‘So Don’t Get Stressed’

One of the other hats I’ve been wearing is ‘Project Manager’.  It’s a hat I acquired a few weeks ago when one of the tenants in a building we own moved on.  It was decided that before we advertised for a new tenant, some work should be done on the premises; it is after all, long overdue.

A new front fence that I painted and now I just need to do some planting in front of it

A new front fence that I painted and now I just need to do some planting in front of it

So over the past few weeks I have been doing the 90-minute round trip up and back to the property steeply becoming more and more stressed with every visit.

It’s because of the ‘tradies’.

Piles of dirt left everywhere

Piles of dirt left everywhere

One of them was commissioned to build some new fences.  He did a great job of the fences.  But then in passing I foolishly mentioned that I was looking for someone to clear the block in readiness for landscaping.  He piped up and told me ‘block clearing’ was another string to his bow.  And I believed him.

What a mess

What a mess

Before he even started he said he needed to increase his quote.  Because I knew time was of the essence (as I wanted to complete the project before leaving for New York), I agreed to the revised quote.  But before he had even finished his first day on the job he said he was sure he’d underquoted and that to make it up to him, ‘I think you should give me the landscaping work as well’.

What was he thinking?

What was he thinking?

By the end of the next day, due to all his ‘mention’s of increasing the quote, I was avoiding him.  At the end of the fourth day he phoned to say he’d had a ‘bit of a shock’ in that he didn’t realise how much he was being charged for the hire of the excavator and that he had wages to pay, (the son of a neighbour who looked like he was 16 who was on the job for less than a day), and that in six weeks his wife was having a baby, and that the job had made him so stressed he hadn’t been sleeping, and that he really needed to send me another invoice.

All of this debris was supposed to have been removed

All of this debris was supposed to have been removed

Having paid him more than $10,000, I said, ‘Pack up your tools and go’, and off he scuttled.  Now I have to find someone else (hopefully competent) to complete the job.

A new deck.  Pipe still to be removed

A new deck but lots of work still to be done.

Then there’s the interior.  I’ve been dealing with so many ‘tradies’ my head is spinning.  Co-ordinating them is mission-impossible.  Before we left for the Southern Highlands, Bono, who’d been employed to strip out the bathroom, take up the vile floor tiles, remove and replace the skirting boards and paint all interior walls, said he would be there the entire week we were away.  Excellent.

Rubbish that has been left rubbish on the nature strip

Rubbish that has been left rubbish on the nature strip

The morning after we returned from our country sojourn I beetled up to the property all excited to see the work that had been done.  And then I opened the front door.  Nothing.  Not a thing.  He hadn’t turned up at all.  I phoned him and tried to put on my ‘pleasant voice’.  He said he’d spent the entire week working on a property in Bondi for a well-known Sydney identity who produced one of Australia’s most successful films.  She out-ranked me.

Some tiles still needing to be removed

Some tiles still needing to be removed

This week he was full of promise but didn’t turn up either.  You see, his brother and sister-in-law were visiting from New Zealand and as he hardly ever gets to see them he just felt he should spend a few days enjoying their company and then he had a couple of other jobs that needed completing but, ‘Don’t worry; I won’t let you down’.  (As if he hadn’t already let me down).

‘I’m feeling stressed, Bono’.

‘Now don’t do that; you don’t want to get stressed.  I’ll start your job next week.  I’l be there everyday’.  But I fear Bono works on ‘Fiji-time’.

The tiles were taken up off the floor but left a few holes!

The tiles were taken up off the floor but caused a few holes!

I went to the property again this morning as I had to meet the tradies doing a check-measure for the bathroom mirror.  There was no sign of Bono.  I phoned him and left a rather unhappy message on his voice-mail.  He called me back.  ‘Are you all right?  You’re not stressing are you?’

‘Bono, there are so many tradies waiting to do their job but they can’t because you haven’t stripped out the bathroom.  There’s the plumber, the electrician, the tiler, the guy doing the water-proofing, and this morning there was a check-measure for the bathroom mirror but they couldn’t do it because the bathroom hasn’t been stripped out.  That’s the only reason I’m up here and that job couldn’t be done.  I need to know when you’re going to do the job and I have to let all the other tradies know’.

