Frustration


Bobby Slack
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So I am building some custom gates, the agreement with my neighbor was that they pay for all materials plus the husband will be my helper. I am building three gates with loose tenons and now we are in the finishing process, I am pre-finishing all components before assembly.

Finally I tell my neighbor's wife, when are you going to stain the components I milled and sanded (without your husband's help?) and she tells me that they never agreed to stain. Furthermore I was called a hypocrite and I kept my mouth shut.

So this is why I want to build furniture and pieces for galleries. Tired of dealing with these kinds of problems. Not only I am working for free but now I get insulted.

How stupid am I :D

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Thank you guys. This was a deal where I really wanted to make the gates wit loose tenons and experiment with their money. Meaning. No labor charge and they only paid with materials. Sounds like a great deal for them and it appears not to be enough.

I must remind you that when they remodeled their home their dog slept in my bed for nine months. Some people are just takers.

Never again with them.

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Leave the completed gates, unstained in their yard, and leave it at that. You did your part and they can do theirs. Restate your agreement and let them know, assertively yet kindly, that your part is complete. If so compelled, I would also let them know how they insulted you and that this will be the last time that you help them if they are going to treat you like that. No need to insult them back, just tell them like it is.

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Leave the completed gates, unstained in their yard, and leave it at that.just tell them like it is.

I would have to agree with Brett

tell them like it is and let "your helper" do the rest stain and install.

I wont do any work for neighbors as they are the most pita clients. i tell them to go else where

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I would finish the gates. I'd be very nice to them. But if they asked for anything else (and they will) I would charge them period. I would even jack the price up.

Why because they have friends. Sure they will tell their friends and their friends will see your work and want you to do something for them. Then no more feebees. Charge the friends, T&M plus profit.

I had a simular situation. Did a tile job for a "friend" spent all day tiling his porch for him for free. He did take me to lunch and bought me a burger and a coke, even wanted to get out buying me the fries (said they gave alot of fries so we would only need one order…seriously)

Anyway a few weeks maybe a month later he had a party. I was there with the wife, I heard people complementing him on how nice his porch was. he was telling them "I did it myself". Boy was I pissed. I walked over and told them I did it . It kinda embarrassed him a little.

That was the last time I would do anything for him.

Helped another friend with his remodel and a few other projects. He is a electrician, this weekend I needed his help. I asked him 4 times to come over. He said he would I started the wiring he never showed, after asking him 4 times over 3 days, with him not showing up… not calling and listening to one excuse after another..

Thats enough of him even as a friend..

He wants me to build him a kitchen.

yea Im going to build the kitchen for him.

But it aient gonna be for materials like it was before.

Now he's gonna have to come up with 10K /5 K upfront before I turn my saw on.

To bad for him b/c his was going to be totally custom, 3/4 ply all around , a one of a kind crackle finish , hand made doors and drawers.

I was even going to do the install and plumbing wall flor tile and counter top with and /for him.

Now its a Home depot special or 10K and he's going to have to rent the tile saw or pay someone.

But I learned my lesson. No more tit for tat or freebees with friends either.

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Thanks for sharing. I feel so bad, is amazing how these people play the guilt card on you while we do the work. I feel bad and ... not alone. Thank you again.

I would finish the gates. I'd be very nice to them. But if they asked for anything else (and they will) I would charge them period. I would even jack the price up.

Why because they have friends. Sure they will tell their friends and their friends will see your work and want you to do something for them. Then no more feebees. Charge the friends, T&M plus profit.

I had a simular situation. Did a tile job for a "friend" spent all day tiling his porch for him for free. He did take me to lunch and bought me a burger and a coke, even wanted to get out buying me the fries (said they gave alot of fries so we would only need one order…seriously)

Anyway a few weeks maybe a month later he had a party. I was there with the wife, I heard people complementing him on how nice his porch was. he was telling them "I did it myself". Boy was I pissed. I walked over and told them I did it . It kinda embarrassed him a little.

That was the last time I would do anything for him.

Helped another friend with his remodel and a few other projects. He is a electrician, this weekend I needed his help. I asked him 4 times to come over. He said he would I started the wiring he never showed, after asking him 4 times over 3 days, with him not showing up… not calling and listening to one excuse after another..

Thats enough of him even as a friend..

He wants me to build him a kitchen.

yea Im going to build the kitchen for him.

But it aient gonna be for materials like it was before.

Now he's gonna have to come up with 10K /5 K upfront before I turn my saw on.

To bad for him b/c his was going to be totally custom, 3/4 ply all around , a one of a kind crackle finish , hand made doors and drawers.

I was even going to do the install and plumbing wall flor tile and counter top with and /for him.

Now its a Home depot special or 10K and he's going to have to rent the tile saw or pay someone.

But I learned my lesson. No more tit for tat or freebees with friends either.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ugh I hate these situations. The only time I do work for family or friends is when I expect to get nothing in return. If there is a i do this, you'll do that kind of agreement I would always get it in writing and even do a statement of work. I do this a lot for programming since there are always things that come up once you are in the project but it seems very similar. This blog post has some great suggestions on creating an SOW as well as examples to get you started. http://www.eversmall.com/2007/08/01/build-the-project-statement-of-work/

Good luck!

