Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Know Everything About Everything?

But Since This is Impossible, I Recommend Getting the Help of a Professional

You’ve probably met people that think they know everything about everything. And there is no convincing them otherwise.

There certainly are people who know more than I do, but it’s not about knowing everything or who knows the most.

It’s about knowing what you know and using that knowledge to help others.

Last week I wrote about construction questions and answers. I used a window project as an example. You might remember that the customer had received a quote for more than $36,000 to replace thirteen windows.

After I looked at the project it was clear that only one needed replaced. I told you that I would let you know what I came up with. I gave them a proposal to replace one window and repair some of the wood finish on the rest.

My price for this was $4,771.71. That’s 86% less than the original price.

It’s less about the price and more about the work that “actually” needed to be done.

The real issue with this project like many others is in finding what the customer needs and not trying to sell them as much as you can. The focus on selling rather than service is prevalent.

This level of service requires asking questions and listening to the answers. Finding out what it is that the customer wants and needs.

This is what professionals do. Professionals help you find the solution to YOUR problem, not give you a one size fits all answer.

Because we don’t know everything about everything, means we need to find someone that knows something about something.

I’m sure I could find information about how to do brain surgery online…but if I needed brain surgery…I would find someone that has experience and specializes in that. I haven’t seen any DIY brain surgery shows yet.

Granted, if you have a construction project go bad it’s not the same as brain surgery.

My point is this. When doing a construction project, you may not even know what you don’t know. This is where the guidance of a professional comes in. This is not to say that every building contractor is a competent, skilled professional.

I’ve heard too many people complain about their bad construction experience. Every time it came down to them making decisions without due diligence.

Almost always it comes down to being sold rather than serviced.

To minimize the bad construction experience you need to be clear on what’s most important. Is it price or quality? Is it having it done fast or waiting for the skilled professional?

Most of our construction projects come from references and recommendations. The ones that don’t start with building a relationship, not selling.

If you or someone you know is considering a construction project, I would recommend spending the time and energy in finding the right professional and asking the right questions.

What’s Most Important as You Consider Doing a Construction Project?

Isn’t That a Question That Everyone Would Like an Answer To?

Whether doing a construction project yourself or hiring it done, there are some questions you’ll need answered. These will include things like…

What is the problem(s) or issue(s) that need addressed?

  • It may be as simple as a door not latching or a window sticking
  • Maybe it’s some damage or wear i.e., rotten floor framing or water damaged window sash.
  • Could be the need of something to make life easier i.e., a ramp for a wheelchair, or an enlarged shower with a bench to make it easier for someone with physical restrictions.
  • Might be needing more space for a growing family i.e., a second bathroom, extra bedroom, or larger kitchen.
  • Possibly it’s a combination i.e., your existing deck is in bad shape and didn’t get used much because of the sun in the afternoon so a covered deck to replace the existing one.  

These questions are the starting point of a construction project.

The question about these questions, is where do you get the answers?

With the ease of access to information on the internet, people use this as their go to professional. The problem with this is, more often than not, that information is generic…and your project isn’t.

Every construction project is specific and unique.

With the exception of cookie cutter new construction, which is like going to a car lot and buying an already built house. Which there’s nothing wrong with but is not what most construction projects are.

I’m currently working with multiple customers asking the questions listed above. Let me give you some examples of why you need someone to help you find the solutions to your specific question.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a project where a customer was looking for a contractor to repair some floor/wall framing damage and couldn’t find one locally. Currently we’re working to find the best solution. They probably wouldn’t find a solution to this specific issue on the internet.

Another example of the need for having a professional’s help is a window project that I was asked about.

This customer had a window that was put in in the early ‘90s and the bottom frame of the wood sash is rotting. They contacted the manufacturer’s retail store and met with a sales representative. The rep. told the customer that the problem was hail damage and all the windows needed replaced.

The customer received a quote for over $36,000 to replace these windows.

Having done other work for this customer before, they asked my opinion.

I agreed to give the customer a proposal for replacing the windows using the same windows previously quoted. My price was almost $10,000 less for the same work with the same windows.

This was before I even went to look at the project.

Having installed a lot of these windows over my career, I found it hard to believe that all of them needed to be replaced. So, I scheduled a meeting to look at the project.

