, Building a New House – Initial Steps in Developing Plans in Florida and Other Areas, Building Wrestling

Building in Miami or any area of South Florida is completely different from building in any other area of the country. While most of the eastern seaboard of the United States, and much of the rest of the country, builds houses with wood framing and a finish of brick or wood siding, South Florida builds with concrete block and concrete.

Quality vs. price

Because of hurricane winds the structures in this area must be very strong. Where the rest of the country looks down on us because they only use concrete block in their basements, for my money, I really like concrete and block construction. Concrete blocks do not get termites and will not rot. Therefore, a concrete block structure will last for 100 years or more with almost no maintenance. Unfortunately, the vast majority of houses in Miami have wood trusses with plywood sheathing for the roof, then roofing paper and either shingles or concrete tiles on top. This type of construction is not particularly good at resisting hurricane wind conditions. Although the Florida Building Code has tried its best at improving the requirements for installing the roof sheathing and the roof finish, it cannot begin to compare to the strength that the roof would have if a concrete slab were used for the roof structure.

So why, if we know this, don’t we build with concrete slab roofs? Cost – the only reason is cost. It is much more expensive both to design and to install a concrete slab roof, especially on a slope to take a concrete tile finish.

So one of the first things the homeowner needs to establish at the beginning of the design process for a new house is how much the owner wants to spend on the construction. There is the cheap way to build a home and the expensive way. This is an issue that will come up many times during the design and construction process.

The program

But in order to determine a budget, the homeowner first needs to establish the square footage of the new house. To establish the total square footage, he will have to generate a program for the house. The program is a list of rooms with their corresponding sizes.

See the sample list as follows:

Living Room 240 square feet
Dining Room 120 square feet
Kitchen 170 square feet
Family Room 240 square feet
Master Bedroom 240 square feet
Master Bath 64 square feet
Bedroom No. 2 216 square feet
Bedroom No. 3 192 square feet
Bath No. 2 36 square feet
Laundry Room 100 square feet
Linen closet 9 square feet
A/C Closet 9 square feet

Total square feet = 1,636

Circulation and walls at 20% = 1,634 square feet = 327 square feet

Total = 1,634 + 327 = 1,961 square feet

So now we have a basic idea of the major spaces of the house and approximately how many square feet total homeowner will need for the house.

Also, this is a good time to decide whether there will be any outdoor spaces, such as covered terraces or pergolas. In Florida these are particularly good additions to the interior spaces. With wonderful temperatures during the winter there is no reason to spend all the time in air-conditioned interior spaces.

The budget

So what will a house that is just under 2000 square feet cost in South Florida? There is no magic formula to determine this. The cost of the house depends on many things that have to do with the design, such as: the type of roof, the ceiling height(s), the complexity of the design, the finishes, whether it is going to be on a septic tank or sewer, and the type of foundations. Then, there are those costs that have nothing to do with the design, like the location of the house, how busy are the contractors in the area, how well-known and reliable the contractor is, etc. Although the price of a house can vary wildly because of all the items discussed above, at this time a range of $150 to $250 per square foot could be used for a house that is not too elaborate with standard construction. So if we go back to the example. A 2,000 square foot house would cost between $300,000 and $500,000 excluding the land.

The design team

The Miami-Dade County Building Department does not require plans for a single-family residence to be signed and sealed by an architect or engineer. This is not true for all municipalities in the area. For example, Coral Gables does require all plans to be signed and sealed by an architect. But for all practical purposes the volume of information that has to be included in a set of plans in any municipality within Miami-Dade County, most of the time, there is a need to hire several professionals: an architect, an MEP engineer, and a structural engineer. MEP stands for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. The mechanical engineer designs the air-conditioning, the electrical engineer designs the electrical, including the lighting, and the plumbing engineer designs the plumbing. The structural engineer designs the structure and provides the required structural calculations for the building envelope. The architect designs the entire house and coordinates everybody’s work. The coordination of all the disciplines is probably the architect’s most important role as without coordination there could be real conflicts in the construction phase. Although it is legal to produce plans on his own in some parts of the county, it will be an insurmountable task to produce construction drawings for permitting (unless the homeowner has a background in construction with actual experience and the knowledge of the Florida Building Code and the local zoning codes).