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Bobby, there is a difference between acquaintances and friends. I would do stuff like this for my friends, but I really only have two friends besides my wife. The rest of my "friends" are different levels of acquaintances. A true friend is one of those people in your life that would help you bury bodies.

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You are right about this one. Now I shook hands so there is no going back. The gate is coming together as long as my neighbor helps me and we are moving forward. I just had to take a break. Today I was up at 4 AM. Could not sleep thinking of all of my pending stuff, plus going to a Superbowl party so ... now I better take a nap.

Bobby, there is a difference between acquaintances and friends. I would do stuff like this for my friends, but I really only have two friends besides my wife. The rest of my "friends" are different levels of acquaintances. A true friend is one of those people in your life that would help you bury bodies.

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Nicole, Thanks for the link. I made a mistake out of desperation to show something. Now I am done giving my neighbors free work. I have enough product to show quality.

Thanks for the link. Good one.

Ugh I hate these situations. The only time I do work for family or friends is when I expect to get nothing in return. If there is a i do this, you'll do that kind of agreement I would always get it in writing and even do a statement of work. I do this a lot for programming since there are always things that come up once you are in the project but it seems very similar. This blog post has some great suggestions on creating an SOW as well as examples to get you started. http://www.eversmall.com/2007/08/01/build-the-project-statement-of-work/

Good luck!

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I have to agree with Ronald Tei. Just because they are jerks doesn't mean you have to be. I have been lucky in that most people I've worked with have been very good to me. So, trust me there are really good people out there. Here's an example of the oposite side of what happened to you.

If you go to my gallery there is only on project there, a set of corner cabinets I built for some friends/clients. I charged them regular rates because they asked me to going into the project. They said they didn't want to take advantage of my friendship. I said fine. Anyway, I had the pair of cabinets nearly done. I was going to put the final coat of finish on them, when I knocked over one of them in my shop. My heart skipped a beat and the world went into slow motion as I watched the 6 foot tall corner cabinet falling face first toward my table saw. It landed half on the table saw, half off the table say and cracked in half. (Should I have built such a tall cabinet in 1 piece instead of two? ... Probably not.)

At first I thought I could save it, but it was no use. I ended up rebuilding the entire cabinet. I was able to salvage the crown molding but that was about it. Luckily I hadn't put the glass in the doors yet so that didn't shatter. I rebuilt the cabinet, delivered the pair to my friends about a week late. I didn't tell them about the incident in my shop. After all, it was completely my fault.

Anyhow, somehow or another they eventually heard the story of my falling cabinet. They contacted me and asked if I still had the broken carcass. I did. They demanded that they buy it from me. I told them that it was my fault and I wasn't going to charge them for my mistake. They said fix it the best I can and install it in the corner of their garage. It was a really nice gesture. Anyway, I patched the thing up, and installed it in the corner of their garage. They paid my full price for the cabinet even though I told them not to. I seriously couldn't talk them out of it.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that there are some really good people out there. I'm still friends with this couple and they actually hired me again for their mud room. I gave them a nice discount without telling them. They say they love the cabinet in their garage with or without the nasty scar across its face.

Not eveyone's a jerk. It's just too bad the people getting your gates are.

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I don't normally vent but this post is just brings a screams for this story.

A couple of weeks ago a guy calls me and asks me to rebuild a dewalt radial arm saw. I tell him that I have got too much going on right now and I am not interested.

I refurbished some old tools for him before, so we are on real good terms. We have eaten lunch together, and collaborated on a few projects. Now I have not seen this guy in almost three years. Not since the great Kentucky ice storm when I cut all of his trees up and hauled them away. By myself a must add, for free and not even a thanks. Now I can let that slide. It was a stressful and busy time for everyone.

A couple of days ago he knocks on my door and says he really wants me to look at these saws. Saws, when did this saw become saws? I go out to the driveway and think I am seeing things. He has on a trailer not one but two Dewalt radial arms and a Walker Turner table saw. OK, the table saw has peaked my interest a bit. It has to be a 1942 or 1943 model, and I have seen worse. One of the Dewalts is a basket case. I am thinking its a parts saw. It's not. I sit down in the garage and consider doing the restore and putting off my wood shop for a couple of months. Then he starts to drop the trailer ramp to start the unload, and in the same move tells me he needs them done by the first of march.

What, hell no, decision made.

I tell him I am not interested in the job and he needs to stop right there. He pauses and just loses it. Starts yelling a screaming at ME. I just sit there and listen him rant with a smile. It is just humorous. I mean his head is about to pop. I never say a word. Then he turns around and precedes to unclip the other side of the trailer. I guess in his head he solved something. Alright, now I'm up. Now, I am 6'4" and on a heavy, lazy winter fat side of 260 pounds. When I say I caught the gate half way to the ground and slammed it closed, it means what I did not say in words the trailer made up for in resonance. He, of course, took a step back and I snatched the pin out of his hand and secured the gate. I told him that I am not in the habit of repeating myself and secured the other side. As he takes a step towards me I mention how lucky he is that I have better control of my temper than he does. He begins to apologize for his attitude, and I explain that some words when spoken can't be taken back. I go to the back of the garage, which is not easy right now, and give a business card of a contact that might be able to help him if he controls his temper. Close the garage door and never say another word.