After looking at it, I determined that of the thirteen windows originally quoted…only one needed replaced. All the others needed was some interior wood refinishing.

I haven’t got the proposal for this completed yet, but it’s going to be considerably less than $36,000. (I’ll let you know what it is, once it’s done)

This was a simple one size fit’s all solution that did not have the customer’s best interest at heart.

It takes experience, knowledge and a desire to help the customer find the best solution. To go beyond one size fits all.

The problem is…I can’t do this for everyone. There’s not enough of me to go around.

Just like a construction problem…

I’ll keep looking for the solution.

An “Out of the Box” Solution to Get Your Construction Projects Done

Finding the Right Contractor for the Project Can Be a Problem

This is a construction industry issue…and it shouldn’t be.

We’ve all heard horror stories where someone either couldn’t find a contractor or hired one that later they wished they hadn’t.

I’m currently discussing this with someone in the middle of one of these situations.

After recently buying a home, they found a soft spot in the floor next to an exterior wall. With some further investigation they discovered some moisture damage that includes subfloor, floor joist and exterior wall problems. Some of the issues are structural.

The first hurdle was, having recently moved to a new location, they didn’t know anyone. They began looking for contractors, finally finding a few. After contacting them, only a couple came to look at the project. Of those who did, one never followed back up and the other said they wouldn’t do the structural work.

They had reservations about these contractors. It didn’t help that they had previously had issues with a painting contractor on a different house.

If this water damage is not fixed it’s going to lead to more significant problems in the future. Finding himself in this spot, the homeowner began to consider doing the work himself. He has done some small construction projects previously, but it didn’t take him long to realize this one was more than he could do.

Not knowing what else to do he contacted me.

Theses homeowners used to live closer and knew me through a family member. The first question was, would I come the 2+ hours to do the work?

We’ve done work further away than this before, but they were bigger projects. 

My biggest concern was finding qualified sub-contractors willing to go that far for a project of this size. It will be harder with everyone currently being so busy here close to home.

I felt his pain and really wanted to help him!

It’s a problem to find qualified construction contractors, especially in sparsely populated areas. There are too many people who call themselves contractors, but really are just a guy with a hammer.

Having run into this problem numerous times throughout my career, I have given a lot of thought to possible solutions to this problem.

One of the options that continually came up in these situations is long distance construction consulting.

What exactly would this long-distance construction consulting consist of?

This is the real question, isn’t it?

The customer’s issues come down a lack of construction experience and include things like –

  • Questions to ask the contractors
  • Communication to expect from contractors
  • Construction processes, standards and codes

What if there was a way for construction customers to have an experienced contractor in their corner? Someone to explain the process and support them through the process.

I’m working on this as an option for this customer. Providing the support and insight needed to get their repairs done. Giving them the comfort of a professional they trust that has their back through this process.

This service would include –

  • Me going to the job site and evaluating the project
  • Preparing a scope of work that could then be presented to less experienced contractors, giving them the expectations for the work to be performed.
  • Preparing a budget for the customer so they would have a price to compare to prices from contractors
  • Me reviewing pictures and reports from the customer as the onsite manager

This would be similar to what a general contractor would provide with the exception of actual construction work.

Now I’m going to get to work on figuring out what this service will cost them and preparing a proposal for it.

I will let you know how this construction customer consulting goes as we move forward.

Things Will Go Much Smoother When the Contractor Knows How to Speak Customer

The Importance of Learning a Foreign Language When Doing a Construction Project

It’s difficult to understand someone speaking a language you don’t know or understand. Imagine being in a country that speaks a different language and trying to explain something.

This is the same thing that happens with construction customers and contractors.

The contractor says something that the customer doesn’t understand. The customer doesn’t want to appear like they don’t understand so they just nod and go on. This is contractor language…

Most customers don’t speak contractor.

This disconnect can lead to misunderstandings. Misunderstandings can lead to hurt feelings and frustration. The hurt feelings lead to disagreements and impasses.

This is the biggest problem in the construction industry.

I’ve written about the importance of good communication multiple times. On more than one occasion I’ve been asked by customers to help them understand “contractor” they found themselves at an impasse with their contractor.

Every contractor, at some time, has had an unhappy customer. This is almost always due to poor communication and/or a lack of understanding. It may have been some small misunderstanding or might have been major enough to result in being fired or going to court.

