My #SoftwareDevelopment plumbing experience

Last weekend I was looking forward to leaving behind my Agile and Software Development challenges and do some work with my hands. My wife wanted a new bathroom vanity. We were buoyed by the false hope gathered by installing a new toilet successfully the prior weekend. I mean how hard could this be? I’m sure everything is pretty standard in plumbing right?

Off we go

Well we started at Home Depot like all good stories do. Tracy picked the appropriate vanity and sink based solely on the room available in the bathroom. She even picked a sink with some additional nice-to-have features like an aesthetically pleasing control to stop up the sink when required. All was good and positive vibes were all around. We felt proud that we even thought of extra items like silicone and flex pipes that would be required to install the sink.

The project

 Phase I – Teardown

So the first phase was obviously to tear out the existing vanity. No problem. Just reach under the sink and empty it of all the items stored below. Ok, now just to turn off the water. What the? Who would install a sink without shut off valves? Really? Off to Home Depot for trip #2 to get shut off valves and install them on both pipes. Already blown my estimate for the tear down work. I thought I’d be able to remove the entire old vanity in an hour. Turns out it took 3 hours. But at least it is done.

Phase 2 – The new vanity

With the tear down a bad memory in the rear view mirror we moved on to installing the new vanity. Over dinner the prior night I mentioned my concerns about whether the drain would line up as the new vanity and sink are wider. Thinking ahead I measure both and determine there are no issues. Awesome.

We lug the vanity upstairs. Lots of drawers and solid construction make it quite heavy. We line it up and two things becomes immediately apparent. The drain coming out of the wall is too low and we will need to cut part of a shelf out to allow us to install the vanity. No problem. A larger problem is that the drain coming out of the wall is 5 inches shorter than required.

Really? Seriously?

Can we all get together and standardize on some key interfaces like the height of the drain from the wall and the distance out from the wall?

The people at Home Depot and I are on a first name basis now. I end up buying some PVC pipe, connectors, a new trap, and a couple of spare parts just because I’m getting very nervous.

Phase 3 – Integration

Alright, I’ve called in some back-up in the form in the form of my brother-in-law. We manage to assemble the new trap and are ready to hook up the sink.

But first we need to assemble the contraption that puts a stopper in the sink by pulling a lever. One problem, one of the rods is way to short? How could this be? Then the answer comes from below, the taps did not come with the sink. Suddenly we are dealing with the reality of trying to integrate three independent pieces – the vanity, the sink, and the taps.

OK, we put aside the stopper contraption for now. lets just get the drain hooked up.

In looking at the sink pipe, there are two holes in the sides of the pipe? Odin’s beard, why would somebody places holes in the sides of the pipe? There is a stopper below the holes that I suppose will prevent leaking if we tighten it enough, but I’m still dumb-founded as to what purpose the holes would serve.

Turns out the holes were our downfall. We had leaking we couldn’t stop, so we over tightened the stopper and we stripped the drain connection. Sigh


We left defeated to retrieve a beer. We will attack it again next weekend.

Then over drinks later I thought of a question my wife and kids always ask me. “Dad, what do you do at work?”

I looked at them and stated:

“Remember all the problems we encountered and needing to find unique solutions ? Remember the questions why someone would design things like this? Remember the frustrations and rework we needed to do?

That is Software Development and what I do every day.

My wife actually got me a second beer.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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