There are a lot of turning points and milestones in construction and remodeling: groundbreaking, first coat of paint, first lumber delivery, the first time the furnace is fired up, and so on. But this month we reached a turning point that is not very well-known, except perhaps to builders, and that is the turning point from rough- to finish-work.
Rough work gets covered up—framing, foundations, sewers, etc. Rough work is ultimately hidden, buried. It becomes invisible, and as such, need not be pretty. Rough work is judged on its strength, its function, its degree of level and square, not by its beauty. Finish work is judged on its appearance–does it look straight, tight, and right? Finish work remains under scrutiny for the duration of the house.
And so, last week, as the siding contractors made their way to the final side of the house, and I watched the last of the housewrap and window flashing disappear from view, I mentally marked this turning point.
Finish work brings with it the finality of the concealment of flashings, foamboard, caulking, glue, fasteners, shims, concrete, mortar—all of which warranted hours and weeks worth of labor. Alongside their hammers, nails, and knives, the siders kept two essential tools which had previously not debuted at this project: a rag and spray cleaner. These are mainstay tools for finish work—to eradicate smudges, fingerprints, and dust from the finished product. In the next few months, all of our trades will keep these universal tools close at hand—as we install baseboards, roll paint, and hang fixtures.
Our frame will be covered—sheathed, insulated, sided, roofed, drywalled, and snaked through with mechanical systems. The work we have done up to this point will lay silent, hidden, invisible to the occupants. That’s not an excuse to skimp—just the opposite, actually.
You and I and the homeowner will sleep easy at night knowing that the frame is solid, the building’s shell is efficient, the mechanical systems are advanced, and the finishes are meant not to obscure, but to adorn, what lies beneath. I have no qualms about what will be invisible moving forward.
There is much groundwork that is laid before the finished project is polished up. By the time a homeowner received their keys, there have been countless hours of work that they have put in—budgeting, saving, planning—and countless hours of work that others have put in—both volunteers on the houses, staff of OHM and our partners. As we pass this juncture, we want to say thank you to all the partners that have given us a solid foundation as we move forward. This month’s workdays were underwritten by McRo Construction. We are grateful for their investment in justice, community, and homeownership.