And in a very laid-back, casual tone he said, ‘I’m on my way there now.  Will I see you?’

‘No Bono, you won’t see me.  I have so much to do that I can’t hang around’.

‘Well don’t get stressed, all right?  You don’t want to get stressed’.

Bathroom - waiting, waiting, waiting to be stripped out

Bathroom – waiting, waiting, waiting to be stripped out

Bono was there today but at 4pm he phoned me and said, ‘Ahhh, I got those tiles off the walls but the render came off with them.  You’re going to have to get the walls rendered now.  And there’s another thing.  I nicked a pipe.  It was only a little nick and so I thought it was okay but then the pipe burst.  It’s the water pipe.  I’ve turned off the water but about those tenants upstairs, are they going to need water?’

Well, they’re not camels.  ‘Bono, yes, they’re going to need water’.

‘Righto, righto; I’ve got a mate down the road who’s a plumber; I’ll get him to come and sort it out.  But don’t get stressed; it’s a good thing really because your pipes are really old and they needed replacing anyway.  That’s just how it goes on with old places; so don’t get stressed’.

And then Arabella called from LA.  She was on her way to another premiere; this time it is a friend of Liev’s who has invited her to the premiere and then the after-party.  She bought a $40.00 dress from Zara as she didn’t want to wear the same outfit she wore to the other premiere.  (Third-world problems).  She’s also had to move back into the youth hostel as Em has gone to Paris on a work assignment.

I thought how lovely it is that she’s off to another premiere but then she said, ‘Mum, the youth hostel is so far from Hollywood.  To get there I have to get taxis and it’s so expensive.  I’m running out of money, mum’.

‘Well don’t worry, you’ll be in New York soon and I’ll bring my credit card’.  (Not that there’ll be much credit left on it after the plumbing fiasco).

‘And the other thing mum, don’t pack much because my suitcase was exploding so I left some things at Em’s for you to bring back for me’.

Great.  So now I can’t do any shopping because Miss Arabella, against all my advice, packed all sorts of ridiculous things in her suitcase including a pair of Doc Martin boots that I said she wouldn’t need.  To add insult to injury she said, ‘And I haven’t worn them once, mum’.

Did I not say to pack lightly.  Did I not say, ‘You won’t need your Doc Martins’.  Did I not say, ‘Five pairs of shoes is ridiculous’.  But it’s all okay because now I’m coming over and I can take all that excess baggage home with me in my suitcase.

I’m leaving Carl in charge of the tradies.  I have lists and lists and lists nailed to the fridge.  I’m taking off my ‘project manager’ hat and passing it on to Carl – he’s not happy.

As for me, I just can’t wait to get on the plane.

Lunch in LA

Lunch in LA

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  1. I am loving watching your ice right now. Busy and exciting all at one. Enjoy every minute. At least you know you are alive when you can’t think straight.

  2. You’ll sleep (or you’ll be in a coma) from Sydney to New York! Poor you, what a big job that is. It’s one thing to do all that when you’re just around the corner but 90 minute round trip is sucky.

  3. Hi Charlie, I love your blog, one of my absolute faves!! The only thing that makes it hard to read are all the pictures (which I do love seeing), but they are posted over the writing so you can’t read all of your funny posts?? Is there something I should/shouldn’t be doing so I can read all of the posts?

    • Hi Lily, thanks so much for your positive comments. You’re the second person to tell me (since yesterday) that the images are appearing over the text. I’m so sorry to hear this. And I absolutely don’t know what to do about it. I haven’t seen it myself as it all looks perfect from my end but I do know that if someone is using an i-pad or an i-phone to view the post that that is when there are issues. What device are you using to view the blog? I will try to get this issue sorted as I can understand this would be annoying and frustrating. Again, thanks for your kind comments regarding Hotly Spiced, they mean a lot to me.

