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owning your own business is always fun

the google

i don't want to bias any opinions interpretations so please let me know what you think the height of the leg (from touching the floor to the top of the countertop) is supposed to be based on this drawing. i'll wait for a few responses before elaborating on my drama.

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4/17/18       #2: owning your own business is always ...

Ill give it a go.....

floor to top of counter 42 7/8"

4/17/18       #3: owning your own business is always ...
Mark B Member

I would read that as counter top is at 40" +/- 2.875

lol. A heavenly tolerance to meet.

4/17/18       #4: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

Pretty sure you are looking at a plan and elevation, the top is 40"AFF or 40" Clear with a 2-7/8" thick top, the leg is 2-7/8" wide to match the top.

When in doubt do a shop drawing.

4/17/18       #5: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

The picture is not to the same scale but I think the 40" is the clear

Click the link below to download the file included with this post.


4/17/18       #6: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

oops that one didn't have the dims

Click the link below to download the file included with this post.


4/17/18       #7: owning your own business is always ...
the google

gentlemen - thanks for your guesses.

the shortest, long version is that my interpretation of his drawing was that the 40" was to the long points (top of top to floor) since all of the other dimensions are long point measurements. per his asking and my regular process, i sent him a shop drawing (attached). he approved the shop drawing. we built it to the drawing and upon dropping it off, he discovered the leg was shorter than what he needed and stopped payment on the check he'd just given us two hours earlier. we didn't install it so we didn't initially know there was any problem.

since friday, we've exchanged some emails where he somehow wants me to admit that i drew it up incorrectly and take responsibility, even though he's worked it out with the homeowner to accept a piece of base to hide the gap (accepting the piece as-is). i'm never going to do this.

of course, i'd love to find a way to get paid what is due. my attorney said small-claims would be my best bet for such a small amount ($2500). any other ideas? according to the law, this could classify as check fraud and carry with it jail time, but i'm sure our courts have more pressing issues.

4/17/18       #8: owning your own business is always ...

Do I win a prize for guessing correctly?

Seriously though, I have run into the two major issues that have happened here a whole bunch of times.

1) Homeowners dont know how to properly dimension a drawing.

2) Homeowners never review the proper drawings we create for them.

I have never run into a situation such as yours where I havnt been paid, so I dont really know what to tell you, but I can offer sympathy if it helps.

4/17/18       #9: owning your own business is always ...
the google

JM - thanks. this guy is a builder, so i guess i assumed too much by not offering to review the drawing with him over the phone.

4/17/18       #10: owning your own business is always ...
Gary Gossling

Based off of that sketch I would have asked for a clearer drawing or at least called for clarification. It's too bad that someone else's lack of detail becomes the cabinet makers "mistake".

4/17/18       #11: owning your own business is always ...

If I was given that drawer my, I would have had a phone or face to face clarification on what they wanted. Second I would have had a face to face or phone conversation to review my drawings and specifications so it was clear what we are building and why. I have found that the customer doesnít know or understand what they donít know or donít understand. My guess is the builder spent about as much time reviewing your plan as he did on his drawing.
With that said, he has your built project and your money and all the leverage. You can be a hard nose and do the whole attorney or small claims court thing and waste a bunch of time and money to maybe get all your money or you can pick up the phone and eat a little crow and give up a few bucks and get your money and go back to work and consider the loss tuition. I suggest a call over email as many people like me are short and to the point and people think Iím being a jerk, where as a phone call gets the tone of the voice and you can usually do a better job of resolving it.

4/17/18       #12: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

Although clear to us we would have shown the 37-1/8" clear under the top on a shop drawing but we probably would have asked before doing the shop drawing as it scaled differently and wasn't clear.

He signed off on the shop drawing, for us that's then end of it.

Our proposals on install by others excludes field verification of any dimensions or site conditions.

We just got paid for remaking some trim where they sent us a 109" build dimension when they meant the other 10'-9" dimension.

The simple solution now is to make him a curb for the leg to sit on with some trim.

4/17/18       #13: owning your own business is always ...

You did the right thing.

Your a cabinet maker who can create a professional, clearly marked drawing. He is a builder....what's his excuse for not being willing to do that?

This will probably be regarded as the nuclear option but its worth a thought.