Several years ago, a partner and I were meeting with a customer early in the process of building a new home. The customer pointed out that the distance from the electric meter to the house was more than the 50’ allowance, as per the written proposal.

He asked if this was a problem. My partner told him no, it wasn’t a problem. Guess what…

It was a problem.

The problem didn’t surface until later when the customer was billed for the additional 100’. After some research, the communication breakdown was uncovered.

The customer asked, “if it was a problem”. What he really was asking was…”is it going to cost more?”.  

My partner’s response in reality was, “it’s not a problem to dig the additional 100’, but it will cost you more”. This isn’t what was said.

Neither intended nor expected this to be a problem. It was a simple matter of misunderstanding…

A contractor not speaking customer and a customer not speaking contractor.

That was a small thing that was clarified and resolved.

Sometimes they turn into big legal battles than can result in catastrophic outcomes.

Once again, I’ve been called in as a translator. This time it’s by a person having a construction project done by a contractor who doesn’t speak “customer”. This situation is going to be expensive for all parties and involves attorneys.

Situations like this break my heart. I understand why they happen…but they don’t need to. As the professionals in these situations the communication responsibility is the contractors.

Contractors need to learn to speak customer.

This is the reason I developed my proposal system. It’s a way for contractors to speak customer.

If you know someone in the construction industry that would benefit from learning to speak “customer” share this link to the Blueprint for Building a Better Proposal with them.

It’s That Time of the Year Again and I Don’t Mean Football Season

The Importance of Having a Plan and Executing it

It’s September. Labor Day has come and gone. And the 2021 football season is underway.

It’s hard to believe that Fall is less than a couple of weeks away, with temperatures in the nineties.

You don’t think football teams just show up to the first game of the season without plans, preparation and follow through expecting to win, do you?

Your home maintenance should be approached the same way.

You need to have plans, preparation and follow through to get your home in the best shape and prepared for the season…just like football teams. When football players haven’t done their best to be prepared their more likely to be injured. The same is true for your home.

In June of 2019 I wrote about how to make home maintenance manageable. It is a plan complete with monthly, quarterly and seasonal actions to be taken to keep your home in the game.

Fall maintenance is about cleaning up grass and leaves that have collected and preparing for cold weather.

It’s hard to think cold weather, but it will be here sooner than you think.

The current warm weather makes it hard to think Fall maintenance, but there is enough that needs done it’s not too early to get started.

The Fall maintenance list includes:

  • Servicing central heating systems
  • Covering or removing window air conditioners
  • Closing foundation vents
  • Cleaning out gutters
  • Cleaning out basement window wells
  • Flushing and turning off outdoor water faucets
  • Cleaning and inspecting chimneys
  • Checking entry doors and windows

There are also quarterly maintenance actions to be done:

  • Changing HVAC filters
  • Testing smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
  • Testing GFCI receptacles
  • Checking water softeners and adding salt if needed

Don’t forget the monthly maintenance:

  • Cleaning garbage disposal
  • Cleaning range hood filters
  • Inspecting fire extinguishers
  • Cleaning clothes washer
  • Cleaning dishwasher

Just like football teams prepare for the upcoming seasons…

You should prepare your home for its upcoming season.

Having a plan and being prepared is important to a winning season. If you would like your own winning plan, get a free Home Maintenance Plan and Seasonal Checklist by going to the bottom of the Solution Building home page and download it.

Why It’s Important to Measure Twice and Cut Once

Having a Good Plan is the Best Way to Avoid Mistakes

The importance of planning became evident this morning while working on a project at home. I mis-figured and cut two boards the wrong length. Fortunately, the cut was too long rather than too short. The boards were salvageable, it just wasted a couple of 3” pieces.

My wife had been wanting some chickens and the opportunity came up a few weeks back. My sister had more chickens than she needed as well as a small (3’ x 6’) chicken pen/coop that she didn’t need.

The goal or purpose of chickens is to have fresh eggs as well as reducing bugs. (Also, my wife loves hearing a rooster crow.) We can’t let the chickens out because the dog and them wouldn’t get along. If we leave them in one location for more than a few days, there won’t be any grass left in that spot.

