Clients running the show? Never again


Years ago when I was starting out and in a slow period I received a call from someone that was building a new home. They wanted me to give them a price on a kitchen, which of course hit me as odd because if they were building a new home why wasn’t the contractor doing it? But being that times were slow I decided to go and see what they wanted and maybe find out why their contractor wasn’t doing it.


When we got together they explained that the contractor wasn’t fulfilling his duties in a way they wanted and so they wanted to get someone else to finish the kitchen which was one of the last things to be done. They also had a few other things that needed doing so I proceeded to listen. The clients also informed me that they were acting as the general contractor and I would just need to give them a price for the labor and profit to do the project and they would take care of the cabinets, counters and fixtures. As I said, times were slow so I agreed and I gave them a price, which they accepted. They told me that the cabinets were due in on such a date and asked if I could install them then, to which I said yes.


That was the easiest part of the project and I learned why the other contractor wasn’t involved any more.


The date came and I called to confirm that their cabinets were there and ready to install. The response was that they were mostly there but they had made some changes and it would be 4 weeks before the substitutions were available but I could install the ones they had. To make a long story short, the cabinets were delayed. Then the missing cabinets came and I went back to finish them. Then the fixtures were changed and another delay. Then they couldn’t decide on knobs and pulls and lastly the countertop kept being changed and delayed.

I now knew it wasn’t the previous contractor but the clients. They were disorganized and ill prepared to make the decisions that keep a project running smoothly and a simple kitchen had taken months to complete.


This was the first and last time that I ever did a project like that but I did learn the value of planning ahead to make sure a project runs smoothly. I also never took on another project where the client was the general contractor without a contract that stipulated every detail of the project.


The route I decided to use was to explain to the client that I had no problem if they were the general contractor as long as everything that was needed was ordered and ready when the job was supposed to take place. If however there were delays in the project that were caused due to not ordering materials/supplies early enough or anything that they were should have dealt with and it caused delays on on our completion, then there would be a fee. I also explained that if we left, we would be working on another project and would return when WE could but not according to when they wanted necessarily. The next client was now our priority.

When explained like this and with the signed contract stating everything for them to see, I never had the same issue again.

Lesson learned.

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