talking to strangers

I recently got an estimate to have some construction work done in my basement.  Part of the work is to install drywall.  The finished quote seemed high to me so I started to break down the line items and assign a cost to each one using industry standards.  The problem is that I have no idea what industry standards are!  There are services like Service Master and Angie’s List but I had trouble trusting their data at times.

Fast forward to a recent visit to my local convenience store when I was buying a coffee one morning.  It was around 6:30AM and the store was bustling with a number of trades workers who were also on their way to work.  While waiting in line I happened to be in front of a drywall installer.

I recognized an opportunity to get some potentially valuable and impartial information from an expert.  While we were in line I turned to him and said, “good morning, I’d be happy to pay for your coffee if you can tell me a fair rate per sq to install, tape, and mud a simple drywall install.”  He was initially surprised by the offer but accepted the deal.

Despite what your mother told you, don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.  Recognizing an opportunity to utilize a potential resource in a win (free coffee) / win (information) scenario helped me make a better decision regarding my renovation since I believed his information to be impartial.  

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