“Nothing pleases me more than to tell you I was wrong.”
When was the last time anyone’s told you that? That was me. The words even surprised me as they rolled off my tongue. As most readers may know, I coordinate many of the code compliance aspects of the firm. I see it as my job to take the most conservative approach to any problem, unless I am told otherwise by those who have the authority to approve a more liberal approach. For that part of the practice, this tactic makes the most sense to me. That way, we do not make assumptions or promises that are not based in 100% reality.
This past week, I have had the opportunity to tell two different Clients that my initial interpretations were more conservative than necessary. I know what you’re thinking. “What’s wrong with this guy, won’t he ever learn?” I tell you what: I would not have changed a thing in my process. “Gee, is this guy stubborn, or what?” Yes, but that isn’t the reason. Please consider the following:
- Building Codes leave a lot of room for interpretation of the local authorities having jurisdiction. The code book even says as much in Chapter 1. In the first instance where I was “wrong”, we were looking to make a similar argument that has worked quite often in certain areas but did not work at all in another location fairly close to this particular project. It would have been unwise to assume the argument would work.
- Codes are a lot like those Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to read when I was a kid. Do you remember those books? At various junctures, the reader is forced to make a choice in the action. Based on that decision, the reader is directed to a different chapter, providing multiple endings in the storyline. In the second instance where I was “wrong” this week, based on choices made, I was able to choose a different outcome. The choice I made required some rather significant rework to an existing building, but once completed, multiple opportunities present themselves. The Client then gets to choose their own adventure and change the outcome of the story. To the Client, the effort was worth it in the end.
- I am built this way. I would rather prepare for the worst and hope for the best any day of the week. And if we are being honest, I would rather call you and tell you I was wrong for being too conservative than to tell you, “Hold everything, we have to undo all those decisions we made based on the loose assumptions!” I mean, in that second call, you’re thinking I am kind of a jerk, right? That first call is so much more pleasant for the both of us.
By now, you’ve probably guessed that when I read those Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was younger, I always chose the “safe” route. You’d be right. But just like real life, those writers always were sure to insert some twists that even the “safe” route caused turmoil and affected the outcome, and the submarine still hits the rocks and sinks to the murky depths of the sea. Thankfully, the writers of code books aren’t so tricky – usually.