Recovering From a Failed Home Project

Everyone has a home project haunting them from their past. The objective was to upgrade their existing home, but it just didn’t turn out the way they originally envisioned. When this happens, what do you do now? I always smile and say “Punt!” In the real world we can’t punt, but we do have choices. One solution is to make it a work of modern art or the more common decision is to fix the problem and finish as planned.

Let’s assume you have all the correct tools and are skilled on how to use them. If you are having problems using your tools, you might want to find a contractor to fix your project. So what was the original problem that caused your project to fail? I can answer that in a few short words for a large majority of failed projects, lack of correct pre-planning. The really comical thought is that to discover the problem on your failed project is the same process as doing a proper pre-plan.

The purpose of this article is to explain a concept so we will use an extremely simple problem, however the process will work on all types and sizes of projects. You just installed a new sink in your master bathroom. The color and texture and size are all correct but for some reason it just doesn’t line up with the existing countertop and wobbles from end to end. Along the way you must have forgotten a step or took a shortcut to have caused this. The way to fix this problem is obviously to pull the sink out and figure out how to install it correctly. Before you do this, do a work breakdown structure (WBS). This is a common pre-plan task all good managers working on high dollar projects use. This is a practice that also applies to home projects and is a useful way to find your fix. A WBS is exactly as it states, your work broken down and itemized creating a structure and path to follow.

Start at the top of your paper pad and state your objective. In our example we will use “Install a new sink.” Then we divide that objective into deliverables. In the sink example I write; purchase the sink, remove the old sink, prepare countertop, and prepare plumbing. Next we have to further divide these again into assignments. Assignments are action items or tasks. The following is how I would write this using our example of the new sink.

Install The New Sink

  • Lay the sink in the cutout
  • Anchor the sink
  • Hook up plumbing

Purchase the sink

  • Gather existing sink dimensions
  • Window shop stores for new sinks
  • Decide on new sink that fits dimensions
  • Shop for best price
  • Purchase sink

Remove Old Sink

  • Turn off the water source
  • Unhook all plumbing
  • Release sink anchors attached to countertop
  • Remove sink

Prepare Countertop

  • Make sure the countertop will support the new sink
  • If necessary install additional support
  • Make sure cutout will accept new sink
  • Adjust cutout if necessary
  • Make a clean surface on which to rest the new sink on

Prepare Plumbing

  • Measure the sink drain and faucet connections
  • Record existing plumbing dimensions
  • Prepare plumbing to accept new sink connections
  • Proper length of pipe
  • Have Teflon tape available for plumbing re-install

Now we have our tasks. Reading through our example, I see that I did not measure the proper length of the plumbing drain pipe causing the sink to wobble and not fit securely. This is a very simple example but it illustrates the concept that a proper pre-plan and diagnosis will allow you to accomplish a correct fix instead of a fix that just hides the actual problem. Applying this concept to your more difficult projects around the house will help identify the possible problems and solutions before you even start.

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