After the floods last June, our wooden conservatory was rotted.
It’s two stories tall with a lead roof weighing about two tons.
I asked a surveyor to have a look, he said it would all have to be replaced.
I said “All except the roof, there’s nothing wrong with the roof.”
He said “No, the roof as well. While you’re replacing all that two-story wood framing there’s nothing to support the roof, and that’s at least two tons of lead.
So instead of trying to prop it all up, it’d be better to pull the lot down and start again.”
He said it would take at least three weeks and cost a fortune, with the entire back of the house being open all that time.
And he quoted me a figure for the job that nearly made me fall over.
As a recommendation is always the best way to go, I asked a friend.
He said he knew a really good builder, so I asked them to quote.
The builder came and looked at the job and quoted half what the surveyor had said.
I asked him what he thought about taking the roof down.
He said “No, the roof’s in good nick, no need to touch that.”
I said, how about the whole back of the house being opened for three weeks.
He said “No it won’t. There are 5 large panels in the conservatory, so we replace one panel at a time, takes about one day per panel to replace it.
So the roof is always supported by all the other panels and the back of your house is never left open. Should take about a week to do the whole job.”
The surveyor said that was the wrong way to do it, the builder said it wasn’t.
The surveyor said “Don’t tell me, I’ve been doing it for twenty years.”
The builder said “Well maybe you’ve been doing it wrong for twenty years.”
I love that answer.
We gave the builder the job, they turned up at 7.30am, I said do you start work today?
He said “No, today is just for prep-work, covering everything with dustsheets and rubber mats, putting wooden boxes round everything. So tomorrow we can get stuck straight in.”
And they did, four builders turned up and began removing the old conservatory, one-panel at a time, and replacing it one panel at a time, one day per panel.
As one panel came out, a new one went straight in, there was never any strain on the roof so there was no need to replace it.
Cathy made them tea and biscuits at regular intervals, and they worked like a well-drilled team, it was a pleasure to watch.
But what I loved best was the answer to the surveyor’s “I’ve been doing it for years.”
The builder’s response was “Well maybe you’ve been doing it wrong for years”.
I think that’s a great lesson in creativity.
After the surveyor had gone the builder said to me “You gotta be able to think outside the box, ain’t ya? Surveyors don’t actually get their hands dirty, they’ve never actually done the job. They just quote in big numbers whatever’s easiest for them.”
And I thought, I love it, I’m learning creativity from a builder.
Then I thought, people in advertising and marketing are like that surveyor – we just give clients the same old answers that we, and everyone else, have learned.
That’s how they got their surveyor’s qualifications by never thinking differently.
That’s because they learned from people who never thought differently.
Consequently, unlike that builder, they can’t think for themselves.
Then I thought, as a client, who would I rather employ, the surveyor or the builder?
Then I thought, who would I rather be like, the surveyor or the builder?