|At the end of a series of long discussions, here I am - doing as I'm told.|
Friday, 28 October 2011
Symbols of Power
Putting up Gib board, choosing paint colours, deciding positions for taps, drains, power sockets, switches, even putting down sections of floor – we’ve been here many times before. As with all our previous homes, the scale of the endeavour has once more increased – but then so has our own level of experience.
While we continue to wrestle with a look for our new bathroom – the one room whose wall and floor coverings generally aren’t painted or carpeted afterwards; requiring a colour scheme decision straight away – the electrician needs our attention first.
Lights (pendant, wall mounted and the down-light variety), switches (single and double) and power sockets of every configuration need to be quantified, argued about, indicated, moved and possibly regretted afterwards. A fuse box needs to be housed, cables have to be run, extractor fans installed and monitoring units for our off-grid energy production positioned. I haven’t even mentioned phone jacks, coaxial cable sockets or the special requirements of our photovoltaic panels and batteries.
When we drew our own wildly inaccurate floor plan at the beginning of the year, we also supplied a ‘lighting plan’; peppering our home with various exotic symbols indicating placement of the myriad of electrical points mentioned above. This seemed to serve the purpose of making an initial quote possible, but as an unbelievably quick seven month mark in our container loomed, we suddenly found ourselves with a couple of days before the electrician arrived for his pre- wiring meeting.
We had to be ready, but fortunately, he had recommended that we literally marked positions inside our house with bits of note paper. Having already created our own hieroglyphs at the beginning of the year, we could go one better than that, so the day before the meeting saw Rose and I placing carefully printed and cut-out symbols on our house’s interior framework with double-sided tape. This took much longer than expected, because we both became acutely aware of how important each of these little sticky-backed decisions were. The process began to take on a surreal Marcel Marceau quality, as we took turns carefully miming the putting in of plugs and switching on of lights, along with the opening and closing of non-existing doors before leaving our mark. When this house is finished, we really will need to see about getting out more!
Absurd and pedantic as it all was, our care paid off the next day when the meeting took a mere hour and a half. Our electrician told us horror stories of five and a half hour endurance tests with indecisive or bickering couples, some partners even storming off and leaving him with no choice but to return for round two later. In our case, however, a few adjustments were suggested for logistical reasons and a date was set.
As of next week, we’ll be wired, socketed and switched – and the next challenge will be for us to actually generate enough power to be able to use them.