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Relationship Tip: Tell Your Significant Other BEFORE You Schedule Ice Dam Removal

We’re are all about strengthening marriages.  We’ve saved many a do-it-yourselfer husbands from falling off the roof and into traction.  We’re happy when customers say they’re glad they got the ice dams out of the way so they can relax under the safety of their non-leaking ice-free roof.

So please take this bit of advice as friendly advice: it is up to YOU to communicate with your partner about how you (both of you) would like your ice dam removal job to proceed.

Despite what some of our customers say, we aren’t mind-readers.  We communicate with whichever homeowner is home, and we do what that homeowner tells us to do.  We never have a “favorite” or make an assumption as to who “makes the decisions” in the relationship.  We assume only that the person at home is the one we’re supposed to work with.  That’s usually a safe assumption, and it’s got to be that way.

Time for a story.  I don’t usually talk about difficult customers even in the abstract, and I’m not going to name names, but I think there’s a “teachable moment” here.

Mr. M was a big, important, wealthy fellow who traveled hither and yon on business trips. He called us and begged us to come to his estate because he had leaks everywhere. This home did not have a standard, humble roof.  It was at least 10,000 square feet.  He had Victorian-style “witches’ hats” – those big palace-topper cones – on several parts of his home. It was also 3 stories tall.  It was one the most uneasy homes we’ve ever dealt with.

Mr. M. asked us to come out at 10:00 at night. Normally we won’t do that, but he sounded desperate, and we like to think we’re nice guys so we helped him out and immediately headed his way.

Despite the late hour, Mr. M. had already dashed off on a business trip by the time we got there, leaving his wife, Mrs. M., in charge.  She said, “I don’t care what it takes – I want ALL the ice and snow off the roof.”  We warned Mrs. M. that the job would take several days – because of the size of the roof and the extent of the ice damming – and that we bill by the hour. She insisted that was what the “M” family wanted done.

We did our job, but when Mr. M. returned to town he had a screaming fit, and he refused to pay his (very large) bill. He screamed: “You should have known better than to listen to a woman!”  He also left multiple threats on our voicemail, to remind us that we “should have known better.”

Nice guy, huh?

We don’t automatically defer to the man, or to the woman.  We don’t assume one “wears the pants,” or that one has better judgment than the other.

We simply explain our recommendations, our reasoning, and any ins and outs to whomever is standing in front of us.  Though perhaps that person will make the wrong call, we have no choice but to assume he/she is the “spouse of record.”  (FWIW, in this case, we’d say Mrs. M made the right decision.  Her husband broke down over the bill, but it was nothing compared to the repair bill the M family would have had to pay if Mrs. M. wasn’t decisive.)

If you think your spouse can’t be trusted to make the right call, make sure you’re home personally to give us clear marching orders.  Stick around, too.  Often a safe, complete ice dam removal project takes longer than you expect or would like it to take.

If you can’t do that for whatever reason, communicate about the decision-making process before we come over.  I don’t know your situation – who works and when, who’s home and when, etc. – so I don’t know what’s involved in doing that.  Might be easy, might be hard.  Doesn’t matter.

Whatever you do, don’t just “wing it,” or expect your spouse to.  You’re homeowners in a wintry state.  Your home requires a little more upkeep and protection to make it through a tough winter.  Ice dams are one of the dangers you need to ward off.  Similarly, arguments about finances are one of the dangers you need to ward off in your marriage.  Writing a medium-to-large check to prevent needing to write a VERY big check is a possible point of friction you need to discuss.

Take ten or fifteen minutes and together educate yourselves on ice dams and on the ice dam removal process.  Then decide whether and when to call an ice dam removal company.  Nail down your strategy.

If your spouse deviates from the strategy, talk to him or her about it.  Or if you’re the spouse who stays home and you want to deviate from the strategy, please text, call, or email your better half to explain the change of plans and to get on the same page before you tell us to move forward.

Just don’t expect your misunderstanding to excuse you from paying us for the difficult and dangerous work we did for you when you needed it.  Even if it costs more than you’d like, and even if that’s because of your spouse’s decision, we think that’s a time to be grateful to your spouse for erring on the side of safety and caution – for recognizing that your home is worth it.

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