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Rebeka and Kribashini: I call bullshit.
Kribashini: Sometimes we just want to say it, right? Join us for our podcast where we talk all things bullshit and see how many times we can say bullshit in our episode. Interested? Join us.
Rebeka: Hi, I'm Rebeka.
Kribashini: I'm Kribashini.
Rebeka: Welcome to Building with BuildHer.
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Rebeka and Kribashini: I call bullshit.
Kribashini: Sometimes we just want to say it, right? Join us for our podcast where we talk all things bullshit, and see how many times we can say bullshit in our episode. Interested? Join us.
Rebeka: I call bullshit. I call bullshit is really about when to know who to trust and what to listen to on-site I guess.
Kribashini: Yes, because I think when we start on-site, we can get pulled into this hurricane of-- It's not secrets or lies, but it's this hurricane of "he said, she said." When we came up with this topic, we thought it was a really fun one because sometimes you really just want to say, "I call bullshit," and just call someone out on it. We can't always do that when we're trying to foster a long-term working relationship. There are people that I think [laughs]
Rebeka: I used to do it as well, but there are different levels of bullshit on this site as well. We've got a few examples we'll take you through, but I guess the main thing to think about is to set up your trusted team in the beginning and to understand who's telling you what, and what their perspective might be, and why they're telling you that. Does that make sense?
Kribashini: Yes. I think no matter what type of building technique we're going to be putting in place, whether we're on a building, whether we're hiring a builder, whether we're doing a blended build, bullshit is part of our job.
Rebeka: It comes with part of the territory.
Kribashini: I think it almost comes with the industry a little bit. We were thinking, "How do you navigate through that? What do you do? What are some techniques that you can put in place? What are some tips that we have? What are some things that we know are just straight out bullshit that are used in the industry?
Rebeka: It's building, so you're building something that hasn't been built before. You're building and in a one-off location using techniques in different try you'd say, "Come in," and are working together. This isn't a well-oiled old machine. It's a machine that's going to have a bit of bump and grind along the way. It's going to catch at certain places. There are bits of that where bullshit comes into play.
Kribashini: How many times do you think we can say bullshit in this episode?
Rebeka: I reckon we can say it a lot. Are we allowed to swear? Good. Actually it's our podcast, we can do what we want.
Rebeka: Maybe we need a sensitivity warning. Don't listen to this with kids in the car. [laughs]
Kribashini: When we're on-site, sometimes we hear conflicting stories from different trades. Actually, I'm thinking about in job situations, sometimes when you leave a job and someone else comes in and everything you did was wrong, you have that fear as you walk out the door, "What's the new person going to say about my work?" [crosstalk] and all that kind of thing.
Rebeka: I'll be blamed for everything.
Kribashini: That's right. The same thing actually happens on site. It's one thing to be aware of and be ready for. Often you'll find that because tradies have different techniques. They come at jobs in different ways, they come at solutions in different ways or they might have particular issues that they've dealt with and they've resolved, but now that means that they work in a different way, like they have a work practice that they do which may be above and beyond. Someone else might not have that work practice.
Rebeka: Or they could just skin the cat differently.
Kribashini: That's right.
Rebeka: There are many ways to do the same thing.
Kribashini: What do you do when someone's come on to site, and he or she may be saying how bad the workmanship is, the trade prior or the trades on site. What can you do?
Rebeka: The most common way I see this is where you've got one trade. Let's say, you've got the tilers coming and tiled the bathroom. For some reason, he's not available to do the next bit and you've got the next tiler come in. They have this habit of going, "Oh, they should have used a different type of grout. Oh, I wouldn't have done it like that. They have used the wrong glue, that's why that's happening."
Rebeka: The reality is, we all use different suppliers, but they do this to gain trust. It's one of those things that people are trying to belittle someone else to gain your trust and have you see them as more of an expert. The first thing I do is, I knock it on the head because I'm not really interested in it. Again, this is me, more solutions-focused than the past, and I'm like, "Well, yes, but there are more ways to do this than one and we can do this in many different ways. So why don't we focus on the job at hand and what I've actually asked you to do rather than knocking the work beforehand".
If that is the case, what are the solutions around that? Who do I get to trust? Who do I know that's going to rectify this issue, if there is an issue, because often they'll do it and there's no issue.
Kribashini: That's a great way to deal with it though, like knock it on the head straight away is fantastic because what you're doing really is, you're setting the tone of the job going forward. Going forward, that trade is not going to come back to you with a whole lot of issues that you have to then try and deal with and navigate and almost counsel through because you've basically set the tone on what you want from them and what you want to get out of them, at the outset.
Rebeka: Often you see this where you've got two trades that are meant to be working together, but they're not really playing nice.
Kribashini: Like the carpenter and the plaster?
