Jobsite Blunders Big And Small


Something I’ve noticed over the years reading blog posts and articles written by AV industry pros is that they very seldom admit to the on-the-job mistakes that they’ve made. More often than not, they write in a way that anoints them with a halo of expertise.

And I’m probably just as guilty of that as anyone.

There are reasons for that, of course. For one thing, if you want to be successful you have to think like a winner.

You’ve also got to project an aura of confidence if you want to acquire clients.

I remember when I had just received my designation as a CEDIA Certified Professional Designer one of my clients asked me “So what does that mean?”

I replied, tongue in cheek, “That means you can trust me with a quarter million dollars’ worth of equipment and I probably won’t accidentally burn your house down.”

I was kidding, but not really.

Regardless of experience and expertise, no one’s perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. After all, one of the most-used aphorisms in this industry is “good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.”

In the spirit of both education and entertainment, here are some of the mistakes that I’ve made on the jobsite.

In one condo living room installation I specified the wrong location for the in-ceiling rear speakers of a 5.1 audio system. The installer didn’t question it; he just cut holes in the ceiling in the spots indicated on the plans.

Fortunately, those ersatz speaker locations were easily patched and covered with small ventilation grilles, and even more fortunately they didn’t look out of place among the other in-ceiling grilles in the apartment.

Then there was the time I drove out to a jobsite at a lakefront property an hour and a half out of town…without the equipment I was supposed to install.

Rounding out this blog post I’ll finish with a tale, not about a blunder, but the fear of making a blunder: my first really big HVAC automation control design was for a monster home whose HVAC was a monstrous hybrid of forced air and slab heating.

The HVAC had a byzantine level of complexity. I had to do an enormous amount of remedial research to create the design. I have never been more stressed by a subsystem before or after: night after night all through the weeks of design, install and later testing I was plagued by bad dreams about the whole giant mess not working properly.

It did work, and it worked great, mostly because I constructively channeled my anxiety and fear into making damn sure my plan came together.