How NOT to build a wall

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I'm just finishing the demolition phase of a minor remodeling project in my basement, removing about 8 feet of wall installed by a previous homeowner. This project teaches a lesson:
How NOT to Build a Wall, in Ten Easy Steps
1. Install the studs at random intervals. 2. Don't bother securing the bottom plate to the floor. If you cut a few of the studs just a bit long, and force-fit them, friction will keep the bottom plate in place. 3. Don't bother nailing those studs in place. Friction, remember? 4. Attach remaining studs to plates with six-penny box nails. 5. Use eight at each end because they're so small. 6. It's OK to use untreated lumber for the bottom plate. Water seepage won't harm fir, will it? 7. Use regular sheetrock for the entire wall. Water seepage won't harm that either, will it? 8. The doorpost doesn't need to be attached to the bottom plate. The sheetrock will keep it from moving. 9. Nail the sheetrock every 3 inches along each vertical edge. 10. That gives you enough nails that you don't need to nail it anywhere else.
And don't _even_ get me started on the electrical code violations I found inside that wall...
Why, oh why, do people with no knowledge or experience of the building trades imagine that they are competent to do their own construction?
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On Sat, 07 Aug 2010 01:36:39 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Think I remember doing that job. It was my first day on the job, I was 16, drunk and brand new to being an apprentice. The contractor for the job told me I had two hours to build the wall or I wouldn't get paid.
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So it's *your* fault!
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(Doug Miller)

Was that a quick job cuz the previous home owner had just sold the house? ;~)
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Doug Miller wrote:

I guess if he thought it merely "looked" good enough, someone would buy it.
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Because Home Depot & Lowe's gave them the idea they were competent.
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news:ol37o.59372
<stuff snipped>

It's not just building. It's lots of thing. I laugh when I see Lowe's or HD run ads that make some seriously complicated improvements look like any Harriet Homeowner (remember Hechingers?) could do them with a hammer and a screwdriver.
Way back when I did a lot of PC tech support for neighbors and friends I saw some pretty savage things people had done trying to do their own upgrades.
Someone I know had read an article about easy it was to install your own hard disk. This was the age of the ATA66 and 100 hard disk cable standard. While Western Digital's big fold out instructions did make it look easy, it really only covered about 80% of what you might find "under the hood." IOW, it covered only the most basic installations.
By the time I got to the machine, I could find no earthly reason why it would even boot up, but it did. After about 5 minutes. (She had put up with that for five months before calling me!!) She had two *slaves* on one channel, with the right DIP settings, and a master and a slave (CD as master!) on the other channel, with the wrong DIP setting. Drive operations between channels worked, drive operations on the same channel did not.
I should have known right then to walk away. SHE was getting mad at ME for Western Digital not "being honest with her" about how easy it was. I told her they were also forgetting to teach her all about cable types, termination, DIP switch settings, Berg clips, Molex connectors, hard drive capacity limitations, boot sectors, basic electrical theory, why using WD's magic partitioning software was NOT a good idea, how her drive letters would change because of how MicroSoft lays logical volumes, the difference between physical drives and logical drives, the concept of Master and Slave drives (NO RACE COMPLAINTS, PLEASE! <g>), how important it was to back up ALL her drives before working on even a new one, how to check her work, etc.
In short, WD has failed to teach her how to do nearly everything that ten years of experience makes it seem easy. There was never any admission she was in over her head. This was someone else's fault. She did not know all the things she needed to know and did not even KNOW how deficient her knowledge was!
Putting up a wall must seem the same to some people. At one time, in real life or on TV, they see some master carpenter put up a wall and it looks SO easy. They know they can make all those same motions so off they go, never even bothering to check out a Time-Life book from the library (old world) or Google it on line (new world).
The most obvious giveaway of an amateur wall builder, IMHO, is studs NOT placed on 16" centers, even though most measuring types have specific marks for 16" centers. Next is lack of vertical plumbness. Third is that cluster f_ck of nails that Doug describes in list item 5 that are placed to assure the lowest strength joint possible.
I will have to admit, the first walls I put up at age 16 had their flaws, but they WERE on 16" centers!
-- Bobby G.
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Yeah, well, you should see the sheetrock taping job a presumably professional builder did in my closet. It's diagonal, not at a right angle to fit against where the wall and ceiling meet.
The first time I used tape it wasn't perfect but it was a hundred times better.
So it's not only amateurs...
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Shaun Eli wrote:

Roger that. Here in Tucson, I've found that it almost always requires 2 tries for people to get anything right. When I do things myself, I may sometimes have to re-do something, but I'm not claiming to be a professional at that particular task.
--

There is never a situation where having more rounds is a disadvantage

Rob Leatham
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Well I've never had any training on how to fix or modify PCs, yet over the years (my first PC had an 8088 processor) I've successfully installed hard drives, audio and video cards, power supplies and so on. I think the trick is in being able to honestly gauge what one can or cannot do, and in being able to follow instructions (and know when to call for help). Some people just don't seem set up for that sort of problem solving. I once ran a business where we made good money undoing the "repairs" and "customizing" such folks did....

