do it right the first time

IMG_0934I was enjoying a delicious grilled dinner out on the patio with my husband. It was peaceful, slightly cool (for Orlando!), and quiet. We were enjoying the scenery, the casual conversation, and the good food.

And then I saw it.

A bubble on the roof of the porch. What’s that? It wasn’t there before! Doesn’t look good…

The opinion of a friend, a chat with the neighbor, calls to the HOA, and a visit from the builder all confirmed – a small missing piece of flashing on the roof meant rain water eventually got under the shingles.. and through the wood… and through the paint… and caused a big ol’ mess.

Weeks later, I’ve had many men hanging from my roof, and I’ve been seeing daylight where it shouldn’t be. I heard lots of people passing the blame – the builder should have supervised, the roofers should have done it right, the inspection guys should have seen it (turns out they don’t actually ever go ON the roof anymore), the stucco guys should have said something…and the painters…. and so on.

It has been an awful lot of work to repair one small detail that wasn’t done right the first time.

A missing three-dollar, couple-feet-long piece of flashing has required 15 or more people visiting my house, tar paper and shingles pulled off and replaced, plywood cut out and nailed back in, mold inspections, new stucco, and new paint. The builder will do further inspections over our whole roof and the roofs of all the other homes constructed by the same company in our neighborhood. Thousands of dollars worth of labor and material. Whew!

At work, I am also part of “re-modeling” work on a training project that had some “small” pieces missing. It has been ten times more difficult to “fix” the job than it would have been to create it well in the first place. A solid foundation could have saved a lot of time, frustration, blame passing… and provided a better product.

These fiascos have me thinking about my own efforts and work. Do I give my best at all I do? Am I committed to quality work? Or do I try to rush through and miss important details?  Do I supervise well? Do I speak up when I see that someone else is not doing a quality job? Or do I just care about MY part?

All work – building homes to writing training materials – requires that everyone involved do quality work to create a quality job. It’s a lot easier to do it right the first time.

What do you think? What makes you committed to doing things right? Or what makes it difficult for you?



9 thoughts on “do it right the first time

  1. Good conversation. It makes me think of the “make every effort” statements in Scripture along with the “excel still more.” God always seems to intend for us to live in tension between opposing concepts – striving and resting. Well…that’s my 2¢!


    • I’ll take your two cents anytime! 🙂 I’m grateful for the opportunities to work alongside you and learn from and with you! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read also! Happy Thanksgiving to you!


  2. my question is: is “do it right the first time” always possible? if it’s a known process that’s neglected or done poorly, then maybe. Building codes certainly provide that kind of known standard. When you’re innovating or solving problems, not all the facts may be accessible to you before you have to deliver. Creating a learning environment means that we have to be willing to fail,and to try new things before they are perfect.


    • Great thoughts, Andrea. As I mentioned in response to Maggie’s comment, it takes wisdom to know where and when there is freedom – even encouragement – to try new, and clearly imperfect, options. This appeared to be more of a negligence-of-known-standard issue, but there might have been more going on than I will ever understand. In other situations, as you mention, we want to allow – even encourage – freedom and flexibility. There the cost of hesitating or holding back might be higher than putting forth the unfinished or imperfect idea/project. You’ve given me more to think about!


  3. I agree that it should be done right in the first place. At the same time, I’ve been on the other side of the coin, with a product that was 90% perfect, the field needing it, and the designers done want to push “send.” I don’t know if it is the fear of failure or the fear of having to do the fixes, but let me just encourage friends to get what we are thinking, feeling, designing out there for others to use. Even if it isn’t perfect (which none of us are) and need to be fixed, think of all the days the roof worked and the delight you got out of it! Think of how many roofs are working around the neighborhood. I agree that we need to put out our best work as much as possible, and that “shoddy” is never acceptable. At the same time, perfection is never attainable.


    • Excellent point, Maggie! Perfection cannot be the goal. I would not want fear of failure or fear of fixing later to get in the way of moving a needed project forward. Even in this case, expecting the homes to be built perfectly before anyone could ever live in them would be ridiculous. Inevitably, there will be imperfect work in the final product – no matter how diligent the workers and the supervisors. Since I wasn’t there when the work was done originally, I don’t know if it was “shoddy” or simply unintentional, but the price of the omission still had to be paid. Some omissions are more costly than others. Some projects have more flexibility than others. I am challenged to have the wisdom to discern the difference!


  4. Wow. Wow. You just nailed it on the head–doing it right the first time. I’ll confess that at times it’s way too easy to just get by. To not give it my best because I’m tired, it doesn’t seem to matter, will anyone really notice. But you’re right–down the road I could be setting myself up for more and harder work by slacking off in the first place. That roof of yours is such a great picture of just doing it right–all that work, all that money, all that time and effort to fix what shouldn’t have been an issue in the beginning. Thanks, Ter, for the reminder that doing things with excellence matters. That what I do I do in the power and for the glory of God–not my convenience. Another prickly poke of pure wisdom, my friend!


    • Thanks, Dayle. Yes, giving our best is essential… best not meaning perfect, but certainly better than an intentially negligent quality due to tiredness or lack of concern. The other comments rightly balance the pressure to get something perfectly right when we can’t or when we don’t know better… but in a case like this one – where it appears that the person did know better and could have done better – we see the costly consequences that could have been avoided. When it is within our control – yes, excellence matters!


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