The way he went about resolving the issue by not paying you and not telling you he was going to deal with it this way shows he has no trust and/or respect for you. He holds all the cards!!

Have you taken a payment at all for this?? If not, you should have. Ask for 50% of the payment to oil the wheels and get you excited about resolving the issue. Once this is done, go and pick it up and take it back to your factory.

Tell him it's now waiting for him to pick it up "as is" cash or direct deposit on the day. As an alternative propose the ideal rectification as requested that will cost $X amount (also due on pickup). If this isn't satisfactory you will take an instruction from him of the requested rectification and quote accordingly.

For this to work I beleive you will need the deposit. Everyone needs to have skin in the game else he could just walk away from it and get someone to make it.

If he came to you with the issue and asked for suggestions on how to rectify the problem before pulling the rug from under you I would have been happy to work together to sort it out and take a hit on the profit margin but ONLY TO FOSTER AN ONGOING RELATIONSHIP.

He has shown his true colors by his actions.

A difficult transaction now will either lose you a customer who seems like a pain in the butt anyway or pull him into line for future business. a difficult situation now will make your future brighter, win-win.

4/18/18       #14: owning your own business is always ...
David R Sochar Member

1. My customers would never supply such a drawing. They cannot write, or hold a writing instrument (this is why they are builders).
2. I would be asked to go out and measure, and (implied) take all responsibility for fit and anything else on site.
3. The shop drawing I make would be glanced at, and "Just make sure it fits" would be mumbled.
4. It will fit when complete, and we get paid.

Any deviation from the above will cause the builder to go to ground and stop communicating. I almost never get a signed drawing back, but cover my butt with emails. I do not hear well on phones, so this helps leave a paper trail.

But there is never a problem. Just passed $9 million and only loss over $100 was to a builder that went belly up in 2007 - for $3,400.

4/18/18       #15: owning your own business is always ...

Put a lean on the house. Youíll get paid quite quickly I am sure.

4/18/18       #16: owning your own business is always ...
Mark B Member

Approved shop drawing means pay the bill. Go after him.

4/18/18       #17: owning your own business is always ...

All you armchair warriors make me laugh.....lien the house, repossess, take him to court, etc, ect

You have a couple realistic options.

If you dont care about future business with this guy, or anyone he may mention your name to, then by all means, send your lawyer after him. In my opinion this is not a good choice. Saving relationships and reputation is more valuable.

2nd option is make it right and keep good relations and no tarnish to your reputation. Offer discount, since it seems they have already installed on riser with trim, offer to remake the side panel, offer to remake the entire thing, or write the entire bill off and chalk it up to a lesson learned. Try to offer a solution that will be acceptable to him, and the least painful to you.

4/18/18       #18: owning your own business is always ...
the google

thanks everyone. this is more of a rant that anything else.

he's proposing back-charging me the cost of his trim carpenter to wrap base around the leg to cover the gap. he didn't reveal what that charge would be. he wants to me take responsibility for the leg being the wrong size, even though he's already admitted that he and the architect (i'm not really sure if the architect is involved) missed it on my drawing. i'm not sure his motivation there. i'm not concerned about repeat business from him.

in ten years, this situation has happened twice. both were with builders and both in the last two months. both were sent and approved my drawings. the first one immediately fell on his sword, admitted it was his mistake and asked for help. realistically, i lost money on fixing his mistake, but we hustled and he should provide more opportunities for us in the future. and then there is this one...

4/18/18       #19: owning your own business is always ...
the google

and the job is four hours away. no chance for us to do a site visit. we only delivered it ourselves to ensure it wasn't damaged in freight.

4/18/18       #20: owning your own business is always ...

An approach we use for any kind of problem resolution (and proactive problem resolution) is write an email to the client first then follow it up with a phone call.

I tend to write like a lawyer when covering the points I feel need to be covered. After I lay down the text I go back and friendly it up.

I always number the issues so they get can checked off. Meandering paragraphs aren't the same as a checklist.

A typical email might go like this:

"I'm a little concerned about some issues that could possibly show up later:

1) blah blah blah

2) blah blah blah

3) blah blah blah

It is important to first get your concerns down in writing. After you have documented them follow this a phone call. The phone call allows you to chat them up in a way that is non-threatening and will usually get you the answer you want.

