I once read that the best way to budget for a boat project is to a) plan meticulously, and then, when all items are accounted for and you have your grand total, b) double it.
This technique applies equally to budgets of time and expense.
With that in mind, I dropped my jaw when Alida discussed her strategy. Alida is the proprietress of the house in which I rent a small, downstairs room while Gjoa is in the shed. A plummer by trade, she has worked on deep arctic oil rigs and major construction projects here on her native Kenai peninsula. She can as easily rebuild her car as her washing machine, when she’s not busy restoring her house and raising a family. Which is to say, she’s Alaskan.
While a contractor, she said, her approach was to add a ten percent buffer to a working budget.
Ten percent? I pushed back.
“Well, OK, on the building of this house things got out of control,” she confessed. “At one point I was three months behind on a three month plan and didn’t have the windows in when it started to snow. So, now I double the budget number and then add ten percent.”
This double-the-budget approach is so pervasive as to have achieved a state not unlike the law of gravity. Any more, it’s just assumed.
When I informed Erin at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard that Mike over at Homer Boat Yard said Gjoa’s sandblasting and painting job would take about five days, he responded with, “So we’ll expect you back here in two weeks.”
When on day nine I told Carol, the office manager, that the work was looking to take at least twice as long as planned, her only remark was, “It’s a boat.”
When, after booking my rented room for three more days and then two more days and then through the end of next week, Alida took the long view by informing me I absolutely had to move out by the end of May. She was very firm about that.
And when Mike at Homer Boat Yard said the job would require about five days, what he meant and what I should have understood was something more like two weeks.
Now we are on day twelve of our five day sandblasting and painting project and, right on schedule, the last coat of anti-fouling paint is going on…
Double plus 10, I may adopt that. Isn’t it odd, how even a relatively straightforward job, where most of the parameters are known, just bristles with unexpected twists, unforeseen needs, and staunchly resists prediction by experts? And that’s for a one -> two week job. Now please predict the weather two weeks hence, if you would, sir. Ah, if only someone would write a book on the causes of the unexpected. That aside, looks like your abode will have that great fresh-paint smell. My only regret is that any new scratches will be owned, entirely, by you. No blaming the previous owners!