Aghhh!! Tradesmen!!

From: J Parker

I am penning this in pure frustration, after having got off the phone from yet another tradesman (builder) who couldn't tell me if he could do a job for me or not, as it depends on what is happening that particular week!! This was after several calls to him, with him PROMISING to ring me back (Ha Ha!!) Fine for them, I suppose- but not for renovators like me- trying to link up draftsman, solicitor, certifier, agent etc all smoothly and on certain dates!!
I think I am planning well in advance, looking to get a deck built in March, ringing around for quotes etc (getting them out for them is hard enough as it is!!) but am finding it very hard, when not one can actually give me a clear answer!!
I know that not all builders are like this, but boy, am I stressed!!!
The trouble, too, is that I cannot simply give up on the very few builders whom I have as they are supposedly very good. They're not like other companies, who you can say "Forget It" to, when you're presented with lousy service. Good builders are hard to find....
Sigh... just my ravings peoples.
There, I feel better already now that I've go it out of my system
Off now to make yet another phonecall....
Cheers, Jacque :(
(hope to get my usual smile back soon)
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Reply: 1
From: Even Steven

I know how you feel Jacque. We put in a new kitchen and used the plumber who gave us the lowest quote. All went well until they threw out the old stove at which point the plumber says "New stove?!? You never said anything about a new stove!!!" Duh, in a brand new kitchen. Turns out he wasn't even qualified to do gas at the time. Same with the plasterer. There were two walls both wrecked. So the plasterer does one wall then says "that wall also?!? That wall is extra".
It's not easy to find a tradesman who is both good at his job and honest.
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Reply: 1.1
From: Drew Samauls

You are all forgetting one thing and that is that a tradesman has to go from one job to another. Some jobs take longer than others. Problems occur which were unforeseen. This occurs all the time. The building industry is an intricate production line of tradesman who have to wait for other tradesmen to finish before they can start their job. This leads to the perception that tradesmen are lazy and never show up on time. More often than not it is not their fault.

If you were in their shoes Jacqueline you would be doing as they do. They don't give a rats about you or your house. They work for cash. Therefore they are always pushing to finish the job they are on to get that cash.
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Reply: 1.2
From: Gerd Schilke

Hi'a Even Steven

Sheesh isn't that just typical.
Some people just can't help going for the beer price and expecting the
results to be the Champaign finish.
Cause then there's the wee little challenge of communication.
If it isn't in writing it dose not exist.
The tradesman who is good at his Job usually has the asset of being honest,
cause without that honesty he gets no reversals.


Things are never what they seem to bee

----- Original Message -----
From: "propertyforum Listmanager" <>
To: <Recipients of 'propertyforum' suppressed>
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2002 2:02 PM
Subject: Aghhh!! Tradesmen!!

> From: "Even Steven" <>
> I know how you feel Jacque. We put in a new kitchen and used the plumber
who gave us the lowest quote. All went well until they threw out the old
stove at which point the plumber says "New stove?!? You never said anything
about a new stove!!!" Duh, in a brand new kitchen. Turns out he wasn't even
qualified to do gas at the time. Same with the plasterer. There were two
walls both wrecked. So the plasterer does one wall then says "that wall
also?!? That wall is extra".
> It's not easy to find a tradesman who is both good at his job and honest.
> To reply:
> To start a new topic:
> To login:
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Reply: 1.1.1
From: J Parker

I do believe, however, that there is a thing called "service" that many tradesmen don't give a rats about. It's about ringing back clients when they said they would, just like any other business.

It's about actually turning up at the job after two confirmed phonecalls the week before (this happened to me with an electrician who I had booked for a $700 job- he just didn't bother to show and it cost me time and anguish, not to mention money)
Surely it's also about letting you know of problems when they occur, rather than weeks later when things are falling far behind.

Yes, I agree with you that tradesmen are relying on others etc but that doesn't excuse some of them from being plain rude. A lot of them could do with some lessons in customer service.

Don't get me wrong- I have worked and employed some terrific contractors- people who turn up for a quote when they say they will, send out the quote at the promised time, do the job on the day they said they would and, if there's a delay, ring me beforehand to let me know. I also keep my end of the bargain by being home to open up the house to them, paying them on time and taking their cards to pass onto others. These are the tradesmen I recommend to my friends, family and people on this forum. The others I simply wouldn't ever use again.

