But I do recognize that regulations can take you by surprise. Take, for example, the rebuilding of a farmhouse. Ed is attending to the electrical issues. All the while, Andy is there to whisper the threatening word over his shoulder: code.
Consider the kitchen. We have talked about needed outlets. Ed will be wiring them. We've planned their placement. Very handy. Visually pleasing. Andy tells him -- you wont survive the inspector. Thirty-nine inches here. The code says thirty-six. And you need an outlet at the side of the island.
Ed asks -- you mean I have to run a wire inside the cabinet and install and ugly useless outlet at the side?
Yep. Code.It's not an island! It's a peninsula.
I ask Ed for the logic behind the thirty-six inch rule and I'll admit it, it makes good sense: keep your appliance cords short, improve the value of housing, build to a standard. We've been too lax in paying attention to the greater good. Oops.
And then we come to the big one: Ed has finished the necessary fixes to the bathroom wiring. The overhead light is repaired and adjusted, everything else is quite satisfactory from my point of view. Andy looks up with a knowing glance at the ceiling.
Code, he says.
What did I do wrong?? Ed asks.
Where is the fan?We don't want a fan.
The code wants you to have a fan.
The kind with a vent. With a hole in the wall. It used to be that if you had a window in the bathroom, you were spared, but things have changed.
Me, I just do my small number on the window trim. Andy surveys the weekend staining job and sympathizes with my struggles with pine. Can it pass as kind of a rough country look maybe? I ask with the hope of gaining his approval.
Before class, I slab on a coat of polyurethane on the last three windows. I tell Andy I'm in my crossover clothing: from construction work to classroom.
If there is a code for dressing to teach, I have to admit, for the most part, I've ignored it. Neat, comfortable and warm. My guiding principles. The rules are so much more complicated when you're rebuilding an old house.