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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green House Girl 4: Bring on the Rain

by Elizabeth Kuster

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This time: I learn that construction supervisors are better at predicting weather than most TV meteorologists.

My blogging hasn’t been prolific this past month, and I’m blaming it on the weather. Every time I planned to check out how the Show House was faring, the weather turned to crap. One day it would freeze. The next, it would rain. Then it would freeze again. Then it would rain again. Then it rained some more.

Anyway, I did go see the house. I planned my visit for last Friday because the forecast called for a mix of sun and clouds. I called construction supervisor Dave Moreno to give him a heads-up. “Are you sure you want to come Friday?” he asked. “It’s going to rain.”

        “Is it?” I replied. “Well, that’s okay. I love rain!”

        “But it’s going to be really bad,” he said.

        “I’m feeling very intrepid,” I answered.

I awoke on Friday to the thunderous drumming of huge raindrops hitting my window air-conditioner. It was a deluge of Biblical proportions. It was a monsoon. In short, Dave was right.

Remembering my comment about how intrepid I was, I decided to walk over to the Show House as usual, rain be damned. Big mistake: By the time I got halfway there, my wet feet were numb and my back and legs were soaked (despite my huge umbrella). I hadn’t reckoned on the 40 mph wind gusts.

I arrived at the Show House with a huge sense of relief. Pushing my way through the plywood door, I closed my umbrella—and then realized that it was raining almost as hard inside the house as it was outside. (The roof had been completed since my last visit, but the rooftop solar panels and all the windows had yet to be installed.) I reopened my umbrella and shouted for Dave over the rain.

        “Oh my god,” I said. “How did you know?”

        “It’s part of my job,” he said. “I have to know the weather and be ahead of it to make sure it doesn’t interfere with our time frame too much.”

Construction is a step-by-step process; materials are delivered according to a schedule, and if some of them (such as DensGlass) should remain dry, they obviously can’t be delivered if it’s raining. Well before it rains, Dave’s crew stops construction work and spends hours battening down the hatches. (That involves covering all the windows with tarp, moving wood into dry, covered areas, and bringing in anything from outside that could become a projectile in strong winds.)

Sounds logical, but as I peeked at the soggy first floor from under my umbrella, I couldn’t help thinking about things like mold and warped wood. It just seemed really bad that the brick walls, warmboard flooring and wooden structural posts were all dripping wet (and had presumably been so for much of the past month).

I asked Dave about it, and he said that once it stopped raining, the crew would spend hours vacuuming water off exposed surfaces so that the interior would be dry again as soon as possible. (Considering how much it had been raining in recent weeks, it all sounded rather Sisyphean.) Suffice it to say that, like me and my blog, the Show House’s construction is a little behind schedule.

 Next time: In the spring, a Green House Girl’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of 453 Pacific Street.