Happy Endings

Any kind of changes to your home can be frustrating.  Particularly if you are dealing with contractors.  Sometimes, even when you have been diligent in your hiring process, the work doesn’t progress the way you anticipated.  Unfortunately for all of us even the best laid plans can go a wry. When circumstances come up we all have to deal with them.  How we deal with them can be the difference between a bad day and a horrible year.  There are many horror stories that plague home owners for years maybe even decades.  Hopefully this never happens to you, but if you ever find yourself in a bad situation and don’t know where to turn, try to remember a few things.

Whether the problem comes from something you do, something your contractor does, or something that is out of everyone’s control, the problem still has to be resolved.  Conflict resolution is something that we all must do.  How well we do it depends on many things.  Everyone performs conflict resolution whether we know it or not.  Maybe we only have to use our skills in our familial relationships, maybe our work is filled with a hierarchy of managers and bosses who take the responsibilities off our shoulders and maybe we just avoid it at all costs and let the cards fall where they may.  Whether we are good at it or not, we all do it at one time or another.

For conflict resolution with regards to our relationships with contractors, there are some ways to minimize the fall out.

Understanding how the situation came about is important

Not necessarily for responsibility, although all parties should be aware of their responsibilities, more for understanding the causes and how they can be avoided in the future.  You may not concern yourself with this aspect as much because you may never do this particular work again.  However understanding what kind of issue you are trying to tackle is important.  Labor issues could be the cause, workers who were available are no longer available.  Delivery issues, some part was expected and didn’t show up.  Scope of work issues, work has become more complex and requires different workers.  Site availability, unexpected cut of services or weather changes.   Whatever the reason it should be considered when you are working on a resolution.  Sometimes the everyone can do what is expected of them and things still go wrong.  The nature of renovation in general is closer to gambling than one would think.

Being fair and accepting your own responsibility in every situation is very important. 

Everyone appreciates being treated fairly.  Likely everyone involved knows what their responsibility is.  There are usually a list of things on either side that can be used against the other party.  Maybe the contractor was late one day and maybe the owner was a little late with a confirmation.  All of these seemingly minor things will add up to larger things when things go wrong.  Try not to use all of these things as ammunition, putting people on the defense is not a great way to a happy ending. Sometimes we all need reminding of what it means to take Responsibility.

Spend some time to focus on what is important.

Try to think of things you need to be taken care of and what can possibly be resolved in other ways.  If you are waiting for a light fixture that didn’t arrive on time, is it a possibility to get a temporary fixture in or leave the old fixture in place until it comes it.  If the priority is using this room, leaving it without a light is not the answer.  If you are working on many parts of of your home try pick the most important room to be completed.  Asking for what you want is something everyone should be able to do.  Everyone wants a happy client, if the contractors know what your priority is, they may have some ideas to try to get you what you need faster or easier than you think.  Most people would rather have a chance to make up for mistakes than have you walk away with any bad feelings.

Being honest is important.

If you don’t feel like the work will be completed to your satisfaction then say that.  If your concerned about the quality of work, speak up immediately.  Being able to give Constructive Criticism can be very fulfilling for yourself and give the person the information they need to do a better job.   If you don’t express what you want you will never get it.  Being comfortable enough with your contractor to tell them about things you are not happy with is important. You should also let them know when you are happy with the product as well.

If it comes to replacing your contractor, it doesn’t have to end badly, sometimes having the hard talks can surprise you on what can be accomplished if you understand how to have difficult conversations. Find a good place for the contractor to finish what they are currently working on.  Discuss these details with the contractor.  It is better to let them finish the piece of work they are 1/2 through than to leave it to another to finish.  Most contactors don’t want their work to be on top of other contractors work.  It could make the next contractors work lesser.  It also helps with your final bill.  If there is a easy way to see what the price of the work is, then it is easier to negotiate the final billing. 

Of course it is better to never have to deal with unsatisfactory work but it is inevitable in life that we will come across these kinds of situations.  Hopefully you can come out on the other side with the feeling that you haven’t lost it all and that you did the best you could in a bad situation.  Ultimately in renovation and in life, relationships are everything.

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