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  1. #5426
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastfred View Post
    every day sucks balls in my world
    I am someones banker, best friend, and social worker all wrapped into one plus the whole building end of things
    had a customer start to have a melt down last week all I do is listen agree and be positive it's all part of the gig I saw it coming and new it was going to get ugly and it did

    managing materials is crazy right now imagine being told they don't have the paint you want you can't get electrical boxes a salesman is hunting down the trim you need because no one is going to bend on what they want and suddenly it's hard to get cabinets and windows need to be ordered 3-6 months before you start the job

    I like the doctors office shit, that's funny being in and out of the drs offices constantly for the past two years patience is something I've learned you just sit back and wait was at the cardiologists office awhile ago and the one of the drs wife just had a baby so the dr was out and they were backed up some guy was going ape shit and was going to shit a brick and throw it at the receptionist cause he had sat around for over an hour bro that's not good for your health being that stressed
    Generally, we lack perspective. You aren’t a special unique snowflake who has it harder than everybody else. I genuinely feel sorry for the guys (and gals) who break their bodies with repetitive and endless hard manual labor. But none of the shit you describe as “hard” is any different than my job that I too frequently grind 70+ hour weeks doing. And I’m a banker. They literally make jokes about how easy my job is.

    Y’all contractors need to get over yourself.
    focus.

  2. #5427
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    Eh, I'll take banking over being a GC again any day.
    All the shit Fred said is a major drag and dealing with people over the phone or email will always be easier than putting up with their shit in person.
    Working 12 hours from home NBD, working 10 hours commuting, dealing with peoples small dramas, no thanks.

  3. #5428
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    I'm just trying to get across what us contractors are a salty lot. The customer wants the world from us. But they don't want to pay that price. They want unlimited free estimates and if we don't like it we're the bad guy. Y'all said it yourself; here's some gems from this page...

    Quote Originally Posted by glademaster View Post
    60 miles round-trip is an imposition?!
    Yup, taking 3 hours out of the middle of the day to come do some pro-bono work is an imposition.

    Quote Originally Posted by schuss View Post
    Ha, I've been ghosted by so many contractors or they call 5 minutes after the appointment starts saying they're 45 away. My bar for decent contractor is "shows up within 15 minutes of the time they set" because most are so shitty.
    Yup, if we're not on-time to our free consultation because we're taking care of paying work, we're shitbags

    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    If I drove 45 mins to meet a prospective client and they blew me off I'd be pissed too.
    Weird

    Quote Originally Posted by snoqpass View Post
    “Hey I have some loose railing and some deck that needs fixing before it snow”
    “Um you have 5 rotten decks going up 3 stories, one deck failing , the giant center post...I can poke my finger halfway through, the railing is falling off, the broken gutter has been leaking right where the beam is sagging on the exterior wall which probably has water damage too who knows how far down....$50-100k easy, a month or two project then depending if and when the supplier can get everything....and it will start snowing in a couple weeks...”
    The shear number of jobs out there that are actually EXACTLY LIKE THIS is mind-blowing. People stopped working on their own homes and doing manual labor sometime in the 70's and it's been a progressive downslide ever since. So when YOU go out to your 20th free estimate visit to check out a project with an owner who thinks they know what's going on, only to unlock a pandora's box of problems that blow their budget to kingdom come, you get the honor of delivering the bad news of how they're royally fucked in 10 different ways, being called a liar, cheat and scumbag, all while not generating any revenue. AND since that homeowner thinks you're a liar and cheat, they're going to try and get 9 other contractors to come and tell them the same thing, instead of perhaps realizing they are the one with the problem.

    Fred and other contracting folks here, I'm curious what your overall hit rate of # of contracts signed vs. jobs bid actually is. In my heavy civil world, it's only about a 10-12% hit rate.

    I get it that communication is key. Communication is a two way street though, and most homeowners don't get that. I got my second story remodel done in 4 months during covid. You know how I did that? Because I talked to my contractor. I walked the site daily and noted things I wanted changed while the people doing the work were right there doing it. I knew when he needed to have decisions by on finishes and I beat every major decision date by two weeks. I made decisions on issues the same day the issue arose. I paid him within 5 days of the milestones we agreed upon. And now this contractor is remodeling houses for 3 of my friends based upon my recommendation, but I also warned my friends that it only works like this if they have the world laid out at his feet so he can focus on execution, not on holding your hand as you pick out cabinet pulls.

