I mentioned a few days ago that I was doing some projects at my house next week. My good friend Edgar (we went to junior high together), who's a project manager for a construction outfit, invited me over to one of their sites so I could pick up a few donations.
They're building a fire station. He put together a makeshift desk out of some boxes and a spare door and placed it in one of the finished areas. An architect by vocation, he pulled out a paper pad and a pencil and stood across the desk from me.
"So, what are the projects?" he asked.
"I'm laying down a slab of concrete in the back yard. I'm putting in a new shed."
He drew the square slab on his paper. Wrote down the measurements, and calculated the area.
"You'll need four 2x4's, to place around it. Number 4 rebars to keep them in place. Two headed nails to hold the boards together, a wire net to pour the concrete on. Do you have a sheet of plywood to mix the concrete on?"
"No," I said.
"You'll need an extra 2x4 to section off as you pour the concrete."
He drew four different angles for the proper construction of the slab. "You'll have to go down 8 inches deep for an 8 inch wide space all the way around," he said. "Otherwise it'll crack under the weight of the shed. Bevel the outside 12 inches all around so the water drops off. That way you don't get a puddle in the middle. You also want to use a finishing troll around the outer edge, so it doesn't chip off. Water it once it's dried off, to cure it. Remove the 2x4's on the following morning."
"Okay," I said weakly.
"William!" he called out to one of his workers. He handed him the list of items he'd just jotted down. "Gather these things up for me and put them in the gentleman's van, please."
We went through the same process for two other projects. Again, he handed William the other lists. By the time we were done, my company van was packed tight with goodies, including metal sheet roofing for my pool pump shack, Tapcon concrete bolts for the shed and some metal strips to nail the 2x4's together.
"This is a tough project. You sure you can handle it?" he asked.
"Oh, sure," I lied. "I've got my Dad visiting next week, he'll help me out."
He eyed me, doubtingly. "I'll tell you what," he said. "You prepare the space, set up the 2x4's and have everything ready. Then call me, and I'll send you over a couple of guys to mix the concrete and lay out the slab for you. My treat."
Damn, it's good to have friends, isn't it?