Monday, March 07, 2011


If you were to peg me as someone who approves or disapproves of regulations, I'd say hands down, I'm one who thinks the world needs oversight. We're too hell bent on doing right by ourselves to be trusted with looking out for the greater good of those around us. We need someone to remind us that the world may implode if we think only of our own purse strings.

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.

DSC05881 - Version 2

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.