I find watching someone who knows what he is doing to be way more educational than an instruction manual could possibly be (at least for me). And if you're paying attention you notice things, like the carpenter is driving nails in sort of a criss-cross fashion and without being told why it seems to make sense. I don't know if this building/fixing ability is something we're born with (or without) or if it can be learned, but clearly a lot of otherwise functioning adults don't see to have it. But who knows, the same people who can't figure out how to hook up a hard drive or nail a stud in place probably have other talents--at least I hope so.
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For at least ten years, there WAS no formal training in PCs to speak of, but if you read the instructions, the trade mags, BBS faqs and the like AND you had a feel for such things, you could easily learn enough to get by better than most. I've built about thirty machines and fixed God knows how many more. I've ruined a lot of gear, too - but experience gained is proportional to the amount of equipment destroyed (-:. I also got a lot of stuff after the fact - like people blowing a power supply trying to install an AGP video card in a machine without an AGP video card slot. Botched memory and hard drive upgrades accounted for a lot of the DOA's that ended up on my workbench.

If you can do a brake job, you can do a lot of PC repair. The devil is in the details. But what do you do when you've got a new drive that just won't boot no matter what? Or a new CD burner that keeps spitting out coasters (back when blanks were $5 each!)? Or a modem that won't stay on line? That's where skill, experience and good problem solving skills come into play.
(Don't get me started on problem solving skills. We hired a lot of "wannabees" in our IT department because management was unwilling to pay top dollar for really good people. What they didn't realize was that by hiring incompetents to service machines that engineers, accountants, lawyers and others depended on to do THEIR work, net productivity plummeted. It was really false economy.)
You can tell by watching which techies evaluate all the clues first and which guys come in and do a "defrag" as the universal solution to all problems without a single actual thought about what the problem is or how to fix it. It's almost like Dell tech support, gleefully leading people to restore from the system disks without mentioning it would wipe out all their existing data.

The person I am describing was so self-absorbed she would not notice in a million years how a craftsman did their work. She moved out of a rooftop condo at a LOSS at the height of the real estate boom because the roof leaked in the rain. She would go slate blank whenever confronted with something that was "too hard" like condo maintenance, computers, cars or income taxes.

You can say that again. My sister couldn't survive in the modern world without technical assistance from my BIL and my nephew. I think it's genetic because as soon I turned thirteen, I was building, building, building. Fortunately, I had some great carpenters and cabinet makers to watch. That makes a big difference but some people could be watching Michaelangelo creating a sculpture and not learn one thing about his technique.

Let's hope so. I tend to find cluelessness in one area is often a good sign of cluelessness in others. But I think in these cases it's more than that. It's not knowing that you don't know what you're doing. That's a slightly more dangerous sort of ignorance than garden-variety dumb.
-- Bobby G.
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Robert Green wrote: (snip)

THAT is a critical ability to have, in life in general, not just home repair, PC repair, or whatever. There is no sin in not knowing how to do something, and I'll go out of my way to help people like that when they ask, or honestly tell them it is outside MY skill set. The ones who try to BS or fake their way through it, not so much.
I ain't proud- for stuff I don't know how to do, I'll seek out someone who does, even when I have to pay for it. And with the passing years, my understanding of the holes in my expertise has become more detailed.
--
aem sends...