What do these design services cost the homeowner? They also vary greatly but there is also a range among good, established professionals. This range would be from 6% to 10% of construction cost for the permit plans for all the disciplines. The services during the construction phase are usually charged separately on an hourly basis or in a separate package.

Style of the house

Another important decision to be made early on is the style of the house. There are basically three styles popular for home design in South Florida – modern, Mediterranean, and Key West.

Once the homeowner decides what styles he wants, it is important to convey the style and the details to the architect. The best way to explain to an architect what he wants is through either images from magazines or actual photographs of other houses.

Choosing an architect

Now that you have the basic items together, the next step is to pick your architect. This is very important as this is the person with whom you will work very closely during the next year.

Take the survey from the existing land from the time you closed on your mortgage. If you have lost it or it’s too old or inaccurate, the architect will arrange for you to get it updated or have a new one done.

Ask to see photos of his/her work. Ask for references. Ask questions. Ask him/her how he would approach the project. Start to sense if this is someone you could work with. Do you like the predominant style of the architect’s work? Does his/her work appeal to you? Ask about the process. Ask what you should expect in the way of his/her services. Ask him to show you the plans for a similar project.

People are individuals and everyone is unique. I remember how many people have hired me because they liked my “Mediterranean” or “Spanish” style or my modern or post-modern style. One person told me that she hired me because I returned her phone calls promptly. Chemistry between people is meaningful. Do not discount your initial impressions.

The construction documents

Normally, construction documents entail several parts: the drawings, the specifications, the instructions to bidders, and the addenda. Normally, when the architect handles the construction bid phase for the owner, he selects the type of contract the owner will have with the contractor. This document is also part of the construction documents.

The drawings are the major part of the work, which along the specifications act as a step-by-step guide for the contractor to use during the construction. Sometimes on large jobs, the specifications are placed in a separate book and called the Project Manual. On most residential projects, the specifications are normally covered as notes right in the drawings. For elaborate interiors a separate package is done by the architect and charged separately.

The construction documents are generated in phases from the general to the detailed. I like to divide my projects into 4 phases: Preliminary design, design development, 50% construction documents, and 100% construction documents. Each phase builds on the previous phase until the architect feels that the drawings are all coordinated among the different disciplines and are ready to submit for permitting.

With careful planning and communication with your architect, his good drawings and coordination and the careful selection of a reputable contractor, your new house project should flow without major problems. Although there are often change orders due to unforeseen conditions or changes the owner wants to implement, most issues should be resolved prior to construction.

For more information on the role of the architect during construction, see my other article on the role of the architect during the construction process posted here.

, Why Basket Building Is Vital to Retail Management Success, Building Wrestling

How big is the shopping basket in your retail business? Not shopping baskets you may have for customers but the virtual basket containing what each customer purchases in a single sale.

So, how big is the average shopping basket in your store? If you do not know, you need to find out. This needs to be measured and tracked in terms of number of items and total value.

Retail managers rely on good data to make quality business decisions. Basket size and basket value, tracked over time and compared between trading periods are two vital pieces of business data which will drive better business decisions.

You can probably find out benchmark numbers for average basket size and average basket value for your particular retail niche. This information is helpful in assessing the performance of your business compared to others in your field.

Once you know your numbers and have a process in place, ideally Point of Sale software specific to the needs of your business, to track the numbers you can set about driving growth in basket size. This is the first step, understanding where you are at today and the trend for these metrics of the business.

Here are tips for growing basket size:

  1. Know what the top selling items on your shop floor are. Often you will have around ten items accounting for more than half of all of your sales.
  2. Use the space either side and around the top selling items to promote other produces which customers buying the top selling items are likely to want. Change these up sell items weekly.
  3. Use your POS software to report on what is selling with want. This can help you understand what products go with what products.
  4. De clutter your sales counter and ensure that easily selected items are placed there for customer purchase. Change these weekly. The best counter offers are those which are quickly and easily understood and which appear to be discounted.
  5. Promote upsell items inside the entrance to your store. Change these weekly.
  6. Promote items at key traffic congregation points in your store. Change these weekly.
  7. Educate your employees about basket size, where the business is at today and where you want to take it. Give them the information necessary to making good business decisions with and for you.
  8. Run regular employee incentives to encourage your team to offer upsell opportunities to customers. As burger chains found out many years ago, you can often get the add-on sail by asking for it.
  9. Talk to your suppliers, seeking out products which could work as up-sell opportunities. Again, focus on products which are easily and quickly understood.

