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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a problem with a customer that many of you have had with a unique aspect. I have worked for a woman for over 20 years mostly on a house she does not live in. It has been two different businesses and a residential rental more recently. I gutted and put a new kitchen in it about two years ago. This woman is demanding but fair and treats me good. When I do small jobs she calls me afterwards and thanks me everytime. That means alot to me.
Enter the daughter. She has a 50 year old single daughter that lives 500 miles away that wants to move here and live in the house. The mother called me and asked if I would do some work to thhe house for the daughter to move in. She said there was no hurry to complete the job and that it would be abouut a year before the daugter would be moving and selling her other house. I said I would do the job only if they were not in a hurry.
We met at the job about three months ago to talk about what they want done. They wanted a bathroom and closet added in a bedroom and many other smaller projects. There were many challenges in that the house dates to about 1860 and three houses were moved together to make one.
I dealt with the daughter some on the kitchen project but the biggest problems are that she wants to manage, change, and re-invent every detail of the job. I came up with a floor plan for the bathroom and she rejected it. She met with friend/architect one weekend and they came up with three awful plans that none of them work. I told her this and she asked 20 questions and sent me 10 emails. The biggest problem with their plans is the bathroom fixtures were all undersized or miniature and that made them appear to work but they did not. Some of you might say "what is the big deal designing a bathroom". I have done at least 20 bathroom remodels,enlarging, changing everything around projects and this one is the hardest. But the issue/question is the difficulty of dealing with the daughter. If I ask her a question, she asks me 5 back and suggests a dozen things that don't work. She finally told me to proceed with my plan- at least that si what I thought. I built a new wall in the bedroom for the bathroom and emailed her a picture. She came back with 10 issues and in a phone conversation casually said " we need to slide the door over a little farther and make the end of the wall 45 degrees". That is the kind of thing I hate when it has been decided on, it is done.I drew a large scale plan before I started and it was accurate to an inch.
At this point she wanted to change everything. I have been meeting with subs and discussing what can and cannot be done. I spent a whole weekend on the phone, emailing, and running over to the job to re-measure stuff for her. I have been blunt but not rude to her and she will not stop.
Monday, after a long arduous phone call, I asked the daughter if she was going to continue to do what she is doing right now with the changing, etc. She paused 30 seconds and said she wants to be involved with every detail but not every nail. I pulled off the job and worked other places since then.
I talked to the mother- my longtime valued customer about this problem and she did not want me to walk off the job an told the daughter all I had said.
The question is do I walk for good or do I finish it? The mother has been good to me and I don't want to dissapoint her. The daughter is impossible to please/work with and is driving me insane. She is not going to change. The job is 20% done, great time to walk if I do instead of later.
I don't need the work but it would be a good indoor full-time job to show up whenever I want. What to do?
I pulled
 

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hack of all trades
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It's a huge pain, but if she's willing to pay for all the jerking you around and changing plans, I would continue. If she wants to waste your time and add 50% to the job for free, i would get out asap.
 

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The only thing you need to be concerned about is getting paid for all the changes and the time involved dealing with her. Most of my jobs start with a contract but end up being T&M, not just a little but 3 to 4 times over my estimate.

But I don't worry about getting paid that's all covered before I even do the work. It also changes the payment structure....when I ask for a check I expect it ASAP and whenever I ask for it.

I've been in somewhat the same situation with a customer's son, I told him "You must have dropped on your head when you were a baby because you're nothing like your mom" I told him to eff off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I do need to figure out who I am working for. Mother pays the bill and she says build it to please the daughter.

I am doing the job hourly and have no contract. I charge for all of my BS time though.

I only work for people I have worked for previously and they keep calling me back. I have been doing this for 39 years and can't stand the paperwork end of the business.
 

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I do need to figure out who I am working for. Mother pays the bill and she says build it to please the daughter.

I am doing the job hourly and have no contract. I charge for all of my BS time though.

I only work for people I have worked for previously and they keep calling me back. I have been doing this for 39 years and can't stand the paperwork end of the business.
If the money is coming from mom, then you need to tell her " Do you realize how much $$$ your daughter is costing you?" Let the mom deal with the daughter or she'll say just do it.
 

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The Ultimate Wire Hider
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I'd rather the mother be mad at me for refusing to do the work than to have the whole entire relationship ruined over what appears to be a difficult no-win situation.
 
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I wouldn't go back into that situation without a contract. I think your setting yourself up for trouble without one, your red flags already got you posting.
 

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I do need to figure out who I am working for. Mother pays the bill and she says build it to please the daughter.

