What would Mr. Rogers say about Windy City Rehab?

We recently saw an episode of Windy City Rehab and were reminded of a documentary about Mr. Rogers in which he decries the idiocy of so much children’s television. So he made a show that was respectful of his audience and that’s what we aim for at make Architecture. Rogers’s critique can be aimed at design and home improvement shows like Windy City Rehab. For instance, in episode one of season 4, there’s a steel beam spanning the first riser of a temporary stair. It blocks the head room. There’s a crisis as somehow no one knew. First, it’s a temp stair and, second, the City of Chicago issued a permit# 100979999 for RENOVATION TO EXISTING 2-STORY OFFICE BUILDING TO CONVERT TO A SINGLE FAMILY RESIDENCE AS PER PLANS. TO INCLUDE ASSOCIATED MECHANICAL, ELECTRICAL AND PLUMBING WORK AND NEW SKYLIGHTS. (EXISTING / PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION TYPE: III-B; EXISTING OCCUPANCY: B, PROPOSED OCCUPANCY:R-5) 2733 N. Pulaski Rd. (public record)

City of Chicago Permit Records

This job is not that difficult and the stair and head height would have already been figured out by the architect at the permit/bid stage. They would not have gotten their permit without the code-required 6’-8” head room. Why don’t the GC and the designer ever look at the architect’s drawings??? They never did on camera. So this is pure made-for-TV drama. What is curious that the City of Chicago records show the crew failed many plumbing and electrical inspections and had a “partial pass” on an electrical inspection as late as 08/16/2023 (See episode from March 2023 above). They failed a plumbing inspection on 02/03/2023 and did not finally pass the final plumbing inspection until 09/12/2023. They did not pass their electrical inspection until 10/12/2023 or 7 months after the filming of the first episode. Both the plumbing and the electrical design requirements should have been obvious because the zoning and use were changed and the building was clean slate requiring everything from a new plumbing service to all new mechanical. Just changing the zoning from M to R-5 is easily $10k in attorney’s fees BTW. The designer/damsel-in-distress added two electric car chargers and some lights but it is surprising that this was not figured out in the beginning and the City of Chicago required them to pull an additional permit 101022368 to spell out these changes. The show is fun to watch–kinda’ like a car accident at times–and remember a lot of architects, can also do beautiful interiors and be effective GCs. Good GCs always follow the approved drawings which are by law supposed to be kept on site and that’s the first step to minimizing the drama and having a less stressful project delivery.

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