Big Project or Big Problem: You Decide

The Field of Victory is the tentative name of our new soccer/athletic field. It’s been a year-long work in progress and somewhat of a thorn in our side. We’re very excited to finally have an athletic field. However, the process of building it was very taxing. This was the athletic department’s first big project at VBA, and we (mostly me) learned some valuable lessons. Hopefully, these thoughts will help you as you consider taking on some bigger building projects in the future.

Here are four lessons learned from the Field of Victory.

Do Your Homework

Common sense isn’t as common as you think. This was something that I was guilty of in the project.

Know the ins and outs of what you’re going to be doing. Understand any sort of city zoning and covenant laws that could affect your building project.

How will the construction of whatever you’re building benefit your athletic department and your school?

Part of your homework is to make sure that you’re getting the best quality deal possible. Check out all of your options. Know what contractors/vendors can offer the best services at reasonable prices.

 

Know the Potential Entire Cost of the Project

This certainly fits write in with doing your homework. You’ll find that all of today’s points pretty much dovetail off each other. Then again, that was my problem. I didn’t follow any sort of process in getting this done.

  • How much are all the materials going to cost?
  • How much are you paying for labor?
  • What will permits cost?
  • Is your project being done by volunteer labor?

Be wary of non-contracted, volunteer work. It can be difficult to deal with and lead to souring of relationships. Our field was leveled at an extreme discount by one of our school parents who had the equipment and experience to do so.

We’re so grateful for his help. We certainly couldn’t have done it this soon without him. Unfortunately, though, he ended up having to do more than he expected. Since it ended up costing him more than he originally planned, the result wasn’t as clean and polished as we could have gotten if we contracted him or someone else for full price.

Basically, it’s hard to demand a certain result when someone is doing a favor for you in the first place. We still have a good relationship with this family. However, it was definitely a sticky situation that needed to be handled diplomatically.

Because the grading didn’t go as planned, we had to spend more money than planned.

Knowing the complete answers to all of these questions will certainly help you plan for the proper amount and the potential amount.

You need to know potential cost because…

 

Setbacks Always Happen

Murphy’s law: if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.

To build our field we had to cut into a hill. We were able to use some dirt from the grade of the hill in the leveling process. We still needed dirt to be brought in to help though.

A member of our pastoral staff was able to get the original loads of dirt for free. This was a huge help and blessing since just one dump truck full of dirt can cost hundreds of dollars.

Unfortunately, we still did not have enough dirt. Setback number one. Buy more dirt… a lot more dirt.

The levelers also quickly found out that the water line that ran to our gym lay about six feet underground all the way down the grade.

This was a problem since we couldn’t cut into the hill as deep as we originally planned. Setback number two. We now have a narrower field than we originally planned.

Growing grass has also been a challenge for us. Really it’s been the biggest challenge.

The leveling was finished at a time of year here in Texas that isn’t conducive to growing the grass we wanted. So we had to wait a couple of months before seeding.

This didn’t stop weeds from growing on the field however. The weeds have stunted the growth of both rounds of grass seed we planted. Setback number three. Buy more grass seed… and more grass seed.

In science, a law is a theory that has never been proven false. It’s not called “Murphy’s theory.” Be ready for setbacks.

 

Have a Written Plan

Honestly, I could have just written this point first and then dispensed of all the other points. Writing out a plan at the beginning certainly encompasses all three of the previous points.

The reason why I shared the first three was to show how not having a plan and just operating as it goes creates so many compounding problems.

All of the problems that I shared could have been prevented with a written plan.

A written plan is somewhat like a contract in that it spells out exactly what is desired and what needs to happen to finish the job properly.

In this written plan you need to establish a person who’s in charge of the job. This sounds so obvious, but with our field we didn’t necessarily have one person in charge of the whole thing.

A lot of time was wasted because I didn’t step up and say what was happening next.

You need a team to get it done, which we had. We just didn’t have a leader of that team.

Whether it’s you or someone who is more knowledgeable about the project, there needs to be a definite leader that is responsible.

Also, after completing the written plan, you may find that you simply don’t have the resources to properly complete the project. If that’s the case then you’ll need to table the project for a while. Don’t just trust that everything will work itself out. It will, but it will cost more.

We’re so excited to begin using our soccer field for the first time this year! It will go a long way in helping us build our soccer program. Unfortunately, our field isn’t exactly what we wanted and it certainly cost us more than I thought it would.

Thankfully, God still provides as we move forward.

Learn from my mistakes as you plan your next big project!

Any tips on planning for a big project?

Jeff is the athletic director at Victory Baptist Academy. He is also the founder and administrator of TheAthleticDirectors.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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