      • Charlie, I use a laptop and a desktop, and it shows up on both, but the funny thing is I just jumped on your blog again, and it’s all ok? so I am not sure, it’s probably me!?
        Looking forward to your posts about NY, as I am heading there in December! Have a fab time 🙂

        • Sometimes it loads badly.. probably due to the large amount of pictures (but we love those!) and a quick reload usually sorts it.

  4. Don’t walk. RUN to the plane. And if you need to stay in the States longer, until all of the tradies have finished, just hop on down to Florida! XO.

  5. OMG I totally feel for you. I’ve been through this before with rental units that we have but not quite this bad. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this. I only hire people that I’ve had professional references from now and occasionally I still run into trouble, especially when you can’t be there all the time. Try to grin and bear it and move on. Easier said than done I know.

    Enjoy New York!

  6. Oh dear. Tradies are so hard to deal with aren’t they. I can’t believe the first guy-what a cheek asking for all of that and assuming that you would cover things because he had underquoted. I bet you can’t wait to get on that plane!

  7. Oh my goodness! I don’t blame you for giving it all to Carl! What a frustrating headache. You’re going to feel like a new woman when you land in New York. 🙂

  8. Oh no… get on that plane and relax 🙂 you deserve it! Liz x

  9. It sounds like you need this vacation! Whew! I’m stressed just reading about your project management. Hopefully you’ll have time to unwind in NYC!

  10. yep that plane is looking good (so long as there is credit left on the card) – tradies do have a creative way with excuses – though your first one reminds me of a consultant we used at work who just seemed to have personality disorders. Good luck to you (and Carl) with not getting stressed 🙂

  11. Oh dear, we had to deal with trades earlier too, they all seem to lack decent communication skills

  12. Oh my goodness, I would have had someone strangled by now! How do you stay so calm?!?! You drink a lit, don’t you? Or smoke??? I kid, I jest…. But forreal, someone would be dead by now if it was me! 😉 xo

  13. The very reason why we did not end up building a house here or getting a bigger,older home.I was told that renovating or building was the closest couples came to divorce, with the no-show workers and all the stress. Good luck and have fun in NY!

  14. Don’t get stressed!!! That would make me even more stressed.

    Sending good thoughts your way, Charlie.

  15. I would be stressed, too. Fly away from all of it. Far far away.

  16. Drinking is the only solution. I have recently had an unhappy experience with a tradie who was my sons-in-law’s mate, who added a two hour extra charge ( $180.00) for picking up a small spare part from his home two kilometres away and having lunch). Some tradies are excellent at their work and do a good job. Knowing who they are is local knowledge. The first thing I ask people after they get a job done is a reference for their tradie ( if they are happy with the job and cost). Rental properties may attract these types.

  17. Glad to hear that your tradies are so concerned about you mental well-being. Pity they’re not more worried about getting the job done.
    I also went through the packing fiasco with my daughter when we went to Europe for the first time. We went in December, but she packed swimmers, every pair of boots she owned and her ipod speakers – but no coat. We had to send a box full of stuff home halfway through the trip – and boy, was that pricey!

  18. Wow, what a mega project!

  19. I find the best solution is to Hover. This method is very successful as it really makes the tradies uncomfortable. Knowing you’re there, watching, really adds to productivity, as does putting your own music on speaker- loudly. Any Glee soundtrack or Disney music should produce the required results. Overheard phone conversations such as, ‘ I’m here with my plumber, he’ll be finished by five, he’s not as useless as the guy I fired last week for being too slow’ can be a very powerful motivational tool, so can giving unsolicited advice on how to do the job better. Seeing you, the owner, flipping through the Yellow Pages in the tradie section, or finding scribbled quotes-much cheaper of course- laying around, may be considered by some as a Hostile Work Environment, but I prefer to think of it as Micro Managing. I hope some of these tips help Charlie, I’ve also found them quite useful with children and husband as well- of course, being perfect myself, I always like to think I’m setting them a Good Example to follow xox 🙂

  20. oh my goodness. tradies what a pain! my husband is a building designer so we know alot of them. they can be a difficult bunch sometimes.! hope all goes well.

