Slow down and make sure the job is done right
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.