ONETIME- Misplaced hospital: The importance of measuring twice


Mike Fermahin of Sarisand Tile

One time, I was supervising work on a hospital. I had a 15,000 square-foot building next to another building with an alleyway in-between. We were supposed to build this building and build a hallway connecting them after it was done. 


So I had the surveyors come out and lay out the building. I was supposed to go behind and check that, but we were so busy that day I didn't check. 

So we're building and building, and months went by. You couldn't see the other building from one hallway to the other one which was about fifty feet across from it. There was a big opening for the hallway that was just closed off with a temporary plywood wall. The plumber was looking through a hole in the wall and asked, "Are these buildings going to line up?" 

I said, "Don't you worry about it. You let me handle the building, and you handle the plumbing." 

So we finished, and I tore down the plywood wall and looked around. 

The whole building was five feet too far forward than where it was supposed to be.

 My heart almost fell out. 

The 15,000 square-foot building's already up: it's already been tiled, everything's done in it. It's an ordeal to build a building that far off. The buildings weren't supposed to line up, but the hallway was. 

They made us draw up new plans. It was originally just supposed to be a hallway, but since we had to fix that, they made us add on a new room with an eating facility. We wound up losing around $250,000-300,000 on that mistake. There was no way to move the building, of course.

So normally they would initially lay four corners for me and they would be offset so that I could run strings everywhere. And after that, I would measure from the property line's corners over to the building to make sure that they were in the right place. 

I had never had a surveyor put a building in the wrong place before in my life.

So it was easy to be lackadaisical. 

The surveyor was late that day. I was in such a rush since we had to have those footings at least dug that day so we could start work that I didn't go back and measure and double-check his work. The surveyor eventually admitted that it was his fault, but that doesn't excuse me for not having double-checked it. 

Trying to rush and get stuff done and my boss being on my back all contributed to it. 

The hospital's still sitting there, still being used. I just had blood drawn there about a month ago. 

There's a very simple moral to this story: "Measure twice, cut once." It's a human world. We all make mistakes.


[Clarification: Mr. Fermahin has done some subcontracting for Sarisand Tile but is not an employee of the company.]