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The Construction Industry Stinks

To maintain sanity while building a custom home, you must come to grips with one sad fact: the construction industry is a living mess. It’s rife with inefficiency, stupidity, dishonesty, and carelessness.

I don’t know if it’s the worst industry on the planet, but I do know one thing. Sam and I are business owners. And none of our businesses would survive if ran our businesses like a construction company.

From an owner’s point of view this is the way a whole heck of a lot of subcontractors work:

  • Lowball the labor bid on a job.
  • Get hired.
  • Demand that only you can purchase materials or you won’t “guarantee work.”
  • Generously mark up materials to more than compensate low-balled labor.
  • Buy cheaper materials than expected.
  • Schedule your work.
  • Miss your scheduled appointment.
  • Don’t answer phone.
  • After two days and 14 voice mails, blame someone else for missed appointment.
  • Reschedule appointment.
  • Show up three-and-a-half hours late for reschedule.
  • Feign difficulty understanding English.
  • Work for two hours.
  • Sneak off to work on second job (and/or third and/or fourth job—depending upon which job you are currently on).
  • Don’t answer phone.
  • Leave message that you must visit hospitalized mother.
  • Reschedule work completion.
  • Miss rescheduled date.
  • Show up next day, late afternoon (after second and/or third job).
  • Work until 4:57.
  • Go home.
  • Text in that you have a family vacation for two weeks, starting right now.
  • Show up three weeks later.
  • Finish last 20 minutes of work.
  • Leave clean up for someone else.

How do these people stay in business? Are we that desperate? Are there no qualified trade professionals?

Let it be known, right here, right now, this will not do. It is not acceptable. And if anyone of you tries to work this kind of mess into our new home, your name will be forever linked to this post.

You have been warned. Do not test me on this.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Toney October 17, 2009, 5:16 pm

    I built a semi-custom house a few years ago. What a nightmare. Most unprofessional group of folks I’ve ever worked with and at least three-quarters of the subs the company used were illegals.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 15, 2010, 2:04 pm

    Toney, I just saw your comment.

    In Utah a lot of the construction workers are Mexican (and many speak only Spanish), so I know people suspect them. But I don’t know their immigration status and unless someone really does know, I think we owe them the benefit of the doubt. I suppose that’s the general’s job to worry about? I’m happy to hire legal workers from anywhere if they have the needed skills.

    A few years back we had a congressman who actually bragged about hiring illegals to work on his house. He was voted out in the next election.

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