Mixed messages

I am a carpenter. Not a contractor. I've offered to help a friend re- do her living room floors and kitchen. I have a knack for making things look nice without spending a lot of money..I have a good nose for bargains, a good eye for detail, etc. Rewiring that had to be done, to accommodate new fixtures, new fan and a dimmer switch replacement were all done by a licensed electrician. I am dealing with my friend mostly, but lately the husband has gotten involved in the process. The living room floors are done, they are a good brand laminate. Installed and baseboards, shoe are coped and in place. Now to the kitchen. No decision has been made on tile or countertop materials...First the theme was to be "neutral", then not to spend too much money, then they looked at all their friends and family's stuff and made a sort of decision...only to waffle on design, product, you name it. (remember, I am doing this free, so money or pay is not the issue) The wife's usual comment has been "you have good taste, just do something and i'll like it". Now the husband has stuck his nose in it...and has NO clue what he wants, but pontificates forever about what he thinks he wants. He nitpicks every decision, is hard to engage as to "friendliness" and at the end of each twice or thrice daily dissertation..he says "well, it don't matter to me anyway". But then five minutes later, here he starts up with the nitpicking (he knows nothing about carpentry) I don't ever dispute color, as we all have different tastes. The end of this project is a custom bar, but the bar is going to be the last thing to be done. And because it will depend on some of the choices that they make...my specialty is custom wood pieces..all unique, and quality sturdy usable functional bartops. The husband has never been to my house, which is a showcase of what I do, I've asked the wife to bring him...oh well. Not that I want their house to look like mine, just to show them i have a sense of good quality.. I am getting quite frustrated..as I don't have time to dick around with them forever, I offered to help them, but not to babysit while they nailed one foot to the floor. I've told them ideas, where to shop, the necessary steps to achieve the look they want. (of course they want it all rock bottom, but that takes some thinking and planning, anyone can have a great looking kitchen if you spend a lot of money) My question to the group, what would you do? I do not want hard feelings, as we are friends. This is the first time I've ever worked with them. And what would I say? My big problem is with the husband. I just for the life of me, cannot engage him, it is just superficial babbling that I get from him...my husband says he is just using his "game face". Game face for what? The wife tells me one thing when it's just she and i, but when she's around her husband, she parrots him. Perry
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cajunpaisley wrote:

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"further proof that no good deed goes unpunished."
I had to chuckle at that, because when I come home and relate the day's events and jibberish to my husband, that's exactly what we say.
I'm afraid at this point, that if I finish helping them, then they are not going to be happy with ANYTHING, and if I don't finish helping them, then I'm a jerk...so, I feel like I'm in a lose/lose situation.. Perry
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cajunpaisley wrote:

don't see the true value in what you are doing for them. I'd try to find a good ending place where the job doesn't look half done and back out gracefully if possible.
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cajunpaisley wrote:

You are in a lose / lose situation. Get out NOW you are not appreciated! They are taking advantage of your good nature. DON'T LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN, YOUR WORTH MORE!
--
"You can lead them to LINUX
but you can\'t make them THINK"
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On Thu, 15 May 2008 12:43:42 -0700 (PDT), cajunpaisley

Hi Perry,
Sounds like a no-win situation and I would try to back out gracefully now before the plot thickens; these sorts of things don't normally get better, only worse, and unless you enjoy the constant stress and abuse, you really need to blow Dodge. Be honest and respectful and tell them you value their friendship and that you're worried working with them might might put that at risk. Hopefully they'll be flattered and you'll be able to escape without causing any hard feelings. Good luck!
Cheers, Paul
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wrote:

