Preparing for Oversize Building Material Deliveries – Avoid a Pissed off Teamster

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Driver already pissed as he's forced to back down a 1/4 mile drive. Dog barking like Cujo isn't helping.

No matter the size, building projects require a ton of planning; you have to prepare for every event. But, an often overlooked detail is the accommodation of oversize and/or custom material deliveries. The problem isn’t usually in getting the material. Suppliers and manufacturers are thrilled to fill your order. No, the problem arises when you fail to ascertain which method of delivery will be used to get the product to the job site. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a DIY acting as your own project manager, you can find yourself in quite the pickle if you don’t plan for the dreaded, oversize material delivery, and more importantly, find out if the delivery will be arriving on a big-rig.  

As I recently discovered, big-rig drivers, (A.K.A. teamsters, semi drivers, truckers, 18-wheeler masters, kings of the road, etc…) are:

A)     not too thrilled when their dispatcher calls for them to deliver to a not so big-rig friendly, residential area

B)      also not thrilled when they realize there’s not a chance in Hell they can maneuver the rig into a too tight driveway, forcing them to park on the road and hoof it to the residence, looking for whoever is “in charge”

C)      seriously pissed off when the person in charge assumes the driver is also the “un-loader and drop it right where I need it” guy

D)     tweaking, sociopaths when they realize a forklift, or at the very least, several burly weightlifters are needed to get the damned product off the truck, yet neither is on hand

Material finally unloaded. Driver now over an hour behind schedule; just glares at me when I offer him a sandwich for the road.

In retrospect, I can’t blame the driver for being furious. Why? Because, semis are equipped for pick-ups and deliveries to warehouses – not so much to my, (or your) house. Warehouses have loading docks and lifts and crews and dollies and all the room in the world for an 18-wheeler to maneuver and various other cool stuff that makes the driver’s life a lot easier. I think it’s important to remember too, that a driver is just that. Though some may be prepared to unload and move oversize/custom, heavy items once at the job site, the majority are not.

So you can understand the situation that might arise when someone, (and by someone, I mean my husband and I), orders multiple 12′ x 8″ x ½” thick steel beams, weighing 700-plus pounds and does not bother to get the freight or shipping details from the manufacturer.  As we stand there scratching our heads, a furious and very, behind schedule driver hops up and down, cursing us to no end.  All this while we make desperate phone calls to anyone we can think of that might just happen to have a lift of some sort, or at least be available to come and help unload the truck.

So there’s my tip for the day. If you order custom or oversize material or products, make sure you know how they will be delivered. Generally, local suppliers will use a company truck, equipped with the necessary means to move the material from the truck into your house or to the job site. But, a lot of special, custom or oversize materials and products ship from out of state and depending on size and weight constraints, that sometimes means an 18-wheeler. Plan ahead and save the headache!

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About Liz

Liz is a professional, custom picture framer based in Central New York. She and her contractor husband are currently renovating their second home together. At the time of this writing, they are not on speaking terms. Her love of making stuff with wood and DIY home projects began by watching her Dad. (It was also around this time Liz's incessant use of "colorful language" took root.) She's an avid gardener, stellar cook and doesn't throw like a girl: an all-around rad chick.

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3 thoughts on “Preparing for Oversize Building Material Deliveries – Avoid a Pissed off Teamster”

  1. My father-in-law in Pennsylvania has the exact same issue at his property. When he quit farming years ago to become an electrical contractor he turned his dairy barn into a warehouse so he will frequently get 18-wheelers coming up his farm lane to drop off pallets of supplies. Luckily since it was a farm he has a Bobcat with long forks on the front so getting the stuff unloaded is usually not a problem. The drivers are usually from NJ or PA and are pretty understanding so you might have just had a cranky one.

    The best part about his place is when he is away from home on a job and nobody is home the Amish neighbor will watch for the truck and send one of his kids over to unload the goods. Imagine you are a long-haul trucker and you show up to a dairy farm to deliver a load of fluorescent tubes and a ten-year old kid comes careening around the corner in a bobcat with 8-foot forks on it. They are probably so shocked they forget to be angry.


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