There is an old saying – beneficially learned growing up in a racially homogenous community – among Chinese: Crisis is often accompanied by opportunity.
In fact, though I don’t remember the characters for it, they are similar. Now, in the wake of the BlizTex21, is a good time to remember this linkage.
There are steps and process in disaster recovery. Taken the right way, major improvements in lifestyle may be achieved. Ignore, you will end up right where you were before the disaster.
Rather than complain deep and long, we always choice to turn crisis into a “design re-think” and an update on our path.
Step 1: Assessing Damage
This involves a careful inspection of property. Everything used in daily life is inspected to ensure that it works – and is fully functional as it was before calamity dropped-by.
In our case, the smugness of having no plumbing issues that we know of – yet – was short lived. Coming back to the house from the mailbox Saturday, I noted the roof of the greenhouse had partially collapsed.
Step 2. Basic Replacement Cost
Having noticed and inspected the damage, the next step was to figure out the repair and replacement cost.
I know from past experience that the Harbor Freight Greenhouse (10X12) was purchased some years ago on sale: $495 and I think it was $7-dollar shipping on all orders, back when.
A visit to the HF website revealed that the price of a direct replacement was now $880… a 78% jump (in nominally inflation-free America, lol). But worse, there was no more shipping option. Instead, goods now involve a nearly 100 mile roundtrip to the HF store in Tyler, Texas. With a wife in recovery from hip surgery, this wasn’t looking like much fun, at all.
Harbor Freight tech support is good, though. And a couple of years back due to the effects of Texas sun, I ordered a new set of roof panels. The price was reasonable, but the lead time was a couple of months.
Problem was that before a new greenhouse would materialize, the need for it would be gone until next fall…
If the direct-replacement option is selected, be sure to add in the cost off demising (removal and site prep) for the replacement. Since there are a zillion screws involved (hat-top to my brother-in-law who assembled the original) I figured the assembly time would be 8-10 hours, not counting a dump run for unusable sun rotted plastic panels.
Step 3: Imagineer the Design from Zero
Knowing the replacement costs, time and hassle involved, and such, the next step was to re-think the whole “What is the point of the greenhouse?” question.
When we had put it in, the notion was we could have a greenhouse to:
- Store tools and fertilizer in.
- Hatch out new plants in winter.
- Do extended season growing.
- Have a place to duck into in passing showers.
- Mainly, though, growing things.
When looked at in a “systematic way, the greenhouse functions could be done at other locations on the property. Having it a inside the garden fence, though, was convenient. But the garden is still 150 feet from the nearest house entrance.
The first step of the imagineering process – and I’ve read at least a dozen books on this now – is to list the objectives and then do some “blue sky” time.
What are the design options that come to mind and would fit in the same budget?
There suddenly were three options to be considered:
- Direct replacement
- My own construction using materials from Lowes
- And a radical add-on to the House off the music studio
Step 4: Find or design “the Weanie”
As you get into the study of how the Disney organization functions, it becomes apparent how important “the weanie” is. It’s an eye-catcher that evokes the “God, how cool is that?” response. All over Disney properties.
As we generalize it here: It’s the whole, overall design process that leads to a compelling experience. Elaine calls it “living space that transports.” It’s the difference between hanging some pictures on the wall of ships and calling it a nautical theme. Or, building a whole ship’s interior inside a room and living in that space. See the difference?
A dining room with some palm tree pictures may be a “theme” for a child-level designer. But grass mat and bamboo walls with tiki carvings is more to our liking.
In the case of the “weanie” version of the greenhouse, the one built onto the recording studio would be amazing. Out the studio door, down three steps, you would enter a growing garden. In summer, a swamp cooler would keep lettuce happy and in winter, the (so far uninstalled) small wood stove (box stove type) would finally have a home and a purpose.
A single-burner propane stove and the wood fired pizza project outside the door would give a superior Mood Eating space. Especially with a bar and a couple of stools…
Step 5: Absolute Functionality Option
With “the Weanie” version in had, the other design route is “pure functionality.”
This involved pricing at Lowes: 2X4’s – with tax, no discounts – are going for about $7.50. While 2X6’s 12 feet are around $18 bucks a throw. Polycarbonate panels, 27 by 8 run about $23 bucks each.
Penciled out, I could do a “good as HF” option which would carry a bigger snow load and be easier to modify for air handling, for about $200 more than the HF greenhouse.
Interestingly, making a bigger greenhouse gets cost effective. Since each additional 2 feet of space involves a couple of studs, a 12 foot 1-by-6 and 4 poly panels – about $90 in panels. Maybe $130 for each added 2-feet?
This would increase the detached version of the greenhouse to about $1300 for a 10 X 14 edition, or $1500 for the 10 X 15 size.
Step #7: Make A Choice
Begins to line up like this:
- HF Direct Replacement: $1000. No change or improvement off present operations. No design shortcomings solved.
- The Weanie option: Same Price (since the existing house studio wall offers most of the support. Gives the wood stove a home, a bit larger, mood bar, and closer kitchen access.
- The Raw Functional home-made: Really strong, adds more value to the ranch as a discrete structure.
So there you have it: I like “the Weanie” choice. Besides, it offers some benefits to the main house like an additional heat source.
Will we go for it?
Time will tell, but on a post BlizTex morning, pending other damage yet to be found, it’s a solution worth considering.
The key takeaway? Always develop 3 radically different choices when faced with disaster recovery. It’s a chance to improve and upgrade.
And that makes the whole process something almost like (gulp!) fun!
Write when you get rich,