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The Case of the "Lowest Bidder" - July 2009 Newsletter

         
    Sometimes projects can take a little time to mature, and though we often know better, "when the money hits the wood, the lowest bid always sounds good". However, "sounds" and "is" are two very different things, as one of our customers found out in what we call "The Case of the Lowest Bidder".

A few months back I got a call for a floor remodel project in a medical facility. It was a pretty large place and the new tenants were actually upsizing (kudos in this economy!) from a smaller office on a somewhat tight budget.

The floor was covered with some pretty beat up carpet and the new
   
   
   
tenants were adamant about replacing it with an acid stain. They were done with trying to keep carpet clean with so many people walking on it.

I did a walkthrough with the tenant, placed my bid, crossed my fingers and went on with other business. Over the next month we talked a few times about it - how long it would take, what color, all the normal stuff, and it was looking like the project was going to happen. Then - No Go. She called me saying her contractor, who was doing some other work was giving her a real deal for staining the floor and they were going with them. I was disappointed, but I could understand they were trying to save some moneyI thanked her for the chance to bid on it and figured that was that. I was a little surprised by the price she was getting which was much lower than my quote, I figured it must have been a "package deal".

The new tenant called me saying her contractor, who was doing some other work, was giving her a real deal for staining the floor and they were going with him. I was a little surprised by the price, which was much lower than my quote, but I figured it must have been a "package deal". I was disappointed but I could understand that they were trying to save some money. I thanked her for the chance to bid on the project and figured that was that.

Cut to two weeks later when I got a call asking me to swing by and take another look at the floor, as they were having some problems with it. As soon as I walked in I could see we were in trouble and the floor was in bad shape. A lot of the reasons we push for a microfinish overlay on remodels is that you just don't know what's under that carpet until you pull it up. Sometimes the floor is in such a bad shape that doing a direct acid stain just looks bad. The overlay will resurface the floor, covering up all the defects giving a brand new palette to apply stain on.

This floor had been patched repeatedly for repairs and though the contractor had done his best to remove the carpet glue, it was still visible in many places and when the stain had hit the patches it really made them stand out. As I continued the walkthrough, something else bothered me about the stain that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It was just... different. I remembered the tenant saying she had watched them apply it with a rag, which is a bit unusual because it's usually sprayed on. Now, spraying isn't the only way to do it, but it does eliminate the chance of streaking which we could see everywhere. And then it hit me. It wasn't an acid stain!

Lying strewn about on cabinets and the floor were cans of dark wood stain, suspiciously close to the color as the stain on the floor. Because all the cabinet doors had been stained a dark color, I just figured that was why they were around, but there sure was a lot of cans and on closer inspection, the color didn't match the doors. To boot, the tenant said the doors had be stained by a different contractor. We walked around a little more, found some cans of wood sealer and everything came into focus. For whatever reasons (and I think you know why) instead of using an acid stain and a concrete floor sealer they had substituted wood stain and wood sealer. The Lowest Bidder!

We now had all the facts, and needed to find the solution. I recommended the microfinish overlay, and the new tenant agreed, and because they were now in a hurry to open the office we started the job almost immediately. From here it was pretty smooth sailing: we ground the floor to remove the wood stain and sealer, applied the overlay, stained it, sealed, waxed and turned it over to them in the agreed upon time and by that weekend they were moving in all the furniture including a massive 700 lb. table. All the patchwork was hidden by the overlay and the final floor looks awesome. We may not be the lowest bidder and we sure aren't the highest, but just like Goldilock's said we're "just right".

At SolCrete, we're just right!!