Less Doing, More Hiring Out

My hand is healing just fine after the drill attach a few days ago. It’s still sore, and on the surface, there are only a few small scrapes and a very small amount of swelling. It feels like I have bone bruises on my knuckles, but other than that, everything’s fine.

I did meet with the contractor yesterday, but I haven’t gotten a quote from him yet. He said it might be a couple of days, so I’m waiting patiently for that. Or trying. 😀 “Patient” isn’t really a word that comes to mind if I were to describe myself, but I have no other option.

The last couple of days of downtime have given me time to think. I don’t know why I feel like I have to take on so much myself. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone (not even myself). So I guess it’s just a money thing. I like to be as frugal as I can by doing as much as I can myself.

But because I keep taking on so much myself, that means that areas like my studio stay out-of-commission for much longer than they should. That studio has been in progress since the summer of 2017, and it still looks like this…

Had I just been willing to hire out the electrical and the rerouting of the HVAC ductwork a long time ago, I could possibly have a usable studio by now. But I kept saying, “No, I can do that myself,” so the studio continued to look like that for a year-and-a-half.

One issue — and I’m sure most of you can relate — is that I just don’t trust others to take care of my house the way that I would. For contractors, the work on my house is just a job, and probably only one of a hundred that they’ll do this year alone. For me, it’s my home, and there are only a handful of things that are more important to me than home.

When I started doing the electrical work on the studio, several people said stuff like, “Oh, a professional really should be doing that!”

Well, you would think that a professional would get it all right, right? But last year, when my brother and I were chasing down electrical wires in the attic so that we could get rid of any existing wires that had been powering the garage and replace them with new wires for the studio, we came across one uncapped, unwrapped, bare wire lying in a pile of decades-old insulation right up against a 2 x 4. And that wire was live! It had been up there for who knows how long…live and uncapped.

I was furious, to say the least. But who had done it? Well, at that point, I had had three different teams of people working in my house, all who had been dealing with electrical wiring at some point, so I had no idea when it happened or who did it. There was nothing I could do. The only thing I could do was thank God that we still had a house standing around us, because that could have sparked an electrical fire.

So suffice it to say that the person who comes to my house to finish the electrical work will just need to deal with me hovering over his shoulder and watching every move he makes. At this point, there’s no way I’m just going to turn over the electrical work to someone else and walk away.

But the good thing is that I have found a contractor I like and trust. He’s the one who did the carport behind the studio. He’s honest, easy to work with, and so far, I’ve liked every sub that he’s sent to my house.

So from here on out, I’ve decided that I’m going to be doing less myself, and hiring out more. Or at least I’m sure going to try. It’s hard for me to even say that, because if ever there was a meme to describe me, it’s this one…

And I’ve been like that my entire life. My mom tells me that one of the first complete sentences I learned to say as a child was, “Me do it meself!” So I’ve always been very independent and wanted as little help from others as possible.

So I’ll just say that I’m at a point where I really do want to get more help, and I really do want to trust other people to do the work, and I’m really going to try my hardest to be a person who’s okay with giving other people more control over these projects. I still want to do the cabinet building myself. And, of course, I’ll do all of the painting, trim work, and pretty finishing details myself. Those are the parts I thoroughly enjoy, and I can still feel good about saving money by doing those things myself.

But if I don’t start farming out more work to others, and trusting others to help me, then I feel like I’ll be in my 60s and still working on this house. And believe it or not, I really do want this house finished.

I’d love to be able to get it completely finished in the next couple of years (including the addition in the back) and then turn my attention to some other projects (like maybe buying a flip house) while having a comfortable, finished place to come home to every day.

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  1. Good for you! It sounds like a good solution that will move you forward. And while someone else is doing that wiring, etc., it gives you an opportunity to tackle things on your ‘to-do’ list in other areas of your home … win/win! The studio will be a wonderful, useful space when completed.

  2. I like Jeanneantha’s idea. I’m sure you some smaller items on your to-do list that will give you the opportunity to check the progress of the workers and still get other projects completed. You owe it to yourself to give up some of those more strenuous and not as fun jobs.

  3. Maybe instead of hovering you can do a walk through at the end of each day to determine that a live wire isn’t laying in insulation against a 2×4 or some other hazardous, or not done to your liking situation. You would have a lot of free time while “they” are working and if something was amiss you could address the next day with the help.

  4. As a fellow home control freak I feel you! My husband actually had to ask me not to talk to the workers when we had renovations done last year and go through him instead, because I was so uptight about everything and, well, didn’t exactly communicate calmly with them. I’m so glad you found someone you can work well with, and just think of all the reading you’ll get done as you sit a few feet away in your lawn chair keeping an eye on their work 😉 or is that just me? lol! Most of all it will be SO NICE for you to see leaps and bounds happening on your house. Love your idea for the future when this place is all fixed up.

  5. Hover!!! My aunt and uncle had a house built in Arizona and it took 4 years because he was there EVERY. SINGLE. DAY, making them re-do things that weren’t up to his standards. Then they went to the site every night to clean it up so there is not one speck of dust in the walls anywhere. It’s your house, hover all you want!