It is important that your writing does not make anybody look stupid.

If you jump ahead to the phone call first and then later feel the need to document the subsequent documentation can come across kind of adversarial.

This approach has served me well for a long time. I haven't had to spend $50 on a lawyer during my entire career.

Part of this has to do with our philosophy on interpretation. We write specifications and contracts all the time. The customer usually only does this once or twice in their life. It's our responsibility to keep gray areas out of the contract.

Always copy everybody on the email.
Never trust the contractor with the big grin.

4/18/18       #21: owning your own business is always ...
the google

i'm really not anticipating a good outcome here.

would any of you ever contact the home owner directly to explain your side of the story? obviously, this would be the kiss of death for ever seeing any more business from the builder, but i'm not really sure what obligates me to protect his reputation when he has little regard for me. realistically, bad press about me from the builder to the home owner could potentially affect my business beyond just the builder.

4/18/18       #22: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

JM gave you the best advice, give up something to resolve this, seeing as they fixed it find out what that is and take the money and call it done, everything else leads to negative future value or wasted future time chasing this money.

If you line the property and they dispute the lien they can bond around it or sue you for defamation of title and hit back with a big hammer, then you get to hire a lawyer and throw money away to prove a point.

The goal here is to get paid as much as they will pay you and move on.

I think you need to accept the drawings weren't clear and your interpretation was not 100% accurate which requires a question before doing the drawing or a note on the drawing that says please confirm the over hall height is 40" and not 40+2-7/8", If you had scaled the drawing with a PDF tool with scale capabilities it would have come out more than 40.

If this was a commercial job acceptance of shop drawings is generally non binding and the plans and spec override and interpretations or shop drawing errors. Which is why most architects stamps are have language that basically says if you modified the drawings from the design intent and your wrong you own it.

I think there is shared responsibility here, you for not asking or bringing the possible discrepancy to their attention and them for approving a drawing that not correct to the conditions.

So call the guy and say, if we had come out and filed measure that would have cost x and this mistake could have been averted but my cost would have been higher, can we split the back charge in half?

4/19/18       #23: owning your own business is always ...
Pat Gilbert

The correct answer is that a business is Not always fun.

4/19/18       #24: owning your own business is always ...
David R Sochar Member

I have contacted the owners in a few situations. Situations I should have let go of, but did not. I don't think it is ever a good thing except for the ranter (me/you), and we count for nothing in the 'creating value' department. Contacting the owner will be no better than your rant as posted here, and could just cause more grief, with no resolution.

When I contacted owners, it has been in cases where the builder has screwed up terribly and will not own up to it. It often means we have to go in and make it right, and then bill....who? In some cases the builder just laughs and says he'll add it on (cost plus). It is nasty business all-around.

I have one now where we delivered an expensive entry over a year ago. I sat in on paint and stain conversations with owners, builder and painter, and assured them that no matter what the selections, it should be done as soon a possible. So, it has been a year, not so much as a piece of plastic to cover it. The mahogany has grayed out. I did not get close to see the joints, but got mad and fired off an email (never a good response) to the builder, asking WTF? His response was to tell me to stay off his project and leave him alone.

4/19/18       #25: owning your own business is always ...
Mark B Member

Coming from both sides of the situation (a GC for 30 years and now on the supply side) I have yet to come to a situation where I would ever breach my relationship with my customer (the contractor) and go around them to the homeowner. I know I would have lost my mind over that when I was in that position but I dont have the experience on the supply side that you all have.

On all of our work we respect our relationship with our contractors and have been asked several times to blind carbon copy all of our correspondence with the contractor to someone else (oversight contractor, client, etc) but unless we are directed to do so by our customer our relationship is with them.

I can imagine if a job is going sour and the contractor is leaving you hanging in the breeze it may be necessary but I dont know that it would every be something initiated from our shop.

I completely agree with trying to preserve any relationships and being accommodating to court future business however caving in and opting to financially compensate for someone approving a drawing they should have read more closely sets a precedent that I would fear sets you up for recurring theme. The time and cost for the builder to having someone apply some trim is a trivial cost for them to absorb for their own mistake. If they are unwilling to admit their miss itd be a cautious relationship in my world with regards to future business.

