“Thanks for the information on the windows,” the homeowner told me. “But we need to meet to review a few more things ....”
The homeowner was having a major addition put onto his house. But while it had plenty of lumber and millwork in it, and one of our good customers was the GC, I was starting to wonder if this job would even be worth our time.
The first signs of trouble had occurred long before ground was broken. A year and a half ago, the homeowner put the project out to bid. After receiving three bids back, he had the project redesigned to cut costs. Then he put it out to his three prospective contractors again.
The bidders all submitted new pricing. The homeowner then scheduled a series of meetings to get a better understanding of the quotes. He asked for five references and redrafted each bidder's contract.
After speaking with every reference and having the redrafted contracts reviewed by his attorney, he was prepared to award the job ... after the bidders submitted their proposed schedules. Another series of meetings ensued to fine-tune the schedules to accommodate vacations, business trips, and the napping schedules of his children.
Of course, then there was one more set of meetings to review weather patterns and the Farmer's Almanac.
After all that time and research, the homeowner gave the job to the contractor who could start first. The selected contractor started per the signed schedule. The foundation went in, the walls went up—and then the contractor disappeared.
So the homeowner came back and gave the business to my customer.
And more meetings ensued. There was the revised schedule meeting, the product specification meeting, the new references meeting, and the permitting process meeting.
Finally, during the contract review meeting, the remodeler had had enough. As the homeowner printed out the latest revisions to the legal language of the contract, I watched the remodeler calmly roll up his plans, tidy up his papers, and prepare to leave.
“Where are you going?” the homeowner asked. “We still haven't reviewed the subcontractor contracts yet.”
“I've given you a price,” the remodeler told him.
“But ...,” the homeowner stammered.
“You've checked my references.”
“We've reviewed the material twice,” the remodeler said.
“Three times,” I corrected him; we'd finished that meeting before moving to contracts.
“And we've got you on the schedule,” he continued.
“I can't do anymore,” the remodeler said. “Either I'm doing the job or I'm not. I can't talk about it anymore.”
The homeowner looked at me, and I nodded my head in support of my customer. “But the contracts,” the homeowner pleaded.
“Let me ask you about your contracts,” my customer said. “Did they help you with the bum who started this job and disappeared?”
No matter how precise and careful you try to be, at some point you have to trust the person you are doing business with and let him do his job. The homeowner thought for a minute and finally agreed. He shook my customer's hand and wrote him a check.
“But we still can have our weekly review meetings, can't we?” he asked as he handed over the deposit.
“Sure,” the remodeler said.
And the job proceeded smoothly. There were still plenty of meetings, of course. But the homeowner did start to relax a little. My GC had made a strong case for standing up for yourself. Sometimes the runaround just isn't worth it and you have to fish or cut bait.
I was preparing to do just that that day when the homeowner asked to review the window schedule again. But when I grimaced noticeably, the homeowner smiled.
“I'm kidding,” he said. “I trust you.”