Advice needed (rain v. quality)

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by bnrhuffman, May 22, 2004.

  1. bnrhuffman

    bnrhuffman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    I just started my part time business. I do grading, leveling, digging, trenching and so on. Im doing one of my first jobs as we speak. It involves removing a couple of stumps, cutting into a hillside to grade and level off a 400 sq ft area for a concrete slab around her shed and hauling the excess dirt away.
    I started the job thursday morning against my better judgement. It had rained wednesday night and I knew it would be muddy and soft. I told my client this and she said to start it anyway. I show up, pull my truck/trailer/tractor into the yard to get it off the street and sink 3" deep ruts in her wet yard. I tell her Im sorry about the ruts, she says its ok. I start work with the tractor but I feel that all Im making is a mess of her yard, much more colateral damage than Im comfortable with, she says its ok. I spend way too much time digging sticky, wet clay out of the backhoe bucket, tractor time that im willing to eat. I end up at the end of the day with a muddy mess, only half the job done and ruts and mud all around the site. Not too happy with myself, I go home and stew over what I should have done differently. What I came up with is that I shouldnt have even started it knowing the conditions. Now Ive left it a half finished mess. She wanted me to come back Friday to finish the job. I told her I would if it wasnt raining but it rained again early Friday morning so I decided not to. Its now Saturday morn and its been raining all night and it looks like rain again tonight. I can finish the job in the rain or mud but it wouldnt be a pretty site when Im done. Ive always had a special hate for contractors that come in and start a job only to never seem to finish it. This job, under normal conditions, should only be a day at most, now it looks like at least four days. While the client hasnt exactly said "get over here and finish this" she has said "come on over, dont worry about the yard or the ruts" but I do worry because it makes me look sloppy. As far as I know, she has no special reason for it to be done right away except for my equipment and the mess in her yard.
    Do I follow my judgement and give it a couple days to dry up or do I give the client what she asks for.
    I plan to call her later today and explain my side but I would like some imput from those with more experience.
  2. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    While I probably don't have much to say on this particular situation, there comes a time when you need to punt. Sounds like Thursday would have been that time.

    When you are making more of a mess than it is worth is when it is time to punt. Have a backup plan for something else to do on those wet days. For us, it's maintenance, but you may not have that.

    As for what you should do now, I would suggest you tell her you will come back when it is dry enough to work, that way you won't be wasting your time making a mess out of her yard. It will also allow you to clean up what you can of the mess that has already been made. That's my suggestion, though what you do is entirely up to you! Remember this situation next time it's muddy!!!

  3. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    I tell the guys that just because they are getting wet doesnt mean it's time to pack it in..... What decides that is "site conditions" . If your making more of a mess than you are progressing it's time to pack it in. We always have some type of jobs either going on or just waiting for a wet day to get done.
  4. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    Definitely should have never started the job. Although you are new to the business and I know what you were going through and thinking. As your business grows and you take the lumps, you'll know when, and how, to say no. You run the show, not the customer. Lesson learned now. Since you are in the middle of it, just get it done. Kris said it best, if you can get something done and do it in a profitable and useful fashion, then do it. Rain is by no means a show stopper in this business. Just use your best judgment on this one.
  5. blafleur

    blafleur LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    Some lessons you just cant learn in school, and you learned it with an understanding customer, and it just cost you time, how much luckier can you get?

    Man we've all been there.
  6. bnrhuffman

    bnrhuffman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    I called her yesterday but all I could get was a machine. I did explain to the machine that I didnt forget about her, that I would return to finish the job when things dry up.
    I wasnt so much concerned about working in the rain or mud and I dont have a crew to worry about, what bothered me was the quality of the work I was doing (this includes the damage that was occuring to the surrounding yard) and how long it was taking me to do it. My tractor weighs in at over 6000 lbs with the backhoe and loader. On hard ground, it is pretty forgiving, in soft or muddy conditions, it will make a mess.
    The rain missed us last night, maybe I can get back to it later on today.

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