Ever traveled abroad and wished you could understand what the locals were saying to each other? It can be a frustrating experience. On a short trip to China last year with a couple friends, I was shocked to see my techie friend using his iPhone as a translator with the cab driver. Wow. Nice work Apple lover.
Prepare for the segue…
Contractors should have their own country. They certainly have their own language. Forget for a second even about the technical terms, like fenestration, hydrostatic pressure, inglenook, and acetaminophen (ok, that last one is just a word I like saying).
We are a motley bunch, and many times we use words to either make you feel better, or help you not feel worse. Sometimes it doesn’t help. Sometimes we should just be able to say what we mean. Here’s my attempt at bridging the language barrier. Think of me as your tour guide into Contractorland. Here are some of my favorite phrases used by “us” (some by the good ones you want to work with, and some by the not-so-good ones), and then what they actually mean in “normal people talk”. You be the judge.
Let’s talk numbers… Translation: “If you have alcohol, now is the time to bring it out, because we are going to talk about how much your dreams cost, and no one likes to hear how much their dreams cost.”
That’s interesting… Translation: “I have never seen that happen before, and have no idea what caused it.”
It depends… Translation: “There are some really good reasons why that can/can’t be done, but I don’t think talking about them will help you change your mind.”
You could do that if you wanted but… Translation: “I certainly wouldn’t do it on my own house, but I’ll let you pay me to do it on yours.”
The city is a real pain to work with… Translation: “I own my own business because I don’t like people telling me what to do, and this code official makes me fill out paperwork.”
That’s for drainage… Translation: “I wasn’t able to get it level, so let’s act like I did it on purpose.”
It’s personal preference… Translation: “I personally don’t prefer the way that looks.”
That will be pretty complicated… Translation: “That will be pretty expensive.”
We are hoping to be finished by Friday… Translation: “I’m using the word hoping because I don’t think we will actually finish until next month sometime, but I want to be finished as much as you want me to be finished, and hey, a guy can hope, can’t he?”
The answer is always yes… Translation: “I’m afraid you are getting ready to ask me to do two things that can’t both be done well at the same time, and I don’t want you to be mad at me when only one of them turns out right.”
You made some really great decisions on this project… Translation: “I enjoyed working with you, and I want to have a little conversation where we both compliment each other a lot, so I’ll start.”
The tile is back ordered eight weeks… Translation: Either “You picked a tile that everyone else in the country is loving right now” or “I forgot to order this eight weeks ago”.
What do you think? What are the best lines you have ever heard a contractor use? Comment and let me know. I’m looking forward to some good ones!
Putting a larger home in a neighborhood with smaller homes
This weekly sponsored column is written by Lance McCarthy of ReTouch, a full-service, client-based contractor specializing in home remodels. For more information about their services, or to view samples of their work, visit their website.