When you say a tradesman has to go from one job to another so do many other companies
(posties, mobile finance brokers, in-home demonstrators, gardeners etc) yet most of them seem to have no problem using a mobile phone to let the next client know of lateness.

I also would think that some tradesmen would be disappointed to hear you say that they don't give a rats about the job. There are many authentic people out there who are proud of their workmanship and pride themselves on it. It isn't all about cash. My own brother (yes he's a builder) gets very excited about some of the projects he's done, even telling me addresses so that I can look and admire his work. If they all hated it so much, they surely wouldn't be doing it for so long.

A landscaper who did work for me used us as a reference and I invited people over to look at the work he did. He came back and took photos (the landscaper) for his files, and gave me tips on what to plant etc. All of this in his own time, I might add. I have recommended his name to many people, let me tell you, and he doesn't even advertise in the Yellow pages or the local papers. All his work comes from referrals.

So, Drew, don't assume that I would be doing as the slack tradesmen do (for there is a difference here!). For a start, you don't know me. I am not good at letting people down. I am the sort of person that cancels doctors and hairdressers appointments when I have to so that they can fill another space. If I say I am going to be somewhere at a certain time, with someone waiting for me, I will be there. If circumstances are beyond my control I use the phone!!

I am not generalizing about all tradesmen, obviously- just the ones I have come across recently. I just wish there were far more of the "good" ones!!
Cheers, Jacque :)
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Reply: 1.2.1
From: The Wife

ahh ok here we go, a ramble from the wife,

Please note I am NOT the worlds best renovator, and I am NOT a hands on one when I do renovate, I cannot renovate, I have no taste.

This is what I do and have learnt.

1. It aint happening if it aint written down on paper and signed ( ie contracts)

2. Notorise EVERYTHING, 20cent hole in the wall, scratch marks on the bench, anything that is there should be noted on the contract,
so that when the builder comes and does your deck, and you go and inspect and say, HEY, where did that whopping big hole in the side of the house come from? looks like the builder backed into the house with a piece of lumbar sticking our the back of his car, the builder is gonna say,
NUH aint me. But if you have it down that house was AOK you MAY be able to bully/bluff him into fixing it for you. You sorta say, HEY, YOU, look what you did to my wall, you better fix it before you go,
Get your chippie to fix it up for me now while he is standing there doing nothing.

3. If you want a quote, you have to make it worth the guys time, yes yes I know, customer service, and all that, well theres no such thing in this business,welcome to the world of the long distance renovator,
the people who push push push and harrass get their job done first, and ...the tradies only took the job in the first place cause it was worthwhile.

TO make it worthwhile, you sometimes have to dangle a carrot, let em know you need the whole house done, but your gonna get it done slowly cause you need to save as you go, and what you would like done first is the deck thanks.
They sometimes think its a good thing cause theres more work coming and it all doesnt have to be done yesterday, most of them are reasonable to, if you say, i cannot rent this without a deck, you havent finished deck, finish deck, i can rent, and then i get money, which means next month, i may be able to get more work done, okie dokie?.

Some will ask if you want an entire house quote done, fine go ahead with this even tho you only want a deck, if THEY want to, but dont ask them to do it, quotes are labour intensive for a lot of builders, and its not fair to ask them to do it if you really dont intend on giving them more work in some way shape or form in the future.

4. Have your builders mobile phone number, his office or home number and his offsider or wifes number. ( I have spoken to wives and said, " You know, he said he would have it finished by this date, he isnt even close, i got tenants who wanna move in, the tenants got kids who are supposed to be starting school, the whole things going to the shithouse cause your hubby hasnt finished my deck" wife usually has hubby out there working by spotlight till the wee hours getting deck finished) again tis is an example, and yu shouldnt say things like that if it isnt really going effect a chain of people, if you are just impatient then wait your turn.

6. note EVERYTHING down, builder, deck ,design, colours used, wood used, brackets used, everything you possibly can, time frames, the lot, so that next time, you can say, HEY, i need a deck, it is this by this by this, this colour, this wood, and you did the last one in 3 weeks, this one needs to be done in 3 weeks or less as well.
( also good with painters, I have said to painters, remember 2 whatso st. It had wooden shutter doors and kitchen cabinets and all, just paint it like that, anything thats wood and is standing, and is mission brown, change it to white, just like the last one, ( colours in this instance are fictional ok, dont harrass me bout colours), so, create systems that your tradespeople get used to.

