Going up? – or – Going down?

Being made redundant has advantages. You – eventually – get some money, and it gives you the opportunity to think about what to do next.

It’s not like voluntarily leaving a job and just going for another. You have the breathing space with the redundancy money, however large or small (usually small in our case), you can take a few weeks holiday after not having taken holiday for the last 18 months (so you also have the holiday pay), and you can get on with all the things you never had time to do while you were working every day of the week. Well, occasionally Sunday was free. Usually occupied by sleeping.

Setting up a business in Gib involves registering at Companies House, and depending on the trade/profession, getting a trading licence (needed for construction), registering with the employment office, and finally, registering the business with the tax office.

Having jumped through those hoops you sit back and wait for the work to roll in. Except it doesn’t. As ever, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Luckily by then we had a few contacts. One of them was asked to quote for a job, but as he didn’t have a legit business, he asked us to look at it, and agreed to work for us should we get it.

This was a big job, four separate blocks in the same prestigious apartment complex, staircases – painting the wrought iron and varnishing the hand rails, hallways, landings, doors, window frames, walls, cornices, ceilings, replacing some ceiling tiles, and painting and varnishing the lifts.

There was months worth of work here, not just for us and our contact, but also for four or five other painters who we knew.

The agent didn’t have a spec sheet, so I went home and wrote my own. After more than 20 years of doing the books and paperwork and estimates for Partner’s UK business it wasn’t difficult. Just time-consuming. There were a lot of clauses. There always are on my estimates. They also included stage payments and materials up front.

Our contact suggested one price. We added 30 odd percent on top of that. He works on the black so doesn’t have to pay tax and social, nor does he employ people, so his on-costs are minimal. He also underprices jobs.

I submitted our estimate and made sure I got a receipt.

We waited. Nothing. Nothing at all. Not even an acknowledgement, a query, an it’s too dear. Just nada.

It was a good price and an excellent estimate/specification.

It was so good that they used it, gave it to the painting firm who normally did the work and told him to undercut us as he had put in a price that was more expensive than ours.

Lesson learned. That was a serious money job and would have been a great start to our business. It wasn’t to be. It would never have happened and we were just being used. I got my revenge against the agency in a different way and believe me, I relished (and still do) every single minute of it.

Is revenge best served cold? I think it certainly tastes sweeter after time. It still brings a smile to my face.

I no longer provide a detailed estimate. Everyone gets a ball park figure and they are told if they want to pay the price and agree to it, THEN I will write down what we will do for it. It’s not how I like to work, but if all people are interested in is price, why should I waste my time and expertise providing detailed information for them to give to someone else?

We have redecorated one flat in this block, again courtesy of our contact who was too busy to do it so passed the work to us.

En-suite bathroom after redec

En-suite bathroom after redec

We were asked to quote for another person who we had done work for before in his other flat and a couple of small jobs in his flat in this block (yes he has two flats in Gib). His wife didn’t seem to know what she wanted doing, so I never provided a price or an estimate.

Months later I got an email saying they were waiting for our estimate. This is code for ‘We’ve rung round some other people but not got a cheap enough price so now we are coming back to you.’

I said we would need to visit again as it was so long ago (!), knocked five hundred off the price Partner suggested and we never heard a peep from them.

These are flats that cost at least half a million pounds. They want their extremely large flats painting for a few hundred quid. Life doesn’t work like that. And neither do we.

Finally, next to this same block is another swanky complex. We were asked to price for paperhanging a couple of feature walls. Similarly-priced flats, and this couple and their family own three or more shops down Main Street in Gib.

‘Oh I’m afraid that’s too expensive for us,’ she said on receipt of my email. She said the same to another decorator we know. We had the last laugh though. The other decorator didn’t know who they had finally found to hang their paper cheaply but he did manage to hang it upside down πŸ˜€

Pay peanuts? In Gib you definitely get monkeys.

The header self-portrait image shows me attempting to photo the lift although showing rather more of me and Partner, staircase behind us.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge


12 comments on “Going up? – or – Going down?”

