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There's Dust in My Lingerie Drawer: A Plumberís Perspective PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 September 2007

This is when the proverbial “dust” hits the fan for the lady of the house.

Building on or having alterations done to your house does not always have to go hand in hand with marriage counseling and therapy but it often does. I have been in this game for six years now and believe me I have seen it all.

Firstly the client, let’s call him Mr. Smith, calls you up usually on a Sunday afternoon after he has had his well-deserved afternoon nap.  I believe it is also the only time his wife sees her husband long enough to actually discuss the renovation of their bathroom.  

Being a plumber I am used to these calls. They usually do not quite know what to expect cost-wise and just want an estimate.. They did see on the latest Bathroom Bizarre television advertisement that a toilet only costs R 395.00!  Tiles at CTM for R 45.00 a square metre! So, really, how expensive can it be to do a bathroom alteration? 

After the initial shock of my quote, I am sometimes convinced they accepted it because
I was the only contractor who actually showed up to give a quote. So then the work proceeds.

Mrs. Smith is usually very happy at this stage.  I call it the honeymoon stage. She is getting a new bathroom … just like the one in the latest Garden & Home.

We start breaking out the old toilet and all is fine. Now it’s time to go and buy the tiles and bathroom fittings. First shock … the tiles at R45 sq. metre definitely do NOT look as nice as the tiles that cost R135.00 sq. metre.  Add the cement at R75 a pocket plus grout, edge time etc, this means the tiles cost a fortune.  Play this scenario out with the toilet as well as the bath and before you know it Mr. and Mrs. Smith are already over their budget and in couples’ therapy.

The ceiling needs to be changed, they need new light fittings and how about a heated towel rail while we are at it.  “Hmm, I think adding a window here would create more light too, what do you think, darling?”

The it happens!  Mrs. Smith finds dust in her lingerie drawer from all the grinding the day before – she takes it out on Mr. Smith because he is the man in the house and he should have been in control of the situation.  Mr. Smith has no choice but to take it out on the contractor because it’s expected of him. And the Honeymoon is over!

This all can be prevented if a few basic steps are followed and adhered to:

I like to call it the Pleasure Method.

1. Planning
2. Learn
3. Evaluate
4. Alter
5. Stick and seal
6. Understanding
7. Respect
8. Enjoy

Planning

Plan, plan, plan. You need to plan and you need a plan for the alterations.
One of my clients made me move the toilet three times because she changed the bath three times!

It is also very important to have a plan showing the contractor exactly what goes where.

Learn

As much as you can about what you are letting yourself in for. My friend Donald suggests that you and your partner should go for counseling.(like with a couple getting married) to prepare yourself for doing alterations to your house.

Evaluate

Evaluate the cost, evaluate the contractor. Does he have references? Can he show you a portfolio of what he has done?

Evaluate the practicality of the project. Could we move out to another part of the house for that time.

Alter

Change you plans before you start. One client changed so often while we were building that we threw the plans away eventually. It also is very costly to do things over and over.

Stick and seal

Once you decided this is what you want, stick to it. Leave the contractor to get on with his work.

If possible seal off that section of the house. If you need to work through a hole in the wall or a window do it.  In the end it will be worth that little extra cost.

Understanding

Make sure you understand the process. Try and understand that certain things are just not possible. Understand the effect of having your space invaded by strangers for a few weeks. Understand costs involved with every change. If there is a change to be made make sure the contractor give you a new quote, in writing, before he makes the change.

Respect

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember if you hired the right contractor you should be working with professionals. They know what they are doing. Please treat them with respect and you will receive the same treatment.

Enjoy

I once started redoing a bathroom with a separate toilet on a Monday and finished on the Friday, built in a new bath, tiled and painted.  Needless to say it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both me and the client.


This article was provided by Stephen Theron of The Plumbing Professionals.
You can contact Stephen for more advice and information on: 083 335 1891.

Other useful articles by Stephen can be found here.


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