Today’s question is: Why can’t contractors finish their work on time?
Background: We have undergone many a project around these parts. I have found over time that contractors are very poor estimators of time. Most of them don’t seem to care if they finish late or if they never come back to do the punch list items. I’m not the only one, I have friends that wait and wait like I do for those guys to get back into our homes and fix the last 5 things that need to be taken care of in order to consider the job done. What is it with getting it done that makes it so hard to come back?
Once a few years back, I was doing a medium sized project in the house. This project included, changing out some cabinets in the kitchen, we re-did the island, removed the desk which was a constant eye sore due to the fact that I have POJ (piles of junk) issues, replacing it with a nice cabinet that looks like a hutch. It also included closing up the third floor loft (the loft was above the main staircase and was two stories, there were skylights on the roof that shined down through the loft into the stairwell) because my little turkeys had grown ever so fond of pushing items up against the railing, climbing on them and then hanging their heads over it and yelling “look mommy we’re on the third floor”. I kept getting visions of them falling to their death, so I got rid of that little hole of horror. The project also included changing out the floor and vanity in our master bathroom as well as adding bead board and crown molding and other finishing touches to the basement, where it turns out we spend a lot of time. Lastly, we replaced the front and back doors in this project.
Because this little project was going to include a little bit of work on every floor in the house I decided, along with the contractor, that we were going to need a schedule and I wanted a firm finish date. To that end, the contract, signed by the contractor and myself, included a fine of $100 per day for every day he wasn’t finished after proposed finish date. This was my way of guaranteeing he’d finish on time. I let him decide how long the job would take and we threw in a little extra padding just in case. In all the proposed amount of time was 7 weeks, which seemed like plenty.
Ironically, 7 weeks came and went quickly (well that’s not entirely true when you have no stove and 3 turkeys that only eat noodles). It was a bit painful to tell the truth. And at the end, the project was almost complete. But, not entirely.
The thing I feared the most was the small little finishes never getting complete, because the contractor would move on to a new, bigger job and never have the time to get back to those last few things. But I had my built in back up plan……the $100 a day would surely get him back to my house quickly.
Boy, was I wrong. Who would have thought?
6 months later, the job was finally complete. 6 MONTHS. Can you believe that?
Without getting into the details of what went wrong, because mostly, 4 years later, I’m still trying to figure that out, we never paid the last portion of the money we owe the contractor. I think he even owed us money if you added $100 per day up for the whole 6 months. I still can’t understand why he took so long to finished up. Maybe he thought we were kidding about the $100 a day because we are nice people? Maybe he didn’t need the money? I don’t know. All I know is when Christmas was lurking (the project started in May) and the front door was only half completed and the snow was blowing in around it I started getting mad.
He’d rarely answer the phone when I called (I even started borrowing my friends phones to call him so he wouldn’t recognize the number, smart aren’t I??). But I finally got him and he finished the work before the new year.
When the next project came up, I never called him. I couldn’t even recommend him to my friends, even though he was a great craftsman. His time management skills sucked.
Why do contractors do this to people?