Archive for July, 2010

Polyhouse has been quite the experience. I knew going into this it would be a lot of work and like every other student in this class I never realized it would be as much work as it really was. Looking back on it all I have learned a lot about projects, teams, and construction. My favorite part of it all now is looking at the news reports that say we remodeled a bathroom for Caleb, got an exterior steel structure, and even had time to throw in a new kitchen! Oh if only they knew! Now that I bring this up I would love to thank the donors that help specifically with that kitchen. It was such a last minute plan that required more attention that I ever expected. Those who donated their time and supplies put up with me having no clue what everything meant and all the pieces involved in just that one area of the house. To the rest of the donors you as well did some incredible things. This is as much your project as it is ours seeing as we could not have done anything without your support.

Overall I loved this experience. Near the end of our build weekend I was exhausted but there was one thing that made it all worth it. The following weekend I was working on my senior project and got a text that read “I am moving into my new kitchen and I LOVE IT!!! Thank you!!”. That reminded me exactly what this was all for. The pain and suffering I complained about for two weeks makes the life of the Todd family that much easier. When explaining it to friends I would say our main goal is to make a better home to facilitate a better lifestyle for Caleb and his family. All of my struggled for that short time means years of an easier life for the family. For that statement alone every little bit of this was worth it!

Thank you team, Liz, donors, and the Todd family for trusting us with your home. I will never forget Ruby’s face when I told her we were going to YouTube how to install a toilet! It is all working and this has truly been a successful last quarter for me at Cal Poly.

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Polyhouse is done.  It is over, and to be frank I am glad. I am glad to be done with the 14-hour days with no pay, the putting my life on hold for three weeks, and the endless shoveling and wheel barrowing.  I am glad to be done asking strangers for money and waking up with the sun to be at the worksite bright and early. I am glad my blisters are healing and my sunburn has stopped itching, and that I don’t have to pour dirt out of my shoes at the end of the day.

I will be the first to tell you that I am glad it is over for all the reasons above. However, I am glad it is over for other reasons as well, like the additional storage space in the form of a new garage, and a circular driveway for the Todds to park on every day. Reasons like a patio on which they can entertain, an amazing garden where they can plant, and a huge sandbox to play in. Reasons like a bathroom Caleb’s height, a room for each of the girls that is truly “their very own,” and even more improvements beyond these.

The first reasons pale in comparison to the second when I consider why I am glad that Polyhouse is over. A sore back, aching muscles and sunburn are an inexpensive price to pay to finally be able to stand back and look at what this class and community accomplished.

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I can confidently say that this class went above and beyond all of my expectations. The lack of sleep, stress, and nonstop physical labor was all worth it in the end. I feel like I have grown so much as a person. I also hold so much respect for my fellow classmates. The dedication and motivation each person possessed inspired me to continuously push harder throughout the project.

There were many times where obstacles popped up and threw our original schedule off track. This was very distressing and caused a lot of chaos at times. Luck was definitely on our side; whenever something would go wrong, it would be resolved fairly quickly. Through it all, we learned how to effectively deal with problems (no matter how large) and continue towards our goals.

I honestly think we could have not chosen a more deserving family for this project. The looks on their faces when they pulled up to the new driveway is something that I will never forget. Hopefully Caleb’s life is now a little easier with the changes that have been made to the home.

Lastly, the generosity of our donors cannot be overlooked. The amount of trust they had in us was very touching. There were many times where we tested their patience yet they still compromised to make sure all of our goals and deadlines were met. The contractors that stayed on site around the clock also deserve a huge thanks. Without them, there is no way that this project would have been the success that it is. This close-knit community that we live in is something that we all should be proud of and not take for granted. Thanks to everyone for making this project unforgettable!

