Construction Curiosities #3 – Happy Accidents, Hemp Houses, Ikea’s Building Materials

Hey! Happy Friday! Matt here. Welcome to the Construction Curiosities newsletter. This weekly Newsletter will explore my Curiosities around the Construction Industry. It is meant for anyone and everyone that works in the industry, ancillary professions, or simply Curious about Construction.

The real value in this newsletter however isn’t necessarily what I think and say, its the conversation by the group. I hope you will join the conversation on !


This week we will look at:

  • One Musing: Happy Accidents
  • One Curiosity: Hemp Houses
  • One (other) Newsletter: Tech Opportunities
  • One Quote: Going Around Obstacles
  • One Meme: IKEA’s Building Materials

One Musing

What is professional maturity? To me it is the moment you realize you don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to pretend be the expert in every single thing.

I’m specifically talking about my history as a Construction Project Manager, yet I’m confident this applies across all trades, professions, etc.

Construction Managers need to be very widely talented. At any given moment they need to wear any of the following hats:

  • Contract Administrators
  • Team Leaders
  • Estimators
  • Accountants
  • QC Inspectors
  • Purchasers
  • Negotiators
  • Document Controllers
  • Safety
  • Legal
  • Asset Managers
  • Scheduler
  • Public Relations
  • Dispute Mediators
  • Designers

Not only are you wearing ALL these hats, you are expected to be knowledgeable in all these subjects:

I hope you got the picture I’m trying to paint. It’s a LOT to know. Its a very liberating moment when you realize you don’t have to know EVERYTHING. Just have faith in yourself that no matter what comes up, you will be able to figure it.

Construction is not a one man show rather a team sport. Your job is not to be the Subject Matter Expert (SME) in all things.

Your job is rather:

  • To have a base level understanding in most things.
  • To be able to assemble a team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in all things. And make sure those SMEs have a qualified team behind them to fill in their knowledge gaps.
  • To have the knowledge to call BS when its needed.
  • To get the right people all going the right direction.

There’s a reason they call project managers “cat herders.” These people also likely have different objectives and goals than you. They likely have multiple projects (that they are behind on too). It’s your job to bring out the best in them when they are on your jobsite.

In the construction world, things are moving fast. To be effective and efficient with your time you are going to make mistakes here and there. And you have to accept that is part of the process.

I couldn’t have said it better than this Construction Supernintendo:

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for the “Screw it. Can’t see it from my house” attitude. I am a huge proponent of the “Measure twice cut once philosophy. The goal is to have processes in place that are just rigid enough to ensure a base level of conformity, safety and quality control. Too many processes and red-tape stifles creativity, entrepreneurial innovation and stops team members from including their own personality into their work.

The real trick is understanding when something must be perfect and when things can be close enough. Don’t spend all your day working on something that could be shipped out in 10 minutes with a Rough Estimate.

For instance: You don’t have time to quadruple check your takeoff of drywall screws in a $500 change order. Yet when submitting your bid for a new Multi-Million Dollar project, you better err on the side of caution. Slow down and take an extra minute to triple check things.

The best thing you can do is show up every day and give it your all. Use your mistakes and errors as learning experiences. And have faith in yourself that while you don’t “know it all” you will be able to problem solve and figure it out.

Making Mistakes GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

One Curiosity

Texas A&M receives $3.74M for green, 3D-printed hempcrete buildings research

“A plan from Texas A&M University researchers to 3D print new resilient buildings using hempcrete has the potential to lower the environmental impact of traditional construction methods and make housing more affordable and available.”

“Hempcrete has excellent fire resistance and thermal insulating properties that can reduce heating and cooling energy demands,” [Dr. Petros Sideris] said. “It is water-resistant and offers good acoustic properties.”

One (other) Newsletter

A great dive into some opportunities in the construction tech space by an industry veteran:

For the Love of Construction Tech

99 Problems But Ideas Ain’t One

I was admiring high rise construction in New York City… but also wondering if the leave out on the right tower was intentional or if the glazing was late. In the previous article, I said “most construction professionals want to be more productive, but are trapped by contracting methods, cultures, or organizations that make it hard to adopt new technol…Read morea month ago · 7 likes · 2 comments · Alice Leung

One Quote

One Meme

To capitalize on the continual supply chain woes, IKEA has announced a new Building Materials product line.

Thank you for reading! Head to the Substack post page to join the conversation.

Leave a comment

Let me know in the comments what you liked, didn’t like, want to see more of in the future, or have suggestions! Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading Construction Curiosities! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Recent Posts