Tear it Down, Build it Again

reframing the addition
Yes, that is actually me, on the right, wearing a tool belt.

The current state of my dissertation reminds me of something that happened when we were building an addition to our house in Las Vegas. We hired a friend to be the general contractor and he had sub-contracted the framing to a carpenter that he trusted. The plan was to have all the framing completed over Memorial Day weekend. The only problem was that the general contractor was going to be out-of-town for the weekend. That left me with the framer.

Remember, this is Las Vegas, NV at the end of May. It was 106 degrees every day during the framing process. The first level went well. I had a tool belt strapped around my waist and I drove in nails wherever the carpenter told me to pound. It was pretty fun, even though it was really hot.

Then we started to work on the second level and things got interesting. We had to tie the roof line into the existing roof, so the geometry was tricky. I hate math, and I’m not much of a construction man, so I was completely at the mercy of the framer (without the guidance of the general contractor, remember). The framer convinced me that the only way we could make this work was to extend the roof in such a way that the outside wall of the room would only be six-feet tall.

I agreed. What did I know?

We spent all day cutting lumber and framing that second-story room…in the scorching heat. It was a thing of beauty.

Then the general contractor showed up and I thought his head was going to explode. He and the framer had some words, the framer walked off the job, and the general contractor and I were left with a very difficult decision. You guessed it. We completely dismantled the second story, tried to salvage what we could, and rebuilt it so that we could have a real, eight-foot wall in the room.

That was a disheartening set-back. However, when the addition was finished, I was so glad we took the time to make those changes.

That is where my dissertation stands today. I wrote a first draft based upon my inexperience as an academic writer and my emerging, and incomplete understanding of the participatory action research project. I now realize that I must disassemble what I have written, recalculate the angles, and reframe the entire structure. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to salvage.

I know that I will be glad I had to do this in the long run. I’m just glad it is not 106 degrees!