A real cowboy

When we mention we have a cowboy builder to our friends in the UK, they sagely nod their heads and say “Yes – I understand”.  But they don’t.  Actually our builder, Danny, is a real cowboy (6′ 7″ in his stetson and boots), but his vision for our property, customer focus and attention to detail is second to none. But he is also very creative. He LOVES the design side of building. And he loves solving problems.

We hired him to rebuild the deck of the house, but the first thing he did was get his chainsaw out. He transformed the views we have whilst maintaining our privacy, despite our reservations about the number of trees that were being felled. We discovered a garden 5 times larger than we thought we had bought. Fantastic.

The deck is an engineering challenge as it is on a very steep slope, so the piles had to go down 12 feet but the cost of getting in a digger were astronomical. So with a clever redesign, the piles needed to go only 4 feet and could be dug by hand – all 11 of them. Now the timber framing is going up at a ferocious pace. All very exciting.

So you can now see that we have gained confidence in his vision and approach.

Rock shoot

We have a problem with the edge of the garden being washed away, as we have a waterfront property on SF Bay. The answer is to build a wall using rocks the size of footballs. But the drive is 100 feet above the garden and hand carrying them all down would be a huge task. So Danny’s approach is to let gravity do the work. The answer: A shute 50 yards long dropping 50 feet in height which we will roll the rocks down, and they will plummet off the end, down the last 50 feet to the garden!!!  Now Max will tell you that we are converting potential energy into kinetic energy. So the question is “How does the kinetic energy dissipate?” i.e. Will the rocks simply fire off into the Bay or will they stop on the edge of the garden?

We have no idea until the first rock is rolled down the shute tomorrow morning, hence we have built a wall just before the edge of the garden. Don’t worry, the video will be rolling, if only to support the insurance claim.


The pictures left to right are:

  1. The top where the stones are loaded.
  2. The end looking down into the garden where stones launch off and plunge a further 50 feet down.
  3. Looking back up at the shute (to the left of the pine tree) and the protection around a tree near the landing area.


Tenuous BPM link

So what is the link to BPM Practioners?  Well, if Danny had proposed the “shute the rocks” scheme as the first job he had done for us, we would have written him off as a dangerous, cowboy builder. But he started with little steps and gained our confidence.  And that is what is required for BPM projects.  Start small. Get some real benefits. Gain the trust of the business. And then start to be more adventurous and start taking risk which could (and probably will) pay off.

Let’s just hope tomorrow we don’t need to test the process of Danny’s builder’s liability insurance.

BTW I will post the video here tomorrow of the rocks shooting into the garden.

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