If you’re anything like me, you prefer to tackle most of your home maintenance projects by yourself. I look at it like this: I’m a fairly smart and relatively handy guy, and the trades – like plumbing, electrical, and gas – are not rocket science. So why should I pay $50 or $100 or $150 per hour to have a tradesman come into my house and do what I am perfectly capable of doing myself?
Well, I’ll tell you why…
I recently remodeled my bathroom. Over the course of the project, I learned three important lessons that I’d like to share with you:
- My time has value!
- Understanding how something is made isn’t the same as being able to make it that way.
- If you take away one of two toilets in a house in which 4 people live, the other three people will find it unacceptable to wait 6 months for a new one.
Let’s tackle these in order…
1. Time = Money
Say I have a decent fulltime job which pays me $40,000 per year. Some simple math says I make about $20/hour. If that’s what I earn at work, aren’t I worth that much at home? For example, if I spend in excess of 200 hours sitting on the subfloor of my bathroom trying to figure out how to deal with the latest unexpected complication (e.g., “My toilet flange isn’t standard? WHAT???”), more simple math reveals that I spent $4,000 worth of my own time (which means time away from family, friends, and fun). Based on my salary, I just spent more than a month of fulltime work producing blood, sweat, and tears (and precious little else) on my bathroom floor.
You may wonder why it took me 200 hours (so far). Well…
2. Understanding is not the same as executing
Plumbing can really fool you. I look at all the plastic and copper pipes and think, “Hey, that’s pretty straightforward. I can do that.” And you know what? I can! But it takes me 17 hours to accomplish what Dean’s tackles in less than an hour.
For example, did you know that when you solder copper pipes, it will never, ever, in a million years work if there’s even a drop of water on the inside of the pipe you’re soldering? I didn’t. I once missed an entire Vikings playoff game to lie on floor joists holding a can of propane and relentlessly applying fire to copper. In the end, I had charred joists and studs and exactly ZERO soldered connections to show for it! I finally realized I might be in over my head.
See, staring at pipes in the ceilings and walls does not translate to having soldering skills on par with the effectiveness, efficiency, and professionalism of, say, Dean’s. And for the record, it took Dean’s literally 45 minutes for that part of the project.
3. Some people get really mad when you take away their showers and toilets
Am I the only person for whom a dripping faucet quickly becomes a full scale remodeling project? I mean, does any of this sound familiar…
The faucet drips, and since we hate that faucet anyway, we decide to replace it. We remove the old one to reveal a crack in the countertop, so we decide to tackle that, too. Then we figure that as long as all the drain pipes will be removed, we should just get a new vanity. But oh boy, now that we’ve got the vanity out of here, look at the mold on the wall behind it, and look at that floor! Let’s get this sucker down to the studs and floor joists and just start over. Of course, if we are going that far, we might as well replace the tub and toilet.
And what started on Saturday morning as a 1-hour faucet project has by Sunday night turned us into a 1-bathroom (all the way upstairs!) home. Oh, and because I’m doing all the work myself (see #1 and #2 above), we’ll be without a normal shower for 3 months, without a sink for 5 months, and down to just one toilet for 6 months.
Now I’m divorced and alone, enjoying my beautiful new bathroom all by myself. But hey, it was worth it because of all the money I sav… oh, that’s right, I didn’t save any money at all.
Please, learn from me. Call Dean’s!