This is the seventh in a series of guest posts written by some of my favorite bloggers. To understand what this is about, you can read this post: 

This one in particular was written by the super kind Sean Lintow Sr. Sean have been involved in construction for over 20 years, moved from Arizona (desert climate) to Alabama back in 2006 & started SLS Construction & this year he added Energy Efficiency Audits / consulting – some of those reasons are in this article . Sean may also be found on Twitter @SLSConstruction .

I have to admit, when I was asked to post a guest post here, I was floored and honored to be included. Then when I asked if there was a specific topic, all I got back was one word – Harmony. Uh, wow, uh, this could be problematic, uh… Well you see, I remodel older buildings and occasionally build new ones, but I am not an interior designer, architect, or musician. Why does that matter? well they generally have an innate ability or received training / been taught how to explain such a nebulous term. Sure, I can say something looks great, ties in well together, love how something sounds – but explaining it? Wow

Ahhh, but then again, I do have a knack for being able to work well with architects, designers, and other professional trades-people to build, remodel and restore houses while some seem to struggle with that. So in that vein, I would like to offer my top seven suggestions, for those that may find their sites a battlefield instead of a harmonious cacophony of hammers hammering, saws sawing, and cell phones ringing.

Egos & Respect – Check your ego at the door. For some this maybe hard, but it takes all the parties involved to successfully pull a project off. Remember that one definition of harmony revolves around an agreement in feeling or opinion or reaching an accord, so it helps if everyone respects what the others bring to the table.

Limits – Know your limits, and do not be afraid to let others know. If you have never built a Victorian house, do not be afraid to let the architect know this up front and that you will need detailed drawings of the ornamental elements. Now granted they should be in the plans, but assuming is…

Listening – Seriously, do not be trying to come up with a reply or jump right in, listen to the whole comment or suggestion. First, it allows the other person to feel like he was at least listened to, it allows others to feel like they can actually speak without being run over, it hopefully allows the group to work in harmony towards a specific result, and in some cases you might actually learn something new.

Planning – It is quite simply an unpleasant fact; most projects take time to plan. As a General Contractor, most of my time spent on larger projects is making sure that everything is ready for not only the next step, but for the last person to be affected by the work being done now. Not only does this make it easier for those trade partners to get in and get their jobs done properly, but it also allows for a nice harmonious flow of work to be accomplished, without having to go back and redo it.

To elaborate a little more on this point, when building a custom home, or a commercial property, the more time you spend up front, getting the design & details right, will generally pay dividends later. Recently I saw a great example of this in an article I read entitles the $124,000 rule; as I recall they used an inverted pyramid & broke it down based on when a problem was found.

·         $124,000 when the problem becomes a construction defect and ends up in court
·         $12,400 if the problem is found after the customer moves in
·         $1,240 if you find the problem after the work is completed, but before the customer moves in
·         $124 if you catch the problem after it has been installed, but before you move onto the next step
·         $12.40 if you catch the problem in the design stage before work commences

Put it in writing – While meeting together as a team, discussing issues as they come up, or agreeing to do whatever, make sure you get it in writing. There is a one simple rule which if everyone lives by will help everyone – if you don’t write it down, it never happened. If it is early in the design, and you are supposed to do something, make sure you write it down. If it requires a change on the plans, make sure it gets done. If the authorizing party agrees to a change, make sure they sign a change order & you can help eliminate the he said, she said arguments.

Team Work – While there is no I in team, you do need to have someone as a central point of contact / in charge if there are any deadlocks. In many cases during the design phase, this will generally be the architect, while during the building phase it will generally be the General Contractor. With this said, there are two important points to be made – first it is still a team and the points above still apply & second, everyone should  refer others to that main Point of Contact or make sure all information and decisions are funneled through them.

Thanking people – I know this will grate on a few people’s nerves, but the times are changing – people like to hear that they did a good job, that you are glad that they actually showed up, etc… Now this does not mean you sugar coat the bad or that you cannot demand and have high standards, just make sure they know that you appreciate it when they reach them.

With that said, I would love to thank Ana Maria Manzo for this lovely opportunity & I hope this makes a worthy addition to her collection of posts on harmony.