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.

It’s Really Not That Difficult

Six Ways to Find the Right Builder for You

When we called a customer to give them production schedule plans for their construction project, they were relieved to hear from us. They hadn’t heard from us since we met to sign paperwork and get their first payment, a few days earlier. They were concerned that we had gotten their money and weren’t coming back.

I read a study once years ago that ranked building contractors below used car salesmen. This is not to say that all used car salesmen are bad, but they have, over the years had a stigma of…shall we say…not being the most honest and trustworthy. For builders to have been ranked below them was very confusing and a little disturbing. I then realized that I viewed customers differently than a lot of builders. For me they aren’t just customers, a project or just a way to earn money. They’re friends. When considering the spending of money to have a construction project done, sometimes a lot of money.

Having a friend who is looking out for you and has your back the best plan?

We’ve all heard the stories of the “storm chasers” that came through town after a storm. They get money for material and then never come back to do the work. What about the guy that was laid off from ‘his job’? He has a pickup, a hammer and a skill saw, heck he can build a deck for his buddies’ cousin. Oh, don’t forget the kid that worked for a contractor for a couple of months and got fired because he wouldn’t show up to work. He’s now an experienced contractor.

As a customer you can find a builder that will help you bring your ideas to life and has your best interests at heart.

To do this you need to know what to look for, so you can find the right builder for you. Here are six things I would recommend when considering which builder, you should hire. –

  1. Word of mouth – This is the best form of advertising. Find someone that you know and trust that has had a building project done. Ask them who they used. What their experience was like. This will give you a view from someone independent of the industry with nothing to gain.
  • References – Don’t be afraid to ask builders for references. This is a good way to find a variation of ‘word of mouth’ and in addition to people that you know. A builder should be able to supply you with 3-5 names of past customers that you can follow up with. If not, you should proceed with extreme caution.
  • Professionalism – The level of professionalism will very between contractors. There is no one specific style or level that should be used in every instance. What you want here is to know that this builder takes what they are doing seriously. You should be concerned if you get a hand-written estimate on a napkin.
  • Experience – This comes with time. Not every qualified builder has years and years of experience, but the more years the more experience. You don’t want to hire that ‘experienced contractor’ I referred to earlier that was fired for not showing up to work.
  • Communication – Even small and simple projects require communication. Of course, the bigger and more complex the project the more important it is to communicate. In today’s world there are all sorts of ways to do this. The specifics of how aren’t as important as the doing it is.
  • Compatibility – This is the bottom line when it comes to determining who to use. Depending on what is important to you, what your focus is for your project. Find a builder that shares those core values. Each and every one of us is different. Take the time to get informed and find the best fit for you.

Too many times I’ve become aware of construction projects going badly, leaving customers feeling abused and abandoned. I have heard too many people say the worst experience of their life was a construction project.

A construction project should be one of the best experiences of life, not one of the worst.

What is “Construction Clarity” and How Do I Find It?

Lack of Understanding is a Sure Way to Ruin a Construction Dream

It was Saturday morning and Jane was cutting some cloth for the dress she was making for her niece, when there was a knock at the door. She was surprised to find her friend and neighbor Connie when she answered it.

Connie said, “I was just out for a walk and thought I would stop by to see how things were going.” Jane had just made a pot of coffee, so she invited Connie in for a cup and a visit.

She offered Connie a chair at the table as she moved the material out of the way. As she brought the coffee to the table she said, “I sure wish I had a better place to do my sewing. The way it is now, I do my measuring, cutting and pinning here at the dining table. Then I carry it all downstairs to the sewing machine.”

“It sure would be nice if I had a separate room here on the main floor where I could do it all. For years I’ve dreamed of having a sewing room added onto the house. I just don’t have a clue where to even start. Hey, you had a room added on a few years ago, maybe I should get your contactor’s info and check into it?”

“Oh”, Connie said, “I don’t know if having a room built on is such a good idea. That construction project was the worst experience of my life!”

“What do you mean,” asked Jane. “Like you”, said Connie, “We had this dream project in mind…it turned out to be a nightmare. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The contractor we hired was the brother-in-law of someone my husband works with. I just wish we’d never done it.”

