Dear Contractor – How to Communicate with Women

It isn’t a large space, and there weren’t particularly thorny issues to deal with.  Few demolition or construction surprises.  But five months to renovate a kitchen only proves that while men and women are from two different planets, contractors are in a different solar system.

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I love our guys and gals.  For the most part, they’ve done a good job from a craft perspective.  The kitchen – now almost completed – is gorgeous and everything I expected when I designed it.  But communications have been a tricky thing.

I’m not hard to find.  I work from the house, after all.  I’m here most days.  A cell phone accompanies me everywhere.  I email and text more regularly than I should.  I’m so connected that it distracts me at times.  But when it comes to getting information from some of my contractors, you’d think I expected smoke signals to reach me on a windy day.

I have only one set of boundaries when it comes to business communications.  I don’t do business before my morning coffee or after my evening wine.  This gives people at least twelve hours of the day when I am willing to negotiate, schedule and order things.

This whole contractor communications thing has proven to be tricky, though.  Example:  We needed to schedule the installation of toe-kicks under the counters, and the general contractor asked that I call the subcontractor directly.  Eliminate the middleman.  Me:  Phone message to subcontractor.  No response.  Me three days later:  Same – and ditto.  Finally, a voicemail to the general contractor the next afternoon produced a text saying he couldn’t reach the sub either.  Then the sub called me – at 8:45 at night – and said he got my voicemails.  And I should call him to schedule the installation.

Gee, what was I doing???  Mad doesn’t adequately describe what I was feeling, though I played nice, and when I finally got him on the phone, put a smile in my voice to ask when he could have someone out here.

Then I found out the rest of the story from the worker who arrived for the installation.  A tree fell on the subcontractor’s house, and he had to move his family to a hotel.  He was trying expedite repairs while still conducting other business.

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Dear Contractor – you could have told me that.  I would have understood, and I would have said we can wait until he has his roof fixed and his family back home.  These are toe-kicks – I can cook around a lack of toe-kicks.

I can only surmise the subcontractor was trying to appear stoic, as guys tend to do.  But guess what?  He was communicating with me, a woman, and if I had known, I would be more than understanding and accommodating.  I might even send a homemade meal for the family.  It isn’t like he hasn’t already spent months in my home.  He’s almost earned a holiday card in December.

Dear Contractor – tell me what’s going on.  I’m much more likely to be flexible when I know the whole story.

What challenges have you faced with contractor communications? Do you believe the different planets thing?