Construction adventures (Part 1)

The fact that we didn’t manage to finish the Tolstoy construction came to be a blessing in disguise (we were supposed to open before corona).

But why is our construction taking so long? Here I wanted to share a few things which went wrong, and a few learnings I got from it:

  • Getting the construction team together took A LOT of time. Selecting contractors is a pain. The billing is usually intransparent and people try to take advantage of your lack of experience. It took at least 4 weeks to compare the offers and put together a construction team I could trust. Learning: plan in orga into your timeline.
  • Electricity is the key – we realized too late that our house didn’t have enough power (just 35 kW instead of 70 kW we needed) – so, we were almost forced to dig up the street in the middle of the city to put in the new cable. Luckily, there was another cable close nearby, so we managed to use it. Learning: engage electrician BEFORE signing the rent contract.
  • Ventilation is a pain – the place had ventilation built 2 years ago. However, the city authorities said it was not built according to the newest legislation. So, basically, we had to build a huge pipe from the location to the rooftop and also to change all the motors inside – this of course had an influence on costs (x 4). Learning: engage ventilation engineer BEFORE signing the rent contract.
  • Work accidents happen – over the last months there were sometimes 12 people working simultaneously at the location. Some were breaking walls, some were laying tiles, some were putting cables, and so on. Unfortunately, when something went wrong, nobody felt a clear responsibility for it. At some point one team damaged a heat pipe, played down the significance of the damage and didn’t notify me. The result: the whole house didn’t have hot heating for 2 days and we got fined. Learning: clarify with all the teams on the ground a clear line of communication in case something goes wrong.

Overall though I feel like our team got very “street smart” –> these are invaluable experiences for us, which we will use once it’s time to scale. To be continued...