6. Use local talent for jobs that dont require you to have a licensed builder, Look up local paper and theres always some old guy advertising that he can paint your house for x amount of dollars, these guys are good value, they are local, they turn up on time, they work slow, but they are thorough, and they hope you will use them again, ask them what they think of the house, they will tell you its nice cept for the big pile of rubbish the builders left in the back yard 2 months ago, ( when was your property manger gonna mention this or was she?)

7. WHich brings me to property managers, If you dont have a project manager for the renovation, then a property manager will probably oversee it for you, always ask the property manager what she thought of the old guys work and the builders work, ask the builder what he thinks of the property manger and the old guy, ask the old guy what he thinks of them to, its all double ( or triple) checking, and you would be surprised the things you learn about when they all 'dob' on each other.
This all may sound tedious, but when you ask people what they think of others working on your project, you can oversee it from a distance a little bit better.

Example: Had some light reno work done on house, had property manger look over it, she said YEP, all done and in good order, the house is ready to rent! Painters did a beautiful job, and tilers have finshed doing tiling, had the local oldie take away broken tiles and excess rubbish from the house for me,and he ran a vacuum over the floor and mopped ( what a sweetie), I asked him what he thought of the job, and he said it was great, cept he didnt think tenants would like not having doors, would I like him to put some bedroom doors on? WHAT!!, The house had no bedroom doors?? how did I miss that? how did painters miss it? ( they just paint, no doors? cool, less to paint), how did property manager miss it ( not her job to tell you what is a good investment and what isnt her job to work with what she's been given), so...speak to your tradespeople.

hmmm...I think thats it, wish I could tell you something really snazzy like, use a specific drill bit and cut down your reno time in half, but I cant, sorry, I know the 'other' stuff, dont think this is helping Jacqui right now tho, she just needs a tradesman, any tradesman, hang in there Jaquie, Im on the case, lemme see who is available.

Understand working with contractors builders subbies or any tradespeople, is a battle, its survival of the fitest, patience will get you a long way, screaming at these guys only works very occasionally, cause they will just down tools and walk away.

Cheers, TW
~Life is a daring adventure, or nothing at all~
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From: J Parker

Thanks TW you really are a gem! You have given me some fodder there to think over. I'm glad I'm not the only one who experiences hassles!
Cheers, Jacque :)
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From: Even Steven

If I do a reno I factor in paying an extra 10-20% for unforseen items. Somehow there always seem to be some.
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From: Roderick Aguilar


WOW!, it might be ramble to you but it's a goldmine to me! Thanks for sharing. I'm in the middle of renovating a property now and I can already see I've committed numerous cardinal sins which are itching to make me pay dearly for!


Roderick Aguilar.
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Reply: 2
From: Glenn Mott

Hi Jacquie,

After renovating my first unit by replacing everything internal except for the window frames, I have learnt a couple of things:

1. Use excel to document every activity you wish to perform in order from start to finish with a column for estimated cost, estimated cost plus 20% and actual cost.

2. If you are getting quotes done, arrange 3 or 4 tradesman a week in advance to come in a 1-2 hour time frame and quote (this is especially good if you don't live close to the property you are working on and can be organised for different types of tradesman).

3. Always tell the tradesman to factor in taking away all their rubbish as no money will be payable until the work is done.

4. If possible, be there with a video camera when they come to start the job and do a quick Speilberg of the house inside and out with them in the video for some evidence of your property's condition prior to the commencement of their work.

5. Always advise them that you are happy to pay cash on satisfactory completion of the job.

6. If you find a good tradesman, ask him for a referral for tradesman in other fields as he is more likely to recommend like minded individuals.

7. If possible, leave renovations until the building industry is quiet (six months without much income can do wonders for somebody's customer service skills).

8. Buy a scanner to keep an electronic copy of all quotes and receipts.

Hope this helps

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Reply: 2.1
From: Chris Legg

To sum up

The average tradesman does not use the four letter word plan (although using most of the others.)

You therefore have to do this for him.

Lifes a beach at Caves

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