Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Urinals and the State

I went over to talk to the lead plumbing engineer at Erdman, a local design/build firm. We talked for about an hour about the merits of waterless urinals and extremely low-flow urinals. In terms of using environmentally friendly building choices, you would think it would be an easy decision to just go with the a waterless. Compared to the very low flow models (1/8 gallon per flush) and a no water model you have some trade-offs. The problem with waterless urinals is that they use a plastic cartridge that you fill with a oily chemical that serves as the smell barrier. After a number of uses, the cartridges have to be thrown out and replaced. Depending on the company, those cartridges are between $5 and $30. At Erdman, they replace their cartridges once a month throughout their building. Not only does that start adding up in terms of cost, you are throwing away a lot plastic.

With the 1/8 gallon per flush model you are using water, to be sure, but very very little and you aren't using chemicals or throwing away plastic cartridges every month. One thing I should also mention, a standard-flow urinal uses 1 gallon per flush--not that most men actually flush after they use the pisser.

I have decided to use the 1/8 gallon model. The problem there is that the plumber has to install a cold water source that they hadn't planned on installing. Better now than AFTER they pour the concrete.

Speaking of plumbing and concrete, we've run into a little snag. Because we have over 12 (or 14?) plumbing fixtures, the plans for the club must be approved by the State, rather than just the city. Until the plans are approved, we can't have our plumbing inspected and subsequently we can't pour the floor. And, of course, everything on the schedule depends on the floor.

We were planning on pouring the floor on Thursday, but that might not happen. That would be unfortunate since it's suppose to be warm. The space needs to be kept warm for the pour so that the concrete cures properly. It'd be nice not to have to turn the heat on in there if we didn't have to. The only heat source now are a couple of Hot Dawg heaters as seen in upper-right cornder of the picture above.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Electricians and Plumbers

The electricians were in on Tuesday digging trenches and laying some cable. I was surprised that they were digging with a shovel and a mattock. I watched the guys work for a few minutes and it felt like I was watching a scene out of "Grapes of Wrath" where Tom Joad finally gets some work digging a ditch.

His pick arced up and drove down, and the earth cracked under it. The sweat rolled down his forehead and down the sides of his nose, and it glistened on his neck. "Damn it," he said," a pick is a nice tool (umph), if you don' fight it (umph). You an' the pick (umph) workin' together."

Anyway, the Plumbers came in on Wednesday with a mini-excavator. So much for romantic notions about the pick.

Speaking of plumbing, on the web page I noted that we'd be using waterless urinals. That has come into question as one of the local builders in town cautioned that they tend to smell like pit toilets at the state park on Memorial Day weekend. I'm not sure that's the ambiance we're after here at Madison Squash Works. On Monday I'm going to a building that has these toilets installed to give one a try. I'll be sure to have some asparagus the night before.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Construction Begins

Construction has begun for Madison Squash Works. There is no floor in the building so an excavator guy is digging down a little and leveling the existing dirt. It's really soft gravel and dirt so it's going really quickly. Where the courts are going to be located, they are digging down a little bit further so that when all is said and done, the court floor will be level with the floor in the rest of the club. As an aside, the courts will have top-grade maple floors that will be left with a good bit of texture to them. The reason for this is that when we play on them we'll have plenty of grip and also the ball won't skid on the floor. These floors will lead to a few skinned knees but that's the price you pay for good floors.

Anyway, the excavator guy will be done today and the plumber and electrician start tomorrow with some rough work before they pour concrete next week. Cool, eh?

Oh, and while we're at it, we've launched the website today. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


So. We own a warehouse. Without going into too much detail, after several months of negotiating, a collapsed retaining wall, some mold, and a Certified Survey Map, we finally closed on our building on September 30th.

Now we have to turn it into a squash club. At least part of it. The building is 15,000 square feet and has one existing tenant, Yahara Bay Distillers. The fine folks at Yahara Bay make artisan gin, vodka, rum, apple brandy, and lemoncella. When the 90 gallon still is running, the whole area has a wonderful, heady aroma to it.

Madison Squash Works will be using about 6500 square feet of the building, or a little over half the remaining space in the building. The challenge now is to transform an empty, floorless shell of a building into the premier squash club in Wisconsin. Since it will be the only squash club in Wisconsin, being the premier club shouldn't be too hard. There are other places with courts, but this is going to be way better.

Today was the pre-construction meeting. The general contractor, James, and all the subs--plumber, mason, electrician, HVAC guy, sprinkler system guy, as well as the architect were there. We all stood around, kicked the dirt, looking at the ceilings, and talked about who was doing what and when and who needed to be out of the way before the next person starts. Turns out one of the biggest challenges is that the ceiling height is around 24 feet at one end of the building and 34 feet at the other. Seems like everyone but the plumber is going to have to be up on a lift half the time.

The plumber starts on Tuesday of next week along with an excavator. Plumber has to build some trenches and then stub out all the drains and stuff . The electrician is going to be doing some work alongside the plumber so he can share some of those same trenches.

Once those guys are done, the excavator has to lower the level of floor down a good bit before they can pour the concrete. The court area has to be on a 5-inch slab, and where the court walls are going to be, the concrete will be a full foot thick to be able to bear the weight. The things you learn when building a squash club.