May 06, 2014:

A Tale of Two Contractors

It's interesting to compare projects you are working on when they each involve different contractors. There are certain industry standards that you will expect to encounter but management and communication styles are always variable so when you are doing similar scopes it's interesting to compare.

We have two full gut remodels we've been working on now for over a year. One is a second storey addition with interior remodel and the other was a 3 Storey plus a basement dig out gut. The size of the houses differs and the budgets while different aren't entirely because the contractor on the 3 Storey is also the owner so his labour costs are a bit different and there isn't a 20% management fee that he's paying out.

The biggest difference between the two projects though - COMMUNICATION style. We talk to the 3 Storey contractor almost daily. He calls, texts, emails or we meet in person. It doesn't hurt that the project is within walking distance of our office. But weeks can go by without our visiting - in fact for a period of time that was probably months at least on my part - there just wasn't anything I could do there and watching concrete dry wasn't high on my level of excitement meter. But we still talked. The Addition project - not so much. The client acts as our point of contact despite our pleas for it to be the contractor. Now our client is very savvy but I still worry that we are playing a game of broken telephone. 

Both projects are about 3 months behind interestingly enough. The winter killed us all and major construction projects definitely suffered. The project with the good communicator has a small team of guys there and they are working daily. The other one - not so much. Our client is definitely hitting the wall with her frustration levels and I can't say that I blame her. However, this IS the worst time of any renovation project. Walls are painted with their first coat. Tile is installed. Lights are going in. You are so close you can taste it yet everything feels like it has ground to a halt. The major transformations aren't so major any more.

But it goes back to communication. Delays happen but jumping out in front of them is vital to the psychology of the project. If you know that bad news is coming - better to rip the bandaid off and deliver it as soon as you can. If you know that deadlines are looming and clients and designers need to firm up on decisions these need to be shared, then reminded, then followed up on until they are made. If you are collecting a management fee for any design project then your % is dependent on how well you manage all the parties involved.  It's the integral part to the service. Schedules not only need to be drawn up but they need to be regularly updated,  meetings held to review and changes made with good notice when possible. No one likes to feel like they are late to the party or missed the invite altogether. It makes getting through the tough times of the project all the harder.

So I'm very keen to see how they both end up timing wise. Which will be done first. I know which one I'm looking forward to sharing a bottle of wine with the contractor with.... the other one - well I've drunk many a bottle to cope with as it is. The good news is that despite all of the bad, the project will look amazing. I'm having drug-free labour flashbacks.

::Pours herself a glass of wine::

This is an electrician not a contractor. We had a bit of a bumpy start to our relationship but we resolved it when we realized we were both on the same end of the bad communication train... This chandy is gonna look soooo good.


I think the electrician is going to go back to hating me when he discovers what a bitch the glass installation for this fixture is. Oh and there are two of them.

Just waiting to be stained...

Just needs glass!

I really want the beams painted but the contractor doesn't want to pay for it. I don't blame him. Hopefully whomever buys the house hires me to decorate it and lets me paint them.

Kids' Room..  So there you have it - two projects, a lot of stories and wine!!!!