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Knowing vs Understanding

Posted By Chris Ray, Friday, December 1, 2017
 

I had an interesting conversation with a client I have been working with for the past 20 or so years.  After providing him with a Conceptual Estimate and Proposal for a building, with no plans … with no specifications … the client, ”how can you put together a price for a building project without plans and specifications?”  A very good question.

 

After a few awkward moments of silence, I said, “I do have plans and specifications.  They come from my experience over the past 30+  years of reviewing and analyzing various projects. I just don’t have them formalized in a book or plan binder.”  That didn’t seem to satisfy his curiosity. “But how do you know what I want?” he stated rather emphatically.  Again, after a few moments of painful silence, I responded ”Well, I have been working with you since the mid-90’s; and I’ve got a good feeling of what you are looking for.”

 

He left it at that and seemed satisfied with my answer. But what I really meant to say, but not wanting to tip my hand, is that not only do I know what you want but I understand what you want.

It’s this understanding that really makes an estimating team standout. Everyone will eventually know what the client wants.  That’s called the plans and specifications. But do you understand, for example, why the customer is adamant about not having his roof ever leak?  Everyone wants a roof that doesn’t leak. But why is this client so fixed on having a 20-year warranty (which we all know will eventually leak), a 5-ply BUR, with coal-tar pitch, a full-time independent inspector during installation, continuous video of all installation activities on the roof, and a 24 hour flood test?  Well, I know why.

 

I guess a big problem too many people have is that they think they know the answer, when in fact they need to understand the answer.

 

Chris Ray, CPE
National Education Committee

Tags:  education 

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