Obsess about basket size as attracting add-on business from existing customer traffic is easier than attracting new customers. If they are in your shop they are shopping, sell them something. That is the mindset you need to bring to the basket building opportunity.

Change is key to your basket building strategy too. Regular change helps you combat store blindness from you and your customers.

Keep measuring and reporting. Respond to what your measurements tell you. Basket building is a relentless yet valuable process for any retail store.

, Leave the Games Behind – Team Building 101, Building Wrestling

Call it a bad, real-life version of The Office. The boss decides that productivity and morale are down, so there needs to be team building. So on a chilly Wednesday morning, rather than being at work, the whole staff finds themselves at the base of a high ropes course. The morning starts with some reaffirming words about trust and positive thinking and keeping an open mind from the facilitator, followed by some activities to aid in communication and trust, such as a trust fall and the human knot game. Soon, after some rudimentary safety training, the staff begins to tackle the high roped elements of the course; some are not so wild about heights, so they elect to stay on the ground and help with the safety ropes. As the sun sets that evening, the facilitators congratulate everyone on a job well done and for participating, and hope that the staff is able to take the lessons learned that day back into the office.

Come Thursday morning, with the exception of maybe some sore muscles, its back to business as usual. The boss cannot figure out why his team is not any better, and retreats back to the confines of his office to ponder what to do next.

This is actually an all-too-common scenario. Too often when a team is not performing up to expectations, the powers-that-be elect for a “team building” day, such as the one described above or something similar. And while a day scrambling up an artificial wall may be fun, there is one major caveat to engaging in the above activities: none of it is team building.

Simply put, team building is not an activity, but an ongoing process. There are certainly activities and initiatives that can be of use as tools in this process, but they are not an end unto themselves, and if used as such or not properly facilitated, they can potentially create more harm than good.

In understanding team building, it is important to determine what it is not.

Avoid the Clichés

First, there must be a distinction made between bonding and building. Bonding is merely an act of sticking two or more objects together; in terms of people, it is two or more people getting along and caring for each other at some level. This can be done very quickly, such as a child using paste to attach the eyes onto their Halloween jack ‘o lantern project in school: effective, though temporary. A more permanent bond is possible, but requires greater time and effort.

Building, on the other hand, is an organized and planned effort to construct a solid structure to serve a purpose. There are many individual activities and transactions required to achieve this goal, and once the initial structure is complete, constant maintenance is required to keep it functional. It is a continual process.

As such, team building is not building camaraderie. While in an ideal environment the team will bond and genuinely care for each other’s well-being, it is more realistic that there are people on every team who wish nothing more than to come in, do their job, and go home. Even more realistic a view is that there are people on the team who may actively despise another member. These are obstacles, to be sure, but ultimately the success of the team is not dependent on everyone liking each other, so this is not a goal of team building.

Additionally, team building is not an activity. Putting a team through team building “initiatives”, such as the aforementioned human knot and ropes courses and the like in an attempt to demonstrate examples of core team behaviors does little at building the team, as these activities 1) do not always translate well to the work environment, and 2) do nothing to secure continual support of the potential lessons learned.

Team building is an ongoing, multifaceted process encompassing several disciplines that, when done properly and given the due attention it deserves in any organization, plays an important role in an organization’s success. Ultimately, it is getting a group of people to work together towards a common goal in such a way that the results of their efforts are greater than the sum of their parts. This requires constant attention and is achieved over time, and must be maintained through continual efforts. As mentioned before, there are additional activities that can help boost or accelerate team building, but these tools are only an additional support option for what should be a daily function of the workplace and the team leader. Moreover, the activities that qualify as team building tools are very specific in scope and how they are applied; in other words, not just any activity provided by a book or facilitator can necessarily fulfill this purpose.

The Myths

There are several myths that have unfortunately been tied into team building, that have created unrealistic expectations in regards to the potential outcomes. The two most prevalent relate to team building’s scope of effectiveness and which activities are most effective.

Myth #1: Team building will cure what ails ya’.

