One thing that takes a lot of time, especially of late, is the final layout and design of the space. It is quite easy to get approximate locations of the brewhouse, walls, grain room, bathrooms, etc., but it is another thing to lock in the exact location. This goes against what I ever thought would happen, and makes you choose between saving time, saving money, but only getting one of these at once.
Are you as confused as me? Maybe the words are not flowing from my brain to the keyboard this early in the morning, but the final location and final detail of things is taking a lot of time. Why are these things important? Well, without knowing how long of runs you need for mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, your general contractor and others, you can’t really get accurate quotes on work needed. If you can’t get an accurate quote, when it comes time for an electrician to do the work, and they need to do something that is not in the original package, there is an up charge for this. In other words, if the electrician needs to run power to 10 extra lights that were not in the plan, they charge extra. It is also the time that they can “bend you over the table so to speak.”
So in trying to button down all the details of what to put where, it makes life really difficult for the individual(s) putting together the final plans. For us that means our architect, our brewhouse designer, and our contractor are all working in tandem, with emails and phone calls going back in forth at the rate of about 10 per day, with weekly meetings, and with miscommunication at every step of the way. It is very difficult to orchestrate, as often people are not focused on our project alone, meaning sometimes it is not convenient for others to work on our project. There are also vision issues, time issues, communication issues, and issues with our issues.
One of the biggest issues you cross when it comes to the odds and ends, is saving money versus saving time. At the end of the day, we try to save both at every step along the way, but it has proven impossible. If you want something done quickly, you are going to pay more as you narrow the window of options you have. On the flip side, if you want things done economically, often the time needed to save the money is huge. For our project this means trying to balance out these 2 things, so that we can save a little time, but also a little money. Let me give you an example.
Should you build a cooler yourself or have one prefabricated and installed by someone else? There is something about a cooler that makes it very expensive to pay a company to design and install. It is not like the engineering is difficult, the materials are relatively inexpensive, and the amount of time needed to put it together is nothing exorbitant. So when you get a quote from a company that specializes in putting this into your brewery, the cost blows your mind. The cooler can literally cost $40,000 to supply. WTF. So this naturally leads us to look at designing and building our own cooler. Quickly you realize that you can build the same thing, and save yourself about $20,000 which is huge in the grand scheme of things. The challenge with this route is the time involved. The time needed to procure the pieces, put together design specs, meet code, coordinate trades, etc, etc. What we are now realizing that building our own cooler will save us money, but it will suck a lot of time from spending it elsewhere.
When you have time sucked away from certain things that need it, then you are delaying the process for other things moving forward. So in other words, there is always a delicate balance between time spent on a project, and time lost on another project. There is also a balance between money saved and time saved.
Let this be a lesson to other future brewery owners, the balance of these things is a hard thing to do, and you will spend a lot of time heading down a path, and then after a certain amount of time, backtracking and going down the other path, only to realize that you should have stayed down the first path. The key is to always be aware which path is the best to travel down, and to recognize when you are running into a brick wall ….. because as we have learned, there is never a brick wall to show you are on the wrong path, only a few hurdles, making recognition of this even harder.
My key learning is this: Sometimes getting overcharged is alright, so long as you spend the time you save elsewhere to move another aspect of the brewery forward, or save money. There are other times an owner needs to make a greater effort to save money, at the expense of time, as the cost savings outweigh the time spent. Choose wisely!