    Why do contractors take on more work than they can really accomplish? Because just like XXX-ers Doc, you can bank on almost every job having some point where the owner will change their mind on something and it will derail the schedule. And now what? Your work is stopped because you're waiting for that imported Italian tile and your good crew will leave you if you don't have work for them because they need a paycheck too. Then your brand suffers because you finished the job with some day-labor you scrounged up and they don't know what they're doing. So you take on side work and learn to juggle so your crew can deal with these hiccups. If you can just let a contractor build the job, it's amazing what they can actually do.
    Wait, how can we trust this guy^^^ He's clearly not DJSapp

  4. #5429
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustonen View Post
    Generally, we lack perspective. You aren’t a special unique snowflake who has it harder than everybody else. I genuinely feel sorry for the guys (and gals) who break their bodies with repetitive and endless hard manual labor. But none of the shit you describe as “hard” is any different than my job that I too frequently grind 70+ hour weeks doing. And I’m a banker. They literally make jokes about how easy my job is.

    Y’all contractors need to get over yourself.
    Don't you bankers have a thread to complain in?
    www.apriliaforum.com

    "If the road You followed brought you to this,of what use was the road"?

    "I have no idea what I am talking about but would be happy to share my biased opinions as fact on the matter. "
    Ottime

  5. #5430
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustonen View Post
    You aren’t a special unique snowflake who has it harder than everybody else.
    Just curious, how often do customers blow up in your face because they think they can do exactly what you do better/faster/cheaper? There's a whole world of folks out there that are ready to tell builders just how terrible they are any day of the week.

    Yes, the days are long all over. And the work is hard in plenty of occupations. But I'd only put food service and retail sales up against contracting for the level of customer abuse that we're expected to endure on any given day.
    Wait, how can we trust this guy^^^ He's clearly not DJSapp

  6. #5431
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    Home Remodel: Do, Don'ts, Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Not DJSapp View Post
    Just curious, how often do customers blow up in your face because they think they can do exactly what you do better/faster/cheaper? There's a whole world of folks out there that are ready to tell builders just how terrible they are any day of the week.

    Yes, the days are long all over. And the work is hard in plenty of occupations. But I'd only put food service and retail sales up against contracting for the level of customer abuse that we're expected to endure on any given day.
    Adorable. You think the customers are only terrible to you? You think people are relaxed about their money? You wouldn’t last a week in our contact center. You’d quit and go do something better. Like contracting. For better pay.
    focus.

  7. #5432
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not DJSapp View Post
    .

    And if you're not the contractor's first appointment of the day at 6am, it's a gamble if they're going to be on time. You're not a beautiful and unique snowflake and there is a business and other projects to manage all at the same time. You don't care that the reason they're late to your free estimate is because they had to go to 3 different supply houses to get the parts to keep the crew going so that other project finishes on time because shit hit the fan for whatever reason.
    This is why I didn’t last working for a contractor (civil). “Hey, drop whatever you are in the middle of and solve my problem.” 3 hours later I still have a 10 hour day of my own work that didn’t go away.

    Fuck that.

    I also couldn't deal with the "customer" IE- public employee inspector on site all day who didn't have enough to do so thought they should be managing crews, material deliveries, asking for random shit that wasn't in the spec/plans, etc.
    Last edited by old_newguy; 10-13-2021 at 08:49 AM.

  8. #5433
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not DJSapp View Post

    Fred and other contracting folks here, I'm curious what your overall hit rate of # of contracts signed vs. jobs bid actually is. In my heavy civil world, it's only about a 10-12% hit rate.
    Ouch. If that were my experience I'd probably be bitter about writing bids too. For me it's probably more like 75% of the people I meet whose jobs I actually want end up hiring me. I don't even bother to write actual bids anymore: I just explain that shit is crazy and that we can't get materials, subs, or employees and that they should wait if they can. Then I give them a T&M contract, which they inevitably sign and say they want to start ASAP. That literally happened today.

    To address OG's earlier question about the saying yes phenomenon, I don't have a great answer. I say no much more often than ever, and it's great. I suspect people are afraid of the work pipeline running dry so they don't think they can say no.

    I am way less salty than other GCs, it seems. Maybe that's because I don't have ambitions to own a fancy boat or a hudge Diesel truck, so I don't work all the time. If I finish a job and don't feel like working for a few months I'm perfectly happy, and my guys will find other stuff to do and then come back to work for me when I find another interesting project because I pay them well and treat them with respect.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  9. #5434
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not DJSapp View Post
    Just curious, how often do customers blow up in your face because they think they can do exactly what you do better/faster/cheaper? There's a whole world of folks out there that are ready to tell builders just how terrible they are any day of the week.

