RHL The Start
By Roger Hyde
It goes without saying that coping with a job that turns out to be ‘bigger than first thought’ is every contractors nightmare – it happens, but how?
Early on one learns not to take on anything that is too complicated. Naturally, many situations are more demanding than anticipated; this is through lack of experience.
Therefore I will move quickly on a few years when experience has been gained and the volume of work is such that making the mistake of underestimating cannot be afforded by the client or contractor.
It is essential for us to be clear in the detail of the job specification, this includes above all else making sure that client expectations are at the right level. The consideration is to provide a description of the work that foretells any ‘short comings’ if a less costly alternative is being considered or indeed, required. The immediate and long term result of what we recommend needs to be honest and clearly understood.
An example is to be seen in a less costly ‘scrub and seal’ verses ‘sand and seal’. When the less expensive option is recommended the client is enthralled, but when the latter applies it can mean losing the job to a competitor. Experience has shown that honesty does work because next time we may well get the job – we are in it for the long run.
What about the mistakes that have occurred on that ‘long road to considerable experience’?
There were certainly plenty of problems when ‘water based’ polyurethane came on the scene. The necessity for this new breed came about due to the harmful effects in manufacturing, as well as using, the traditional petroleum based forerunner. The new kid on the block had early teething problems including the fast curing times. At first the ‘quick hardening’ appeared as a bonus time saving benefit, but as all things in life, there lurks the ying and yang consideration.
So, we come to an example where a job became much larger than I thought, even though I had completed the job before. It was a straight forward hall that I was working on in the summer. The first time I had done the work during the Christmas break. So what went wrong?
There were enormous ‘church-like’ south facing windows , the seal dried rapidly in excess heat on the timbers from the sunlight. The result was peeling (delamination). Compromising by waiting for the winter doesn’t make for being popular; we are supposed to know these things. Hurt pride and no money is hard to live with at the time, but at least the client allowed us to come back in the winter and we still hold that client many years later.
The second example chosen demonstrates just how frustrating life can be.
This time a very large sports hall which received a modernised petroleum based seal was carried out between Christmas and New Year, for which an ambient temperature is required. On arrival the heating had been switched off – outside temperatures were minus 6c. No one in authority could be summoned to bring on the heat, and we were simply instructed to carry on despite our warnings that all would not be well.
The team at Roger Hyde had made clear the heating requirement in the quote, but needed to receive a hand written authorisation to carry on. (this was absolutely necessary as over £3k value of seal would be peeling). There is no satisfaction in being paid in failed circumstances, but we only charged for the seal and direct labour, making no profit, as a sign of good faith.
It worked as we gained more halls from the conglomerate who managed the sites, and our diminished return became a good investment.
Onwards and upwards