  6. I think you’re a little delusional if you think that you take better care of your home than a contractor would. You leave paint everywhere, you don’t clean up even in the most basic way until it’s a total disaster, you destroy your floors, and you’ve been living in a perpetual construction zone for years.

    1. Wow that was harsh! Picking up ongoing messes is not the same as taking care of your house. Many workers will make mistakes and just keep on going. Like leaving a bare wire or dropping the vent pipe into the attic instead of reattaching it. That’s not how she operates. She does quality work.

    2. I’m delusional? Well, if we’re name calling, I think you’re a moron if you equate leaving paint cans lying around and having messy floors (which have NEVER been “destroyed” as is obvious by the pictures of my finished pantry and hallway) to leaving a CUT, UNCAPPED, LIVE WIRE in the attic sitting in a pile of old insulation up against a 2 x 4. And that’s just one of a long list of things that contractors have done on my house that are either wrong or just flat out dangerous. Like the contractors I hired to install the door between the breakfast room and the studio, who framed out a 60-inch-wide doorway in a load-bearing wall and didn’t even bother to use cripple studs inside the 5-foot span. I could go on and on, and if it weren’t for my hovering and pointing out mistakes like that, it would result in dangerous situations that would literally weaken the structural integrity of my house.

      Paint cans can be put away, and messy floors aren’t pretty to look at, and living with ongoing projects can get annoying. But A CUT LIVE WIRE IN MY ATTIC CAN BURN THE WHOLE FREAKING HOUSE DOWN.

      So no, from my experience, contractors DON’T care about my house as much as I do. And again, let me refer you to my “after” post on my pantry. Tell me again how I “destroy” my floors during projects.

      1. Kristi, I’m so sorry you have to put up with this nonsense. I know these people exist but rarely have to deal with them. I just want to say how much I enjoy your blog and while I know we should just ignore these ill mannered and troubled souls, occasionally I just want them to know how much the rest of us do not appreciate it.

      2. Good come back Kristi!! Annie’s comment was totally uncalled for!! Besides, one thing I have learned are those that make a mess when working are the most creative and that sure fits. I have never watched someone accomplish the wonderful things you do by anyone else.
        Ignore people like Annie because she sure doesn’t speak for any of the rest of us that follow you. She is probably jealous because she could never do the things you do.
        Love ya girl!!

      3. SOME PEOPLE!!!! (rolling eyes and shaking head here) She is the reason I dislike trolls so much. Kristi, I’m with you on watching contractors because it’s not their house. We have built three homes in our lifetime together, and with each one, we were there EVERY DAY, taking photos and inspecting work. If you wait until the job is done to point out mistakes, it will take months sometimes to get it righted! Or, like you, the mistake isn’t discovered at all, and could be disastrous! Go away ANNIE!

      4. I thought we had the Hubs, to save all of us from those nasty people! Great respons! Some people like to hide behind their computers and belittle others. Have you ever been on twitter?!!?!? It’s a cesspool!

    3. I’m not very smart about home renovations but I’m pretty sure none of those results in total structure loss quite like an electrical fire would. Remember also, her love is wheelchair bound and would her assistance to evacuate. God forbid, he could have been lost as well. Yep, I think Kristi still wins this one. Move on.

    4. Why in the world would you post something like this ????? Do you share your home with anyone who watches? Do you want people to judge you like this. Why don’t you go to someother site and make your rude comments to someone who deserves it………NO, nobody deserves your rudness, turn it back on yourself and listen to yourself !!!!!!

    5. This person’s outburst speaks VOLUMES about her at a personal level. It’s very sad. I’m sorry you live a life where you obviously have zero control over anything in your life so you have to lash out from behind a keyboard. I’m embarrassed for you. You are entitled to disagree, but to post such harsh and unnecessary words based on a small percent that Kristi shares on her FREE blog. You should be ashamed. I usually take a very “don’t feed the trolls” attitude. But your comment is absolutely ridiculous. So sad and pathetic really. So go obsess over all these comments and feel attacked and then look in the mirror and please seek professional counseling.

    6. Hope you feel better for getting all that off your chest, Annie. You must be one of those Bully Trolls I hear stalk bloggers because being nasty makes them feel better about themselves.

    7. I had to read Annie’s comment three times because I thought I didn’t read it correctly. God Annie, if you believe contractors and their subs care more about a house than the homeowner, you are in lala-land! My husband was an electrician in NY State, and when moving to Florida, he helped family do some small lighting jobs, etc. He was HORRIFIED to see some of the work done in brand new houses. One home had recessed lights above the ceiling that were never cut through – the paper on the fixture was all singed! Another time he found the panel melting because it was all wired incorrectly. These were VERY expensive homes. If you know better, you will watch them like a hawk, and protect yourself and your investment. Kristi is an amazing person, with great talent, and she will make sure things are done correctly in her home. Annie – IF that is your real name, should apologize for your
      words – maybe you are just jealous???