“What happened that made it so bad?”, Jane asked. Then Connie started in, “You name it, if it could go wrong, it did. We were excited when we first met with the contractor and discussed our ideas. We had this vision of our beautiful new master bathroom. Shortly after that the problems began.”

“It started with waiting and waiting to get a price. Then the bid we got was a short brief description with a price that seemed kind of high. My husband I talked it over, we really want this new bathroom, so we decided to go ahead. Then the real problems started.”

“There was little to no communication from the contractor, we never knew when or if he was going to be there working. We never knew what we were being billed for. He would ask us questions using terminology that we didn’t understand. There were tools and construction material scattered everywhere throughout the project. Sometimes he was gone for weeks and nothing was done. His last bill pushed the project over our planned budget by 30%”, he said “it was the additional work we had him do.”

“The worst part of the whole thing…the finished project wasn’t anything like what our dream had been.

Jane sat there for a few minutes with a puzzled look on her face. Then she looked up at Connie, “Wow, I never knew. Maybe you’re right. Maybe my sewing situation as it is, isn’t so bad after all.”

A few days later Jane went to a book club meeting at Lucy’s house. When she pulled up in the drive, she noticed the new addition to Lucy’s house. Jane immediately started feeling bad about what Lucy had to go through.

After Lucy invited her in, Jane said, “I’m sorry that you had to go through this terrible construction ordeal.” Lucy asked her what she was talking about. Jane replied, “I was visiting with a neighbor Saturday and she told me how terrible construction projects are.”

With a puzzled look on her face Lucy said,

“I’m not sure what hers was like, but this has been the best experience of my life!”

“It’s like watching my dream turn into reality. Would you like to see it?”, Lucy asked. “Sure,” said Jane. They went into the addition and Jane was amazed. From the outside she assumed it was finished, inside she could see that it wasn’t.

Jane asked, “I assume the construction crew has taken a break between processes and haven’t been here for a while?” “Why would you assume that?”, asked Lucy. Because, Jane said, “According to Connie, builder’s leave everything scattered around, and everything is clean and organized here.” Lucy said, “No, the crew was here today, and they’ll be back again tomorrow. It’s been like this every day.”

Now Jane was really confused. What was the difference between these two projects? Maybe this one would still turn out to be a bad experience before it’s finished.

“Who’s doing your project?”, asked Jane. Lucy answered, “Gene with XYZ Construction. He’s been great to work with.” Then Jane had an idea and thinking out loud, “I’ve been thinking about adding on a sewing room. Would you be willing to visit with me more about Gene and your project?”

“Sure”, answered Lucy, “They’re scheduled to be done in a few weeks. Let’s set a date and we can meet here. That will give you a chance to see the finished project.”

Jane was looking forward to meeting with Lucy and finding out more about Gene and XYZ Construction.

Here is the Million Dollar Question

What if There Was a Way to Combine DIY and Professional Construction?

The question is probably more like a billion dollar one. The DIY industry is booming. It’s everywhere we look, TV commercials, internet ads, home improvement programs and online videos. There’s simply a level of pride that goes with doing things ourselves.

Why is the DIY industry so popular and prevalent?

That would be because the construction industry has let too many people down through a whole list of things. These problems certainly are good reasons to consider a DIY project. Here are a few other reasons you might think about doing your own construction project.

Price – is the number one reason for doing your own projects or being your own general contractor. Construction is expensive and the cost of professionals and general contractor’s markups are dollars saved.  

The important thing to consider is…

What are the dollars saved costing you?

As a professional I have witnessed too many DIY projects that have gone badly. The experience factor goes a long way to avoid problems. Depending on where you’re located, some construction actions require licensed professionals to do them. You probably wouldn’t stitch up your own gaping wound or represent yourself in court. Not that both haven’t been done, but they come with a risk. The cost of your time spent doing this rather than that, doing things over, unsolved problems or project disasters can be expensive.

The value of a professional often exceeds the cost.