It’s up to me to find a solution…

The best solution is a mobile pen that can moved around, otherwise known as a “chicken tractor”. The difference between our pen and a “chicken tractor” is the ease of portability. Our pen needs some wheels.

My problem solving/builder brain kicked in.

The pen is two separate units attached together which allows it to flex in the middle when moved. The more flexing done when moved, the weaker the attachment of the two sections will get. Okay, this means we need a frame that will prevent this from happening.

The next thing is wheels. We need to keep the pen down tight to the ground so that snakes can’t get in and get the eggs but make it so it can be rolled when it needs moved. They need to be able to be raised and lowered.

Back to the plan and minimizing mistakes.

An important part of a plan is knowing the cost upfront. Most ready to go chicken tractors of a comparable size are between $350 to $500. So, one question a plan can provide, “Can I modify the one we have so that it will do what we need for less money?”

I found a 2x4x16’ rough cedar board in the shop, left over from a project, that will work for the frame. I’ve got an old push lawn mower that doesn’t work… it has adjustable wheels. I think those will work. I have plenty of screws, etc. for fastening. So…zero cost for material.

Now comes the design and engineering phase.

I neglected to put any of my ideas into a drawing and this is where the mistake that I spoke about earlier happened. It was a simple mistake. One that was easily fixed but could have been avoided with a simple drawing. It was a miscalculation and dimensions on a plan would have shown this.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re modifying a chicken pen or building a multi-million-dollar building, both turn out better with a plan. The same is true for your life. The end result will be better having a plan and being intentional about implementing it.

The two boards that I cut too long because I didn’t have a plan on this little project was an easy fix. A new home or your life might not be so easy or inexpensive.

I will let you know how the finished project turns out!

Honesty is the Best Policy When It Comes to Construction Communication

Construction Customers Deserve You Being Brutally Honest with Them

Honesty is something that is in short supply now days. It’s like we think if we say something long enough and loud enough it makes it the truth.

Being honest with people is especially difficult for amiable people with stable “Golden Retriever” characteristics, as per the DISC personality profile. (Take the personality test here) It doesn’t help that 40% of the population is this way. People with this personality just want to get along, they try to avoid confrontation at all costs.

I know this because this is a part of my personality. it’s hard to tell people things they don’t want to hear.

The honesty issue doubles when both the contractor and customer are “Golden Retrievers”. Both parties want to get along, and make assumptions based on their perspective, then are disappointed when things don’t go as expected.

In an effort to get along things get left unsaid.

As a customer you need to be willing to ask questions when you need to know something. Even with written proposals and contracts things are overlooked or misunderstood.

As a contractor you need to take time to go through the paperwork and explain things. Be willing to tell the customer the truth about what to expect through the process. This can be hard, especially when customers wants the project started today and finished tomorrow.

In this fast pace, want it now world, expectations are often unrealistic.

Setting realistic expectations reminds me of an old TV commercial. In this commercial there is a young couple and a “rough and rugged” building contractor in overalls setting at a table in a kitchen.  The contractor is explaining the construction process to them as he is writing.  

He tells them, “…when we get started, we will take out all of your cabinets and then be gone for a couple of weeks. When we come back, we’ll take out the patio door in the dining room and put plastic over the opening. It will be left that way for several days. During that time, it will leak in when it rains. Then when the countertop is installed…it will be wrong. We’ll have to order a new one and that will mean another 4 weeks wait.”

Then he slides the contract over to the couple as they look at each other in disbelief and he says, “But when we’re done, you’ll have the kitchen of your dreams and you’re going to want to kiss me smack dab on the lips.”

Then the tag line for the commercial was “Brutally Honest”. I think the commercial was for a cable company, but I’m not sure. As a contractor I certainly could identify with it though.

This was an exaggeration, of course, but there still is a level of reality in it. Construction projects by nature, with all the various parts, never go as smoothly as anyone would like.

There are going to be some bumps along the way in every construction project.

Construction customers deserve this kind of brutal honesty.

It’s hard to hear things that don’t align with the dream picture in our mind. It’s hard to tell people things that they don’t want to hear.

Setting realistic expectations upfront will reduce disappointment in the end.

How to Decide If You Should Do Your Construction Project Yourself

Consider These 4 Points Before You Decide

I met with a customer recently about finishing a project that had been started eight years ago…it’s still not done. They haven’t even been able to live there this entire time. Yes, it was an extensive project…for that matter it still is.