FACT: Team building is not a cure-all. There are many possible contributing factors to why an organization is not performing up to expectations, team building being but one. While some quality team building may create a short-term stopgap for overall poor performance, it cannot heal a sick corporate culture. While team building should be a constant endeavor at any organization, regardless of performance, the deeper, underlying issues need to be addressed if team building is going to have the desired impact on success.

The truth is that while a team’s lackluster performance can hurt an organization’s success, it also may be a symptom of a larger problem. It will still do well to treat the cough, but this will do little good unless the cause of the cough is treated as well.

Additionally, team building may not even be the issue at hand. For example, is there truly a team that needs to be built? High school teachers, for instance, all strive for a common goal: educating their students and playing a role in shaping them into productive citizens. However, the Spanish teacher’s job performance is not dependent on the Algebra teacher; ergo, there is no need to spend time and resources trying to “build” this team.

Another example: is the team’s goal mission critical? If the office’s Sunshine Club is not getting along and it is interfering with the plans for the end of year Christmas party, is it worth the money and lost productivity to send them on a daylong team building crash course? Is it worth spending more than an hour’s worth of conversation?

In both of these cases, there is no need for team building. If issues are arising between the parties mentioned in the examples above, other approaches would be more appropriate.

Myth #2: Activities outside of the office can help highlight key behaviors.

FACT: Stripping away all of the excess baggage and eliminating distractions are excellent ways of drilling down to core issues, but most activities do not support this end in a practical, sustainable way. While on paper, the high-ropes course or weekly “team building” initiatives at the morning meeting may seem like excellent ways of demonstrating the core values of team building, there are major reasons why they prove to be ineffective.

One-shot deal. It is the equivalent of brushing your teeth once a week. It may act as a temporary booster, but eventually decay sets in and undoes whatever few benefits gained. In addition, not everyone in the group may get the same take-away value from the activity, thus leading to uneven results at best from engaging in such activities and reducing the return on investment. For them to even begin to approach being effective, the activities need to be engaged in on a regular basis.

Lack of interest. If employees are not interested in the activities, they will not be keeping an open mind to the potential learnings. True, this may stem from a lack of proper facilitation or preparation on the team leader’s part, but it provides for a difficult obstacle: if one employee is acting indignant, the attitude can spread virally and keep more members of the team from engaging.

For instance, if someone is terrified of heights and is generally not an outdoors kind of person, they will not be willing to engage fully in a high-ropes course. Additionally, if they are not participating in the full initiative and are left on the ground working the ropes, they are not going to get the same take-away value as those who completed the course (harkening back to a previous obstacle in engaging these activities). Is it worth the time and resources to attempt to convince these one or two employees to engage fully in the initiative? If not, is it worth engaging in the initiative if the whole team will not be getting something of value out of it?

Statement of the blatantly obvious. Most initiatives will attempt to highlight the building blocks of team building. These “truths” are often patently obvious and the staff already knows and understands them.

Most productive members of an organization understand that they are part of a larger whole, and what they do can either contribute or take away from the overall success of the team. It is during this debrief, with everyone sitting in the circle and each holding a piece of string in a web that symbolizes their responsibility to the team that the facilitator begins to highlight the requirements of team work and the employees’ eyes begin to glaze over.

Same quota, less time. Most employees will see the time spent on team building initiatives better utilized in completing their work responsibilities. The perception often is that there is still the same amount of work to accomplish, but less time to accomplish it in. At a 3-day in-house team building initiative at one company, employees were told that the sessions were mandatory and would last from Wednesday through Friday. At each break, rather than using the downtime to eat something and relax, the majority of the staff were running back to their desks and answering urgent emails, completing reports and making necessary phone calls. Rather than look for the benefits of the session, most employees saw it as a waste of time that prevented them from completing their work.

No follow-through. Once the initiative has been completed, the staff are turned loose back in the office and expected to perform at a higher level with this newfound enlightenment concerning their role to the team. If there is any positive energy generated, and there very well may be, it will often fizzle out after a few days when it becomes clear that nothing has really changed. Managers do not spend the time following up with their teams properly because they become too distracted with other, more important responsibilities. Lessons are not reinforced. Staff members begin to slip into old habits. The facilitator, if an outside one is used, is nowhere to be found to check on progress.