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With the conclusion of the spring quarter and my graduate program in general, Poly House was a long but good experience. I enjoyed watching the satisfaction of the Todd family when they saw the work that had been done to their house. It was a good feeling to see how the house went through different stages and be a part of such a major project that was physically accomplished in such a short amount of time.  Moreover, it was awesome contributing to the local community and watching contractors and volunteers coordinate their efforts to give back to deserving people.  I think we set lofty goals and design ideas for this project but were able to finish them. I am happy we were ambitious with this project. Also, I was very impressed by everyone’s dedication to the project and how well everyone worked together. The amount of work that was laid out in front of us was somewhat staggering but it is satisfying to know that we were able to complete the house.  Everyone played a contributing role in this project.

Every team in the class played an integral part of this project from logistics to construction.  It was definitely important that we had contractors on the job site to help finish the really difficult parts of the house. Thank you to the teams that contacted these contractors.  Also, getting the word out to campus for volunteers definitely helped out.  In addition, being a part of the finance team was a good experience personally and I feel that we worked well together as a team to bring together enough money and donors to support this project.  Each of the project managers had a lot going on and I feel that everyone handled their individual and group responsibilities very well.  Thanks everyone for a great experience and good luck with the rest of school and your future endeavors.

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The Polyhouse project is nothing like any other project I have ever been a part of. Despite all of the warnings from previous polyhousers, I could have never guessed the extent to which my boundaries and will would be tested. The experiences and lessons learned in this class truly surpassed my expectations. That being said, I can say with 100% confidence that this class was the most valuable experience I had this year, during my graduate studies. Throughout my career I know I will continue to reflect on all of the mini successes and skills that I developed.

It was made clear from the beginning that all of us would have to step outside of our comfort zone. Truer words have never been spoken.  I personally have always been more of a reserved person. In group discussions, I would occasionally offer up my opinions, but only when conversation became stagnant. After going through Polyhouse, I realized that any idea or thought should be expressed, even if you are unsure about the quality or insightfulness. Rather, the point is to remove ego from your ideas and engage in creative and constructive debate. I find that I am always happier and more positive when I do contribute, even if my ideas are not chosen as the best option. This is certainly an area will continue to work on, and Polyhouse has given me the foundation to do so.

On the other hand, one of my greatest strengths is a hard worker mentality. I have always been known as a workhorse among my peers and I am proud to say that I put everything I could into this project. I was extremely pleased and thoroughly impressed to see the same effort from all of my classmates as well. All of us agreed to the same scope, and through many long days and nights, we accomplished what we set out to do.  Without the commitment and accountability that each person took in this project, there is no way that we could have accomplished this amazing feat. In addition, In addition, I was truly touched by the community members who rose to the challenge and supported us with food, materials, labor, and monetary donations.

I will say that there were certain moments where I doubted the professionalism of some of my team members; however, this is a natural occurrence in a learning environment and I feel that we have all grown in that respect. All of us have learned our own lessons as well and there is no need in dwelling on the little mishaps, but I would like to point out the main source of these problems. In my opinion, all issues were caused by failures to communicate, both within and among teams.

There were instances within my own team where one specific individual consistently appeared to be a couple pages behind us. This person may have felt a little out of place because they were not familiar with the type of work we were setting out to do. Our PM, Nick, did his best to include this person; however, the preference of this individual seemed to be to communicate through email. I have learned through this project and other projects at Cal Poly that this is no substitute for face-to-face communication. If someone is uncomfortable in group situations then one on one should be used; however, it is vital for the individual to learn to actively participate in group discussions. This I feel is something that should be strongly encouraged next year to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The inter-team conflicts were also at the fault of miscommunication, and lack of communication for that matter. I understand that it would be a lot to manage, but I feel that the class PM’s should take a more active role in getting teams together to discuss any issues. I think a lot of bickering and speculating about who is working and who is not could have been eased by face-to-face communication.

All in all, we should be very proud of what we have accomplished here. It was an honor to have been able to work on such a prestigious and rewarding project, and who better than the Todd family to receive such a gift. Thank you Liz for making this project possible, I am very glad to have met you this year. I made about 20 new friends this quarter, which alone is pretty amazing.

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