Pt 8 – July 21st

Aaargh…what am I doing?

Another site visit today, and despite progress having been made, the enormity of the task ahead stared me starkly in the face.

The building is a studio-shaped shell. Stud walls mark out the eventual lines – live room, control room, dividing wall and window, doors, machine room, office and recreation areas – and some of the wall and ceiling rockwool and triple insulated soundproofed plasterboard panels have been fitted, but this serves to accentuate the mammoth task ahead rather than reassure me that we’re getting closer.

But then again…this is a proper studio. Looking around at the first electrical fix, I can see how comprehensive the lighting will be, how well planned are the three separate mains rings – balanced for gear, dirty (for cookers, air con, office etc) and a 110v circuit for convenience and versatility. As studding and soundproofing go up, the rooms close in a little, but I remain excited that the fifty square metres of live tracking space and equally spacious control room will offer me the space I believe is needed to make real records – proper records.

The bills are now rolling in with heart-stopping regularity. As well as an almost daily background noise of invoices for materials, labour and all the many incidental costs that mount up by the week – toilets, shower trays, lights, cable and the rest – we’re now facing some major hits for air conditioning, electrical contactors and the other larger costs that, although budgeted, still take some finding.

I’m fortunate in having Marco on board as project manager. He watches and argues the toss over every penny, pound and score as befits his Yorkshire penny-pinching background. This is excellent, but there is nevertheless a crucial lesson that he’s beginning to appreciate – the best costs more, and this applies as much to the services of sparkies, builders and other contractors as it does to gear or fittings. It can often be a false economy to try to make do with a DIY fix rather than pay what seems a high cost to a professional. In reality such savings are illusory as the pro will be quicker and do a better job with less wastage of time and materials, thereby actually costing less in the long run.
We’re also lucky that Fritz is prepared to charge on a consultancy basis, overseeing the job rather than spending all his time on site, enabling us to subcontract to our own team under his careful guidance. And with the careful preparatory planning, so far we haven’t experienced any delays leaving us on schedule and on budget. In fact, the only deviation I can foresee may be that both budget and schedule were too ambitious. Nevertheless, given built in contingencies on both fronts, I remain hopeful that we’ll hit our targets. Just.

So things are moving fast. There’s a hell of a long way to go, though, and not a lot of time.