I am doing the job hourly and have no contract. I charge for all of my BS time though.

I only work for people I have worked for previously and they keep calling me back. I have been doing this for 39 years and can't stand the paperwork end of the business.
You answered your own question. Youre working for the mother who instructed you to do as the daugther wished. Do that and bill for it weekly.

week one: $1300 consultation and design meetings

Week two: 75$ c & d 1 hour meeting to review next weeks plan and pick up a check.

Just remind her you will talk to her as long as she would like for 75$ an hour.
 

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.... Most of my jobs start with a contract but end up being T&M, not just a little but 3 to 4 times over my estimate.
...
A 20% increase would be a big change for me, and that would be pure additions to the scope. I work hard to get the changes figured out before we start.

If it's the mother's money, I'd keep her informed about how much is being spent, and the expected final cost. She might look at $30K in invoices and think that it's well within your initial estimate of $50K, not realizing that you've barely gotten anything done and the expected total is now $75K.

I'd make sure the money situation is clear with the mother, in writing, or you might have some troubles. The daughter doesn't care, because it's not her money.
 

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Being that the mother is the long-term customer, and it seems like the one paying, I would explain to her that her daughters indecision and continuous changes are racking up a large bill and that for her sake, being a long-time valued customer it would be to her benefit to sort out all the design, etc. BEFORE you move forward, but that you won't if it's not...
 

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Sometimes your sanity is worth more than any money you could earn from a job.

I'm dealing with a somewhat similar situation with this designer lady I'm doing a job for. Her & her customer think they can build by trial & error til they get what they want. We are having a come to jesus meeting this morning. Homey don't play that game.
 

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The only thing you need to be concerned about is getting paid for all the changes and the time involved dealing with her. Most of my jobs start with a contract but end up being T&M, not just a little but 3 to 4 times over my estimate.

But I don't worry about getting paid that's all covered before I even do the work. It also changes the payment structure....when I ask for a check I expect it ASAP and whenever I ask for it.

I've been in somewhat the same situation with a customer's son, I told him "You must have dropped on your head when you were a baby because you're nothing like your mom" I told him to eff off.
I do it the same way, I don't care if they make changes every day. Some times I need to physically show them why something will not work/fit for them to understand. As long as they know all the changes will cost them money its no problem. I have customers who change their mind after the items are on site, either return them or keep them for something else.
 

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First, you need to figure out who you're working for and deal with that person. Wait... first, you need a contract, which includes how change orders are handled. Then charge for those changes.
Reread this----no need to loose a customer---just lay out the rules of the game-----
 

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This sure sounds like contract time to me. Nothing worse than getting in the middle between daughter and mother. Especially when the mother just wants it done and trusts you, while the daughter (who obviously has not conception of construction, design, etc) wastes your time with 10,000 questions and BS design changes.

The daughter is definitely obsessive compulsive. This behavior will drive anyone nuts and make the job a living hell.

I would come back with a contract that defines who is the contractor in charge, who is the client and what the limits on the client are...I have defined this in my contracts after dealing with a similar type of client that made a 1 week job into a 10 week job.

You don't have to be condescending and rude, just firm and to the point. You are the contractor, you make decisions based on who the client is (the mother). You make construction decisions. Any interference and time wasting on the part of the daughter will be charged at prevailing rates.
 

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Head Grunt
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I agree with the others. Time to figure out exactly who you are working for, write up a contract for any change orders and to confirm the time frame as i am willing to bet that will change. Tough to lose old customers, i have several and they are almost like family so i go above and beyond to keep them happy.

I had problems with an association i have been working for when it came to a larger than normal job. I have been doing small jobs for them for several yrs with no issues and i got in through a friend who is one of the original owners. They have decided to start replacing one cabin a yr and i was contacted to estimate for the electrical. I pick up a set of plans from the GC and designer, go over them briefly and agree to meet in a couple days to crunch numbers. We meet, the floor layout had totally changed. So, i redo the whole estimate again. We meet, floor layout had changed again. Now i am getting angry. We are talking 30 minute drive time one way and now i am on my 3rd trip looking at a 4rth before they are ready to accept any pricing. So, i show up the 4rth time with contract in hand and pushed for it to be signed before i went any further. The GC was laughing at the designer and said " I told you to expect it, now your going to pay for your changes" I charged them for the last floor layout change and told her so much as a light being moved 1/2" was going to be a change order and she was done wasting my time. This kept her in line for the rest of the job, she did make a few small changes and happily paid for them, she also knows now for the next cabin how its going to be.
 
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