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.