Why did he have two radial saws?

He is selling them.

Why did he lose his temper?

He has already sold them.

Sometimes you just know. ya know

The moral of the story is that if he had of just asked nicely I probably would have done the job. JERK

Then why did I give him a card? Have you ever burned bridge that wish you hadn't? He might be useful one day. Maybe not. But we never know do we. I work with jerks all the time. Now he just has a label.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I don't have a lot of experience for woodworking business. My father was a real estate agent for years, and dealt with people on a regular basis. So I have a few thoughts to add, but they may need some translating.

There is an old saying that fences make great neighbors. Unfortunately, making fences with neighbors is not great. It's very rare that you and your neighbor will agree on the style of fence. Sometimes, you just need to put up a fence and not ask your neighbor for input.

People in general do not consider others. My father took me on several listings with him, and I saw repeatedly that he had to smile and take whatever abuse the clients would give him. He still gave them his best, but he would remark to them after the deal closed that he did not appreciate the comments said.

Like Chad, sometimes you need to keep a network of contacts and acquaintances, and spread the work around.

We can all say that we shouldn't have done something, after we did it. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. Personally, I'd say, in regards to your neighbor's kitchen, don't cut corners. Your neighbors can lead to more work, especially if they have a party and show off the work. Be prepared to deal with someone being given different information about you when they review the work you did.

Your work is the best business card you have. Speed, quality, and customer satisfaction get you more jobs. (This is something I haven't accomplished myself, but I keep trying.)

There will always be someone you either deal with or try to do business with that will not appreciate you. They may appreciate your work, however. Try to stay on at least talking terms with your neighbors, but realize there are some neighbors that just need to be behind a fence. Don't antagonize them, but you may have to let them be.

I agree that you should get the agreement with your neighbor in writing. Treat the kitchen remodel just like any other contract you might get.

I'd like to offer more advice, but I'm afraid most of it would not be helpful.

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Well, perception is reality and they came around and noticed the VALUE of the gate I am building and now they backed off. Things are a lot better from that point. My neighbors took my wife and I out to dinner and a concert as a way of appreciating the work. That meant a lot to me.

I don't have a lot of experience for woodworking business. My father was a real estate agent for years, and dealt with people on a regular basis. So I have a few thoughts to add, but they may need some translating.

There is an old saying that fences make great neighbors. Unfortunately, making fences with neighbors is not great. It's very rare that you and your neighbor will agree on the style of fence. Sometimes, you just need to put up a fence and not ask your neighbor for input.

People in general do not consider others. My father took me on several listings with him, and I saw repeatedly that he had to smile and take whatever abuse the clients would give him. He still gave them his best, but he would remark to them after the deal closed that he did not appreciate the comments said.

Like Chad, sometimes you need to keep a network of contacts and acquaintances, and spread the work around.

We can all say that we shouldn't have done something, after we did it. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. Personally, I'd say, in regards to your neighbor's kitchen, don't cut corners. Your neighbors can lead to more work, especially if they have a party and show off the work. Be prepared to deal with someone being given different information about you when they review the work you did.

Your work is the best business card you have. Speed, quality, and customer satisfaction get you more jobs. (This is something I haven't accomplished myself, but I keep trying.)

There will always be someone you either deal with or try to do business with that will not appreciate you. They may appreciate your work, however. Try to stay on at least talking terms with your neighbors, but realize there are some neighbors that just need to be behind a fence. Don't antagonize them, but you may have to let them be.

I agree that you should get the agreement with your neighbor in writing. Treat the kitchen remodel just like any other contract you might get.

I'd like to offer more advice, but I'm afraid most of it would not be helpful.

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The moral of the story is that if he had of just asked nicely I probably would have done the job.

Chad,

I have a box full of broken random tool parts, an old vacuum cleaner, and an old VCR, if I ask really nicely will you take them all and turn them into a PowerMatic 8 inch jointer for me? ... And... can you do it by the weekend? ... And ... will you perform this miracle for 10 bucks? ... I'll be really nice and bring you cookies.

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Chad,

I have a box full of broken random tool parts, an old vacuum cleaner, and an old VCR, if I ask really nicely will you take them all and turn them into a PowerMatic 8 inch jointer for me? ... And... can you do it by the weekend? ... And ... will you perform this miracle for 10 bucks? ... I'll be really nice and bring you cookies.

I not getting out of bed for less than 10.50. :D

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My father and I have a landscape construction company, everything from sprinklers to outdoor kitchens, and it is amazing how some people act and it is so fustrating when the hardest part of the job is dealing with the customer, and not the labor part. I have actual had a customer tell me that "I had to wait for my final payment because they just bought that new car and all the furniture for there new house and they will pay me when they are ready too!" Yeah I thought my dad's head was going to explode. We did get paid but had to come back for more free extras and act like it was such a blessing to work for them. But some times it is best to keep your cool becuase if you lose it, the quality of your work wont matter they'll find a reason to bad mouth it.

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