We are done.

The job is complete.

It’s exactly what the contract stated we would do.

Who’s heard this before from a contractor?

 

Over the past 16 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of contractors, male and female on residential and commercial design/build outdoor and indoor construction projects.

As a petite 5’2” woman, who has worked in male dominated industries all her life, I’m very aware of the common assumption that women don’t have a clue when it comes to repair work.

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I know my way around auto mechanics, I’ve purchased (and use) 98% of the tools in my household and I have a broad knowledge of construction from learning on the job, construction and repairs on my own home or taking classes.

 

I’ve been called demanding when asking for what a man would ask for:

A well constructed, properly finished final product, done on time and on budget.

 

 

Recently I asked other women what their biggest frustration with contractors and renovations have been:

“Having the carpenter working on our porch tell me that it wasn’t possible to do something with his new tools and technology that my great grandparents were able to do in 1893! Oh and then the same guy telling me it was normal for the pre-cut stringers (he was supposed to custom cut them) to miss meeting the sidewalk by 4 inches. Seriously! I’ve got a million of them!!” – Jeanne McNeil

In response to Jeanne’s comments, I’d say that trying to convince the client that you did it right when you clearly didn’t, is pure laziness and absolute BS!

“Not paying attention to the details that I asked them to pay attention to up front, when they were writing the quote. This seems to happen to me every time. Even when I don’t pick the lowest bid. Nikki Lussier

Nikki isn’t the first woman I’ve heard this complaint from. I hear this complaint from 80% of the women I speak to about contractors.

Details that matter to my clients, matter to me.

“Contracts talking exclusively to my husband and/or being condescending because they think I don’t know what I’m talking about. Every damn time!” Nancy Belvin – Trim Carpenter

This is another huge common theme that I hear from many women. In Nancy’s case she is a trim and finish carpenter and very clearly knows her way around construction and building.

“So many of these subcontractors don’t listen and think they always know best. They need to be held accountable and to fix what they wouldn’t have had to fix if they had paid attention to us women and did it right in the first place.” Susan Cary

I’ve had this experience also. As Mike Holmes would say “Build it right, the first time.” I couldn’t agree more.

And here is one of my stories:

100 year old cast iron clawfoor tub
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I bought a 100 year old cast iron clawfoot tub for my historic home. The plumbing lines run on the outside of the tub and need to be just so to be correct.

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I let the plumber know that the riser pipes that bring hot and cold water to the faucet in the tub needed to be 3 1/2” on centre so that chrome riser pipes are plumb (straight up and down) from the floor to the faucet. I gave him the old faucet so he could use it as a really easy reference.

 

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This is what I go the first time:

3” on centre, meaning that the riser pipes would need to be on an angle to go from the floor to the faucet. Nor was it square to the wall. Not correct. Not acceptable. Not what I asked for.

He also completely marred up the chrome and had to order a whole new set.

 

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The last time he tried to fix it was with 6 of us standing around him and the carpenter had to assist him with measuring.

During the ordeal with the first plumber, I was told repeatedly that it couldn’t be done the way I wanted. When I had multiple plumbers come in and do an estimate for the remaining work, they said what I wanted (to move the drain over to position the clawfoot tub properly and to have the riser pipes perfectly plumb) couldn’t be done.

All of these plumbers also told me that it was impossible to have my toilet moved from a 10” rough in to a 12” rough in. Sometimes this isn’t possible because of the placement of the floor joists.

A 12” rough in is the standard. A typical toilet with a 12” rough in costs $165 at the big box stores. A 10” rough in is typically a special order item and costs nearly $500 plus.

Long story short, I finally found a new plumber. The chrome is in perfect shape, the riser pipes are plumb and the drain was able to be moved over so the actual clawfoot fits where it was always designed to. Plus that 10” rough in, was actually able to be a moved to 12” rough in!

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Surprise, surprise, it could be done the way I had designed.

The fact that all of us women have a “Million of [these stories]” tells a story in itself.

If I didn’t have the construction knowledge to know the details I was asking for in my bathroom was possible, I would have done what many other homeowners do; give up and settle for work that doesn’t quite meet the standards of great!

I’ve made it part of my mission to advocate for my clients to make sure their voices are heard and the details that matter to them, happen.

I’m passionate about easing the renovation and construction process specifically for my female clients because the home renovation industry is well past due for a change!

 

If you are looking to renovate your historic home in Richmond, VA, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me here.


 

If you’ve gone through a renovation, what would have made the biggest difference in making your experience a less stressful and pleasant experience? Tell me below in the comments.

 

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