When should you refuse a project?


When you work in a service industry, you often find yourself at the mercy of your clients’ whims. Many homeowners do research into what trends are popular and what options are available to them beforehand, and sometimes they have bad information and want something that is either impractical or unsafe. Dealing with a situation where a customer wants you to circumvent the rules for a project can be a tricky, delicate process, and it’s a tough situation for both the homeowner who isn’t getting what he or she wanted, and for the professional who might even have to walk away from the work. But safety comes first, and should always take priority over style!

We asked our experts what projects they’ve had to walk away from in the past, and if they’ve noticed any trends in the types of work clients ask for that they cannot ethically provide. Answers varied across the different home industries, but a few trends stood out. To help homeowners identify these problems before getting to the awkward stage of designing a project that shouldn’t be executed, we’ve made a list of things homeowners should keep in mind.

1. Safety Features Exist for a Reason

Most industries have some form of safety feature that can sometimes get in the way of a homeowner’s daily life. For example, when your fuses are constantly blowing and leaving you unable to use all the appliances you want in your home, it’s easy to get frustrated by the experience and forget that those fuses are there for your safety. Circumventing them for convenience is never a good idea, but you don’t have to live with the frustration, either. Our expert electricians TE Certified Electricians have run into this situation a lot, and had to walk away from projects where clients wanted them to remove safety features like breakers. As they explain,

“Often times the device is just doing its job but gets blamed for the problem. Generally, a thorough diagnosis of the situation will revel the true problem and we can correct it for the homeowner. Also, once a person really understands the safety system, they appreciate the protection much more.”

Homeowners aren’t experts, and so their initial project request might not be the best solution for the problem they are trying to solve. This is why experts exist. Just because a company does not want to do what you’ve asked of them doesn’t mean they can’t fix the problem; ask for advice about ways to resolve the situation without compromising safety, and everybody will walk away safe and happy.

2. Breaking the Rules Costs You

Another common reason homeowners might propose a bad project is for financial reasons. The bottom line is important to many homeowners, and sometimes building up to code or doing a project well can seem unnecessarily costly. This is a mistake, however, as expert Nancy Baywolf-Dalton explains:

“Unusual and unsound ideas stem from “Cost savings” and in the end, they won’t be. The other end of the spectrum is a client that wants to obfuscate local codes to add something more to their home they shouldn’t otherwise be able to do. This will backfire when you sell the home and the inspection goes very poorly.”

What saves you money in the short term isn’t usually a good long-term investment, especially if you ever want to sell your house. A cut-rate project that isn’t up to code not only puts you at risk in terms of safety, but it also won’t pass inspection, meaning that you could end up having to re-do it and pay for the project twice. It’s far better to budget for higher quality work the first time around.

3. Cut-Rate Professionals Won’t Look Out for You

It can be tempting to dismiss a professional who refuses to do the project you want done and look for another, but that would be a mistake. Unfortunately, there are companies out there who only care about their own bottom lines, and won’t take your safety or real needs into consideration. Just because you can find a “professional” who will do a project doesn’t mean the project is a good idea. Pest control expert Mark Puglisi has seen it happen:

“One of the things we will not do is treating for a problem that doesn’t exist, which we call No-See-Ems, or Mystery Pest. Potential clients call for what they believe to be “bites” and wanted treatment. Unfortunately there are companies that are happy to take your money without inspecting or confirming a target pest. This is a requirement before any application of pesticide can be made.”

This is why it’s important to talk to more than one company before settling on someone do to your project, and make sure you listen to the reasons given when a company refuses your project. They could be the ones who really have your best interests at heart.

A good professional will want to work with you to ensure that your needs and desires are met, but they won’t compromise safety or their own professional integrity to do it. When what you want gets a raised eyebrow from the professionals, your first instinct might be to find someone else, but that could spell disaster in the long run. It is a far better plan to listen to advice from the professionals, and consider your options in light of any new information they provide; after all, they’re the ones who really know what they’re talking about.