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Building styles: pre-plan or just dive in?

Kit Stansley

October 12, 2012

By: Kit Stansley, DIY Diva

In: General Remodeling

Last weekend I found myself -- somewhat unexpectedly -- building a six-foot tall wood frame for a chalkboard. My plan was to select a piece of old barn wood from my pile and then draw up some rough plans before cutting into the wood, but you know how these things go: Once I had the wood on the sawhorses I figured I'd just rip it down to make sure I liked the width, and then I thought I'd just roughly trim the boards down to size so I could visualize it around the chalkboard, and, you know, since I was cutting it anyway, I might as well just cut it on a 45 for the mitered corners, and… well, you get the picture. At no point in that process did I actually stop and plan out what I was going to do or how I was going to do it.

building style

In stark contrast I used to live with an Engineer, and he once pre-fabbed a small barn for our donkeys inside the garage, and then assembled it in place out in the pasture. And all of the pieces fit together.

building plan

I was floored, because I'm pretty sure that dude's measuring tape works the exact same way mine does, but I never once saw him throw it in frustration because things weren't square. Which, I won't say that has never happened to me, but I've also built some fairly good sized cabinetry using my on-the-fly method of building this bathroom vanity, for example…

building style

So having spent considerable time with someone who was on the opposite end of the building-styles spectrum, here's my take on the pros and cons of each.

If you're a pre-planner…

  • You probably have a lot less waste
  • You almost never have to make an unexpected trip back to the hardware store for more materials
  • It's likely you have a fairly detailed plan that you can reference later or use to build the same thing over again
  • It probably takes you a lot longer to get started
  • You may be daunted by the size or scope of a project

If you tend to dive right in…

  • You probably start more projects, more often
  • You're good at working through problems as they arise
  • It's unlikely that you build the same thing over and over again
  • You tend to have more waste (and if you look closely, probably more gaps that are filled in with caulk)
  • You probably swear a lot more

What do you think of my assessment, are you a pre-planner, or a dive-right-in kind of builder?

2 Comments

  • Jo says: 15 October 2012 at 10:28 am
    Great evacuation. As for me I am basically the researcher, double planner who gets very upset if I discover I have to make several trips back to the hardware store
  • Lucy says: 18 October 2012 at 6:28 am
    That bathroom vanity is impressive! I checked out the post on your website, and it did not strike me as on the fly... you're good! I'm a little too impulsive to pre-plan beyond the concept stage, and I've paid the price during past projects (e.g. making stained glass windows requires more pre-planning than I'm capable of, and the results were proof).
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