    Yes, the days are long all over. And the work is hard in plenty of occupations. But I'd only put food service and retail sales up against contracting for the level of customer abuse that we're expected to endure on any given day.
    If this is happening to you regularly (and it's not justified), you need to screen your customers better. Or maybe where you live people are just super duper assholes. Here, at least, people are so stoked to find an honest contractor who shows up on time and doesn't gouge them that they treat us like princes.

    Food service and retail (I've done both) can't choose their customers, but we can. Of course every so often I make a bad call and a customer turns out to not be super cool, but I walk away from the red flags early on and save myself the hassle.
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  10. #5435
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    used to close 30% of the jobs I estimated (I don't bid)
    a few years ago I got smarter and don't estimate many jobs anymore
    a majority of the time I'm the only one doing an estimate for a job other times (20%) it's 2-4 people and we are all on the same level of competence usually 2 of them won't estimate or aren't interested
    since I prescreen people pretty well now, I'm usually at a 80-90% close rate
    it's a game and you learn the hard way after many years how to size people up how not to waste time
    usually my referrals and background and long list of happy customers I just get handed jobs these days

    customers all say the same stupid things, if they nail 3 or 4 of the 12 dumb ass lines I'm out the door

    looked at a potential job and the people wanted to start now (this was a year ago, fall 2020) I told them I'm 6-12 months out before starting and it was going to be a 9-12 month job they didn't like what I had to say so they went with another guy I know, I've known him for over 20 years and have alot of respect for the guy, they haven't started yet, probably won't start till spring of 22 and the other contractor and I have talked about teaming up on the job because it's so big and complicated, 15 year old house, massive views, elevator, 8k sq ft, highly visible from most of the ski area, the customer doesn't like the interior so they want to gut it, rebuild and redo, my kind of people

    fyi I have 8 legit employees all on payroll w/c etc, number of subs, manage 3-4 large scale jobs at a time, invoice anywhere from 150k - 200k a month on average

  11. #5436
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Striker View Post
    Or at least misunderstood.

    OG, the reason that a GFCI is better than nothing on a two conductor is that if there's a short, the current will spike and trip it.

    Another thing that's misunderstood, is that protections built into your home's electrical system are primarily to prevent the house from burning down. You can definitely still get electrocuted.

    edit to add qualifications: I've pulled a lot of wire
    Resurrecting this GFCI conversation....

    I have this going on in my house, two outlets that aren't grounded that I'd like to ground by converting over to GFCI that are fed by old two wire wiring (old, fabric covered stuff from the 1950's). However, I'm pretty sure I'm trading one problem for another if I stuff a GFCI in the old box since it won't be even close to modern wire fill requirements. I'm concerned about fire hazard with that old insulation since it is 50/50 if it falls apart when you mess with it.

    House is a mixed bag of updated wiring with the most recent stuff being romex NM. I'm tempted to just pull in new conductors as I have good access to the wiring runs. They ran everything through the top plate with the runs in the attic or in the crawlspace through the bottom plate, so it's easy to find the run and pull new wire.

    Electricians are a) hard to find right now and b) expensive. Anyone ever have any luck with doing like 80% of the work yourself and then having someone do the panel hookups and connections for you? IE - I would pull out old wiring, drill holes, set boxes, and pull in new and have electrician make the connections. And/or consult to basically review your work before a code inspection? Thoughts on the current cost of romex versus a year ago?

    I can read and understand NEC, but I'm perfectly aware that just because I read it in a book doesn't mean I actually know how to implement things correctly.

  12. #5437
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    How long does it take you guys to write an estimate (outside of the 60-90 minutes you spend with the customer discussing the job)?

  13. #5438
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    ^^ If you can find a sparky who will be ok with that plan (unlikely, unless he's a friend), it might work. The old wire will (should) be stapled to the studs a few inches from the boxes whether it's coming from above or below, though, so good luck pulling it out of there. In the same vein, it will be impossible to re-staple your new wire, so there's no way to satisfy that code requirement.

    I've seen ground conductors only added to 2 wire outlets from the crawl space before. You then run them all to a bus bar and voila, you have ground. IDK if this is legal, but logic says it will work and be way easier than your plan.

    Old houses...
    ride bikes, climb, ski, travel, cook, work to fund former, repeat.

  14. #5439
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    Quote Originally Posted by climberevan View Post
    ^^ If you can find a sparky who will be ok with that plan (unlikely, unless he's a friend), it might work. The old wire will (should) be stapled to the studs a few inches from the boxes whether it's coming from above or below, though, so good luck pulling it out of there. In the same vein, it will be impossible to re-staple your new wire, so there's no way to satisfy that code requirement.

