Newsletter April 2015
Why is that job taking so long? Over the weekend I was catching up on some of my trade magazines and my wife Mary came in and wondered why I was laughing. I told her about this company that had a customer order a porcelain sink on their own. The sink took twelve weeks to be delivered and it arrived in 80 pieces. Unfortunately they had the same problem the second time and eventually had to help explain to the delivery company the best way to package it. "All to save $50.”
The contractor ended up taking down his signs from the job because people were wondering why the project was taking so long. He claimed they even lost another project because a prospective client blamed the time table on the contractor.
Why did I laugh? Because both things have happened to us. When our clients want to "do it themselves" we try to cooperate but we have experienced major delays due to clients ordering the wrong item or the product being damaged. We had a copper roof that took three tries and we eventually aided the delivery company by telling them what they were doing wrong in the packaging.
This also extends to subcontractors provided by the client. In many cases they "saved money" but hired somebody who was doing the job on the side or the project was above their abilities. As the general contractor in this situation, we are expected to manage and supervise people who are not under contract to us. The schedule becomes a domino effect and everyone is blaming everyone.
What is frustrating is the lack of leverage we as a contractor have when something goes wrong. If it's a supplier or subcontractor we regularly use we are the squeaky wheel for them without us needing to scream even a little. If it's really important and they have to make a choice of which three places to be on a given day, they are more likely to choose us. It helps that we also have a history of paying them well.
The last thing about the internet, etc, is that shopping there is like being a kid in a candy store. It's so overwhelming it can freeze the decision process.
They say construction is one of the highest rated stressors, but I have always believed it should be a positive experience. One way to keep it that way is to trust us, as the contractor, to do our job. That includes us making the purchases and hiring the subcontractors we've spent over 35 years developing relationships with for the benefit of our clients.
A Dry Spell
Many times we send this out to help remind people that we're still around. After all, it just may happen you get this the day before you have dinner with friends getting ready to do a remodel.
My goal is to share information I think has value for our clients and friends. Or, in some cases it's just something I think is amusing or timely and would like to share. After 35 years we have a lot of experiences to talk about and a few are particularly relevant given the current drought.
For example, we have recently done a couple small projects that fit the bill. The first involved an enclosure so one of our clients could store extra water. In this case they bought and used two new water heaters just to hold extra water.
A couple times we have seen plans to bury a large tank and have all the gutters piped into the tank and redistributed throughout the garden.
The last project I want to tell you about was new for us. We installed a biodegradable toilet in a rear unit. The project originally was not about the drought but it sure saves water. In many areas you cannot legally add a toilet for a mother in law quarters or whatever. Plus to get a sewer line installed can get expensive and many need ejector pumps. The unit costs a couple thousand dollars and it basically needs a vent and power. It doesn't even require a plumber to install it. The excrement breaks down or evaporates and occasionally you empty the tray. In our client’s case the use is low for middle of the night needs similar to a motor home. It takes some attention and it's not for everyone but in this case it was a good solution for a couple of different challenges.
If you have a challenge sometimes the solution is to think outside the box or just call us.