Rebeka: Carpenter and plaster is a really common one. The walls are never straight.
Kribashini: The walls are never straight.
Rebeka: If the walls aren't straight, that's fine. Just ask them to come back and straighten the walls. It's not actually that big a deal. So walls will generally not be-- If you've used stud framing, walls will generally not be straight. They'll be a little bit out and so you either plane them or you pack them, and that's how you get straight walls.
Kribashini: It is the carpenter's job to make sure the walls have been straightened. They may have missed a couple, so it's not the end of the world. The other thing you can think about is whose responsibility is it to strengthen the walls. If you've worked in to builder you might like to request or check-in with the builder that the works are being checked before the next trade is coming on board. If you're working directly with the tradies, and you might be an owner-builder, this might be something that you want to do.
Kribashini: Walk around the job at the end of the carpentry package and go through, and go "have you straightened this wall?" and do a spot check. I have a very unique name for a tool that you can use to check that the walls are straight.
Rebeka: Embarrassing, but unique.
Kribashini: When I first started working with Rebeka, I could not remember the name of the spirit level. I was asking her to give it to me, and I was like, "What is that thing called? What is that thing called?" It's like a ruler with a bubble in it.
Rebeka: straight edge with bubble?
Rebeka: A level.
Kribashini: It's a straight edge with a bubble.
Rebeka: It is a straight edge with a bubble, also known as a level.
Rebeka: The main point of that is just to understand and know whether that's a big deal or not a big deal. If a plaster comes in and says, "Oh, these walls aren't straight," great. "Can you just make a list of the walls that aren't straight, and I'll get the carpenter to pack them out for you." Solution-focused, not a big deal. Let's just fix it, or you can take that, "Oh my god, the walls aren't straight. The carpenters don't even know what they're doing. Actually, I don't trust them at all. Do we need to check everything? Maybe I shouldn't pay them."
"I might get my neighbour to come in and have a look as well, and say if he can spot anything wrong. Was that the building surveyor's problem to pick them? Should they have [crosstalk] gone through? Aren't they meant to be working in my best interest? Maybe they're in cahoots with the carpenter." Actually that sounds ridiculous, but it happens a lot.
Kribashini: It's a really common thought process. Sometimes you might even go, "Okay, well, I'm going to stop the works now because I don't know which way to go. I can't get the plastering because the walls aren't straight. The plasterer then leaves site, and you can't get him back for a couple of weeks, and the whole thing spirals out.
Rebeka: Yes, and all he needs to do is mark the ones that may need a bit more of packing or leveling. Depending on the way you're running that contract is the way that you will manage that. If you've got a builder on site, the builder will probably check that that's happening, but maybe it's guidance to you to know that the builder is doing that if you're on top of that. There's little things like a good carpenter will know where a plasterer needs to block for their sheets and they'll block out for that. Just because they haven't done that in a few situations doesn't mean it's the end of the world. Normally, when a carpenter finishes their job, we get the building surveyor, with say the frame.
The buildings surveyor will come in. Normally they'll pick a few things where maybe they haven't back blocked here or maybe they have done this or that or something else, and then they'll need to fix that. It's basically the same. You just want someone to come through and check for you. If it comes up that there is a problem, it's just working out, "Well, what's the solution? Is it a big deal? How do we go forward?" Actually I think it comes from, and all that drama, the drama that the TV shows love to show us about renovation. You're just like, "Dude, just fix it. It's not a big deal." [laughs]
Kribashini: Nothing is unfixable in building. That's the best thing about building.
Rebeka: Your building. It's like you make adjustments to your course as you go along, something changes. There are always issues with the drawings. There's always something that doesn't work out perfectly.
Kribashini: There's always something you didn't plan for, possibly in the ground or possibly in the roof.
Rebeka: There's always a variation.
Kribashini: There's always a variation.
Rebeka: If we come to it with a flexible mind, I feel like I keep coming back to this flexible mind in concrete theme [crosstalk]
Kribashini: It's about flexible mind. It totally is, and I think that's the right place to come back to because you should be checking yourself every now and again, and saying, "How am I reacting to this?" Sometimes it's an overreaction and sometimes it's actually it's the right reaction.
Rebeka: Where's the reaction coming from?
Kribashini: Normally it's coming from fear.
Rebeka: Fear that you've been taken advantage of.
Kribashini: Lack of confidence that you don't know what you should be knowing or you don't really know what you're looking at.
Rebeka: A lot of people say to me, I'm really worried the building will fall down. I'm like, well I should hope not. There's a lot of people working in here. There's a lot that can go wrong before a building will actually fall down.
Kribashini: That's probably not really understanding the regulation that sits behind that and the amount of training and the amount of checking that happens.
