Shangri La

Shangri La

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Dangers of Assumptions

In my professional life, I'm always on the lookout for assumptions, whether my own or my customers'. I ask every question at least 3 different ways, factor professional backgrounds and personalities into my information gathering techniques, and get everything I think I've heard validated. In my personal life, apparently, not so much.

When the environmental engineer told me in November that we'd need a mound system, we talked about additional testing he could do to determine if a cheaper conventional system could still be an option. He explained that the testing would take place in the spring, and we'd be looking for primarily for the water level in April, when the runoff from the snowmelt peaked. He told me to call him early in the year to set something up.

What he meant: The test is from March 1 to May 31, with April likely to be the best indicator of the height of the water table. Call me in January.

What I heard: We need to test in April, call me in March.

And so, based upon sloppy questions and incorrect assumptions, I called him today only to find that we're too late and won't be able to test now until next year unless I can credibly claim 'hardship' to the State of Vermont. 'Yuppy too impatient to wait for his trophy home in the woods' probably doesn't qualify, so I'm SOL. Sux.

Lesson learned? Just because I'm off the clock doesn't mean I should leave everything at the office.

We've been telling ourselves that the second septic test will determine how we move forward, but now we're stalled a full year if we do so. Looking for options, I was able to confirm that the location of the house and the well won't change due to the size and topography of the property, so we could start with them. And in doing so, the only safe assumption is that the current worst-case septic plan will hold. Ugh.

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