If you look up the term creative construction, you will find it used in multiple ways, from language development, new landscapes, innovation and other uses. I have used creative construction to describe the way Dan Gaudy, a building contractor, uniquely sets himself apart in his business of landscape design and construction. Using his knack for design, along with 3D software has helped him paint a picture for his clients in visualizing their dreams and to serve them more completely.The basics of a drawing a design on graph paper has been good enough and is still good enough for him to make sales. But taking the extra step to create an enhanced 3D picture for his clients with his unique design elements has taken creative construction to a higher level in Dan’s business. It has also helped to secure even more business. In the same way, using your uniqueness, along with creativity, will help to set you apart in a crowded marketplace. (See: Where Do You Find Inspiration?) In addition to basic business principles which apply to most any field, Dan gives us six steps to hiring a contractor that everyone should be aware of.
The Grape Arbor
At 80 years young, my father came to help my husband build a grape arbor. Since my dad did nothing halfway, he had brought along some galvanized pipe he had just laying around. What conspired was a 9’ tall 20 x 10 area held up by pipe he hand-soldered together.
This past year, after losing both parents, I wanted to celebrate, finishing the grape arbor area and beautifying it. What Dan did was illustrate my dream with the 3D drawing he provided. The concord grapes we had growing were originally taken from the property where my mom grew up, then my parents transplanted them to grow in their yard. I wanted to keep them and expand the area. As you can see from before and after photos, that dream was fulfilled, even surpassing what I had imagined.
Basic Business Principles
These basic business principles are directly applicable to those in construction. But they also readily apply to most any area of business. If you are prone to taking on the job of self-contracting, which I have done in the past, these principles will prove to be especially valuable. Take the time to apply them to your situation!
- Adjust and make changes if necessary. This has the power of building trust when doing this then communicating with a client. Adjusting can also make a huge difference in project that turns out great vs. just O.K.
- Don’t ignore the hidden steps. There may be areas that are uncovered as you get further into a project. For us, we had uneven ground and needed additional road grade filler to solidify the foundation for cement. Identifying the hidden steps and rectifying them will build confidence in clients as well as you.
- Delegate with a trusted team. You’ve got to have workers who are capable and can follow instructions.
- Try something new. You may not be up to learning 3D software or other technology to add an element of creative construction, but there are so many tools that are readily available to help you communicate your vision and your client’s dream. Use them!
How to Hire a Contractor
During the COVID shutdowns, many started working remotely from home offices. There are those who now are looking to continue working remotely, at least part of the time. The trend of remodeling and retrofitting spaces that are usable for both work and home will continue as the way we do business will forever be changed. (See: Working Side by Side) If you are thinking remodeling or expanding your space, consider these six steps in hiring a contractor.
Step One: Hire a licensed contractor. There are those who go into construction because they didn’t have anything else to do. Check them out. They should be licensed and bonded to guarantee their work and the safety of their workers and have a good track record.
Step Two: Do your Research. Get three to four bids that will compare similar work then compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges. The lowest price is not always the best deal, especially if you have to redo any part of the project, which can be costly and time consuming.
Step Three: Get everything written down in a contract. Listen to your gut and don’t take anything for granted!
Step Four: Get referrals. A good contractor will have viable recommendations and those you can contact personally to get a recommendation. Most should also have photos of their work.
Step Five: Be clear on the payment plan. In California, the only money exchanged at the start of a job is a limited deposit and money for materials. You should retain 10% for completion of the job. Be aware of material liens with sub-contractors, keeping good records of all payments with bank statements.
Step Six: Be on your guard to not be taken advantage of. Unfortunately, there are those who hang out a shingle as a contractor, but do shoddy work, not fully completing jobs. Some also under-big a job just to get the work, drawing out projects much past the date of completion which can be extremely frustrating.
Be Wary, Be Smart and Celebrate!
As in most fields, there are charlatans and posers who want your business. So be wary, be smart and do your research! Then dream a little and celebrate where you can. I’ll be sitting under my grape arbor remembering how my 80-year old father with my husband, lifted up the welded pipe that then took four men and a tractor to raise when remodeling. It brings a smile to my face with thankfulness, gratefulness and joy of celebration.
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