Control – is another important issue that customers face. The construction industry has one of the worst satisfaction ratings. The only one ranked worse is the used car business. In too many cases customers have felt out of control. This makes it understandable why you would prefer to not deal with contractors. There is a comfort that comes from being in control of the project even with little or no experience.

Sense of accomplishment – is one of the best feelings that we experience. This feeling is especially connected with seeing a physical achievement. Stepping back and looking at something we built is satisfying. These are legitimate reasons you might consider doing your own construction project.

What if there was a way to do your own project while having access to professional experience, knowledge, and connections?

Wouldn’t this be great. This would be a win – win. If there was such a plan out there. What would something like this even look like? What would it include?

You might say, “There’s already services out there for connecting me with construction services. I can contact Angie’s List or Home Advisor.” The problem with these services is, the list of companies and individuals they provide to you, pays to be on the list. I know because they’re calling me regularly wanting me to pay dues and join. This isn’t the most reliable resource.

I’m considering something that would be more detailed and customizable. A service that would fit your individual needs. A mix of educating, advising, consulting. Something that would allow you to have your questions for your project answered.

This would allow you to “do it yourself” with the benefit of professional guidance.

As we research this service, we need your help. Give us your thoughts by taking this short survey or leaving comments below.

There Are a Lot of Construction Questions to Be Answered

Cartoon man looking up at large question mark

 

 

 

So, Let’s Move on to the Next Ones on the List

 

I’ve answered 11 of the 21 questions asked by the scouts. The first eleven were answered in two separate posts, what are the best construction questions and construction questions about the physical process. Let’s see if I can squeeze the final ten in this post.


We’ll start with questions about types of construction.

 


Do you do more commercial or residential work?


I do more residential than commercial but do both. Commercial tends to be less relational than residential. I’ve always felt like the relationship between the customer and contractor is more than only a business transaction. In order to serve the customer well I need to get to know them. This only happens if a relationship is built. Commercial projects normally are more transactional.


Do you do more renovations or new building projects?


I do mostly renovations and remodeling projects. New construction is less challenging than remodeling. New construction has less restraints than renovations do. It takes more out of the box thinking to take an already existing structure and change it into something different. I love the challenge of finding a solution to these projects.


Do you build specially for earthquakes?


No. In this part of the country this hasn’t even been a part of the discussion up until recently. It still isn’t a big issue for local construction projects. If buildings are built up to the current building codes for our area, past tremors won’t be any reason to change this. Our focus should be on high winds and tornados.


How many permits do you need to build a new house?


This depends on where the building project is located, some places don’t require any. Normally there is at least one “building permit” for each project. There are also different permits for different areas of the project, i.e. plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc. that are sometimes required. All permitting is determined by the local jurisdiction, so it is important to find out what the regulations are for the location where you plan to build before you start.


Have you ever built a tiny house?


Your definition of a “tiny house” will depend on how I answer this question. I have built three very tiny houses. None of these were built for living in, not that someone couldn’t have. The three tiny houses were built for playhouses but were more than a normal playhouse. All of them were built with the same construction as a full-size house…just smaller…a lot smaller.


Okay, I was kidding myself when I thought I could get all ten answered this week.


There are still five more questions. I will answer the last five next week. The remaining questions are about my education and my experience.


Those young people asked a lot of questions.

What Are the Best Construction Questions?

Neon question mark written in the dark

 

 

The Ones That Are Actually Asked

 

 

Last week I shared the list of questions asked by a group of Scouts. This week I’ll begin to answer them.


As I pointed out last week, due to the number of questions I’m going to divide them into different topics to keep the posts from getting too long. This week I’ll start by answering some basic construction questions. Keep in mind that asking and answering questions is communication and communication is a two-way process. This means that before I can answer questions fully and accurately, I need some questions answered.

 


How much does building a new house cost?


This is the most common first question. It only makes sense; cost is a critical part of deciding whether to build. It’s also one of the most difficult to answer, especially when asked without any specifics.