They did most of the work themselves. The question is…

Were the monetary savings worth the cost of time?

As a builder, I’ve never been a big fan of DIY (Do It Yourself). The TV programs have whole projects done in 30-60 minutes. This is misleading, not to mention downright impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, the satisfaction that comes from doing a repair, changing a light switch or faucet, installing a window, building a deck or even remodeling a complete room can be extremely rewarding. The thing is…

You better know what you are getting into before you start.

Here are some things to consider before you decide:

  • Reasons for hiring a professional –

You need to consider what your skill level is and what the parameters of the project are, before tearing into it. Depending on the specific project there are a lot of things to be aware of.

Even something as simple as painting a wall can be more complicated than many people realize. If your project is going to involve things that are structural; for example, cutting an opening in a wall or building a deck, you certainly need to understand what is involved. Not knowing how to do something like this can lead to big problems.

  • Benefits of hiring a professional –

Time is a precious commodity. If you are like me, I am never able to get everything done that I want to. So, when I find someone that I can trust, who I have determined has the desire and skills to do the thing that I need done, it makes sense to pay them to do it? This allows me to be able to do something else that I am better suited for or maybe would just prefer doing.

Growing up on a farm was very “Do It Yourself. I learned how to do a lot of different things. We just didn’t hire much of anything done. Learning like this took years and lots of trial and error. I didn’t just watch a 30-minute TV program or go online to learn it.

I am sure that I could make a car given enough time and money, but doesn’t it make more sense to buy one made by professionals.

  • Reasons for not hiring a professional –

The key here is defining ‘professional’. If you’re considering hiring someone then you need to do some research. There are a lot of people out there that seem to be qualified and aren’t. If you hire someone that isn’t then the outcome might not be much different than doing it yourself.

Maybe you have the time and desire to learn something new. This is a great reason for doing the project yourself. Just be careful to not get in too far over your head. Be clear on what it’s going to take to do this.

You can save money by not paying somebody else. Just be aware that there is a lot to a project beyond the actual constructing. There will, or at least should be, time spent in researching, planning, shopping, buying, exchanging, returning, redoing and cleaning.

It is good to be physically active. Depending on your normal routine construction can be a great way to exercise.

  • Another option – Hiring a consultant.

If you really want to do your own home project, but need some help with knowing how, what, when and where. You might consider finding an experienced professional to guide you through the process. Finding the right person for this can be as tricky as anything. Just realize the value of knowledge and the benefit that it can have.

If you have questions about a construction project or know someone who does, contact us in the chat below.

It comes down to priorities. You can choose where to spend your time and money, what’s the best use of either? Saving money by spending time seems like a good plan… but is it really, if eight years later it still isn’t finished.

With over 35 years of construction experience I have determined that getting help is a good plan. I can’t do everything myself…as much as I would like to. That’s why I share the load with others.

Once you have determined that you have the ability (knowledge, time, money, and physical strength) to do your project, then by all means, go for it.

There’s nothing much more rewarding than stepping back and looking at something you built with your own hands.

Based on and revised from To Hire or Not to Hire, that is the Question, published Aug. 12, 2016

Who Gets Excited About Doing Home Maintenance?

Really, I Thought I Was the Only One Who Hated It

Hate might be a bit too strong of a word for how I feel about home maintenance. It’s not that I necessarily hate it…it’s just that when doing it, it feels more like work than the feelings I associate with HOME.

The cool wintery weather today got me to thinking about winter officially starting in a month. There is some winter maintenance that needs to be done.

Home should be a place of comfort and security. It’s where I want to rest and be rejuvenated. It should provide peace and comfort. When everything outside is falling apart…

Home should be warm and comforting, like a mother’s hug.

The problem is ignoring maintenance will eventually become bigger more expensive repairs. Out of sight and out of mind is not a good plan. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. A plan makes it much more manageable.

It’s easy for the busy activities of everyday life to consume us and maintenance to get overlooked. This is why I prepared a Home Maintenance Plan and Check List. This is available for free at our Solution Building website. Just follow the links, fill out the form and download it for free.

This includes plans for monthly, quarterly, annual and seasonal maintenance including a seasonal check list.

