Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Can you just...

I should have learned by now, no sentence that starts "Can you just" ever ends well. In my experience it means someone else has misunderstood the problem at hand. Then we proceed to the part of the project where (according to my lovely wife) I end up using my condescending voice.

I work through what I have been asked for and eventually, if it goes well you end up defining what the actual, real job needs to be done is. And almost envitably the "Can you just" has become a major job.

Most of us I fear recognise this "pattern" from our working lives with software. Well I am glad to report this pattern exists in real, physical world too.

Last week we took a trip to my parents in law, two thoroughly nice people (I lucked out, no evil mother in law here). I had been asked before I went "Can you just fix the garage door, it sticks". So I took along some basic tools expecting to lubricate a hinge or something.

Turns out it was the garage back door (for humans to get in and out) and...well there were bigger issues. The door frame was rotten and the door had pulled it away from the wall. So a new door frame you say? ah, well, yes

At some point in the past someone had fitted a double glazed window and had, kinda removed the lintle above the door and window! Yes there were several courses of brick masonry wall resting on top of a upvc window frame. The door frame had provided some support till it rotted and fell apart.

The window was under a huge strain and was actually 5cm shorter at one end than the other. The brickwork was no longer mortared and could better be described as a pile of bricks held together with caulking.

Vincent fitting the latch to the new door frame
So my bank holiday weekend was spent removing those bricks, making good, building a frame from 44x97mm planed timber bolted into the walls and covering it with weatherboard. OK it is not masonry but on the other hand it will not be falling on anyone's head any-time soon.

And before anyone comments, yes that frame is true, the spirit level says so. Alas that window frame is very, very wonky indeed and the wall it is sitting on is 4cm out too, so It looks a bit off.

Possibly not my best work but you can hang a couple of hundred kilos from the frame and it not budge so I think its solid enough for this purpose.

Providing my father in law keeps treating it with the wood preserver every couple of years it will not go rotten either and should last a long time.