weeks working, but it’s all slowly coming together. It’s hard to imagine that it will all be completed on such a short time frame. Most of the contractors and industry workers that help with the house even mention how amazing it is to complete this project in such a short time. The question of “when will it be completed?” always comes up in the conversations and is generally followed by a “what?!” But even after being told by just about every contractor that there is no way this will happen in the time frame and the project is just too ambitious, it’s happening! I am really looking forward to the release date to show everyone what we have all been working on for the last few weeks. I’d love to say very specifically what we’ve been working on, but it will have to wait until Sunday for everyone to see the fruits of our labor. 🙂

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Drywall Dynamics donated all the drywall supplies and installation. When they came to measure, there was no roof on and it was raining. I have a feeling they thought we were crazy, but they came and helped anyway. The roof got on just in time to drywall. Thank goodness.

San Luis Mechanical came to our rescue when the original HVAC company wasn’t able to help. When I told Tom Murphy, the owner, that we not only needed the supplies including a new heater at cost or below, but we needed it that same day, he looked at me like I was out of my mind. But, one day later we have all the HVAC we need.

Marilyn and Glenn Britton have been our guardian angels. They have brought us food every day we have been on site. They helped with financial donations. They found us a cabinet installer, and a BBQ to rent. Jamie, one of the sutdents calls Marilyn our “saint”.

Jack’s All American Plumbing did all the plumbing in the addition. He was there both Saturday and Sunday helping us fly through inspections.

The County of SLO has been so great. They made it clear from the start that they were not giving us any favors in the way of passing sub-standard work, but they have helped with advice and advanced inspections that allowed us to pass easily.

I will highlight some more of our donors in another blog. Please know we appreciate all donations big and small.

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Reveal BBQ

We are planning to present our work to the Todd family at 4PM on Sunday. Shepherd’s Table will be providing a BBQ for all the donars, volunteers and supporters. No RSVP is necessary. Hope to see you all there.

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We reveal the house to the family in less than a week.  I’ve spent about 40 hours at the site over the past 3 days.  It’s amazing how much is getting done.  All of my fellow students are also working extremely hard on this.  I don’t see anyone standing around like they don’t want to be there, everyone is dedicated and wants the project to be a success.  The biggest indicator of success I can see is the pure dedication that everyone has shown to this project.  Yes, we’ve made lots of progress and are meeting our milestones, but the dedication is what makes me confident that we will overcome any obstacle we may face in the next week.

This has been said many times, but I’m overcome by the amount of generosity the community has shown in support of this project.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the people who are contributing to this project, both on the site and off.  All of our donors, the contractors who are donating a large amount of time at their expense, student volunteers who are willing to make the drive and spend long hours on the weekend, and of course my fellow Poly students.  The effort being spent on this project is enormous.

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Another successful visit with the Todd family! Based on the information gathered from last weeks meeting, our team had a lot to address.  We met with the family at their hotel on Saturday.  Dr. Papathakis and Kohleen discussed with Caleb’s parents the urgency for a lifestyle and dietary change! Using an Achondroplasia dwarfism growth chart and a 5 pound fat model for visuals, they stressed the severity of Caleb’s current weight status and the implications for his long term health.  Meanwhile Kayla and Courtney casually talked with Caleb and his siblings about the importance of living a healthy life and how good nutrition will benefit them all.  As a team, we demonstrated a one day sample menu for Caleb, along with showing them proper portion control and healthy substitutions for their current diet.  Since the family is in a hotel for many days, we also provided them with a pamphlet of strategies for better food choices when dining out.  But, the most exciting and fulfilling part of our visit was to see Caleb’s face when we told him that he had lost 1.5 lbs!  More to come next week!

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Work weekend one: complete. This weekend was Poly House’s first
official work weekend. With the Todd family in mind, the entire class
put in three long days of hard work. The dedication of the class as
well as the volunteers makes Poly House something I am so proud to be
a part of. We have already accomplished so much and I can’t help but
think about how excited the Todd family is going to be on reveal day.
Although some had doubts about how we would be able to do it all,
there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to exceed even our own
expectations. Everything seems to be on schedule and we have learned
so much.