4/19/18       #26: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

There are only two times we contact an owner around a GC.
1) When the GC asks us to work with the owner and keep him in the loop.

2) When we aren't getting paid and are close to a lien (90 days+) we will call and say we need to confirm that you have not paid the GC and that none of our work is in dispute, or that they are intending on paying the GC on x day.

4/20/18       #27: owning your own business is always ...
Tracy Yarborough  Member

I'm rather taken aback by some of the advice given to the OP. He claims that he interpreted drawings and then produced his own drawings and then offered them for approval. He received an approval and produced the work. Then, within a very short time of delivery check was canceled. WTH? Who does that? Who doesn't at least make a phone call, send a text or email and say "Hey, this piece isn't right". It would appear the GC did not give the OP the ability to fix the problem without he, himself, causing one. Now the OP has a bad taste in his mouth and doesn't want to fix something that wasn't his fault in the first place!
IF all this is true, I would follow through on small claims. If you (the OP) have paperwork, drawings, signatures, and correspondence to back it up, don't let these GC's run over you! We run businesses. We try to produce what the customer wants. We try to produce the product in the time frame allotted for the amount of money agreed upon. If there are no agreements, there is no work.
If we let GC's do this even with the paperwork and correspondence in place, what good is going through the process of producing drawings and getting approvals!?
The OP stated that the GC AND the architect missed it on the drawings. They admitted the error was THEIR fault! Why should someone else pay for THEIR error!?
I'm offended by you guys that have advised the OP to give in. When do we get to stand up for ourselves!?

4/20/18       #28: owning your own business is always ...

I think I read somewhere in this thread that this is a $2500 project.

My advice now would be to burn the money and, as somebody else said, chalk it up to tuition. The drawing is vague to everybody who commented. Was your job to un-vague it.

I wouldn't worry about future relationships with the contractor. Anybody who won't let you make money on the first job isn't going to improve by the second job.

4/20/18       #29: owning your own business is always ...
Pat Gilbert

Posts 25,27,28 mentioned to the OP of taking care of yourself.

One of the "fun" things in business is firing a customer who thinks this sort of thing is ok.

If you will indulge me I remember one contractor who always took 4 months to pay, always wanted super quick service, and always wanted the low low price, (I witnessed him telling one sub that he had to match a new price he (the GC) had received after he signed a contract with this sub.

One day I had enough and told him the above and to NEVER fing call me again.

So there is that.

4/22/18       #30: owning your own business is always ...
Kevin Dunphy Member

Sounds like same story contractors not taking responsibility for there projects

I've been lack in the past always been a mistake

Drawing look like they were done on a napkin with crayons
Its also your responsibility to speak up about the drawings

4/22/18       #31: owning your own business is always ...

"per his asking and my regular process, i sent him a shop drawing (attached). i sent him a shop drawing (attached). he approved the shop drawing. we built it to the drawing and upon dropping it off"

If that is an accurate representation of what happened, he doesn't have a leg to stand on...

Just send him his approval of the shop drawings that were provided, and explain that is the very reason shop drawings are provided prior to fabrication...

If he (and archy) admitted they missed it, then they are admitting it was on their end, and not yours...

Don't adopt his issue as yours... you have all the leverage in this situation if you have the documentation...

The very shorts conversation I'd have with him would be...

"Mr. Builder... you provided a hand-produced drawing for our products/services. Because such drawings are open to interpretation, and also per your request, as a professional service, we provide our customers with shop drawings, and allow them to review and approve them prior to any fabrication so everyone is on the same page tp avoid any misinterpretations from either party. As with all our customers, you were afforded this opportunity and after doing so, approved the drawings. If there was any disparity between what you ordered and what was fabricated that was your opportunity to not approve what was ordered. We can only go by what was ordered and approved as there is no other mechanism to fabricate from which is why the shop drawings exist. As such, we then fabricated and delivered what you ordered based on the drawings you approved. You accepted delivery and paid with a check, which you subsequently cancelled. This is all documented and available for review by everyone, including the homeowner.

We did everything we were contracted to do and therefore expect to be paid in full."

As to him wanting you to take the hit on this, both financially and him representing to the HO that it was your fault, that's what the line about it's all documented and available to everyone (including the HO) conveys...

Go get your money...