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Amen, Brudda! It's right along with the day I realized my father _was_ pretty damned smart because he knew not only when to ask for help (rather than simply forging ahead) but the questions to ask an expert so he could do it the next time. Now, he knew how to do many things, and did with a level of craftmanship I have yet to attain (he really was the DeVinci of Clan Ranger), but that was the lesson he stressed each time and was finally able to pass on. Know your limits; do it right the first time. (A job half-done is twice done.)
Go ahead and pass me some of that ammo... I hear the Hordes a-comin' over the burm.
The Ranger
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Oh yeah, that's why I hired a guy to do the plaster in our bedroom rather than make a mess of it myself. I also hired somebody to refinish the hardware floor, although having watched it done I'd be prepared to tackle that myself next time. The stuff like baseboard and painting and redoing my wife's closet I did because I figured I could.
BTW, if you want to get on your wife's good side, design and build her a new closet that increases her clothing storage capacity by 50% in the same closet--that's Eggs Benedict for breakfast for quite some time.
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Plaster is an art, not something I'd ever have the time or need to learn. I also hired someone to put in a hardwood (bamboo, actually) floor. I wish I'd just bitten the bullet and done it myself. I had never seen it done and thought it would have taken a lot more knowledge to do. I did tile without having seen it done and there's a lot more to tile, IMO.

She would never do that to me. Though on second thought, she might because it does take me a lot of time to actually finish projects. ;-)
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Oh geez dont get me started on Dell. I bought their top-of-the-line XPS model less than three years ago, when the motherboard recently expired I learned a replacement from Dell was double the cost of anyone else's motherboard. So I got a local shop to build me a new machine that stomps all over the old Dell in performance and isn't full of grossly overpriced proprietary hardware.

Perhaps part of the problem is that industry is encouraging cluelessness with plug-n-play products that come with one-page instruction manuals and warning labels that there are no user-repairable parts inside. Schools have largely abandoned industrial arts classes--that doesn't help either. So we end up with gazillions of people who have never had to use a screwdriver in their lives because they've never been asked to, hanging a picture on the wall would be a triumph of tool use for them. Of course there are opportunities there; our local family-owned hardware store runs classes for women who want to learn basic home maintenance skills, so they get $60 a head from the students and pick up loyal customers at the same time--that's smart business.
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"Robert Green" wrote

Same here. BTW, if you want to see what BBSes became:
telnet://shenks.synchro.net

The problem is they teach everything but problem solving.
Saw that just last week. Ship had slow response to the desktop for application the person was involved in. Server groom didnt fix it. It's obvious why. They kept assuming software but didnt ask questions. The application was blindingly fast when run direct in ADP.
1- is it slow everywhere or only some computers? 2- do those same slow computers also have internet web access slow downs? 3- Does it happen only in port?
1a- check switch, specifically fiber degrade to servers. Signal loss do to that last hurricane evasion damaging end points 2a- almost sure to be signal loss. This time, in and out of switch needs a TDR 3a- Last ship complain? Check peier and pier cable 3b- No other ships at same pier with issue, check pier connection on ship and fiber swap in radio 3c- No others with same issue, first time for a long time using port or starboard connector, check connector.
Instead, they groomed the servers and switches for software and were mistified at the slow-down.
The answer BTW was 3C, first use in 2 years of port connector and the caps corroded with salt. Pier connection and cable were fine. I was groaning and laughing at the same time.
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My paperwork skills SUCK:(
But I have great mechanical ability to fix things, can strike up a conversation with a total stranger and tend to be a good surviivor when things go bad.
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<...snipped...>

Some of them can write very entertaining usenet posts.
--
When the game is over, the pawn and the king are returned to the same box.

Larry Wasserman - Baltimore Maryland - lwasserm(a)sdf. lonestar.org
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"Robert Green" wrote

Grin, first one I did had to match an older house. 12.75 inch. It was a replacement due to termite damage of a semi-structural wall along a stairwell (with closet underneath). Original followed the steps and we wanted to match to the undamaged other wall wood of the closet. The stairs were actually falling down on that damaged side so had to use metal supports (the sort where you twist to rise until hit it right). Major pain in the ass with leveling everything. Mom also insisted it be cedar to match the other side and we had to have that special ordered because they hadnt crossbarred shorter lenghts on the original wall and we needed over 10 foot 3x6 pieces for the stretches at the top end.
We were in a small town and had to order from Charlottesville VA (about 1 hour drive away). I still chuckle about the guy driving up and asking Mom for her husband. She saw the wood and told him, 'oh, thats for Carol. CAARROOLL! Your wood is here!'. I'd slept in late and came trotting out in my PJ's with a level in one hand and a muffin half eaten in the other. He didnt stop laughing until I showed him exactly why I had rejected 2 of the pieces. He gave Mom his card after I took him inside and showed the specs I needed for some of the floor beams and 10x2 oak flooring replacements in the far bedroom.
Lets not embarass anyone with my age then. Just say, young enough to come trotting out in my PJ's (girly snicker) and old enough to grab a level.
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