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Guest Column: A building contractor makes a better commissioner

August 8, 2014 | By More
JOHN VALDES

JOHN VALDES

Guest Column

A building contractor makes a better commissioner

A dear friend and supporter, was kind enough to send the following to me the other day and after thinking about it and asking her permission, I thought I would send it along to you by way of this column.

I was thinking of 10, or more, reasons a building contractor makes a better commissioner. Here are some of the points that might be good to emphasize:

1. He has to meet a payroll and pay employees, suppliers, etc.
2. He has to abide by local codes, rules and regulations, and follow all laws regarding construction.
3. He has to work with numerous people in order to build a house: an architect, financial people, owner, all subs, designers, banks, suppliers, etc. and he has to negotiate contracts with all these folks and do it so that everyone’s happy.
4. He has to meet a budget, no matter what his costs are, and has to estimate accurately what his costs will be.
5. He has to coddle, cajole, please and satisfy numerous people having to do with EACH project.
6. He has to be honest, otherwise word gets around and he’ll be out of business. He has to account for everything that goes into building or remodeling a house.
7. He has to deliver on time, regardless of what may cause a delay, or have a good reason.
8. He has to organize his and numerous other people’s time efficiently.
9. He has to take into considerable several other people’s opinions about how something should be done, but know that in the end, he is the one who has to answer for the finished product (the buck stops here).
10. He has to be knowledgeable not only about building but about all the other fields that have to do with his work.
11. He has to justify expenditures to his “boss”, the house’s owner, and help them understand why things cost so much when they want “the best”.
12. He has to do all this in a “reasonable”, agreed-upon time schedule.
13. And of course he has to pass tests and requirements to keep his license current and constantly stay abreast of new developments in building.

More? I’m sure you can come up with more; but, none of the other business people I can think of have to do all these things, and do them well. All these qualities make a better government official.

Sometimes I don’t think the lay public really understands what a good building contractor does and how many balls we have to keep in the air to be successful at what we do.

In order to successfully conduct our business, we have to pull together and manage, literally; hundreds of people, thousands of tools and components, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars, then months or years down the road have it all come together in one spot at the right moment to create a viable, beautiful, functional, enduring product that is on time, on budget, satisfies a client that has put their trust in us to give them what they want, where they want it, when they want it.

To make things more interesting, a successful contractor has no choice but to do this while contending with ignorance, illness, drug abuse, hunting season, material shortages, bad weather, insurance companies, building departments, building inspectors, FEMA, OSHA, EPA, workmen’s Compensation and God knows what else.

Then, when it’s all said and done and the keys are turned over to the happy new owner, we warranty the work for at least five years — and, in the case of my company, as long as I’m in business.

Oh! By the way, somehow we have to do all this and make a profit so we can stay in business and pay our bills, which I might add, I have done quite successfully as a building contractor for the last 40 years in this country, as well as overseas.

Yes, I think I’m pretty darn qualified to be your City Commissioner for Seat 4. The Primary Election on August 26th is open to all registered voters within the City of St Augustine, regardless of party affiliation. I have approved and paid for this message.

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