“We do the bonding.” As mentioned at the beginning of the article, many of these activities tend to generate bonding more so than building. They act as a common challenge that people have had to face, much like pledging a fraternity. And while fun, it if bonding is the overreaching goal (and in some cases, it may be as the job requires it), it would probably show a greater return on investment to go bowling or hit the pub for a few pints after work.

Getting on the right track

So what is a leader to do? Is team building relevant, or even useful?

Yes. They key is to readjust the point of view on what team building is and how to enact the process. It boils down to assessing and addressing the team’s needs.

In the initial stage of assessment, a team leader must ask a question that may not have a clear-cut answer: is team building necessary? Prima fascia this seems an ambiguous question at best with an answer that falls somewhere in the gray scale between black and white, but the answer can be simplified by breaking the question down into its core components.

First, is there actually a team? This is a bit of a trick question. Are the people that are working in the department or office dependent on each other’s performance for their own success? Take for example the previously mentioned high school teachers. They are not dependent on each other’s performance for success within their own classroom. True, if all of the teachers are enforcing the rules equally and pushing all of the students to maintain a high standard of performance, then everyone’s job gets a little easier, but because they are not immediately dependent on each other to complete their job every day they do not qualify as a “team”.

However, if there is direct dependency there, then there is a “team”. For instance, if the staff is responsible for achieving a common goal, such as a sales target or a project objective, and each play a role in seeing this goal met, then they are a team.

Who to include on this team can be a slippery slope. Who gets included? How involved in the process must a staff member be to be included as a team member? Does the receptionist who funnels incoming phone calls to the appropriate parties count? How about the administrative assistant who coordinates all of the filing and required meetings?

The team leader ultimately has to make a decision in this case, but to guide this decision, the leader need only ask a question: if this person vanished tomorrow, how much impact would that have on the rest of the team? The administrative assistant would more than likely sorely be missed, as their contribution allows the rest of the team to concentrate on their areas of responsibility, and having team members rotate in to do that job could prove to be counter-productive. The receptionist (as described above) provides a helpful service, but with some adjustments could have their responsibilities taken care of by the rest of the staff with little impact on productivity. The team leader has to make a decision as to who needs to be included, and what the return on that investment must be.

Once the nature and members of the team have been established, the leader can then move on to addressing the team’s needs. To answer the question posed at the beginning of this section, “Is team building necessary,” the answer is if there is a team, then unequivocally “yes”. As has been mentioned several times before, team building is a constant and ongoing process, so if there is a team, the team leader must always be taking action to keep the team moving smoothly.

Meeting their needs

Every team has the following needs that must be met to keep the team functioning smoothly:

  • A purpose or goal: a unifying reason for the team’s existence

    Communication between members and stakeholders: established channels and methods, and protocols, including who is responsible for what types of communication, timetables, contact people for key issues, etc
  • Accountability: clearly defined accountabilities; who is responsible for what, and who is responsible for control and evaluation
  • Support: backing by management at the highest appropriate level, including access to resources and information
  • Real team building lies in addressing these needs. To be effective, a team leader must constantly be assessing and evaluating how the team’s needs are being met. Where are the problem areas? Has there been a break down in communication between two members? Are the appropriate managers supporting the team’s efforts? Have the team’s actions strayed from the team’s purpose? When a team leader starts acting as an advocate in this way, they are laying the foundation for a solid team.

    This is an ongoing competency. Simply laying the groundwork is not enough; a strong leader will constantly be taking the pulse of the team in an attempt to be proactive is addressing the team’s needs and ironing out any wrinkles before they arise. This process can happen in any number of degrees of difficulty, depending on the team members, the tenure of the team, organizational climate, etc. Regardless, the process does not stop.

