Re: Contractor Problems
From: Cheryl Charis-Graves (
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 18:39:29 -0500
Wow, what a thoughtful reminder of what really matters. The folks who work
with you are indeed fortunate. If you're ever in my area, I'd like to meet you
and shake your hand. And have a long conversation re what you've learned about
human nature (since I am in the field of psychology, it would be fun to
compare notes). I'm sure the conversation would be both interesting and

Cheryl Charis-Graves
Harmony Village, in Golden, Colorado

John Abrams wrote:

> After 25 years of designing and building, and hundreds of contracts
> negotiated with clients, contractors, and subcontractors, I find that I
> still don't know much about building, but I have learned a bit about human
> nature.  Our competitive building system is truly contrary to good
> collaborative work.  I second the sentiments of those members of your
> development group who suggest that one can over-protect to the point that
> it becomes counter-productive. But I'll take it a step further.
> If your contractor has given you any indications that he/she is going to be
> trouble you've got the wrong contractor.  The only way to assure that
> you've got the right contractor is to hire your contractor the same way
> you'd hire a doctor to do a difficult and specialized procedure to your
> body - you go out and get the best person for the job, someone who comes
> highly recommended, someone who inspires trust and confidence, someone with
> whom your communication is direct and satisfying, someone who does what
> they say they'll do without question or excuses.  Then you trust that
> person to do a good job.  And they will.  Cost is important, but secondary.
> An individual like the one described above may not give you the lowest
> price, but you can be sure it is a fair one.  Never accept a low price - it
> will turn out to be the opposite.
> The contract has a very special purpose:  to remind everyone later what the
> parties' intentions were long ago when it was negotiated, and to be a
> record of the relationship of trust both parties entered into willingly and
> hopefully.  It should express both parties' responsibilities and
> expectations.  If  you try to protect in such a way that the contract will
> serve you during litigation, you're on the wrong track, because if it ever
> gets to litigation everyone loses.
> Best of luck with it -
> John Abrams
> South Mountain Co., Inc. and Island Cohousing
> Chilmark MA

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