  1. […] Going up? – or going down? | Every picture tells one […]


  2. […] Going up? – or going down? | Every picture tells one […]


  3. […] Going up? – or going down? | Every picture tells one […]


  4. this is an incredible colour by DT, just so i don’t forget to say it. am finally stopping by on my laptop. i read this on the ‘full view’ on my cell phone previously, but it couldn’t do it justice.
    nice selfies! i was trying to figure out how the elevator worked and how it fit in the building because the centre image and the one on the left seemed to somehow belong together until i realized that you had created a diptych for your main image. Or rather a triptych, if there is such a word πŸ™‚
    anyhow, what a huge job. and that bathroom is not a small one. great tile work. was that part of your work too?
    sounds like the road to self-employment is full of lessons and experiences. And potential blog posts! πŸ˜€


    • it’s a good one isn’t it? πŸ™‚ I love the depth and the richness. There are tans, and taupes and beiges, and then there is chocolate brown, or mahogany, or dark oak or whatever you choose to call it in a whole nother league.

      It is indeed a triptych:

      triptych |ˈtriptik|
      a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece.
      β€’ a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.
      ORIGIN mid 18th cent.(denoting a set of three writing tablets hinged or tied together): from tri- β€˜three,’ on the pattern of diptych.

      Which I am more familiar with than diptychs as I studied a lot of triptychs as part of my degree. There are some fascinating ones.

      I could have flipped the first image so that the two images would have mirrored each other which would have been interesting but I’ve only just thought of that. And a proper triptych has three separate images, usually denoting a story (religious) so this is more in keeping.

      It was a huge job. Would have funded us nicely for the year. Instead we had to pull out of savings. The roller coaster of self-employment. No, we didn’t do the tiles, although we can. There are pix floating around on roughseas of our kitchen in Spain which we did.

      I hate the term selfies. Hence using self-portrait. Although as selfies sounds almost like selfish, it is not too inaccurate I suppose.


      • our comments just missed each other over at p&k. thanks for the info on triptychs, it was actually just a guess but seemed to make sense.
        and yes, the richness of this deep colour. timmy’s posts tend to fall on brown backgrounds but his colouring is too ginger to produce something so regal-looking.
        not sure if i like the word selfies, myself. apparently a new word for 2013. i will give it some time.
        anyhow, time to call it a day for me. good night – or rather, have a great day!


        • Yes, I did catch your comments/replies but I was over on roughseas and clouds!

          Poor old Timmy does get his fair share of ginger colouring doesn’t he? A bit like Pippa will always get beige. Even before beige became the new grey/mustard.

          Well I don’t like it, and that’s that. But I’m not a fan of new words like that when there is a better older option ie self-portrait.

          Good morning πŸ˜€


  5. […] Going up? – or going down? | Every picture tells one […]


  6. […] Going up? – or going down? | Every picture tells one […]


  7. Your experience took my memory back to a long ago enterprise I was involved in, where I drafted the terms and conditions for the reverse of quotation forms and invoices. A particular client fought every bit of it, and then stole them for his own. Adding insult to injury he’d asked me to do research work but didn’t go ahead with the project so didn’t want to pay. It pays to know a lot more about your associates than they realise. I got the cash, but he couldn’t understand why I’d do no further work. To him it was all a game. Not me. My experiences with self-employment have mostly been underwhelming and way in the past.
    I do love the DT colours. I bought on sale ridiculously, wonderfully cheap, beautiful wedge heel, faux-suede peep toe shoes in the outside colour, to wear to my sister’s wedding.


    • The DT colour is gorgeous isn’t it? It might be going through a brown phase in all shades at the moment but the deep ones are lovely. The one a few posts back for Juxtaposition worked nicely, but this is much better. The last three posts have been some brown shade or other, and the two before were lilacy. Bizarre. Perhaps they have some new software to pick the colour. I used not to like brown, but I am a very brown person now in middle age πŸ˜€ preferably a nice rich brown though.

      I am not very good at being self-employed, I lack the motivation which is why I am happier writing blog posts than writing articles and trying to sell them. However, I am happy doing the paperwork for Partner’s business. I suppose the only thing we can both take out of our similar experiences, is that what we wrote was good enough for someone else to use. Annoying, but sneakily flattering.


  8. […] Every picture tells one Going up? – or going down? […]


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