Rebeka: Understanding I guess there's this thing called the Australian standards of tolerances and guide and understanding what is a fair and reasonable thing to be moving over time and what would be expected to go wrong like a building will like, they're not rigid, they're going to move. That movement will, depending on your type of soil, provide cracks or a concrete slab, for example, if you've got a polished concrete slab, you can do whatever you want to engineer that slab. There will be an amount of cracking in that slab and so you need to be aware of each material and what tolerances you have in that material.
Kribashini: It's not like a car where you go into a showroom and everything's manufactured. They've done it a billion times. If they're a good car company, they've done it a lot of times, they've turned out the same car over and over again and they've got quality assurance on every step. That's not what building actually is.
Rebeka: I think too if you decide to be part of the design process and you get to be involved in that, part of the research that goes along with that actually helps you get insight to a whole lot of these different areas and understanding. When you're not involved in the design process sometimes and you just come on to site a few times once your house has been built then these things can feel quite overwhelming. It actually pays to inform yourself. Even if you're doing that method of just buying something that's been built for you or a custom or a volume builder to know the process, the regulations in the way that it all works and comes together to help get through that.
Kribashini: Things can become really big. Something that you've lived within a house and never ever noticed before will become a massive issue for you if you've had this house built for you. Do you find that?
Rebeka: Yes. Absolutely.
Kribashini: It's just this new level of, it's like we're paying all this money and it's a really emotional time and we've invested all this time and energy into getting this house right, but what we're actually doing is creating a whole heap of emotional story around which, in fairness, is not fair to what the true purpose of the building was.
Rebeka: No. It's not really fair to compare either because one building could be built completely different to another building or a new building and those methodologies are different. The materials might be different. The reactions and soil are different, the way it feels and thermal comfort could be different. We think a house is a house, but actually they're very, very different.
Kribashini: It also, and this is really hard to understand at the end of the build, when you move in it takes about 21 days to get used to a new home. Every time you move into a new home, you've spent all this money, all this time and you get there and it feels uncomfortable. You've got this kind of like, "this isn't what I'm used to. I'm changing and I've got to change the way I live and the furniture doesn't quite fit because it's not like perfectly styled"... [crosstalk].
Rebeka: We're such creatures of routine.
Kribashini: We are such creatures of routine. I guess what happens at the end of that is we don't feel great and then someone can come in and say something negative about the builder or say, "that corking's not right." Is that bullshit or is that right?
Rebeka: Or is that really just playing into our emotion and our fear and really hearing what we want to hear. It's just supporting the fact that this is a really kind of emotional thing.
Kribashini: There's these people or people that I hear, I actually, I hear them walking around, I go to a lot of open homes. I hear them walking around. [crosstalk] I'll hear them walking around and they'll have these like "I could've done that better or that tile could have been like this". It's again bullshit. It's creating a level of superiority by saying, I would have done that better. Well fucking show me, sorry. Now I've really sworn [crosstalk]. Do you know what I mean? Like if you're not actually in the game, if your hat's not in the ring and you're not doing it, how dare you criticize someone else.
Rebeka: Some people think that's like a technique as well. They think that if they go into an open home and they really like slam it, that it's going to like discourage other buyers. It's such a strange technique because whoever's going to buy that house loves it the most.
Kribashini: We had this guy, we went to one of those open homes and there was this guy, he was knocking on every window seal. When you could see that there was like holes in the windows. The back half of the house needed to be pulled down to start with and there was rot in it. You could see it but he felt the need to knock his way along the house the whole way. To pinpoint the exact location of the rot.
Rebeka: Well I think he was making a point to everyone else. There's rotting here. Like, dude, use your eyes.
The house is on a massive lean. There's no footing under there. You can kind of get the psyche of that, right?
Kribashini: Over here if you buy at auction, it's bought as a site seen. He doesn't probably have the technical understanding to know that something is fixable or not fixable. The cost implication of those things are far beyond that person's ability to understand. They kind of get go into this mode of like, Okay, well to give them the security, it's like I need to know as much as I can about this house before I buy it or nothing at all. How many people buy houses without knowing anything about them.
Rebeka: This is true. Then you kind of get into this spiral and then that plays through in the journey and the story of that person. It all feeds into then what that design might be and all those things that they need to pay for and then the construction of it and all that history is there behind that person but when they get onto site, everything feels so much more real but enormous.
Kribashini: Yes. It depends on the way we frame and the way we come at things as well. The purpose of this is not to kind of be negative on the people that are telling you this but to kind of understand where people are coming from.
Rebeka: You're right, it goes both ways. It's not just the client who might have these issues. The builder or the tradies also need to understand where that person is coming from and the journey that they've been on.
