Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Building a Kitchen
We've been hard at work outfitting a new space for Patty Pan. Some of the work involves hands-on building, sanding, texturizing, painting, and installing. Other phases involve standing around and scratching our heads, ruminating, brainstorming and problem solving.
I've built kitchens before, and it's always been a lonely and stressful endeavor. I'm not especially handy and I don't know much about building materials so the process has always required making decisions involving large sums of money that I didn't really have, basing those decisions on scant information and insufficient experience.
It's so different building this kitchen as a coop. Between us we have construction experience, artistic sensibilities, networks to scavenge building materials, and plenty of camaraderie. We're sharing the burden and excitement of making decisions, the frustration of snags and the glory of breakthroughs.
When I built my first tiny kitchen in Fremont, I hired a friend of a friend to build a custom walk-in cooler in an odd-size space off the main kitchen. We submitted a drawing to the building department and they took six weeks to look it over before sending it back with the concerns about the format of the drawing, but no real issue with our actual proposal for the walk-in. We redrew the plans and resubmitted them, paying additional fees and delaying the project several weeks.
When I built the Lucky Palate kitchen on Queen Anne, I paid a professional $1000 to draft a layout drawing and help with contracting logistics. He presented the price tag as a good deal and he may have been telling the truth: compared to the revenue from drafting a floor plan for a full service restaurant, my project must have been barely worth his while. Still, $1000 was a lot of money to me.
This time around we bought cad software and drew up the plan ourselves. There was a steep learning curve but we learned new skills and the health department accepted the drawing the first time around. We've had similar experiences with everything from relocating light switches to moving heavy equipment.
It feels strange to say, but this time around we may actually be having fun.