Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two

By Robert Robillard on Uncategorized


Fast, Cheap, Good: Project Triangle

Understanding the cost x quality x time priority of a process or project is very important both as a consumer and as a contractor or anyone who works on projects.

It really doesn’t matter what line of business you’re in from food service to construction – customers all want their product done well, fast and cheap.

The problem arises if your a contractor like me who like to do good work and use quality materials – that takes longer and usually costs more.

A client recently shared the Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two triangle theory with me and it instantly made sense and had me reliving really bad past client meetings.

Meetings such as having a client relate to me that they wanted their finish carpentry work performed to museum quality standards, on a time schedule with a penalty for me running over and oh yea could you please do it for a reduced rate because I’m so popular that I will send a boat load or referrals your way.

Let me translate:

They were saying that they wanted work that was fast, good and cheap. And if the work was fast, good, and cheap enough, the reward would be the offer of referrals. Really? Really?

If there is a voice in your head saying, run, run away fast. You’re right. The problem is that these people and their unrealistic ideas of how things work exist. I’ve met plenty and it never ceases to amaze me when I meet more.  Today when I run into these people that demand Fast, Cheap, Good work I explain to them that it’s is impossible to create work that is fast, cheap and good.   It just does not work that way.

Consider the project triangle for a minute:  Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two

Good + Fast = Expensive

Creating work that is both good and fast will never be cheap. Think about it, in order to create good work fast you need to clear your schedule and devote all of your time, effort and resources focusing on this project. That means other things will suffer and the likelihood of the project costing more, or running into over time is higher. Multi tasking can’t work here. We all know that when you multi-task something suffers.

Good + Cheap = Slow

Creating work that is both good cheap will result in a slow project. Sure we all can produce a great project cheap but you better be able to wait for it. When other paying clients call your going to jump to action to take care of them first. That’s reality and it is also what pouts food on the table.

Fast + Cheap = Poor Quality

Creating work that is both fast and cheap will result in a rushed, corner cutting, poor quality job. I see alot of this with low bid contractors. these contractors bid low and then “bang out” the job. Guess what the old adage holds true here . . . You get what you pay for.

You will end up with a project that on the surface may look acceptable but will later reveal itself in cut corners and materials or methods that were skipped or should not have been used.

I’d rather follow Henry Ford’s advice of “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”

Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two !

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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