    I've seen ground conductors only added to 2 wire outlets from the crawl space before. You then run them all to a bus bar and voila, you have ground. IDK if this is legal, but logic says it will work and be way easier than your plan.

    Old houses...
    Yeah, old houses.

    Seems just as difficult to run a ground wire to the existing outlet as running new wire, but I don’t have any experience with this…

    I’m thinking that the existing wire probably isn’t stapled inside the wall based on what I have seen so far. But you never know until you get started on these things….

    At least this 1950s house has had less hacky DIY shit done to it than my last 1929 house I remodeled. There was a lot of “oh, why the fuck would you do that?” and another trip to the hardware store.

  15. #5440
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirbumpsalot View Post
    How long does it take you guys to write an estimate (outside of the 60-90 minutes you spend with the customer discussing the job)?
    depends on the size of the job

    6-24 hrs that includes the initial meeting my estimates range from 4-20 pages and end up being part of the contract
    also have a contract that I send to people if they seem wishy washy, the contract says I'll get paid to do the estimate, 90% of the people balk at signing it
    I look at alot of construction defect, fucked up by someone else jobs, I'm clear that they get one hr consultation with me and everything after that is billable, again 90% of them don't hire me, usually because they are broke and went with the cheap guy and are in a world of hurt already and all the numbers that come out of my mouth make them freak even more

    being upfront with people within the first five minutes weeds out alot of stuff construction time frames, start dates, and ball parks usually do the trick

  16. #5441
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    @DJ - you're only a shit bag if you no show/no call/no text/no email
    I get it that my estimate may not be your top priority, but if you can't take 5 minutes to let me know shit came up for something you committed to - yeah, not hiring you.
    It's tremendously annoying to move meetings around, clear part of your day and get back home only to wait at your doorstep for 30 minutes for someone who's not coming and tosses you a half assed apology when you reach out the next day because they didn't. That's happened on probably 5 separate occasions. I'll stand by the assertion that they're shit bags, like the person who's not there when you show up to do an estimate.

  17. #5442
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    I'm half smirking because I'm just stirring the pot here. I know there are plenty of shitbag contractors out there and we've earned our rep in a lot of ways. Communication is the key to success, on both sides.

    Fred, I keep thinking I got this all wrong in working in the low bidder heavy civil world. FWIW, I'm currently staring down the barrel of a 4 month long estimate for a nine figure job. As far as we can tell it's a 1 in 3 chance we'll even get it, which is great odds for us. To top it all off, the contract is one sided to the point it basically says 'If something in this contract is illegal, you waive your rights to sue for the illegal contract terms.' Yeah, it won't hold up in court, but that's what we're dealing with here. We don't really get to filter out our clients as the public works arena is very small.
    Wait, how can we trust this guy^^^ He's clearly not DJSapp

  18. #5443
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not DJSapp View Post
    I'm half smirking because I'm just stirring the pot here. I know there are plenty of shitbag contractors out there and we've earned our rep in a lot of ways. Communication is the key to success, on both sides.

    Fred, I keep thinking I got this all wrong in working in the low bidder heavy civil world. FWIW, I'm currently staring down the barrel of a 4 month long estimate for a nine figure job. As far as we can tell it's a 1 in 3 chance we'll even get it, which is great odds for us. To top it all off, the contract is one sided to the point it basically says 'If something in this contract is illegal, you waive your rights to sue for the illegal contract terms.' Yeah, it won't hold up in court, but that's what we're dealing with here. We don't really get to filter out our clients as the public works arena is very small.
    Ha, I get it. Most people have zero clue how shit is actually built or the complexities of bad lots/planning etc.
    It's stunning the shit I see on our local planning board that people think is a good idea, then get mad when we point out the number of laws and rules they violate just right off the bat. Sorry, you don't get to compromise public water sources because it costs less.

  19. #5444
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    I wanted to get the front steps and walkway redone recently and we couldn't find a mason or earliest was a Jan-Feb start date. One guy wanted $15K which I thought was rich. I have a 25mi commute to the office and started jotting down the phone numbers on the side of contractor trucks I passed. I figured if the truck is well maintained and not beat to shit maybe the guy is gonna do a good job. This is sorta working for me so far as I found a mason who did a great job in 1 week on a 3 week lead time and for half of the high bid. I also found a carpenter to rebuild a portion of a garden shed this way. Both guys were super nice and did great work, and I'm a picky SOB.
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  20. #5445
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    Quote Originally Posted by Not DJSapp View Post
    I'm half smirking because I'm just stirring the pot here. I know there are plenty of shitbag contractors out there and we've earned our rep in a lot of ways. Communication is the key to success, on both sides.