    The exception that proves the rule

    Now, with any rule there are exceptions. Those aforementioned “activities” that were written off as not building teams? They may still hold a useful place in the team building process, but under very specific circumstances. Even if these circumstances arise, the usefulness of these tools has not been proven, and a leader should only enter into their use under careful deliberation and using experienced facilitators who understand the true team building process and are capable of a longer commitment to working with the team,

    So when are these “booster shots” appropriate? When should a leader drag his team out into the wilderness for four days to help accelerate the process? The following scenarios may call for additional, accelerated aid outside of the ordinary practices:

  • Brand new team with a looming project deadline
  • New members on the team that must be brought up to speed quickly
  • A mission-critical team in critical condition with a project deadline
  • A team where 100% of the members are on board with the activity
  • With the exception of the last scenario, there is a common thread here: deadlines. In all but the last case, the team is threatened by a deadline that must be met. Now, just because there is a deadline does not necessarily mean that there is a need for a team booster shot; as mentioned before, the team leader must carefully consider his or her options before jumping into such an activity. Booster shots are not a cure-all, remember, but only a tool that should be used in conjunction with sound team building processes.

    For instance, a firm that produces portable MP3 players is about to begin a new marketing push to try to take a larger market share. This initiative could mean the difference between several years of strong sales and expansion, or could result in a loss of capital and market share. The senior management team has two new members within the last six months, and there are tensions between the other four tenured managers that have resulted in some communication breakdowns in the last year. In this case, with a team that not only has a looming deadline of some importance, but also has new members and issues between others, there may be a case to engage in some emergency “boosters” to get the team in synch very quickly.

    Boosters that work

    What are some of the options available? If a team leader decides that a booster is necessary, several routes could be taken. In all of the cases below, the key is constant feedback about specific, individual behaviors that are affecting the team. It is not enough to simply engage in the activity with no direction or feedback. And remember, the team leader is not trying to change anyone on the team, but attempting to change their vocabulary and understanding of each other. Focus on the behaviors, not the people, but with an eye as to why the people may be engaging in damaging behaviors.

    Do the work of the team. The easiest and most relevant would be to engage in a team-specific project that directly reflects the work that they do. This has a high level of transfer and relevance to their other work habits and could result in smoother operations.

    Retreats. Take the team out of the workplace and to somewhere new and relaxed where they can focus on the work of the team (as mentioned above). A change of venue and relaxed environment could yield some strong results, but again the work must be focused on the team’s goal. A strategic planning session, for example, would be a good reason for a retreat, but again with feedback given to members regarding how their behaviors are affecting the team.

    Outdoor facilitated initiatives. No, not a high-ropes course (with its previously mentioned built-in barriers). This can be a very powerful tool if used properly. The advantage of being outdoors is that most, if not all distractions have been removed and it lays bare people’s attitudes and behaviors. The stress of the initiatives (often strenuous hikes with little guidance, book ended with facilitator sessions) brings many emotions to the surface and can really get to the roots of the underlying problems.

    Obviously, there are some pitfalls here that, if not carefully navigated, could end up doing more damage than good. This is why it is important to have a strong facilitator present who is not only able to manage the team’s safety and act as an outside observer, but also to help the team heal itself once the inevitable verbal and emotional lashings happen.

    The Takeaway

    As mentioned before, good communication and follow-up are key to the success of any of these boosters. In any of these cases, there must be follow up over several months to ensure that any positive building is being maintained in addition to the ongoing team building that must be present. Faltering in either feedback, follow-up, or ongoing team needs’ assessment will result in a loss of any benefits gained through the boosters.

    Remember, there are three primary keys that are required for effective team building. First, it must be determined if it is even necessary by assessing the nature of the team. Second, it is an on-going effort that requires attention to specific needs that keep the team operating smoothly. Finally, with any team building, whether it is through every day efforts or through a booster, there must be follow through. If a leader keeps all of this in mind, they will be well on their way to developing strong, high-performing team.

    , Warhammer Invasion the Card Game: Deck Building Strategies, Building Wrestling

    When looking through cards trying to decide what to put into your deck it is easy to be wowed by high cost cards. The trouble is without the right amount of low cost cards the big dogs will never see play.

    You need a reasonable amount of cards that cost 3 or less resources with only one loyalty symbol on the board. Our play group has dubbed these First Turn Cards(FTCs)*.

    In order to create a balanced deck you need to have a large foundation of low cost cards to allow you to start gaining cards and resources early. This is why cards like Warpstone Excavation(a zero cost neutral support card that provides 1 hammer) are on the restricted list.

