The days of the building industry being full of four letter words and pictures of semi-naked women are long gone (on our sites anyway, it’s simply not acceptable), but there’s one four-letter that our customers like to use a lot and it can really end up getting them in trouble. It’s quite often accompanied by a hand gesture as well.
Can you guess what it is?
The four letter word that JD really doesn’t like to hear is “just”. And the obscene hand gesture that often goes with it is a finger pointing at a wall (or window or kitchen).
What am I talking about? Well, quite often (like, really, almost every time) when JD goes to visit a customer, they’ll point at something and say “We just want to take that wall out,” or “We just want to move the stairs.” The trouble is, that both of those statements (and that’s just for starters) could each easily involve multiple trades and cost $20,000 or more.
And then there is the architect who arrives on site and says to the young builder “yes we might have missed that, you just need to…” and he’s had that one happen before too. Like the time the architect messed up the floor levels of a new house JD was building - when it was pointed out to him that the courtyard off the main bedroom would be a 1.6m drop to the ground the architect’s solution was “just lower the house at the halfway with some internal stairs.” Easy! All fixed! The net effect would have been changes in roof lines and cladding etc at a huge expense.
Yes, it’s a nasty little word and should be used sparingly in site conversations. An appropriate usage could be, “I’m just about to make a cup of tea, would you like one?” Or, “I’m just about to order the tiles I want for the bathroom, can I please check one more time how many square metres I need.”
To avoid using this dangerous word, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with your home building project and discuss costs up front with your builder. It’s (usually) entirely possible to remove that wall or move that staircase but it comes at a price and “just” minimises the effort and cost required to do it.
And it’s not just at the start of projects that customers can point wildly and use this four-letter word, it can also happen mid-way through the build (and that’s when it can get really expensive). It’s not unusual for JD to visit a site half-way through a project and have a customer tell him that “we just want to make a few changes”.
Making “just a few changes” once a project is underway will be considered a variation, meaning that it will be an additional charge over and above the estimate or quote the builder has given you. Again, it’s quite possible that it can be done, but that four-letter word might have cost you a few thousand dollars or more.
Think carefully about your needs, wants and expectations at the start of any building project to make sure that you minimise your use of this small but potentially costly word.
Have you used this four-letter word recently? How did you manage “just a few things” changing during your project? Any other dirty words I should know about?