4/23/18       #32: owning your own business is always ...
the google

working it out now. he wants to split his charge to wrap the short leg on two sides with base board. he reported it would cost him $500 for this, admitted it was his mistake and offered to split the difference with me. this is all bs, but i don't have too many cards to play and i'll trade $200 for $2300. it stupid to cater to this type of behavior but i don't seem to have any choice here if i want to see my money.

i'll let you know how things shake out.

4/23/18       #33: owning your own business is always ...
Tracy Yarborough  Member

500 bucks for 6 ft of baseboard? DAAAANNNNGGGG!
How could anyone afford to build a house with those rates?
Just sayin......
I know your trying to get things fixed and sounds like your doing exactly what I would do. I am merely ranting along with you.
Thanks for sharing.

4/23/18       #34: owning your own business is always ...
the google

tracy -

understood. i really would like to pursue the check fraud angle but i've got no time and bills to pay.

and the base was less than two feet total with one 45* corner. once again, i'm in the wrong line of work.

4/23/18       #35: owning your own business is always ...
Mark B Member

If you opt to settle for the split I would make it clear to him that you dont agree, and while he is going to do what he feels he needs to do, you feel like you should be paid in full.

Hopefully either his conscience kicks in, or the next time his number comes up on your phone you have enough work to feel comfortable not answering.

4/23/18       #36: owning your own business is always ...

About ten years ago I worked with a young contractor. He was in his 30's then and at that particular age where he had to be right about everything. He was also a bit of a dick though that had nothing to do with age.

I met him through some clients of mine that I had done a kitchen for. The kitchen was featured in a five page spread in Better Homes & Gardens. He was close friends with those customers though still in high school when we did the project.

Better Homes & Gardens gave the client a CD containing all the images they had shot. The young contractor asked the clients if he could have a copy of the CD and the next thing that happened was my fine work was featured on his contracting website. Remember here that he was still in high school in Ireland when I remodeled the kitchen.

Somehow we ended up working with him again on another project. In this particular house we built window seats for all the kid's rooms. On install day the window seats wouldn't work. The new windows were framed too low for the window seats to fit.

The Jr contractor huffed and puffed about how I was going to have to pay to move the window headers up so the windows could be raised. I came up with a work-around that would solve everybody's problem but he would have nothing to do with it.

He huffed and puffed to the client as well and insisted that the window location was simply not acceptable. Fortunately I don't work off other people's drawings and create all my own shop drawings showing in red the salient values. I was able to trot out three sets of construction documents that showed how high the window was supposed to be located and these documents showed that my cabinets worked with the blueprints.

Being 30 years old he couldn't back down so he also could not accept my proposed work around. The scaffolding had already been removed from the house so he re-framed all the windows from the inside. I am not sure who paid for this as I did not contribute a dime.

You need drawings.
Working off somebody else's work will eventually cost you every penny you save by not making them.

4/23/18       #37: owning your own business is always ...

There is a clear divide between people saying get over it and take a pay hit and people saying stand your ground and don't take it.

Based on what you are saying, You are in the right both morally and technically. Therefore it is your right to get paid.

If we all stood our ground collectively we wouldn't have this issue to deal with in the first place because everyone would know that you don't mess with a woodworker.

Who on earth would want to salvage a relationship with this contractor? SERIOUSLY, he stuffed up, admitted it, didn't pay you and flipped and told you that you have to fix it. What sort of future are you going to have with this guy if you submit and fix it for free or don't get paid at all.

The customer is NOT always right, they need us just as much as we need them and there should be some respect between us.

Whoever it was that said it's a satisfying feeling telling an a-hole customer to get f^&*^ed is so right. Try it someday!

FYI cabmaker. I'm confused about how this "30" year old is still in high school? and I think he was just generally a dick, nothing to do with his age. I and probably many other business owners are in my early thirties and don't always have to be right (pending interpretation of the above :-)

4/23/18       #38: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member


Settle is a pragmatic approach, it allows us to move on and focus on new business.

There is a cost in both money , time, and personal energy in pursuing a claim.

There is also the lack of funds for any of the work while this drags on.

The problem with any dispute is how the court deals with it and if the court views us as having some responsibility then we ending up splitting some portion of the money after we have expended the money to get to court, personally I am shortening the process.

