Sunday, September 29, 2013


Are you a Do It Yourself person or a Do It For Me? Most people are a mixture of both. I know I am. I am very dominate DIY, but I am very willing to admit when I need to become a DIFM. There is nothing wrong with paying someone else to do something for you if you do not have the time or expertise to get the job done. If you are anything like me you have several projects going at the same time. Plus you have several more waiting to be put in the line up. How do you determine which ones to do yourself and which ones, if any, to hire out? We are going to take a look at how an asset manager would consult a business on which projects to subcontract and which to do in house.

First things first. We must prioritize our projects. There may be projects that seem critical, but may not be important. I know that sounds confusing so I will explain. There are things that instantly grab your attention, they almost scream at you "I need to be done!!". But does it really need to be done? Some things that are urgent are not important. If some children have rolled your yard (thrown toilet paper into every tree) you are not going to be able to ignore the fact that there are streamers of Charmin everywhere. Most people are going to want to clean it up immediately, it is urgent to clean that mess up, but is it really important? If you were to leave the toilet paper up there for a few days would it damage the trees or the yard? No. Does leaving the paper out there create a health risk? No. So is it really important? No, it really isn't, but it is urgent. (My wife after reading this said "But we would have to clean up the toilet paper right away."

If we take this lesson and apply it full scale things that are urgent and important will be done first. Things that are important will be done second and things that are just urgent will be done third or later. I was first introduced to this concept in a book by Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This book was the first time I had heard this concept explained in such a way. This was an incredible observation and I can tell you when I practice this things work out better. People sometimes get upset because what they see as urgent gets put off, but the result are incredible.

After we have prioritized out projects and determined which ones are important and urgent, which ones are important but not urgent and which ones are urgent but not important we have a clearer picture of what needs to be done and in what order.

Many times I will hire help to complete a project rather than hire someone to do the job for me. There are a couple of reasons I would rather hire assistance. (1) I can make sure that the project is done exactly the way I want it to be done. If the project is something I know a lot about I can hire someone with little or no experience and save some money as well as help teach someone how to do things. (2) If it is a project that I do not know a lot about I can hire someone who has more experience that I do and I will learn from them. I love to learn from someone who really knows what they are doing. When I can get an expert to help work with me on one of my projects I not only get the project done I gain knowledge.

Here are the reasons that I would advise hiring a project done:

  1. A contractor can do a superior job
  2. The job can be completed more quickly
  3. The job can be completed more cost effectively 
  4. Hiring a contractor frees you to do something else or even work on another project.
Now for my words of warning. I would never advise someone to hire a project done if they need to borrow money to complete the project. If you would have to borrow money I would advise to either wait on the project till you can save up the money to pay cash for the project or do it yourself a little at a time. I do not like debt. 

I would never let a contractor work on a project of mine unless I am certain that they have a full understanding of what I want done, what time table I expect and can communicate back to me what I want. Several years ago I hired a gentleman to do some excavation work for me. We sat down and talked out everything that I wanted done. I drew out a map of how and where I wanted everything. This project included putting in a drive and building up a raised flat surface as well a preparing a building pad. The day the excavation was supposed to start I worked all morning and was expecting to see some progress as soon as I arrived after work. Nothing. I was late when I got in so I thought I would give them a day or two to get with me. The next day the equipment was there but no work was done. The third day I could tell a little earth had been moved, but I needed this part done before I could get anyone else on the site. I called the operator and several times and did not get in touch with him. After a week of gradual progress on my site I took a day off of work to be able to see what was going on. 

The guy I hired finally showed up to start work at around 10 am. He worked for about an hour and a half and left. About two hours later he came back and worked for about an hour. He was getting ready to leave when I walked up on him. I do not remember the excuses he gave me, but he no longer worked for me. I hired another man to do the work who charged more per hour, but was finished with everything in three days.

The moral to the story is do your homework. Know what you want done and be able to communicate the scope of the project to a prospective contractor. Ask around for a recommendation for a contractor and above all else watch your contractor as closely as you can. 

Think big, plan well, pay your bills, and work hard. Above all .....

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By Gregg Carter