  21. OM fricken holy bajinkas… Id have blown a gasket over everything you are working through at the moment, and watching the funds go out too. Gawd!!! I hope you sort it all out quick smart. Hope your weekend was swell! x

  22. What a nightmare. I can see why people hand project management over to professionals. And what a stroke of ‘luck’ that you are about to go to New York. You’ve earned yourself a good break. Enjoy yourself!

  23. I feel your pain Charlie, we have 2 properties we rent out too – although I usually have the tenants not looking after things! Can’t tell you how these properties have aged me – thankfully we got rid of the other 3 which were a complete and utter nightmare!
    Have a wonderful Sunday!
    🙂 Mandy xo

  24. Oh dear. Mr B and I are a bit obsessed with home renovation shows and property shows in general – but with a very healthy dose of reality about just how hard it would be to do. It always seems to be a full-time job project managing, where full-time is all the time, and to take much longer than anticipated for the work. I’m sorry to hear your experience has lined up with that, and hope Carl can finish it off before you return!!

  25. Is this his real name? He won’t get much work after this, will he.. that may just cause a little stress, lol! I wish you luck.. trades are always a challenge to deal with. I learned that they begin a job, then another and another and they rotate around doing a little bit each week on every project just to keep everyone from giving up. So that gives them lots of work on the go:D I’ve also learned they leave a week between the worker before them so they don’t end up doing nothing because the guy ahead of them wasn’t done. So.. our house often had weeks of sitting idle too! Good luck and enjoy your trip!! xx

  26. Geez! I feel for ya! At least you managed to squeeze in a decent meal.

  27. I seriously don’t know how a lot of tradies make any money! They’re so unreliable. I had a guy underquote recently and had such an argument with him. I ended up paying cause Will was worried as the guy knew where we lived but I didn’t want to. You get a quote so you know how much it will be, unless you change what you want them to do that’s what you should pay I think.

  28. I hope you drink tons of tea to keep yourself calm how in the world do you do it!!
    I’m sure once you are on the plane, it will all go away!

    Choc Chip Uru

  29. OMG never a dull moment in your house lol. Enjoy the holiday and have a few wines on the plane so you can be stress free by the time you catch up with Arabella 🙂

  30. UGH that sounds awful!! I think it’s about time Carl took his turn at it!

  31. “It’s an old house, these things happen …” sounds more like someone trying to pad their pockets! How lame! I do hope your time in New York is a wonderful escape from all that nonsense. Poor Carl. Maybe he’ll be able to whip them into shape so you can return and see it all come together beautifully. 🙂

  32. I’d seriously be tearing my hair out. I hate it when workmen let me down and I have to admit not very tolerant. One chance and then they’re off the job. Have a fab time, take advantage of the plane ride to chill and snooze. GG

  33. Oh my gosh, what a mess. Dealing with workmen is no fun; it often pays to just do things yourself when you can. A good pro can work so much faster and better than I can, but that’s the trouble — finding a good pro!

  34. Oh dear – so sorry to hear about how much you seem to have been let down by tradies – we call them contractors over here! I sure hope Bono get’s his act together wishing Carl good luck in his new role as project manager and wishing you a safe trip over!

  35. Have fun in NY girls!!

  36. Owning additional property always sounds so wonderful, but it is indeed a lot of work. I have experienced enough home remodeling to know well that promises made in the building and contracting trades aren’t necessarily in ink! They are an “aim” rather than promise. I hope NY is just amazingly fun for you and Arabella! It should be! I can’t wit to hear more about it. ox

  37. What an absolutely gong show!! I feel stressed just reading about all the shenanigans you’ve been dealing with. I truly hope your trip is relaxing and fantastic to make up for all the madness. 🙂

  38. I know exactly how you feel Charlie, I practically do Project Management and Change Management for a living so i know how hard it is to get people to do things!!!

    But don’t worry it’s all over now you’re in NYC YAY!

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