Devils advocate the first question the court will ask will be why did you assume the 40" was the overall height.

What is the industry standard for dimensions and if you weren't sure why didn't you ask a question or bubble the drawing forcing the contractor to review the discrepancy.

If there is a set of architectural plans somewhere those will take precedence over shop drawings.

Long story short I don't think we are getting 100% paid some months down the road.

So I say settle and move on. The dollar amount affects that decision making process.

I don't want to argue about who is right or who will win, I want to make the best economic decision I can and move on.

The decision making process is different when its a much bigger number. If $2,500 means you have to close the doors then fight.

The google has already lost a few hours just dealing with us online.

The guy might come back in a few years, just tack the $500 plus the pain from this one on the next quote.

4/24/18       #39: owning your own business is always ...
David R Sochar Member

You can 'take the moral high ground' (nose in air.....) and fix it/pay it and move on.

You can then always say you have never walked from a problem, and you insure that all is right, or you make it right. And you should do all this first, fast, before anything else gets done.

This leaves the contractor as seeing you able to be pushed around? Maybe. And that may matter if this is made into a shoving match. Who wants that? So he may also see that you are busy, damn good, fast, care about your reputation in the market place, etc.

Make sure that whomever needs to know, knows that you took care of this 1000% with one call. Add some spin about how these little things can add up to big money, delays etc, and that is the last thing you want for your customers.

If/when the contractor calls again, you don't bring it up until late into the next project, with a little laugh about dimensions mattering or whatever.

You also can start to recoup your money from him. Repeat business from him is your revenge, your ultra slow motion shoving match. I had one PIA contractor years ago that made unreasonable demands that I resolved in his favor. He paid me back for that 'lost' income about 50 times over the next 6-7 years.

4/25/18       #40: owning your own business is always ...
Mark B Member

Alan F,

Sorry but a bit of this is conjecture on all of our parts. Of course the OP asked what peoples opinion were and what recourse would he'd have and so on. But it has never sounded like he is remotely to the point of litigation and any intimation of such to me at least read as just a look down the road at a worst case scenario.

"There is a cost in both money , time, and personal energy in pursuing a claim. There is also the lack of funds for any of the work while this drags on."

There is also a huge cost in setting a precedent with a contractor that they even remotely have the ability to get over on you. It sadly reads as an adversarial relationship but its unfortunately something to be conscious of. I personally had a phenomenal salesman from one of our vendors that we nearly lost because he had several contractors who would call endlessly while driving (they have nothing better do do), call late at night (again), call on weekends (again), and when the salesman finally stood up and said to one of them "hey, I have a family, and I want to go to a little league game, a girl scout meeting, and so on, who do you think Im going to prioritize?" The instant response from the contractor was "me!"

Its all a give an take. And no different than anything, if your finding its all take, its best to cut bait. OP already said he is not counting on future business, sure best not to cut off your nose to spite your face, but perhaps there were several indicators throughout the process than sent up red flags.

"Devils advocate the first question the court will ask will be why did you assume the 40" was the overall height."

And answer is flatly and completely unarguable... "I didnt ASSUME anything, thats why we provided a detailed and dimensioned shop drawing and submitted it for APPROVAL from my customer".

"So I say settle and move on"

Couldnt agree more if you are dealing with a good customer (or even perceived good). We have customers that make mistakes completely on their own and we ship replacement material because they also work with us when there is a miss. They dont try to pad their bottom line with a $500 bill for 3' of molding around a leg they fouled up. I would venture to guess if the contractor had said "its our screw up, will you make the molding, we will install, and we will call it even?" It would have been a yes.

Tossing away money, and tossing away future work, is easy when your in a good spot, and miserable when your grappling for every penny. Kinda sounds like the OP would just rather get a check in hand and in the bank. We have all been there.

4/25/18       #41: owning your own business is always ...
Alan F. Member

Measure twice, cut once.
We had a similar situation the other day we provided shop drawings for seating in a board room, the architectural drawings had top of cushion at 21" AFF, we submitted that shop drawing with a confirm, it was approved without comment, we verified with a written email, just because we know it will be an issue later and the said change it to 19".

Basically no one was paying attention, no one was trying to put anything over on me. If I wasn't clear on a drawing the first thing I do is ask a question, the second is the drawing asks them to confirm and we follow up.