    Warpstone Excavation is a free hammer that when played early can net you 5 – 7 resources or cards within the scope of a game. Low cost cards are huge in helping you develop a board presence before your opponent. Below is my Dark Elf / Undead Deck I plan on taking to Gen Con for the tournament. This deck works off sacrificing its own units for effects so it has a bit more low cost than most, but it still serves as a good example.

    Units(number x cost + loyalty, bold denotes FTCs)

    3 x 0____ Veteran Sellswords

    3 x 0 + 1L Walking Sacrifice

    3 x 1 + 1L Dark Initiate

    3 x 2____ Crypt Ghouls

    3 x 2 + 1L Dwarf Slaves

    3 x 2 + 2L Thief of Essence

    3 x 2 + 2L Vile Sorceress

    3 x 5____ Wight Lord

    3 x 6 + 3L Monster of the Deep

    21 FTC Units


    3 x 0____ Warpstone Excavation

    3 x 1____ Contested Village

    3 x 2 + 2L Slave Pen

    12 FTC Support


    3 x 0 + 3L Lash the Prisoner!

    3 x 1 + 2L Dark Visions

    3 x 1____ Warpstone Experiments

    2 x 2____ Burn it Down

    3 x 2 + 2L Sacrifice to Khaine

    As you can see, out of a 50 card deck 33 of the cards can be played on turn 1 to gain me resources and cards for future rounds. That is 66% meaning 4 – 5 cards out of my opening hand are likely to be playable not counting the mulligan. Dark Elves are an extreme example as I stated before since many of these units are sacrifice fodder. As a generic standby rule I would use the following numbers as a starting point:

    26 units — 13 FTCs

    12 Support – 9 FTCs

    This gives you 22 FTCs comprising 44% of your deck. On your first draw, 3 of your 7 cards should be playable not counting your mulligan.

    When you start thinking about the odds of drawing the cards you need the importance of a 50 card deck becomes even more important. Always keep this in mind when building your decks and be selective when choosing your cards. You can always take it out and try something else, but throwing a bunch of cards together isn’t really giving any of them a chance.


    • First Turn Cards

    , Understanding the Fire Alarm System in Your Building, Building Wrestling

    The next time you step into your building, I want you to step to the side and take a few seconds to look up at your ceiling, and next to the doors. Take note of the smoke detectors, pull stations, and the red panel that is behind the receptionists desk. Then walk down the hallway and continue scanning for anything on the ceiling that looks like a strobe, horn strobe, and more pull stations at the exits. Finally walk to your electrical room or sprinkler room and you will likely find your Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP).

    When you take the key and open the panel you will find the installation date, inspection date, and any repairs that have been performed; notated and placed on the inside of the door. This is a great place to begin your search for who to call if your system is malfunctioning. The installation companies name will be on the top of the installation sticker. They likely have an inspection and service division that can repair your system.

    Now that you have opened your panel, you should take note of a few things immediately. First, does the panel show system normal or something to that end? Second, does the panel have a sticker in it showing that it has received its annual inspection this year? Third, take note of the two batteries at the base of the FACP; these batteries should have the month and year of their installation written on them so that you will know when they should be replaced.


    1. GROUND FAULT – This means that an electrical component is making contact with something that it should not making contact with.

    2. LOW BATTERY – This means that your batteries are low, and likely need to be replaced.

    3. DIGITAL ALARM COMMUNICATOR TRANSMITTER (DACT) FAULT – These have the ability to dial out or send a digitized message to a central station who will relay the message to a fire station or notify designated personnel in regard to a trouble in your system. This being a trouble means that your fire alarm system is not communicating properly.

    4. PANEL BEEPING AND YOU DON’T CARE WHY!!! – This is where prior planning comes in very handy. Call your fire alarm inspection and service company, have them send a technician to your building as soon as possible, they will fix the system for you.

    Your fire alarm system has inputs and outputs. Smoke detectors, heat detectors, and beam detectors are common inputs. Strobes and horn strobes are common outputs. When an input detects something that will put it into alarm, such as fire, smoke, or heat, a signal is sent to the FACP. This signal will then be used to send the notification devices into alarm. Meanwhile, if your system is going into alarm, your DACT will be dialing out to the monitoring station who will then notify the appropriate personnel.

    If you want specific information about your fire alarm system you can usually download the user manual after looking at your FACP to find out what type of system you have. You can also request owner training from your fire alarm service company.