Unmet expectations often lead to disappointment and can strain relationships. This holds true not only in personal connections like marriages and friendships but also in professional dealings. In this edition of David C. Smith’s Soapbox, we delve into an issue that frustrates many homeowners: why contractors fail to show up when expected.
The Underlying Reasons for Contractors’ No-Shows
It can be incredibly aggravating when a contractor fails to show up. However, before we seek a remedy, we must first comprehend the underlying issue. In this case, it boils down to the perceived significance of the project.
Take, for instance, my parents’ desire to renovate their cherished 1950s home. While it may not be a colossal endeavor, it holds immense value for them. They envision adding extra rooms and reconfiguring the layout to enhance functionality. One particular change is my mother having her own quilting room, relieving her of sharing my father’s treadmill and Bowflex.
On the surface, this may seem like a straightforward task. However, the story takes a different turn.
Interviewing Contractors: A Crucial First Step
As with any renovation project, the initial step involves interviewing potential contractors. Several contractors expressed dismay at the proposed high costs, suggesting that constructing a separate structure would be more economical. Eventually, my parents sought the advice of the individual who managed their church’s $4 million construction project. They hoped he might recommend someone willing to undertake a project of their size.
To their surprise, he offered to assess the project personally and proposed a quote that was less than half of the previous estimates.
So Far, So Good
He explained that the cost of the work itself wasn’t exorbitant; rather, contractors assessed the project and deemed it unworthy of their time. Smaller jobs often lack appeal if the remuneration doesn’t align adequately. It’s akin to a garden professional being asked to mow a lawn in a neighborhood where they’ve already mowed dozens of other lawns.
With plans drawn up, permits in hand, and subcontractors enlisted, work commenced immediately. Our contractor led the charge, completing the necessary grading work to facilitate the framers’ subsequent tasks.
That’s when disaster struck.
Contractor No-Shows: A Disappointing Development
The framer, electrician, plumber, and every other subcontractor failed to show up. Puzzling, isn’t it? These individuals are skilled craftsmen, so what could possibly be the issue?
As our contractor grew increasingly frustrated with each call, each subcontractor relayed the same reason: they had received offers for more lucrative projects and, consequently, abandoned our contract without prior notice or apparent remorse.
Encouraging Contractors to Follow Through
This disheartening episode taught us several crucial lessons:
- Large, experienced companies may excel at major projects but often find smaller jobs unprofitable. Consequently, they tend to subcontract such projects to smaller firms.
- Small projects still offer opportunities for excellence; they simply require a shift in mindset.
- Local contractors specializing in smaller-scale jobs prioritize them over larger undertakings.
- These local contractors generally offer fairer pricing, as they have lower overhead costs and don’t need to compensate for redirecting their focus from more sizable projects.
Now, does this excuse unprofessional conduct? Absolutely not. If you commit to a project, you should see it through, regardless of convenience or financial gain. In a world where one’s word carries weight, it is important to hold accountable those who disregard their commitments for personal gain. Integrity should always prevail.
The Silver Lining
Thankfully, the situation eventually improved, and work resumed, albeit after weeks of waiting. Needless to say, both my parents and the highly regarded contractor experienced immense frustration. No one enjoys letting clients down, even when circumstances are beyond their control.
My parents and grandparents grew up in a generation that valued integrity and followed through on their promises. Though I admit I often fall short of their example, it makes me wonder what has changed in our culture over the past few decades.
Share this article with your children; together, we can strive to shape a better future.
Have you ever encountered a situation where a subcontractor abandoned your project, or even your project leader? If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Additionally, feel free to share your experiences in running a construction business focused on smaller projects. Join us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels and hop on the soapbox!