I could have taken the you approved it road and could have gotten paid but why invite an issue you can solve?

We don't do public works because its adversarial by nature, we work as part of a team for contractors that are ethical and honest and pay their bills.

Sometimes we make a mistake and they work with us and the owner, sometimes they make a mistake and we do what we can to help.

I have been to mediation for significant money, I have spent hundreds of thousands proving I am not in the wrong and still paying court costs and attorney fees or settling for less because the cost of the fight is greater than the reward.

Its not a theory to me, it a result of understanding the value of each decision and that value includes my time and energy which I can't buy more of. I would have questioned the $500 but its quite possible the guy ran around somewhere to get some wood or trim, stained or painted it, installed it and was done and that all added up to $500.

Anybody that will stop payment on a check is someone you want to get away from ASAP the quickest way possible.

This guy is cash in advance or we start work after the check clears, generally I will be 10-15 weeks out with a big job when he calls again. If I do work for him again he will pay the $500 on the price of the next time plus the $500 he is going to try and get from me this next time.

Click the link below to download the file included with this post.


4/25/18       #42: owning your own business is always ...
Mark B Member

We do the exact same thing. We recently completed a two story commercial bank interior and in many cases (often before the first scoop of excavation) we pointed out and illustrated in our drawings where the plans, and the as-built, conditions, simply werent going to work. Im not tooting our own horn but we likely saved the GC, architect, and owner of the building, multiple tens of thousands of dollars in materials that would have simply been run, and unusable. Other suppliers would have simply submitted their shops, started cutting, shipped material, and when that material didnt work, shrug their shoulders and wait for the replacement order. When an on-the-fly change needed to happen, it was there within days if not hours. We of course issued changes and billed accordingly but we could have been snippy, and they could have been snippy.

We dont do that. I was personally on-site almost weekly. Never hesitated to pull out my laptop, log into the cloud via a cell phone tether, and walk their crew through, in full 3D, the situation. Ship a fresh PDF while on-site to the PM or on-site construction trailer.

Avoiding litigation is a given. Back to my point that it reads at least to me, this wasnt even remotely at that level. And if money is flowing, business is good, you eat what you can to grease the wheels. No different than litigation, grease can get very expensive. If you have the luxury of building a pallet of grease into each job that you salt away to cover the jobs that you have to lube to get through it doesnt seem fair to those paying for the grease.

As Ive said, Im a noob in this world and coming from the "other side" I likely have a bit of a dual perspective.

"Sometimes we make a mistake and they work with us and the owner, sometimes they make a mistake and we do what we can to help."

I am likely farther to the do what we can to help side of this than I should be but I literally will not allow myself to be steamrolled. Am I going to pay out 40K to regain a 2.5k loss? No. This situation seems nowhere near that point.

Phenomenal conversation from this place as usual. An utter gift. Thankful.

4/28/18       #43: owning your own business is always ...
Paul Eichenlaub  Member

Website: http://Www.pauleichenlaub.com

I would just go take care of it then make it up on future work. I had a GC that we did work for that in the wall that we were putting our casework on had a gas shutoff for the BBQ and i ask if he wanted a access door and he said it was going to be moved outside. So when we came to install the had drywall over where that opening was at and we installed. Then a couple months later we got a call the BBQ has no gas to it and we covered the shutoff so went back installed a door and he said your not going to charge me for your mistake are you.So I thought for a moment and said no we will see you on the next job. So we have been doing work for this guy for the last 10 years and every job I add the access door charge and he has no clue how many steak dinners he has bought.