    Fred, I keep thinking I got this all wrong in working in the low bidder heavy civil world. FWIW, I'm currently staring down the barrel of a 4 month long estimate for a nine figure job. As far as we can tell it's a 1 in 3 chance we'll even get it, which is great odds for us. To top it all off, the contract is one sided to the point it basically says 'If something in this contract is illegal, you waive your rights to sue for the illegal contract terms.' Yeah, it won't hold up in court, but that's what we're dealing with here. We don't really get to filter out our clients as the public works arena is very small.
    Sure. Contractors are a whiney shit-stirring lot, generally, IME. Want to hear them REALLY bitch? Don’t invite them to bid for one of those jobs they’d bitch about having to write a bid for. Good god the petty shit they stir….
    focus.

  21. #5446
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    when times were really tough a ski buddy seen a load of pipe on a truck so he got in his truck and followed it to the job site, got the work, definatley a go-get-ur, I offered to buy him a beer this week cuz we are all retired and got lotsa time & money but he is busy running a hoe this week while i just run my e-bike
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  22. #5447
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timberridge View Post
    I wanted to get the front steps and walkway redone recently and we couldn't find a mason or earliest was a Jan-Feb start date. One guy wanted $15K which I thought was rich. I have a 25mi commute to the office and started jotting down the phone numbers on the side of contractor trucks I passed. I figured if the truck is well maintained and not beat to shit maybe the guy is gonna do a good job. This is sorta working for me so far as I found a mason who did a great job in 1 week on a 3 week lead time and for half of the high bid. I also found a carpenter to rebuild a portion of a garden shed this way. Both guys were super nice and did great work, and I'm a picky SOB.
    Same strategy worked for me too - I was looking at an estimate that felt pretty steep from what was admittedly a blue-chip local firm - $14k to tear off fir t&g porch flooring on a 150 sq foot porch and replace. Started looking at contractor trucks in the neighborhood, saw one crew that was doing good work, and called them. They were waiting for materials on their other job in my neighborhood, so they squeezed me in while they were waiting...came in around half what the other firm had estimated. Definitely been burned by the lowest bidder in the past, but worked out this time.

  23. #5448
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    okay question for the collective

    i'm leveling a floor in order to start installing bamboo flooring - using self leveling compound. 90% of the project area is already close to level and i doubt i could improve upon it. one room is dramatically off-level, and so far i've put 9 bags of concrete in it to raise it. i'm getting close to level, but i did each pour individually more or less, so there are weird ridges and such.

    thinking the best way to address those small ridges is just to get a big trash can and mix up 5 bags all at once and do one final big pour. then, i'll take an angle grinder to any high spots. thoughts on this approach? is there a better way to do this?

  24. #5449
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan_pdx View Post
    Same strategy worked for me too - I was looking at an estimate that felt pretty steep from what was admittedly a blue-chip local firm - $14k to tear off fir t&g porch flooring on a 150 sq foot porch and replace. Started looking at contractor trucks in the neighborhood, saw one crew that was doing good work, and called them. They were waiting for materials on their other job in my neighborhood, so they squeezed me in while they were waiting...came in around half what the other firm had estimated. Definitely been burned by the lowest bidder in the past, but worked out this time.
    It's not going to be all unicorns and rainbows all the time, but I think it's as good a way to find people as any other. I've contacted people through other methods like a Google search, they show up in a truck with dirty work tools tossed all over in the back looking like an Upstate porch. How can you do a quality job if you can't even be bothered to take care of your equipment?
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

  25. #5450
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    Quote Originally Posted by tgapp View Post
    okay question for the collective

    i'm leveling a floor in order to start installing bamboo flooring - using self leveling compound. 90% of the project area is already close to level and i doubt i could improve upon it. one room is dramatically off-level, and so far i've put 9 bags of concrete in it to raise it. i'm getting close to level, but i did each pour individually more or less, so there are weird ridges and such.

    thinking the best way to address those small ridges is just to get a big trash can and mix up 5 bags all at once and do one final big pour. then, i'll take an angle grinder to any high spots. thoughts on this approach? is there a better way to do this?
    Can you video the part where you mix 5 bags of cement in the trash can and dump it onto the floor?
    "timberridge is terminally vapid" -- a fortune cookie in Yueyang

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