story of job site cleanliness

The Paring Knife and the Pecan Pick: The night that lead to industry-leading jobsite cleanliness

Posted on by Branch Contractors

A dirty jobsite is a pet peeve of mine. There is absolutely no excuse for a messy or unorganized project. The cleanliness and orderliness of a job is a direct reflection of the people doing the work. I used to be that guy who did the work, made the mess, and spent more time and money cleaning up my mess than I did making it. Working messy is no way to make a customer happy, and it is not the way to make money either.

I will never forget the last time that I did not take time to properly protect and maintain my work area. About 10 years ago, I had built a really nice screened-in living space. It had tongue and groove floors, wall and ceilings, a stacked stone full masonry fireplace with many bells and whistles. It was something I was proud of. As nice as it was, I still lacked the level of detail that, as a result of this project, I now have.

The job went great, but on the last day, after all work and cleanup was complete, I scheduled what I thought was the final walk-thru and had planned to pick up my last payment. The customer and I walked around the project, checked off each item, and then, out of nowhere, this customer, pointed out grit that had gotten between the boards. Now remember, this is on the exterior, it had pressure treated wood, which shrinks and causes gaps. Anyway, he handed me a paring knife and a pecan pick and said that as soon as I cleaned all of the grit from between the boards I could get paid. So, I took the pick, the knife, and a shop-vac and started cleaning. This was a Thursday and payroll was Friday, so I had to stay until about 10:00 p.m. cleaning this porch so I could get paid.

I will never forget this, and learned a lesson that I will never repeat. The point of this story: It takes a lot less time to cover and protect than it does to cleanup. So take the time and prepare.