4/28/18       #44: owning your own business is always ...
the google

everybody - the builder is now refusing to send me a check until i return his original check - the one that i never cashed because he told me he'd stopped payment on it. i'm not sure what his motivation is here, but i'm not interested in giving up the only shred of ground i have (remember, he has the top and money he still owes me). i told him i would cash it on monday. it shouldn't clear, but will be returned to him via his bank. this will leave me a paper trail if litigation becomes my only option. and gives him what he wants so you cannot say i'm not being compliant.

for those of you recommending some sort of compromise to save/strength a future relationship - i've been doing this long enough to know when to do this and when to simply not work for those individuals anymore. this one is definitely in the latter category. i did give up $252 on a bs figure of running less than two feet of baseboard to hide his mistake (as he later agreed to admit this). i'm just trying to get some portion of what is owed to me, so trade to $252 for $2500, yes, i'll make that deal.

i'd love to start a new thread, if only i had the time, as it relates to the two themes here and throughout these gray-area discussions. one camp always advocates taking the blame and falling on one's sword, regardless of any circumstances; and the other seems to take a more stand-your-ground approach. i would consider myself in between and have found success here. however, the sword-falling advise and criticisms seem to further divide our collective industry. i mean, i don't think there is a plumber or hvac guy left that doesn't charge you a trip fee just to look at your problem. yet our industry is still doing a ton of legwork for free, with criticisms going to those that want to charge for their time. this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison to my issue but i think the underlining themes are there. probably something for someone with more time to expand on.

4/29/18       #45: owning your own business is always ...

You say " i would consider myself in between". The only thing you get from sitting on the fence is a sore ass!

Are you really going to take this guy to court over $2500? The mental anguish alone won't be worth that money, not to mention the loss of time you could be using to work on profitable projects. We haven't even factored in legal fees yet!!

For years I always fell on my sword to keep customers happy. Only problem was..... I wasn't happy, my family wasn't happy and I never made any money or felt like I achieved anything worthwhile.

I sat down one day and asked myself this question.
Why did I start this business?
It wasn't to increase my stress, It wasn't to make less money, It wasn't to work more hours, It wasn't to see my family less and have friendship fade away due to lack of time and energy, it wasn't to see a psychiatrist for anxiety and depression issues. It was none of these bi-products of running a business, the list could go on as I'm sure many of you know.

It was for these three reasons
1. To achieve business success and fulfil a dream
2. To support my family in a comfortable lifestyle.
3. To make my life EASIER and LESS STRESSFUL!!!!!

This situation is working against all 3 of those goals. So in my eyes it needs to be dealt with quickly and then systems put in place to avoid a future re-occurrence.

If you wan't to give to charity. Find a way to get that $2500 or whatever you can get from this guy and give it to someone who truly needs it and deserves it. Not this jerk.

FYI my personal life and business has been a lot better since I changed to this approach.

Someone mentioned not wanting to get into a "shoving match" over this so basically suck it up and cop the hit. Then swallow your pride and actually work for this guy again and charge him more to make up the difference to begin "an ultra slow shoving match" over the years.......no thank you. Life is too short and already complicated enough to start multiple ultra slow shoving matches.

4/30/18       #46: owning your own business is always ...

The tag line and bullet point are on the inside of leg, so I read the overall height at 42 7/8

5/1/18       #47: owning your own business is always ...
Marty Member

Sorry, but I'd see that as 42 7/8.
Easier to cut down than to add too.


5/2/18       #48: owning your own business is always ...
Adam B

I see 40" tall overall height. Whoever made this drawing noted a 2 7/8" stile on the right side & 2 7/8" top rail. The drawing does not show a 40" stile + an additional 2 7/8". Depending on the client/contractor this would not be re-made for free, I would agree to "help" somewhat based on how much I valued this client.

5/4/18       #49: owning your own business is always ...

All the dimensions in the plan view are shown on the outside of the cabinet/top with lines connecting the dimensions to the outside.

The elevation view shows both the inside and outside of the leg and the 40" dimension is on the inside and pointing to the inside so it makes the most sense that it is the inside dimension, though I definitely would have called for clarification before making my own drawing.

If it were on the outside and pointing to the outside then I would consider that the overall height.

5/11/18       #50: owning your own business is always ...

I agree with Tracy, you are getting terrible advice, the guy is a waste of skin, your working relationship is already doomed, I would go after him with every legal option possible, I would definitely talk directly to the customer. I am not sure where you are located, but in Canada where I am, I would slap a lean on the property. I would file complaints with the better business bureau, and I would let the whole world know how much of a crook he is on social media. People like him belong in jail. Good luck!

6/1/18       #51: owning your own business is always ...

Best comment: "1. My customers would never supply such a drawing. They cannot write, or hold a writing instrument (this is why they are builders)."
Hey, they have a new 4 wheel drive pickup, that qualifies them.

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