Here are some of the questions that need answered to determine a price:

  • Where will it be located? – location effects things like utilities, sewer, lot preparation, zoning, permitting, etc.
  • How big? – more square feet costs more.
  • How many levels? – stacked is typically less expensive per square foot.
  • Type of foundation? – slab, crawl space or basement.
  • How high are the ceilings? – higher is more expensive.
  • What style of roof? – more complicated costs more.
  • How many windows? – more windows cost more.
  • Quality of materials and finishes? – there’s a wide variation in quality which translates into a wide variety of price, i.e. cabinets, countertops, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.

 

This is some of the things that need to be determined before getting an accurate price.


As a vague answer to a vague question, in the middle part of the US where we do construction, you can figure an average home to cost $110.00 to $150.00 per square foot of living space.

 


How long does it take to build a new house?


The answer to this question will be directly connected to the answers of the last question. Size, design, level of finish, etc. will all effect the length of time to build a new house. An average 2000 square foot home will take 6 – 9 months.

 

 


How much wood does a new house take?


Once again, the answer is going to depend on specifics of the house. Let’s just answer the question using the average 2000 square foot house that we have been using. Let’s assume that it’s going to have wood floor joists, sub-floor, wall studs, wall boxing, ceiling joists, rafters, roof sheathing, siding, windows, doors, cabinets, etc. All these things combined will be around 40 pounds per square foot. That means the wood used in a 2000 square foot house will weigh around 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons.

 


How much steel goes into a house?


There are some cases where houses are framed using steel, but typically that’s not very common. There are some steel things commonly used, like nails, screws, joist hangers, reinforcing steel in concrete, etc. Sometimes steel beams and posts are used for supporting heavier loads and wider spans. In a typical wood framed house, it takes around 10 pounds of steel reinforcing, fasteners and misc. per square foot to build. This means that our 2000 square foot wood framed home would have around 20,000 pounds or 10 tons.

 


Next week we’ll answer questions about the construction process. If you have any construction questions you would like answered, asked them in the comments below.

 

 

Lack of Quality, Honesty and Integrity

 

 

 

 

 

The Remainder of the Construction Complaint List

 

 

This is the fourth and final post in this series of building solutions on how to avoid construction project nightmares. Previously I wrote about the most common reasons construction projects fall apart. The next two posts dealt with the high cost of poor communication and what contractor communication should include. This week we’ll focus on the character portion of the list.


We’ve all have had experiences where things didn’t turn out like we had envisioned. This is true in everything, especially construction. Lower standards have become accepted and normal.


The low bar of expectation has become the construction industry standard.


I believe this to be attributed mainly to the focus on price. We should be conscious of what things cost, but when it is the determining factor above everything else, something will give. Most likely that will be quality and service.

 


The second factor is that we’ve become a fast-paced drive-through people. We expect everything to be instantaneous. The cost for this lightning fast speed is the same as price…quality and service.


Raising the bar is simple really.


It starts with an awareness of how low the bar is. It has been moving down in small increments for years. It’s happened so slowly that most don’t even realize how low it is. Raising it up will be a slow process as well.


The remainder of the list of reasons construction projects fall apart is as follows:

 

  • Poor quality
  • Cluttered and unorganized job site
  • Left hanging part way through an unfinished project
  • Lack of scheduling or poor time management

 

Quality, honesty and integrity cover this part of the list. These are character issues. They are about choosing to give as much importance to someone else’s needs as I do my own.

 


Quality – is the degree to which something is produced correctly. It can be somewhat subjective, but the higher the bar is raised, the higher the quality standard becomes.


Honesty – is moral character that is trustworthy, loyal, fair and sincere. It is absent of lying, cheating and stealing. Thomas Jefferson is attributed with having said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”


Integrity – is adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. One has integrity to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.


Poor quality and a disorganized job site are part of the physical construction skill set. These things are skills that should be taught through apprenticeship and mentoring.


The same is true for lack of scheduling and poor time management. These things can be taught. Learning and applying these skills is more difficult, in that they are more directly connected to specific personality traits.


Leaving a job hanging partially finished, however is strictly a moral issue and unacceptable, short of some life altering emergency.


The entire issue of construction projects falling apart is unnecessary and unacceptable.

 


It doesn’t have to be this way!

 


You can choose what you want, it’s up to you. Learn more, expect more. Raise the bar as high as you can reach.