Can a contractor listen?
Many times a contractor does not understand what the client wants. A landlord getting his house ready for rental simply is looking to keep cost down and for a clean presentation were as the home owner may be looking to add their individual look and feel to their home. Many contractors are not used to switching mindsets so it is important to find a contractor who will listen to what is being asked of them so when the project is completed everyone is satisfied.
One mistake to avoid is making choices based predominantly on price, the typical wisdom is to get three bids then choose the one in the middle, sometimes the bids are within same percentage of what we tip at restaurants. What is overlooked is often the bids are not apples for apples, the question among contractors who are looking to give a fair price is, “what are they leaving out?” for example it takes an average of 30 minutes and 7 dollars spray foam to insulate with spray foam an exterior door; if the contractor is not including this in the estimate the installation can be bid at 45 to 65 dollars less the contractor who does include insulation. Or what if the contractor who is giving you the estimate has a back ground in new construction and has no idea how long it takes to retro fit the door in a remodeling envorment? Then what if the door is not installed properly or will not seal? Is there any savings if the install needs to be reworked? Or reinstalled? In the housing industry common practice is the home builder will call a finish carpenter to do the finish carpentry, After all as one installer put it. This is not shoveling dirt, if a mistake is made it could be expensive. Personally I would rather have job decisions based on doing things right balanced with efficiency and what is appropriate.
It is often thought that if a worker is moving at a quick pace or practically running, that they are producing a lot of value for the client. More times than not it is when a worker gets moving too fast that there is more opportunity for accidents to happen and mistakes to be made. What good does it do to climb a ladder as fast as you can only to find that you forgot an essential tool for the task? Or how fast do you really want a worker to be running through your house with a dirty bucket of freshly mixed mortar, or with paint on the end of a rolling stick?
The best efficiencies occur when the worker learns to focus, paying attention to everything being done. The pace may vary depending on the task at hand and the worker must be able to decide between which tasks are “go fast” task and which are “slow down” tasks. Every time a worker moves, time is being spent, so the best efficiencies can be achieved by incorporating ideas such as; cleaning as you go, doing as much as possible towards the project with the resources at hand, and proper planning. It is also important to plan breaks for your workers,d tasks. I like to offer a break after a task is completed.
"Clean as you go" is an idea learned in the restaurant industry that also works well in the trades. "Do as much as possible from one location" means for example; When fastening deck fasteners, screw in every one you can, safely and properly, without changing your physical location. "Doing as much as possible with the resources at hand" means nail gun is faster, if the nail gun is upstairs and I have only two nails that need to be set in place, I will use the hammer at my side and nails in my pouch rather than going upstairs for the nail gun.
This kind of thinking can produce real efficiencies without making costly mistakes.
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