Kribashini: Yes. In this one the other day. She just had her carpet laid, right? They had crappy floors underneath, it's a really bad substrate and then her brothers come in who don't know anything about carpet and said, "Oh they've done a shit job here, haven't they?" That just sent her, who was a really anxious client in the first place. Firstly, her brother doesn't actually know anything. Secondly, it wasn't a shit job, but they could only work with the substrate they had, which they'd informed her.
Thirdly, they played into her anxiety and she is having a postnatal depression like it's a really hard time for her. Then everything that she's feeling about the emotion of getting this job done is playing out on that one thing being fixated. You can have as many independent people come through as you want, but what they've done is they've ruined that experience for her. Actually she's got great new carpet. She's in a nesting phase. She can set up the rooms she wants.
There was nothing wrong with the job but that experience will never come back for her. She'll never be able to feel happy about that because someone has come through and said something critical without actually knowing. Understanding, I guess this is the thing, right? Understanding what knowledge people have, whether they are an expert or not or whether they qualified.
Rebeka: Qualified to give you advice. I think that's probably, if we can say it, it's our first mistake. Inviting opinions of others that are not qualified or experienced enough to actually warrant that opinion. Because at the end of the day, if they're not qualified, it's just an opinion. It's not actually a fact.
Kribashini: Often we do that with the Triple F club friends, family and fools. That's the thing. People sometimes want to say something to show that they're smarter than we are and they'll pick out something negative. Here's some advice for you. If you're going to see someone's brand new home and they've invested their hard-earned money and their cash and their love and their time and they've picked all the finishes, be god damn positive.
Kribashini: Why would you say anything negative in that situation? What would it change [crosstalk]
Rebeka: There's no need to.
Kribashini: People feel the need to.
Rebeka: Don't ask how much things cost.
Kribashini: No, and say you could have done that cheaper.
Rebeka: Actually. That's like being slapped in the face with a dead fish.
Kribashini: We have this friend. Bless his cotton socks, every time he looks at one of our houses, he tells us how much he could have done things better and what he would've done better. [crosstalk] Yes, he's so helpful, but he's got no clue. Now it's just funny because he-- because we've also seen him renovate a house and it was not what we would have done. You would never say anything negative about... there is always something positive you can pick. Pick the positive. If you like the way the light comes in. "Oh my God, isn't that light amazing?"
Rebeka: The colours.
Kribashini: "The colours, isn't that brilliant? You'll be so happy here."
Rebeka: Sometimes though, just acknowledging the change. They may not have gone to the nth degree in finishes and fittings, but acknowledging a significant change or the way that the room might be used or I would normally say an increase in amenity. That's a very boring way to say it.
Kribashini: It is a very boring way to say it.
Rebeka: I couldn't think of a more fun way.
That really helps to build-- They talk to Emily, who's my seven-year old. They're all about filling her cup, filling her bucket. I just filled their bucket. It's not that hard.
Kribashini: I can just see Emily walking around with a little bucket.
Kribashini: If you ask her to pick up something up and say, "why didn't you do it?" She's like, "That's not filling my bucket." I'm like, "Okay. Sorry, but do you think might."
Rebeka: There's always something you can do to reassure someone because it is one of those times of anxiety and change. Change is hard for everyone.
Kribashini: How do you get around the bullshit curve? Do we call it the bullshit curve?
Rebeka: Yes. You can be informed. You can have a group of women. It doesn't have to be women, a group of people who are experienced and qualified and can answer your questions in an unbiased way. You can work out ahead of time who you're going to trust. You can work out what the story is behind the person who's telling you that and you can set the expectations on site for the way you want something to run.
Kribashini: If you're working with some design professionals, you might like to use them to help you fill out information. There are some great places where you can get some resources online. As Rebeka mentioned, the standards and tolerances guide.
Rebeka: What it does is it does stuff like say the quality of paint if you can't say a defect is when you're standing in normal light, a meter and a half away.
Kribashini: I think the best thing about the standards and tolerances guide is it's written in really plain English. It's really easy to understand. It doesn't have a lot of jargon. It sets stuff out quite nicely and it really gives you the variances and the ranges that you should be looking for.
Rebeka: I guess check our emotional baggage at the door if we can and have a more level response to things. If you need to go away and think about it just say, "look, I hear what you're saying. Can I just think about that?" If you need to check in with someone, check in with someone, but know that you're checking in with someone who actually has information at hand or knowledge. Just because someone's built a house before doesn't mean that maybe they're an expert in the industry. Understand where that relationship goes and what people are trying to achieve.
Kribashini: Is that it?
Rebeka: Yes, I think so.
Kribashini: There we go. Next time someone feeds you a line of bullshit, you'll have a few, hopefully trusted tools to rely on.
Rebeka: Thanks for listening to Building with BuildHer. We'd love for you to spread the word. For show notes, links and downloads and other awesome resources and freebies, head to buildhercollective.com.au. Don't forget, that's BuildHer with an H-E-R.
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