I FEEL THE PAIN
“It’s going to be messy and dusty longer than your patience will probably allow.”
This is something I tell every client before we start. I try to set proper expectations. I tell them an expected timeline, set goals, update regularly, and work to keep crews on schedule. However, the odds of keeping a project perfectly on schedule without issues are low. The only possible solution is to mediate them and roll with the punches.
The reason for this is: construction relies on many moving parts. It starts with selections. Clients must select dozens of items and so many choices at once can be overwhelming. The way we work with our clients is to go shopping with them. We schedule shopping trips and walk through warehouses with them--helping them to select pieces that work with the full design--as well as determining correct sizes, colors, amounts and necessary accessories. Our assistance during the selection process is helpful as long as the client doesn’t have issues deciding, the vendor has the materials readily available, and the chosen items aren’t on back order. Multiple layers in this step alone can cause delays and do-overs. If the selections process becomes too stressful for a client, we have designers who will do it all for them.
Next, distribution is a beast to tame. The possibility that thousands of items with multiple color options will be available within a few weeks’ time is highly unlikely. We strongly encourage clients to select a Plan B to help alleviate return shopping trips or delays in production due to delivery issues. These delays can be very frustrating. This step alone can cause lost sleep and stress within a family or a marriage.
Labor and manpower are another layer of the project which can be irritating. Any time you are dealing with people, you can usually count on at least one “human thing” happening. For example, a laborer may have a flat tire on his way to the job or clients earlier in the day or week may have changed their minds about a detail of their project which then causes a delay for the next client on the laborer’s schedule. Many of the team members involved in the construction process have families; unforeseen changes in family schedules (such as a sick child or spouse) can affect the individual laborer’s schedule. This, in turn, unfortunately causes changes to the project schedule.
Daily production work is how contractors maintain a living. Because of this, many contractors work back-to-back projects. Some overlapping must be balanced due to inspection delays, unexpected issues, or just plain lack of work in his or her specified field of expertise. With that, a day missed on one project may mean additional days delayed on the projects to follow. When one specialist on a project misses a targeted timeline, it affects each specialist that follows, and those men and women must modify a schedule to keep daily work flowing. Unfortunately, every client in line is affected and production delays are the result.
There are many, many plates spinning in this “circus” that we coordinate every day. But, as a contractor, I had never experienced the delays and discomfort personally. UNTIL NOW.
We recently began a remodel on my own family’s kitchen and bath. I had the best of the best on call to help me. However, even with backup plans and dedicated excellent people, delays happened.
Our family’s home renovation was delayed by automobile failures on two occasions, a contractor’s surgery delay, material shortages galore (one Sunday my wife and I had to drive to Memphis to pick up tile not available in Nashville to keep the installation on schedule for first thing Monday morning) and a broken counter top slab during installation…the last slab of its kind in stock after the rest of the counters were already installed. In addition, there were multiple late arrivals of installers and laborers. However, the project still only took five weeks and we got it done under budget.
I write all of this to say, I DO feel the pain! I have now seen the other side and it will most definitely improve my bedside manner. Having gone through the dust, disruption, disarray, and disappointment, I am a better contractor for it. I certainly do not want my clients to experience those things, but I cannot guarantee that every project will be perfect. Once again, this is a multi-layered event. However, I know now from personal experience how to prepare clients and to help them cope with the stress of the process.
Thank you for reading. If you have your construction story, comment below. We learn from each other and grow into better people by sharing.
Can you believe it’s almost September? I heard recently that Starbucks is introducing all things pumpkin spice during the last week of August. Yes, summer is coming to an end and Fall is just around the corner. That means the holidays will be here before we know it.
Historically, October is the biggest booking month for home renovation projects for most construction companies.Contractors talk about this fact all the time. People start to make their Halloween party plans and then begin to think about hosting visitors and large family gatherings in their homes for the holidays after that.
People begin to look around at their kitchens, guest bathrooms or great rooms. They start the process of calling construction companies to ask for estimates during the month of October, gathering information with the idea that the project will be scheduled and completed before November.
However, the timeframe to schedule an appointment, return an estimate, negotiate details, and book a start date is approximately three to four weeks. If a homeowner begins the process in October, the start of any project may very likely not be able to be scheduled until mid-November, with a pre-holiday completion nearly impossible.
This is the reason for this blog. Begin thinking now about your holiday gatherings. If you begin now, we could complete a three-week guest bath remodel before your guests arrive for Thanksgiving. If your family gathers at your home for the holidays or you’re going to be gathering in someone else’s home this year, share this blog as a reminder to begin renovationpreparations now.
Let’s make SEPTEMBER (not October) the month to book your home renovation!
Just OK is NOT OK!
Would you shop around for the cheapest surgeon when you are getting ready to go under the knife? No! You would seek out the best and most experienced doctor available when you are facing important decisions about your health. So, why wouldn’t you seek out the best and most experienced contractor when you are facing important decisions about your home?
Selecting a contractor is very much like selecting a surgeon. The first step is to select the right person for the job, not to make your selection based on the cheapest price. As you would when choosing a surgeon, you would ask friends or family members about their experience and who they would recommend. And just as you should meet and ask questions of your surgeon before going into the operating room, you should meet and ask questions of your potential contractor first.
Thoroughly interview your potential contractor. Ask for references. Call the references. Read online reviews. A personal referral from a friend or family member is the best way to find a qualified person to take on your project. However, price shopping is the worstway to select a qualified contractor!
Allow me to explain…as contractors, our trade is much different than a typical retail service a homeowner may purchase. We offer many products and have many options for constructing or installing those products. This causes some contractors to have higher costs than others.
For example, when you ask three contractors to bid a project, each contractor who looks at the project will have a different method, history, and pre-set idea of how to accomplish the goal. Many times, the ideas of the three contractors will not match. Also, the quality or attention to detail will not match either.
Have you heard the complaint, “the contractor gave me a price to start, then the price doubled by the middle of the project”? If a contractor’s price is much lower than others’ estimates, that is a red flag. Either the contractor was not detailed enough, the scope of work was unclear, he didn’t include everything, or he may be trying to land the job and will then add change orders during the project to continually increase the price.
A good contractor should recommend a 20% contingency surplus with his bid. Every home has hidden secrets and may present additional costs after demo day. However, if a project exceeds 20% in change orders, either the client has added much more work after the initial project begins or the contractor did not perform his due diligence during the proposal phase.
Be aware that many levels of contractors exist. A good contractor will stay in his or her lane and direct clients to the proper help if he or she isn’t the best fit. However, there are many contractors out there who just want the next contract to sign, regardless if the project is the best fit for them or not.
Don’t hire someone who cannot show you projects he or she has done which are similar to what you are seeking. You wouldn’t want to be the first patient for a brain surgeon. Why would you want to be the first for a contractor?
Just OK is NOT OK! You really do get what you pay for. Don’t take chances when it comes to your home.