I agree with Paul. It sounds like a no-win situation. I think that you should step back from the project and let everyone take a breather. Maybe they are not happy with your work, your taste, your pay, or something else, but because of the friendship cannot come right out and say it. Maybe they're just idiots who have no idea what is involved in the remodeling process. If everything that you posted is true it sounds as though they have a gem of a carpenter. Tell them you have other projects that you need to tend to and when they are truly ready you will be happy to do the work if they want. That will give them an out and they can see for themselves what it is like to try and hire good people to do good work if they decide to look elsewhere.
PS: You probably should start charging for consultations on all of your jobs or raise your rates to cover your time spent in the planning stage.
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Apologize, repeatedly, and leave. Do not have contact wtih them again. Run, do not walk. These people will waste the rest of your life for you.
--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
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You shouldnt work a job that big for free, id leave till they get their act together and you are treated with respect.
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Maybe the husband is suspicious of the friendship.
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Suspicious, how? I'm a woman, so what would he be suspicious of?
I don't think that's it. I think the husband is just a nitpicker by habit, just for the sport of it. Being in someone's house for a couple of weeks working, you see the inner workings of the "couple" dynamics..I've been in houses where there is good karma and things go smooth. I've been in houses, that seemingly look like Mayberry RFD and it's hellish... I usually try to *train* my clients, because I almost get called back for more work, and once they know the ropes..decision making, linear thinking, etc..they feel like they have a hand in the process. All my usual and customary teachings have gone unheeded in this case. They are friends and what I offered was to "help" the wife do the work herself. She's energetic and is a motivated worker. But cannot, cannot make a decision, so comes to ask me "what do I think?". I tell her, a couple of suggestions...then she analyzes to death her possible decision. At first she wanted to be a "neutral, and have nothing bold"..and of course, inexpensive. But now because I'm not charging for labor, the budget has tripled for the kitchen floor. The husband, I almost had to wrestle, because he wanted to take out a load bearing member. We cut a 30 sq ft hole in the wall between the kitchen and tv room and he claims the remaining load bearing members are "a blind spot". Duh...what about the big hole where there was none? I am away from there for a couple of days, so I will use my time to think of a way to detach, dis-entangle and not encourage further decision debacles...but I will hopefully finish the work, and hopefully, my goal was the woman to feel good about doing a lot of it herself, hands on, with some guidance...what the man thinks, I could care less. Perry
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On Thu, 15 May 2008 17:12:32 -0500, "perrylep"

Invite the couple to your home for dinner. That's your turf. When I deal with difficult people I prefer to be in my "lions den" / turf. They seem to be more open minded and to listen. You could even meet in public, so you can tell them your exact feelings and thoughts. In public they are less likely to "go off" and make a scene.
When you are in their home, you become the timid one so to speak.
I think it would be best to have "sit down talk" and tell them exactly what you've said here in the group.
You will have a better chance of getting things across on your turf.
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On Thu, 15 May 2008 12:43:42 -0700 (PDT), cajunpaisley

Precisely. Tell them that. They design it, they choose materials and styles, you build it when those decisions are made. Until then, you have other work that you must focus on.
All you have to sell is your time and your skill -- do not give them away, do not sell them cheaply.
I am a contractor, not a carpenter.
The hardest lesson I've learned is that if you try to help people, be a "nice guy", they will burn you every time. The less you charge, the more you do, the less you'll be respected and appreciated. No good deed goes unpunished, as someone here said.
I do not work for friends, relatives, neighbours. Period. I do not cut prices for anyone. Period. I do not "rush" projects for anyone. Period.
That explains why I'm a happy guy who loves his work. Also explains whyt 98 percent of my clients are happy people who love my work.
Last thought -- my trades occasionally work on my house or properties. I pay them full wages. It's a matter of respect.
Ken
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My suggestion is to set up a reasonable time line for the remaining work. Sit down with the husband and wife and explain that due to your family obligations you need to finish the project by a given date. Explain after that, you will not be available and that they will need to hire someone to finish the job. This gives them an incentive to make the necessary decisions in a timely fashion and gives you a out hopefully without hurting the relationship. The hard part is to call it quits when you reach your drop dead date. You must be firm. They should understand that you have a life too.
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My suggestion is to set up a reasonable time line for the remaining work. Sit down with the husband and wife and explain that due to your family obligations you need to finish the project by a given date. Explain after that, you will not be available and that they will need to hire someone to finish the job. This gives them an incentive to make the necessary decisions in a timely fashion and gives you a out hopefully without hurting the relationship. The hard part is to call it quits when you reach your drop dead date. You must be firm. They should understand that you have a life too.
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