Full Disclosure: A Contractor’s Truth – Details Home Services

details bathroomEveryone knows someone with a horror story about a home improvement project gone wrong: there are the kitchen remodels that take eight months instead of four weeks; the basement that still isn’t complete after a year; the contractor who takes a huge deposit, then disappears; the contractor who does shoddy work that then has to be re-done by another contractor. You’ve heard it all.

What you probably haven’t heard of is a contractor that admits his role in a home improvement project horror story. Now you have: I did a home improvement project a few years ago where almost everything that could go wrong, did. I do not intend to give an excuse-laden explanation for my role. Rather I intend to honestly relate the story and give you a balanced viewpoint. As the Contractor, I own the project, and I must manage the process to ensure both a great result for the client and a reasonable profit for my company. Both are ultimately my responsibility. The buck (literally and figuratively) stops here.

One of my clients said it best: “It’s easy when things go right. The true measure of a contractor is what he does when things go wrong.” I wholeheartedly agree.

I was referred to Milton who has a 3-level townhouse. He wanted to completely transform the guest bath on the second level, and build a fabulous master bath on the third level. That top level already had a large living room space. Previously, he’d enclosed the third-level balcony, that when added to the original room made a large master bedroom, effectively creating a penthouse suite. The missing piece was an upscale bathroom we needed to create in the space occupied by a storage room. Fortunately, the storage space was directly above the bath we were to remodel one floor down. Sounds relatively simple, right?

In almost every project, there are numerous opportunities for things to go wrong. We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law, where things that can go wrong, do go wrong. On this project, Murphy set up shop, and relished the role of Chief Troublemaker. Let me tell you about the new drywall and paint crew I was testing. The first job they did for me went exceptionally well, and I was totally impressed by both the speed and quality of their work. They were in and out in no time, with an ecstatic client. For this second job though, that all changed. Suddenly they were the Keystone Cops: bungling, inefficient, and sloppy.

Then there was the plumber. We’d been working together for a couple of years, always with good results. For this project, the client had specified a Kohler multi-part shower that was rather difficult to install. It was the same unit I’d done personally a year or so before, and had learned that following the directions didn’t work. I explained all this to the plumber, but he didn’t listen to me, and had to come back three times before finally figuring it out. I was mortified, and I fired him over that. Fortunately, Milton and I had many discussions and meetings, so he was keenly aware of my embarrassment and frustrations.

After completion, Milton referred me to two of his best friends. I have to admit to being surprised. I asked why on earth he made a referral, and his response stunned me in its honest simplicity. He said, “Two reasons: first, yes a lot of things went wrong, but you never, ever, gave me an excuse. All you ever said was, ‘We’ll take care of that,’ and you did. And second, it turned out fabulously! What more could I ask for?” I suggested that he could ask for a better managed project. He just smiled, and said to take good care of his friends. We created a beautiful guest bath for them two years ago and are going back in February to remodel their master bath. I guess we did well.

Cory Laws, CEO
Details Home Services

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