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What Happens When Something Goes Wrong

The biggest problem with many contractors is not necessarily the work they do, the price they charge or the people they have working for them, although those are all critical concerns. What I see as one of the biggest problems is how a contractor handles things when something goes wrong and no matter how good you are, something will go wrong at some point. When that happens, the contractor can all of a sudden become a stranger to the customer. They don't answer or return your calls. They blame somebody or something for causing the problem.

Every year we spend a lot of money fixing problems. Sometimes they are things we could blame on the product or a supplier and yes sometimes, even the customer. Ultimately though, no one wants to hear excuses, they just want it fixed. I believe that the best customers can sometimes be the ones you worked with to correct a problem. Case in point: we built a patio room for a homeowner underneath a new deck we also built. We assured them we could seal off the deck to prevent leaks. Guess what: it didn't work. After we tried several times to stop water from running into the ceiling of the patio room, we decided to replace the entire deck above it with new sheathing and a product call Duradeck. It solved the problem and certainly should have been our game plan from the beginning. This was our mistake and we didn’t charge the customer for the complete redo. Our main concern was how we could solve the problem, not what it was costing us. In the end, the customer was so happy that he placed an order for a lot of additional work on his house. I look at these experiences as the cost of being in business and also as a learning experience. I guarantee we will never make that mistake again!

We get a lot of homeowners who call us trying to fix a problem either caused or not corrected by another contractor. I feel sorry for the homeowner because you shouldn't have to pay for things twice. My advice when hiring a contractor is not to focus on what they tell you, but to find out what they do when something goes wrong. None of us are perfect, but we all have an opportunity to correct our mistakes and to do so to the complete satisfaction of the homeowner.


Lorin Miller, President

PS—my wife said to add that this story is an illustration of why our motto is “We do it right or we do it over”.