Here is the winter portion of the plan:

WINTER –

Clean faucet aerators and shower heads – Dirty aerators on the end of your faucets and in shower heads can mean limescale and sediment are blocking the flow and water pressure. Unscrew the aerators and shower heads, remove the aerator and/or screen, soak them in a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture for 30 minutes or until clean, rinse and reinstall. Be careful to pay attention to the order and direction the parts come apart so that you can put them back together correctly.

Clean sink, tub, shower and dishwasher drains – Rid your sink traps of built up hair, soap and limescale by pouring a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (1/2 cup of each) in the sink, stop the sink, let it set for 15 minutes. Boil some water, unstop the sink and pour the boiling water down the drain. While you’re waiting the 15 minutes, look under the sink at both the pipes and the cabinet floor for any evidence of leaks or drips.

Check caulking and/or grout in and around showers, tubs and sinks – Loose, cracked or missing caulking should be resealed or replaced as needed. This will prevent water from getting behind these surfaces and damaging the wood and/or drywall behind.

Vacuum refrigerator and freezer coils and empty drip pans –Refrigerator coils, sometimes called condenser coils, resemble your car’s radiator. They will be found on the back or bottom of your fridge and freezer. To clean the coils, use the brush attachment on your vacuum to loosen and extract the lint and dirt. If you can’t get to the coils with your vacuum, you can simply use a brush to clean coils and then vacuum it up. Also remove the drip pan from beneath your appliance and empty, clean and reinstall it. This process should only take 15-30 minutes.

Clean dryer vent – Disconnect dryer hose, use the brush attachment on your vacuum to loosen and extract the lint and dirt from inside and outside of hose, dryer and vent going through the wall.

Clean bathroom exhaust fans – Remove cover from bathroom exhaust fans. Clear away any dust and cobwebs from around fans using the brush attachment on your vacuum. Reinstall cover.

Inspect attic – If you have an attic, go up there and check for evidence of leaks or daylight showing up through cracks or openings to the outside. Check to see if the insulation has been moved or disturbed, this could be evidence of rodents.

Home maintenance is less daunting with a plan.

Get your own Home Maintenance Plan and Check List and enjoy your home.

What Happens When There’s a Change to a Construction Dream?

It Just Gets Better If It’s Done Right

It had been four weeks since Jane had been at Lucy’s for book club. Lucy had said she would have Jane over to discuss her construction project in a few weeks when it was finished. “It’s been a month…that’s more than a few weeks.”, thought Jane

Jane was convinced that Lucy’s project had gone bad like Connie’s.

The next book club meeting was scheduled for later this week. If she hadn’t heard from Lucy before then, she would talk to her at the meeting.

Jane was hosting book club and as she was finishing the preparations the doorbell rang, thirty minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start. When she answered the door, it was Lucy.

Jane prepared to hear about Lucy’s nightmare.

“Sorry I’m early”, Lucy said, “but I wanted to talk with you about my construction project before the rest of the group gets here. I know I told you the project was scheduled to be done before now and that’s part of what I wanted to talk with you about.”

“Let me help you finish getting ready and I’ll bring you up to date on the project.” As the ladies worked to get ready, Lucy began.

“I hadn’t called yet because I wanted the project finished before we talked and they’re not done yet.”

“I knew that your project had been going too well.”, said Jane. “What happened?”

“Nothing bad,” said Lucy. “A few days after you were there, we had an idea to turn the existing small bedroom that was next to the new Master Bedroom into a walk-in closet. So consequently, the project took a little longer.”

“That sounds like handing the contractor a blank check.”, said Jane.

Lucy smiled at Jane, “Not at all. We got a proposed change order from the contractor before any additional work was done. It was similar to the original proposal for the project. It gave us a description of what the additional work consisted of, how much additional time it would take and what the price for the work would be.”

“The contractor made guy’s doing the work aware of the changes and they didn’t miss a beat. If they stay on schedule, like they have so far, they should be finished with everything, week after next.”

After a short pause with a glint in her eye, Lucy said,

“I’m so excited, this project is turning out better than I could have imagined.”

“I can’t wait to see your new bedroom and closet, said Jane, and find out more about XYZ Construction Co.”

“As soon as they’re finished, I’ll have you over and walk you through the whole amazing experience from beginning to end.”, said Lucy.