Frank Lloyd Wright Quote

"Form follows function-that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union"

Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, December 22, 2008

Six Degrees of Renovation

Pardon the geek-speak, but I want to talk about something I call "cascading dependencies". When renovating an old house you are bound to spend countless hours pondering all the things that need to be done, and in what order to do them so you can prevent re-work or avoid painting yourself into a corner (so to speak). It's kinda like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only a whole lot more expensive. In everyday life you analyze dependencies without thinking about it, but when it comes to remodeling projects it takes on a whole new dimension. For example, if you said to your spouse "I need to put on my socks before my shoes", you might get a strange look for stating the obvious. But if you say something like "We can't remodel the kitchen until we get a new furnace" or "You can't park the car in the garage until we get a new fence and electrical panel" you're bound to find out that what is obvious to you isn't so obvious to everyone else.

Here's a shorthand notation depicting my actual kitchen/furnace and parking/main panel issues:

Remodel Kitchen
> Put in new corner cabinets
>> Remove old utility chimney

>>> Move furnace so it vents out basement wall
>>>> Buy new 95% efficient furnace (can't vent through wall with old 80% units)

Park in Garage
> Install garage door opener
>> Run electricity to garage
>>> Dig up old fence and run conduit underneath
>>>> Replace main panel so it can handle new 50A circuit

Of course cascading dependencies exist in all areas of life, but most people aren't geeky enough to post about it on their blog. For example, you might hear your wife say something like this: "Thanks for the lovely platinum necklace. Of course I can't wear it with my gold earrings; I'll need a new platinum pair to match." Or perhaps "This new HDTV is awesome! Now we need to buy a Blu-Ray player."

Now let's have some fun with this. Post your favorite not-so-obvious chain of dependencies in the comments below.


  1. Oh - I hear you! We can't paint the house until we replace the missing siding, repair the front railing and rotten rafter tails, replace the garage doors, pressure wash and prime everything, figure out how in the heck to deal with scaffolding on our funky raised lot, and um, oh yeah! Come up with the money to do all of that stuff!

  2. remodel first floor bathroom

    >install second floor bathroom so there's someplace to "go"
    >>re-plumb existing second floor bathroom space
    >>>create rooms on the second floor
    >>>>replace roof on house

    this is only one example. it's like a renovation house of cards. once one thing gets done, the whole job will fall into place.