Okay, so my writing style does not always give the kindest treatment
to event and process descriptions. A certain biting cynicism often
laces through the way I relate things, but in parts of the writeup
where it seemed appropriate to me that aspect leapt out and bothered
my builders more deeply than I expected. The next morning
as we met up again at the conference they could only ask "why are you
just *bashing* us like that?" Honestly, they looked somewhere between
wanting to cry and wanting to take my camera and stuff it up my ass.
This came to *me* as a bit of a surprise, but on further reflection I was probably a bit harsh and less-than-professional on them where it wasn't necessarily warranted. At the same time I've always wanted this to be a positive statement about building retrofits and energy efficiency and the cool stuff I had learned, and I had arguably blown that effort here and there simply by the way I described some of the minor downsides. Sure, we all had some "WTF?" moments over the course of the project -- what contracting job is ever 100% free of those? -- but my builders were within their rights to personally object to the way I had recounted some of that. As we talked further I started to feel pretty awful about it, starting to see their viewpoint and sensitivity very clearly.
I promised them I'd take another pass or two and try to moderate and/or eliminate some of the down-side stuff, because at the heart of things I really *did* want my weighty tome to be something that they could proudly point to as a detailed customer case-study. In the form they found it, there was no way they could and that was largely my fault, I acknowledged. We parted ways at the conference still on a friendly basis, but things were definitely strained and I suddenly had a bunch of work to do.
If you read any of this before early March 2013 you would have found a somewhat uglier version, and several other interested parties in the field that I sent links to already had done so. To gain broader perspective I bounced this new situation off a few of them, most of which said that I shouldn't change anything and just leave it as brutally frank as ever because they loved the flat-out honesty of the "homeowner's tale".
Now I was of two minds. On one side sometimes the truth hurts, and everything I described about the project was 100% factual in its essence but sometimes just stated in an unkind style. One could easily argue that everything I'd written was just one guy's opinion and about as tangibly harmful as a bad restaurant review, and that anyone running a public business needs to grow a thick skin against the occasional whiners and naysayers. And let's face it, nowadays any schmuck can get on the internet and say what he wants. I didn't name any company names at that level, a reader would have to look pretty hard to figure out who any of the players were, and my builder didn't even have their own website or social-media page yet so trying to search for their name along with "sucks" or "problems" would return absolutely nothing. But they seemed genuinely pained over this and now *I* was feeling bad about it, so true to my promise I dug in and started mellowing out quite a few sections.
The upside, besides the implicit fact that they were taking my self-published rantings seriously, was the chance to run through the *entire* thing again and not only swing it more positive in the places that warranted it, a lot of previously missed proofreading got done too. So this interaction was all to the good even if it was more work for me -- I'd like to think the result is a better overall product. Now that the search-engines have glommed onto the whole mess, that's even more important as people are discovering it as an information source [as fundamentally intended]. I sent my builder PM a list of all the changes I'd made, section by section, for which he was thankful but I don't know if he had time to go back and cross-check it all himself. I even offered to insert any comments that *he* had about the project and my handling of it, good or bad or rebuttals of things I said or whatever he wanted, but he didn't take me up on that.
At this point I don't actually know if I managed to turn it around enough for him to use as a sufficiently positive case study for his business purposes, but c'mon, they're one of the *very few* truly clueful construction crews with a lot of experience in this market sector and compared to most of my other contractors, their attention to detail was generally above and beyond. Hey, they get to work on *Dr. Joe's house*, which has to be stressful on the workmanship side but at the same time a high honor to hold.
That's why I didn't make particular efforts to mollify the sections about the HVAC guy or the roofer, because while most of their work was quite good and satisfactory they quite honestly *did* bugger up on a few obvious things, and while sort of making good on some of it afterward, blew off responsibility on the rest regardless of what I said about it at the time. As professionals you don't do that to paying clients without risking some kind of repercussions. All of it has been a learning experience, for me and anybody who wants to read about it. I'm not trying to arbitrarily burn bridges here. Good craftsmanship that I observe is rewarded; screwups and laxity are not. I don't know how I can make that any simpler.