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  1. #1
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    Default Gringo Expectations Not Met

    This story is intended for all gringos who will be living in the Dominican Republic. It illustrates the necessary tasks of managing Dominican and Haitian workers in your home. This is a true story. I have annotated the text with references to the principles.

    The Principles
    1 – Have 0 expectations of the workers abilities
    2 – You will plan the project
    3 – You will supply the correct tools
    4 – You will supply materials (related you will at least need to find sources)
    5 – everything will need to be cleaned when they are finished (you will do that too)
    6 – You are QA
    7 – You need to know how the work is done so you can train them
    8 – (I hope you already know this) They will not be on-time
    9 – You must be patient and forgiving


    The Story

    I had a few loose tiles in my bedroom. I called the rental company and suggested that they be removed and re-secured and since they were rocking and that a delay would probably result in breakage. A few weeks later one broke and 2 weeks after that I got a call that someone would be out and 2 weeks later someone came out to scope the job and two weeks later three workers arrived to do the work. They were scheduled to arrive in the AM but arrived in the PM. (8-9)

    Tile work can be very dusty. They had no vacuum, no mop, no broom, no masks and no plans to cover my furniture or in general to control the dust. Their plan was to replace the broken tile with a less visible one and then replace the less visible one (sacrificial) with a new tile. They did not have the replacement tile and did not know where they could get a near match. (1-2-3-4-5-9)

    Fortunately, I had made a trip to the local largest supplier of ceramic tile and found a very close match. I gave them the name of the supplier and they sent someone to pick-up a tile. (2-4-9)

    They started work immediately by preparing to remove the grout around the eight tiles. Their tool was an angle grinder with a concrete wheel. The wheel was thicker than the grout gap. It was the wrong tool and I chose not to object and I drew a picture of the correct tool for their background. They plugged it in and started to grind (no I did not leave out any steps like covering stuff). They used m extension cord (1-2-3-7-9). I did object to that and drew pictures of the tent that was necessary (they had no vacuum). They got some plastic tarp and tried to rig a tent more to satisfy me than to create a functional tent. I objected and the work stopped. (1-2-3-4-7-9)

    We made a trip to the hardware store for tent materials (PVC pipe, tape and fittings, plastic). They had no saw to cut the pipe and I loaned them my hack saw. (1-3-9) They tried to hold the pipe and cut it at the same time; that doesn't work. I showed them how to support the pipe and cut it. (1-3-7-9) They used their tape measure; one of the three or four tools they brought.

    The idea of dust barrier was new to them. But I was patient and showed them how to build it. It worked well. However, the plastic as not secured to the floor despite having put two rolls of tape in their hands. So, some dust escaped. I didn't object. The tent worked fairly well. They breathed enough dust to shorten their lives by one month each. I gave them a rag to wear over their mouths and noses. (1-3-7-9)

    The second day they came ready to work at 8AM. I supplied coffee and a muffin. (9) They immediately started to chisel the floor as is necessary. However, they covered nothing. I objected and we used a plastic sheet I had bought to cover the furniture.(1-3-5-9)

    The process of reinstalling the tiles was going well except that the thin-set adhesive had bubbles of dry adhesive because the only mixing tool was a brick laying trowel. I didn't object. They planned to lay the tile in the thin-set without first back-buttering the tile with thin-set.(1-7-9) I objected and they complied. A street vendor came by and I sprung for coconut drinks. (9)

    I was feeling good like they could not possibly find a surprise for me.(1-9) So while I was lounging I heard them removing the sacrificial tile from the clothes closet. Later I went up to inspect. They had removed the tile and put it into the field as planned and replaced the closet tile with the new tile. Perfect. I asked them if the had used the angle grinder. Yep. I objected that it had thrown up dust. They said not a problem: they had closed the door on the closet when grinding. If my clothes could have talked they world have objected.(1-5-9) I walked away and I will wash my clothes after they are done. (1-9)

    Clean up was simple for them. They swept the trash over the balcony. I objected and together we went down to pick up the trash. (1-5-7-9) They said they would return at 8AM the next day.

    They returned after 8AM (1-8-9). I supplied coffee and toast (9). They then told be they could not work because that did not have the grout needed. (1-4-9). The left to get grout and said they would be back in the afternoon. Bellon is 10 minutes away and they had transportation. (1-4-8-9).

    It is now afternoon and they are not back. When they apply the grout the process is to use a “float” that presses the grout deep into the gap between the tiles. Yesterday I drew a picture of one for them. They found me to be very entertaining and good at drawing but made it clear that a “float” was not in their tool set. (1-3-7-9). I did not object (1-9)

    to be continued …

    Conclusion

    You should not hire work out to either Haitians or Dominicans unless you first have (1) and (9). Then only proceed if you can also supply (3) through (8).

  2. #2
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    wait, it took 3 days to replace one tile?

  3. #3
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    8 tiles. In a contiguous area.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derfish View Post
    If you have to have the skill to do it before hiring anyone, why not do it yourself?
    I rent. It needs to look good but I don't need to do it. Well, maybe I do.

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  6. #5
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    Fantastic, fabulous story! Love it!

    Frank

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  8. #6
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    It is a good story, very entertaining. And it can be true.

    But for those who are thinking of living here, or maybe already are, the point I would add to those of the OP is, when you can, pick your workers with care. There are good workmen in the DR in all fields, you just need to find them.

    The OP is renting and felt he had to use the people sent by management to do the job. But if you are having the work done, ask around for recommendations. A question posted on DR1 is one good option.

  9. #7
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    Don't get me started. One lesson I learned over time, don't be shy to tell them how to do their job, that they have been carrying out for years.

  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    It is a good story, very entertaining. And it can be true.

    But for those who are thinking of living here, or maybe already are, the point I would add to those of the OP is, when you can, pick your workers with care. There are good workmen in the DR in all fields, you just need to find them.

    The OP is renting and felt he had to use the people sent by management to do the job. But if you are having the work done, ask around for recommendations. A question posted on DR1 is one good option.
    You beat me to it Ken. There are plenty of skilled workers in the DR. You don't hire a jack-of-all-trades to do nothing. Obviously the workers doing the work for the OP are NOT tile installers or the job would have been done correctly the first day.

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  12. #9
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    1. Ask around and get recommendations.
    2. When they start, watch their every move and coach them if necessary.
    3. If your are not happy, get rid of them and start the process again or do it yourself.

    A few other points...

    I have never seen a worker use a vacuum cleaner.
    Lower your expectations, that way you get the chance to be pleasantly surprised.
    Don't give them coffee, muffins or toast, unless they do an outstanding job

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  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert View Post
    1. Ask around and get recommendations.
    2. When they start, watch their every move and coach them if necessary.
    3. If your are not happy, get rid of them and start the process again or do it yourself.

    A few other points...

    I have never seen a worker use a vacuum cleaner.
    Lower your expectations, that way you get the chance to be pleasantly surprised.
    Don't give them coffee, muffins or toast, unless they do an outstanding job
    Especially #2..........you have to be there and monitor everything...........
    Even then, they still want to do it their way........

    B in Santiago

  15. Likes MerengueDutchie liked this post
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