A Few Lessons Learned:

§ Learn by Doing. Cal Poly’s slogan is written all over the
Poly House project. The contractors donating their time to the
project are incredible. Most of us spent a lot of time with Rick and
Steve, the main contractors, learning to demo counter tops, hang
doors, paint trim, and frame walls. All of our professional volunteers
are amazing teachers and want to assist students in the renovation by
telling them how to do things, not by doing it for them. This weekend,
a large team of us worked on demo. I expected that I would hand tools
to the contractors and clean up the mess, but instead, Rick handed me
a hammer and told me how to take out the tile. Let me just say, I was
SO excited!!!

§ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Liz, Cassidy, Katie
(one of the contractors), Doug, and I spent last night putting Tyvek
on the exterior of the addition so that the siding could be
installed. We were all laughing hysterically at the finished product,
which looked more like the wrapping of a Christmas present than a
house. As Steve Chevet put it, “it might not be pretty, but it gets
the job done”. I was sure proud of our efforts!

§ Don’t take things too seriously. Whether we were dancing in
the sandbox to compact the dirt or making wheelbarrow obstacle
courses, the students of Poly House make working fun. Everyone was
excited to be out on the site and I have been so impressed by the
positive attitudes of everyone.

§ Always reach outside your comfort zone (except if you’re on
a ladder)
. I have noticed that each student is constantly being pushed
to do something new, something unfamiliar, and oftentimes something
uncomfortable. Students who previously hated bugs are now working in
the garden, those who never used a hammer are now framing the house,
and those who thought we couldn’t now know we can.

During this week, we will continue working on the site and passing
inspections. Friday we will begin our final work weekend and prepare
for the reveal on Sunday. I can’t wait to get back on the site and
experience the Poly House magic!


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We are only a bit behind, but it is on critical path tasks. Some students will be on site today trying to get ready for inspection later this morning. I don’t want to write so much about the quality of the project or the quality of the learning that is going on regarding project management, but the quality of the students in this class. From Kyle who really doesn’t say much, but spent the entire 15 hours yesterday laying pavers, to Cassidy who requires us to do a cheer after lunch, “Polyhouse on Three,” this is a quality group of people. Their heart to bless the family in many little ways is touching. Their desire to work out relationships with each other even if it seems to be wasting time is admirable. Their work ethic is amazing. Each evening when I asked them if they really wanted to be on site at 7am the next morning (I was secretly hoping to catch a couple more minutes of sleep), in unison they said “we will be here at 7!”

It was fun to see ourselves on KSBY last night.

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Despite the recent turn of events at some stages of PolyHouse, today was success in the midst of uncertainty!  The second day of PolyHouse saw numerous achievements by all teams.  The framing to the new addition was put up.  The garage had its electrical work put in by contractors and volunteers.  The garden beds were built and installed in each of their respective locations.  The area behind the shed in the backyard was cleared out to make way for tilling and leveling of the soil.  The driveway had its last “key” stone put into place.  All of these achievements make fitting the puzzle that is PolyHouse extremely exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.  And while all of these physical achievements show terrific progress towards completing our end goal, I find this project rewarding in itself because I get to work alongside some of the greatest team members, contractors, and volunteers.  The camaraderie between everyone on this project is phenomenal, and should be cherished well beyond the limits of this quarter-long class.  Just by walking around and looking at all the different projects going on at the house I saw members from the logistics, finance, interior, landscaping, and construction team working alongside one another.  There is not one moment that individuals on the project are not doing anything.  Everyone has taken an oath to see this project through, and because of this we all have developed an emotional attachment to the family’s needs.

I also find that the struggle to overcome certain components and aspects of PolyHouse is overpowered by the perseverance of team members to find those donators, contractors, and volunteers that can help us complete the job.  I like to think that this project, with all its ups and downs, is a life-affirming lesson for each and every one of us.  We take the good with the bad and utilize our limited time to perform our tasks to the best of our abilities.  And while of course time and pressure can create some remarkable results, it is the dedication and effort that will create a truly gratifying conclusion.

Romel Peñaflor Auza

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Day 2

Things went very well today. We are only a little bit behind schedule in some areas, and even ahead of schedule in others. We did have some unexpected expenses, like doubling of costs for lumber. But after 13 hours yesterday and 13 hours today, we believe in our ability to complete this project. We had some awesome help from three general contractors who spent the day with us: Steve Chauvet, Rick Brown and Paul DeAlejandro. Thank you!!

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