My Adventure in Home Remodeling...the Wrong Way, part Six

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Blog entry by tat2grl posted 01-05-2008 08:02 PM 1126 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The flooring was finished the next day. All that was left was the trim, and that was left to me. She packed up and headed on to her next job. No biggie. I had gotten good with the nailer and trim work and was looking forward to completing the job. Laurie and she went to the kitchen to total up the damage and write the check while I started measuring and cutting the trim. My friend left with a bellowing “CYA!” and drove off. I merrily waved and walked back into the house with my newly cut piece of trim. “She didn’t cut us a break” Laurie called out from the kitchen. We looked over the figures. Sure enough, there was no break whatsoever, even with my helping out. Plus, we had run short on floor and Laurie and I had headed back to buy some more, which Laurie thought was odd. Lauried had run to get lunch and noticed when she got back the stack of flooring was shorter than what it was before she left. None of us had laid any flooring while she was gone, just cleaned up for lunch. She believes to this day, as I do now, that several boxes of flooring were moved to someone’s truck, especially since we were told about one of the crew members putting flooring down at their house. I frowned and went back to my trim work. That’s when I noticed the floor. Huge gaps were showing where the door trim went up. Some of the door trim had been cut, some had not. There are spots were no gaps were left; the flooring tight up against the wall. Other spots had an inch or more in the gap. Some of the flooring had small chunks missing…sure I could cover it up with putty or whatever, but it would still look like crap. I was hurt. I had been taken advantage of by someone I thought was a friend. The flooring is nice, but its starting to bulge in spots and you can see concrete near the door trim. I looked back at my experience with her and realized, with 20/20 vision, that she wasn’t licensed. She wanted ME to become licensed at one point, stating that she wasn’t much on book education and since I already had a master degree I could do it. Why on earth would I want to become a licensed contractor when I had NO experience under my belt? Now I know, it would be for the legalities. She could point to me when something went wrong because I had the license. I’m glad I didn’t do it. I also look back and see all the corners that were cut, the shabby material that was used, the poor craftsmanship and attitudes. She no longer lives in the area and I refuse to speak to her. I don’t have time for cheats. We’re going to re-do our floor when we can afford the quality floor that we want and have it done by professionals. Long hard lesson to learn, but I’m glad I went through it. I learned alot about myself and my abilities. I became uninterested in anything having to do with construction for a long time. Then I found Pop’s hand planer. It whispered to me, “Don’t give up and don’t give in”. I’m listening.

-- "Creativity is...seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God."

7 comments so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3902 days

#1 posted 01-05-2008 10:04 PM

I guess you’ve had your encounter with one of those friends. I had one of those friends and allowed them to rent my house while I was serving as a pastor. Well, that assignment ended and now about $10,000 later I have a new set of friends. I’m sorry to hear your tale, but they say that good judgement comes as a result of bad judgement. And, as Mark Twain said, “If you loan a friend $20 and never see them again it was probably worth it.”

-- Working at Woodworking

View ErsatzTom's profile


104 posts in 3769 days

#2 posted 01-05-2008 10:19 PM

Sounds awful. I can’t see how you could have handled any better though.

-- Tom, Southwest Florida

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3759 days

#3 posted 01-05-2008 11:22 PM

With friends like that, who needs enemas, right? Sorry to hear that you went through all that. Good move on not getting the license though. I’m betting that you’d be right about the finger being swung toward you if there was a problem.

I got out of the Navy in 1996 and went to work for a contractor here. His mother and my Mom were good friends, and she was always so proud of her contractor son. The mothers conspired and arranged for me to come to work there shortly after discharge from Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club. Later on, like you with your “friend”, I learned about the short cuts, the poor craftsmanship, the slip-shot way of doing things.

In my life, I’ve worked very hard to have few regrets. At 34, I only have three. One was not asking a certain girl out in 9th grade. The second involved way to much Guinness and a Hooter’s waitress uniform (don’t ask). The third was my involvement with this type of work.

Luckily, a couple of years later, I got the chance to somewhat make it right, at least in my mind. I worked for the United Methodist Flood Relief, helping restore homes damaged in a bad flood in 1998.

I’m glad you found out the quality of this “friend” before it was to late.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View jcees's profile


1058 posts in 3762 days

#4 posted 01-06-2008 01:49 AM

Hard lesson but oh so common. Friends with skills are handy as helpers best paid with beer. So if a thing to be done is important, you need the services of a pro. There’s a reason a pro earns what he/she’s paid. Licensure, reputation and professionalism don’t come cheap. He/she pays first and often if they’re any good. Continuing education and certification are expenses they will never outgrow. Therefor it’s best to compare them with others of their ilk and an informed decision reached based on portfolio, impression, warranty and price.

Note that I put price dead last. That comes from years of dealing with suppliers and vendors in several different industries. Cheap is NEVER anything but cheap. Never expect a pro to be cheap, they’re trying to make a living in a competitive marketplace and they have to charge enough to see them through price increases, skilled labor shortages, rising gas prices, FUBARs and whatever you can’t see coming, like a visit from an OSHA rep. They have costs and overhead beyond the price of time and materials and besides, business is about getting ahead as much as it is about doing good work. A good pro will always provide that certain something that a friend with skills will NEVER be able supply… peace of mind. The kind that comes from knowing that your relationship is a “commercial” one and that if anything goes wrong you can count on them to make it right BEFORE final payment.

Don’t kick yourself too hard, we’ve all got good-buddy with skills nightmares to relive. Just let your experience inform your future efforts and you’ll survive the awkward fits and starts of your new found avocation. As a matter of fact, I rarely if ever “lend” my woodworking skills. I’m not a pro at woodworking, skilled but NOT a pro. I’m better than most pros I’ve met simply because I don’t HAVE-TO make a living doing it. I can adapt, improvise and overcome and more importantly, innovate as I’m working through a project. If I were doing it as a profession I’d soon become a starving basket case for not being able to follow those rabbits down those fanciful holes where “art” lives and profitability is measured by the soul instead of the balance sheet.

And that’s why I maintain the utmost respect for true professionals who can produce on demand and fulfill your needs and desires within a prescribed budget. The bottom line is… they’re worth it!

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4124 days

#5 posted 01-06-2008 01:30 PM

View tat2grl's profile


61 posts in 3764 days

#6 posted 01-06-2008 05:40 PM

I soooo agree with you jcees. My “friend’’s business card even said “licensed and bonded”. Humph. Licensed? As in Driver’s License? You sound like my hero, Mike Holmes. I watch his show whenever I can and would like to get his book. I work for a major computer company as a troubleshooter and I get complaints all the time about how crappy the computer is. In the most professional way I can muster I explain to them that you get what you pay for. If you buy a $300 computer and then complain that it won’t play the games you want it to, or running big programs sucks the life out of it and crashes it from time to time, guess what. You get what you paid for. Its like buying a 1975 Pinto and expecting it to run like a Porsche. Aint gonna happen, Captain. From now on I leave the major stuff to the pros, period. If I’m painting the gargage then yeah, come on over, I’ll have drinks and lunch and we’ll have fun. But if I’m BUILDING a gargage, you can best believe I will be contacting a pro and gladly paying for the services.

-- "Creativity is...seeing something that doesn't exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God."

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4040 days

#7 posted 01-06-2008 11:43 PM

Wow. Just finished all 6 blogs. An unfortunate life lesson.

-- BLOG -

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