Getting the Job Done Right - Supervise or Do It Yourself

Education & Training with House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada


When we bought our first home in Ottawa, we were told by some of the neighbours that the previous owner was a she bear on getting work done properly in her home.  She supervised workers directly and watched that the job was done right - right according to her very specific and demanding requirements.  That was a lesson to learn.  There should be no shame in being home when work is being done, watching that the materials you wanted are used, that the workers are doing the job you are paying them to do.  

In that home, we had a water flood that destroyed the hardwood floors.   We hired a well known company and then had to move out when the floor was being installed.   One night, just before the top varnish (?) was to be applied, we walked back to our house to check.  There were two workers, sitting in our kitchen, feet up on the chairs, smoking.  The windows were open and the floor sanding dust was swirling.  WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED!!!  After they went back to work and we left, they applied the sealant OVER the dust.  They never swept or vacuumed it up!!!  We had to complain.   The floors were touched up but, unlike the previous owner, we never got the quality of work that we wanted nor the floor that we thought we had paid for.  When we sold the house, I still was telling people of the very poor service we received from that company.  

If you have work being done in your home - stay around to ensure you are getting what you want and what you paid for.  If you can't do that, try doing some of the work yourself.  We are our own worse critics and it is likely that the work you do (even if it is just to prep the house for painting) will meet your high standards.  

Photo credit:  Following Hours of Sanding


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Pete Xavier with
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide

I went to check on my new construction years back in Atlanta and found a group of kids smoking weed in the home.

Sep 12, 2012 07:05 AM #22
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Very good advise Valerie.  Sometimes we want to give the responsibility over to those working the job, and on rare occasion, they mess it all up. Being there might not mean you know what's supposed to be done, but those workers don't know that you might not know!  ;-)

Sep 12, 2012 07:09 AM #23
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Roger:  Okay, one of the nieces said that the old photo didn't look like me...  I thought it was too good to be true.  Sigh.

Sheila:  I am giving this one a try.  Maybe a new one every year so that we can track the decline.

Christine:  We love him!!!  He could have the keys to the house and we would never worry.

Pamela:  What was the tell?  The pearls?  The flowers (that were on the table and I pulled towards me to hide the chins?

Sep 12, 2012 07:32 AM #24
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Who would think you'd have to monitor common sense being applied right along with that varnish?  Good grief!  Paying attention and devoting time to work being done within your home only makes sense.  For many reasons.  You provide a a great example of exactly why ...


Sep 12, 2012 07:33 AM #25
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Debbie:  Your father in law was so wise.  

Laura:  Pride should be what doing good work is all about. 

Hella:  They tossed the stuff into the neighbours' yard!  Yikes.

Sep 12, 2012 07:34 AM #26
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Pete:  yikes.  I guess you gave them the boot.  

Carla:  There are times when common sense is the the difference between a good job and a shabby job.

Gene:  I came back from working and found that the painter had finished.  We are putting all the furniture and plug covers etc back right now.   The job is so good.  Reaffirms my belief in people who care about their work.

Sep 12, 2012 07:41 AM #27
Tatyana Makarov
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor

Ouch, Valerie,

That is why we always try to do some rennovations ourselves.

HAve a great week.

Sep 12, 2012 10:08 AM #28
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.
You said it best. No one cares about your own home as much as you do yourself.
Sep 12, 2012 10:37 AM #29
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Valerie, no one will respect you home as much as you will. Last year I was having the house painted and left for a while, when I came back one of the painters had driven his car onto my lawn under some trees so he could have his lunch and listen to the radio in the shade. The painter was fired off the job right there.

Sep 12, 2012 11:26 AM #30
Sally Weatherley
Vancouver Home Staging, Home Stager Vancouver, B.C

Valerie - Love the new photo!  I bet everytime you looked down at the floor you were reminded of the shoddy work that company did.  How frustrating.  It takes a little effort, but staying to oversee that a job gets done well is sage advice.

Sep 12, 2012 11:29 AM #31
Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

Some things are trivial enough to be delegated and they should be. Some things are definately not and need to be babysat or done on your own. The important thing is to know the difference and make good use of your time to maximize profit! 

Sep 12, 2012 01:12 PM #32
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist
I always drop in several times....unexpected. Most of the time, they are aware that I am a good pipeline to additional business, so they are on their best behavior. I have learned to know what to do myself and what to hire out. I will not take apart the washer, but I might replace a garbage disposal!
Sep 12, 2012 02:19 PM #33
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging that Sells Portland Homes"

Valerie ~ it's shocking that those workers were so lazy they applied varnish over dust -- what buffoons!  I agree that something being on site, or having a superb supervisor watching the crew, is often the only way to make sure the job is done right.

Love your new profile pic!!

Sep 12, 2012 04:57 PM #34
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Valerie, this is good advice.  Someone penned the idiom,"When the cats away, the mice will play," for a reason!

Sep 12, 2012 09:17 PM #35
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * - Albuquerque, NM, Albuquerque Homes Realty

Val... Swinging back by to say I really like your new profile photo.  You are glowing ....

Sep 13, 2012 12:35 AM #36
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Valerie- congrats on the feature AND love your new pic!!!! You are so right.  When we've had work done I've been there and my husband, who is a builder, would pop in as well.  

Sep 13, 2012 01:44 AM #37
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Valerie - I think supervision or oversight is an important component to home improvement projects.  I have a neighbor, who wanted to avoid the stress of having their kitchen and a bathroom updated and remodeled.  There thinking was they wouldn't have use of the facilities, so just go on vacation.  When they came back, they found a very unpleasing result.  It wasn't quite a disaster, but close to it!

Sep 13, 2012 02:22 AM #38
Lloyd Binen
Certified Realty Services - Saratoga, CA
Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411

The former CENTURY 21 trainer and instructor of new brokerage franchisees, Dr. Dick McKenna, used to say: 'You get what you inspect, not what you expect'.  I believe that.

Sep 13, 2012 02:44 AM #39
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Tatyana:  The more you can do on your own - even if just prep work - the more you save and the better you will feel.

Kevin:  So true - except maybe the next owner.  LOL

Ed:  Under your tree with tire tracks across your yard.....  Sigh!

Sally:  I was miffed for a long long time.  

Rosalie:  That floor cost thousands and we did not protect our investment.  Well, we know better now.

Karen:  Dropping in a few times during the day and during the project is your best bet.  Hanging over their shoulder is probably only going to annoy the workers to distraction.

Maureen:  Thank you about the photo.  I updated it this time last year so...  I hope next year that my chubby cheeks are much thinner.  Sigh

Sep 13, 2012 03:16 AM #40
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Sharon:  So true.  In my case I might have called them rats.

John:  It was taken  at the wedding reception (for my niece) so I was happy, hot and had had a glass of white.  

Kathy:  You are so smart and with frequent pop in visits I bet you were not ever badly surprised.

Myrl:  Not a crisis but a near one.  I bet they don't have the happiest memories of that vacation based on what they were faced with when they got home.

Lloyd:  Very good expression.  I should have been a better inspector.

Sep 13, 2012 03:19 AM #41
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