New Custom Enclosure Dilemma

March 28, 2021
by Dave of Dave's Skinks

    I had dreamt up this 6-tier, PVC and glass enclosure that featured radiant heat panels. What I didn’t quite imagine was the global and national requests for acrylics, pvc slabs, glass demand orders, shipping delays, and price gauges as a reflection of this “new normal”. One by one, after going fairly in depth with design, builders started flaking on the project. Couldn’t get the materials anymore, didn’t have the time, couldn’t fulfill my timeline. Except one builder stuck it out and promised me just about everything on my wish list. We were able to accomplish the elevated dam, a guard for keeping loose substate from getting pushed onto the door tracks, the use and installation of ProProducts radiant heat panels and t5 light fixtures. The dimensions were on point giving my skinks 1000 sq. in. floor space. I had to lose the front drop-down doors – was just going to get too expensive. Like $1200 on the doors alone. We will keep tinkering for the next one. But there ended up being problem after problem. Ok, the door thing should have been the only problem. It wasn’t. Before I get into the bad, let me highlight the good.

    The builder met my unique build specifications. He was always available. There is fine craftsmanship in the final product. However, in the design portion, we talked about ventilation. An unrealized issue at the time, would later turn into a headache. He assured me he had been doing this professionally long enough and we wouldn’t need additional ventilation and what was drilled in would be enough. Ok, I guess I believe him. I wanted 4 ¼” heavy duty casters. So the whole tower would be mobile. He assured me his polyurethane wheels had been in use for years and would withstand the weight in the enclosures. I insisted. He insisted back. We eventually went with his wheels… They wouldn’t even roll with the full weight of the enclosures with glass absent any substrate, rocks, water bowls, etc. More problems on the horizon…

    He overshot the completion / shipping deadline. Then he overshot the backup / safety-net deadline. It didn’t make any sense to receive new enclosures in the middle of winter. The reptiles would already have to be settled down by then. I told him I’d rather just figure this out next year or just take my money back and I’ll figure out another method of housing the existing but growing lizards and new ones to come in. He wouldn’t do that because the enclosures were already built minus the glass that was late. I insisted he go with another glass distributor. He wouldn’t do that. So all the while my lizards are just waiting and stressing about not going into brumation, because I’ll have to wake them once their new homes arrive. Or risk some going down now and everyone wakes up at different times and then the breeding season for 2021 is completely lost.

    He eventually calls me. They are ready to freight ship. However I am responsible for arranging the freight shipping. He gave me the info I needed to book and a few recommended shippers to bid quotes with – new to me, but not unusual. I figured it out. We had it all set. Confirmation, residential address, they’ll be able to get it to my building from the street, etc. The day of arrival and I haven’t heard a peep out of anyone. I call to inquire where my shipment was at and the exact arrival time. They had no clue what I was talking about. My freight shipping booker forgot to share the info with FedEx who would handle the package once dropped off in Chicago, before making its way to my exact address. It was a mad scramble to even locate my shipment. They couldn’t get me my package for another week because they didn’t know they had to. I took time off work and made it happen to get the tanks in that evening. I had pre-hired a crew to work the following day getting them set up and installed and I wasn’t losing out on any more. It could not have been a more stressful time.

    Now that the tanks are up and running I can breathe easy. But lesson learned, don’t leave just one month’s safety net. Try a 3 month safety net next time. Insist on more ventilation options. Stick to your guns on what wheels will work and which will not.

    A new YouTube video positively reviewing and highlighting the unique aspects of the enclosures can be seen here XXXXX