Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Brenda of the 600 Days

Unlike Anne of the 1000 days, I do not expect to be beheaded any time soon. The law and my aversion to prison being what they are, I'm not expecting to behead any contractors any time soon either. *sigh*. Nevertheless, when we leave for Montana, Stone's Throw will have been under renovation and/or construction for 600 days, and the projects that are all in progress in one stage of completion or another won't be finished. The exterior painting won't be done. The paths in the Botanical Garden own't be done. The front door won't be replaced. The pond won't be done. The stream in the back won't be done. The rainwater collection system won't be done. The painting was only half finished when the painters vanished so now there is plastic sheeting masking off huge swathes of decking and stairs, just flapping in the breeze. At least they took the plastic off the windows before they left so we could see out.

Today my glass is definitely half empty, and I have no one to blame but myself. I believed all the assurances that things would be done by a certain date on *every* project because I wanted to, and because the contractors were earnest, and sincere, and seemed to just be having a run of bad luck with weather and staff and vendors and life. I should never have let my current contractor start so many simultaneous projects as he has going. I should have insisted that he have all the materials and workers for the project underway rather than starting the next one because he was missing something for the first one. But I didn't want to waste time and I figured keeping them moving forward was better than having them not work and wait. Maybe if I had said, "You don't have the materials here for the job we had scheduled? Fine. Everybody go home until you have them." instead of paying them to do something else. Today for me was the last straw.

Last night he told me they would be done with the capstone around the pond today, the pea gravel would be delivered and the guys would get it in first thing, and he would set the stone for the three waterfalls himself. Then his main worker called in sick today, (he went home sick yesterday afternoon), the third guy he was going to get to haul pea gravel couldn't come, the pea gravel delivery was delayed until 2:00 (it still isn't here yet), and he didn't show up himself to start laying the capstone till 11:30.  At one point when they started working on the capstone, he was talking to me and letting one of his workers--a really good guy, but no experience in laying stone--do the capstone. When I questioned the contractor on it, he said he was teaching him how to do it and it was the only way he was going to learn. I politely lost my shit. I said I didn't think it was appropriate for him to be learning on my time when we are this far behind the schedule, and I would really like to see them both working. I said that I understood that I wasn't going to be able to see the skimmer set-up, or the float set-up, or the plumbing finished before I left for Montana, but I absolutely had to see the capstone all around the pond and the waterfalls done. I was pissy, he was annoyed, he stomped off, and I went back to the house leaving them to do whatever they were going to do.

I feel really bad when I crack the whip. Whoever I crack it over invariably looks at me like I'm nuts and as if all I'm doing by pestering them about when they are going to get done is slowing them down. But from my perspective, I don't pester until they are already seriously late, or they look like they're going to be late and I need to know in advance to change things down the line that are contingent upon their progress.

Lack of realistic time table seems to be endemic with many contractors. The kitchen remodel was a mess both for lack of adherence to schedule and crappy work. The roof took three months instead of three weeks. The walk through on the botanical gardens and the rest of the landscaping was February 13, it was supposed to be done by the end of March. It's still a ways from being completely done. Admittedly, there has been more than a little mission creep on my part, but dammit part of managing a schedule is managing customers' expectations. "Yes, we can add that in but it will add one week to the schedule" instead of "Sure we can do that" with never a mention of schedule or cost and nothing but assurances that it would be finished on time when pressed.

At least the solar guys hopped right on it and threw more people at the project--without asking for more money--when they dropped the ball. They even went threw all the last minute hoops the city threw at them with nary a hint of we can't do that today because we're busy with something else. They were very much a how-high-would-you-like-us-to-jump organization when they screwed up--which made me feel like it was less common for them.

Do I sound bitter? I feel burned out. I need the break I will get this summer from contractors. Now it's time for one last progress check for the day. I will stay away from sharp implements while I am out there.

NOTE: They're about where I expected they'd be. They'll finish the capstone on the lower pond by 5:00 and the pea gravel is about 20% in (if that). That leaves tomorrow to finish the pea gravel so I can plant the bog plants on Friday, and tomorrow and Friday for the entire upper capstone and the waterfalls. As Miracle Max would say, "It would take a miracle".

1 comment:

Bill said...

I like that: mission creep. Exactly right choice of words. But he really should have clued you in on how much more time each additional action would take. Frustrating.