Rush­ing roulette

Slow down and make sure the job is done right

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - By Mike Holmes

THE 2014 Win­ter Olympics in Sochi kicked off last week. Un­for­tu­nately, the com­pe­ti­tion wasn’t the only thing people were talk­ing about. As soon as com­peti­tors started ar­riv­ing from around the world, pic­tures of the build­ing con­di­tions and ho­tels sur­faced on the In­ter­net and cre­ated a so­cial-me­dia frenzy. You’ve seen im­ages: Toi­lets side by side, not sep­a­rated by stalls; fire hoses for show­ers; un­fin­ished ho­tel rooms and lob­bies; half con­structed venues — all signs of a rushed job.

Now, I can’t tell you what went wrong — I’m not there. That’s like quot­ing a job only look­ing at pic­tures — you can’t do it, but if you do it’s prob­a­bly wrong. Plus, we have to be skep­ti­cal about ev­ery­thing we see on the In­ter­net these days.

What I can tell you is many con­struc­tion prob­lems are avoid­able, and the best way to avoid them is by slow­ing down and not rush­ing into or through a job.

What kinds of prob­lems do we run into when we rush?

No. 1: You hire the wrong con­trac­tors. This is true for any ser­vice provider — from doc­tors and den­tists to chefs and babysit­ters — not just con­trac­tors.

Hir­ing the right per­son for the job takes time. You have to check ref­er­ences, track records and speak to past clients. Do ev­ery­thing you need to do to know who you are hir­ing, who you are trust­ing with some­thing very valu­able — your house and your safety — and who you are hand­ing money to.

No. 2. You can turn good con­trac­tors into bad ones. I’ve seen it hap­pen. People hire good con­trac­tors or sub trades, but some­thing hap­pens, the sched­ule changes and con­trac­tors are forced to make bad de­ci­sions just to get the job done by a cer­tain date.

I know what you’re think­ing: A good con­trac­tor sticks to the sched­ule — and you’re right, they do. But some­times things hap­pen that are out of a con­trac­tor’s con­trol: there might be a back or­der of a cer­tain prod­uct and they can’t get it in on time; or maybe the job ex­ploded and now all of a sud­den it’s a lot big­ger than ex­pected. Maybe they found mould or bad elec­tri­cal and the en­tire house needs rewiring.

You don’t want a con­trac­tor or sub-trade to ig­nore prob­lems and cut cor­ners. Other­wise, you will pay for your job twice if it isn’t done right the first time.

For what­ever rea­son, sched­ules can change. As pro­fes­sion­als, we do ev­ery­thing we can to pre­vent this. But if you are firmly set on a fin­ish date, let’s say its for some kind of spe­cial event, you might be forc­ing your con­trac­tor to use the wrong ma­te­ri­als, a sub trade they have never used be­fore, or a prod­uct they aren’t used to work­ing with. When you do this the end re­sult is a gam­ble — you don’t know what you’re go­ing to get. And who pays for it in the end? You do. You might save on time, but you won’t save on money. Rushed jobs are al­ways more ex­pen­sive.

No. 3. More — and pricey — prob­lems. For ex­am­ple, some prod­ucts and ma­te­ri­als need time to cure or set, such as spray foam or con­crete. You rush that process and you com­pro­mise the en­tire job — not to men­tion cre­ate huge health risks and safety haz­ards. Not worth it.

Rush­ing a ren­o­va­tion or build­ing project cre­ates the per­fect con­di­tions for stupid mis­takes to hap­pen, such as not tak­ing proper mea­sure­ments, cut­ting cor­ners on proper in­stal­la­tion or bury­ing live wires in the walls. Next time you’re in a rush, no­tice how many things you for­get or how many things you drop. You want that to hap­pen with some­one work­ing on your house?

My best ad­vice is make the qual­ity of the job or reno your top pri­or­ity, not when it’s sup­posed to be done. Ob­vi­ously, you want to make sure there is some kind of work sched­ule be­ing main­tained and that work is con­tin­u­ally mov­ing for­ward. But if that means not do­ing some­thing right you are bet­ter off not do­ing it all. Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more in­for­ma­tion visit makeitright.ca.

Sim­ple jobs can turn into sig­nif­i­cantly larger projects if a con­trac­tor dis­cov­ers hid­den, dan­ger­ous

prob­lems, such as un­safe elec­tri­cal or wiring that isn’t up to code.

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