Finishing Other People’s Jobs is Thankless

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Why is it that it is so unrewarding finishing someone else’s job?  I’m not sure that I’ve ever done a project, that was a continuation of project that someone started and baled, and ever been very satisfied.

I think it is because that no one really does anything exactly the same and that there are many ways to get to the end result of a project.  The problem is that when someone starts something in a specific way, you need to be thinking like them to get to the same end result that they envisioned.  And you might not have that vision in you.

I got thinking about this because I started, or more accurately, got involved in tiling a shower in Lawrence, that someone else had done the shower pan and cement board.  They wanted a no sill shower, a smooth transition.  They make a flush drain, a trough that would have been perfect, but the guy before me thought he could build a smooth little berm between the shower and the bathroom floor.  He did that, but he didn’t get any grade on the shower pan. And he didn’t know that the drain could be adjusted up and down, so it was mounted about 3/4″ too high.

So, yesterday, I chiseled out all the surrounding concrete, and lowered the shower drain, then tried to tile the floor so the water flows towards the drain.  I’m not sure how it is going to work.  I think there might be a couple low spots, which would be a total failure, or at least not good.

What I really needed to do was to knock out the whole thing and just start over.  Get the right drain and do it right.  That might still be what is going to happen.

I’ve run into this so many times.  Guys that have started working on their cars, or bikes and then get frustrated and quit.  A bike usually isn’t so difficult.  There isn’t much on a bike that I don’t know about.  But, someone cross-threads their bottom bracket or something and then calls and asks if I can “help” him install a new bottom bracket, when he already knows that he has jacked it up.

It’s much worse with cars.  I hate showing up to help someone fix their car and there are a ton of nuts and bolts laying around.  I pretty much need to remove them to know where they go back.

Michael Fatka had a sign like below at his shop, Michael’s Cyclery in Ames, Iowa.  I didn’t appreciate it as much back then as I do now.  The last number isn’t a big enough jump.

LABOR RATES copy

I put in the other floor next to the shower, so felt some connection to the project.  The other floor has electric heat and is nice.  You can't tell how little slope the shower floor has here.  Maybe 1/8" per foot if I'm lucky.

I put in the other floor next to the shower, so felt some connection to the project. The other floor has electric heat and is nice. You can’t tell how little slope the shower floor has here. Maybe 1/8″ per foot if I’m lucky.

I should of just put one of these in and got rid of the curb.

I should have just put one of these in and got rid of the curb.

 

4 thoughts on “Finishing Other People’s Jobs is Thankless

  1. Megan Koopman Morgan

    When clients ask me why my design rates are so high, my latest reply is: You are paying for all the mistakes I’ve made in the past + my gained experience from these failed projects + my creativity = my current rate.

     
    1. H Luce

      I’m not too sure I’d want to mention “all my failed projects in the past” and the “experience” you got from them, in soliciting new work. All of that “experience” came at someone else’s cost, and they wound up with a failure which they had to pay to fix. Add in your “creativity”, and what’s to say that I won’t be paying for another creative design failure which gives you yet more experience, but which leaves me on the hook to remedy that failure?

       
  2. franz

    Come put a shower in my basement. The space is a blank canvas and you can have full artistic license.

     
  3. DStudley

    Funny, for the short period I worked computer repair the jobs that were the worst usually were caused by the user trying to fix or upgrade something themselves. If you push hard enough you can force a memory stick into a video card slot and when it doesn’t start take it into the shop, but don’t mention the DIY memory upgrade associated with it not working.

     

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