Can’t Buy Commitment

The two sides of construction chaos.


A guy will do just about anything when he’s desperate enough. I don’t really like construction, I’ve realized. 

It felt good knowing a week ahead that August’s rent was covered, especially with work lined up to the start of school. The folks with that check in their hand have been happy to have me around. This project ran over its time, and the contractor that took it on has been happy to have me following up behind him. 

Every job I’ve picked up with a contractor has been to help wrap up an overdue project. Every job I’ve picked up on my own has been because a contractor dropped the ball. Seems like there’s some real putz balls out there not seeing through their commitments. Well, thanks for the work, guys! 

Though this guy seems chill in conversation, I could tell he’s not been in a great mood. His chief complaint was the multitude of changes to the original plan leading to the project running two weeks over. Oh? But if there’s significant changes to a contract, wouldn’t everyone be aware of the effects? Since everyone seems to be upset about the timeliness of this thing, something seemed off. Turns out, there’s no contract. Not long before I got involved, there were no checks, either. Good old greenbacks, just to fill in the gaps between bigger projects. The real reason his nose was out of joint was that he lost a bigger project as a result of helping them get their place together. 

I put in some hours. They said they were moving their staff in on Friday, and were going to be at least partially functioning on Monday. They didn’t care what it cost or how much I worked, as long as it got done. I busted my tail wiring, plumbing, detailing, and getting the place ready. I spent most of Sunday moving data lines from one wall to the other, and without an ethernet cable tester could only hope my connections were solid. 
 Alas! Monday came around and the office enjoyed full lighting, running water, and fully operational communications. 

After having the messy portion of work wrapped up, I turned my focus to another project. I still had a short list of tasks to tackle, but their whole staff would be busy settling in so I figured I’d wait. I had to do some digging into permits and codes for my upcoming project. The guy is not at all hesitant about paying to have it done right, so I’m taking my time. He’s pointed at a dozen other projects to be done, so I’m doing my best to make sure I deliver. I haven’t been looking for any more jobs since these two looked to be enough to carry me a month or so.

The folks at the last place complained quite a bit about the contractor over booking himself. Where is he at? Anyone heard from him lately? What is his deal? They all ask, while wondering why he would take on all these jobs. Meanwhile, there still wasn’t enough month left at the end of the money for me and I was anxious to get after my next income. It got pushed back until who knows when, and after I sunk a whole day into spec’ing the job out. I went back to the previous project to squeeze a few hours of work out, but that was that. I have nothing. No work from anywhere until I don’t know when. I made calls and got no answers. I went to the ads and started frantically whipping out emails. Nothing. To better illustrate the situation, I found one ad stating that they know every contractor is booked 3, 6, 9 months out, but want their pool fixed so bad no price is out of question. Another ad has been up for some time now, and the disillusioned fellow has added the line: Decent rates only please. Decent, as in $15/hr to be worked like an indentured servant? Good luck!

Well folks, contractors are supposed to work according to a written obligation. If there’s no written obligation to show up and no written obligation to pay up, you have to expect that work and the workers are going to be sporadic at best and screw you over at worst. I chose not to be that over booked carpenter, and it bit me in the butt. 

I also knocked my knee on a ladder pretty hard. The pain matches what I did to the other knee last week. I can’t help but feel like this is why I thought myself above having to swing hammers in the first place. I’m decidedly not trying to make a career of this, just trying to make ends meet until something better happens my way. 

Author: Goose Andeluse

Compulsive maker and fowl carpenter.

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