  7. Absolutely hire out those things and keep the fun stuff for yourself! You truly do not have to prove anything to anyone. Life’s too short to try to do it all. We’ll still be here to enjoy the progress and cheer you on!

  8. Totally understand, Kristi. I have been so unhappy with some of the work done at my new house. I know I could have done a much better job myself. But if I had tried to do all that, I would still be waiting for this house to be finished. And then there were the things that I NEVER could have done myself. It’s always a compromise. So glad to hear your hand is healing!

  9. Hey Kristi! I now that ignorance can be the most upsetting thing in the world! Believe me when I tell you from first hand experience that Annie is the one who is delusional. I was an interior designer for many years. I did what you do, only I was in the supervisory/general contractor person on remodels, rehabs, etc. I was fired from a project one time because the plumber whacked up a kitchen wall so badly, in order to access pipes, that all the drywall had to be replaced. Guess who replaced it?? Do you think I ever collected from that damn plumber?? Of course not! In order not to damage MY reputation, I dealt with the matter, at my expense, as quietly as I could. It is not the general contractor doesn’t give a damn. It’s the people he/she has working for them. Many times the general contractor doesn’t know of these events till they happen. Damage done. It’s some of the trades who come in thinking they are God and do unnecessary damage. I don’t care if I offend anyone. I am stating a simple truth. You can bet your sweet butt I ran herd on all of them after that calamity!! Once I learned who I could trust, it was all good!

  10. This was some excellent self awareness on your part! Self awareness is such a great gift- sometimes it takes something like an injury to stop us in our tracks and gain some understanding. I’m happy for you.

  11. I understand how hard it is to hand over work to so.eone else. My husband and I have always do e all our home improvement work, but now that we are retired and older we just dont think ladders are a safe bet anymore. This morning we hired someone to paint our livingroom and it kills me to spend money this way. So I get you!

  12. I understand totally about watching contractors/professionals work. I only trust one of them (and that is because I have known him for years and he knows I will box his ears).
    Every person who comes to my house I watch, i.e., plumber, carpenter, etc. I am single and have been screwed by so called professionals and it has cost me $$$ to fix. It must be nice to have never had a problem with a professional and believe everything they and say and do.
    Kristi, I believe with your skills and talent you can do at least 95% better than a professional (the only that be holding you back is your height and strength).
    I can be a little bit of a perfectionist and know I can do better than most. I am able to look on youtube to see if somethings are beyond by skills. I do not mess with electricity or gas.
    If I have to paid someone to do – I want it PERFECT.

  13. I am so happy to hear you plan to do flips on other homes. I had been wondering about that. Doing most everything yourself is inspiring and educational for your readers but it is the pretty stuff that and the before and after pictures that I keep reading for. You have proven that you CAN do everything yourself but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to do it all. I hope you can manage to have more of the heavy work done for you so you can finish your home sooner and walk us through the beautification of the next one.

  14. Buy or make large “red tags”. After the workers have left for the day inspect what’s been done and tag anything you’re not happy about. This solution doesn’t engender hard feelings. Resolve issues before the start of work each day, before the crew is tired. Worked for me.

  15. I haven’t yet read the other comments, so I apologize if I am repeating someone else. In my city, contractors are required to obtain building permits for major renovations. Once that process is begun, the city sends inspectors periodically to insure that safety concerns are met. If you use that process, hopefully you will avoid the dangerous situation you described from your attic.

    1. Where I live they only have an inspector come out at the end to close out the permit and see that the work was done correctly (as far as they can tell). So where you live is awesome as far as protecting home-owners goes.

    2. Respectfully, in every city I have “flipped” in (10+) the electrical inspector checks for GFIC outlets in wet locations and looks at the main breaker panel…that’s all. I have NEVER seen any type of inspection of the wiring in general…NEVER.

    3. Karen Hackett, same here. We are, as my husband says, ” inspector-ed to death!” in our area. Homeowners are required to have permits for any work that alters the original structure or its mechanicals/electricals. The annoying part is having to wait for the inspections, sometimes delaying work for weeks, due to scheduling conflicts. And there’s really no guarantee the inspector finds a problem, or they can be so nit-picky or not even know the current codes. ( We’ve had that happen, with an inspector who had no knowledge of the specific job! We had to call the head of the board to get a different inspector!)

  16. I understand totally about watching contractors/professionals work. I only trust one of them (and that is because I have known him for years and he knows I will box his ears).
    Every person who comes to my house I watch, i.e., plumber, carpenter, etc. I am single and have been screwed by so called professionals and it has cost me $$$ to fix. It must be nice to have never had a problem with a professional and believe everything they and say and do.
    Kristi, I believe with your skills and talent you can do at least 99% better than a professional (the only that be holding you back is your height and strength).
    I can be a little bit of a perfectionist and know I can do better than most. I am able to look on youtube to see if somethings are beyond by skills. I do not mess with electricity or gas.
    If I have to paid someone to do – I want it PERFECT if I am paying their prices. Very few people take pride in their work – you and your house are just another job to them (easy do) and on to the next job.

  17. Just replaced a 5 year old roof because the general contractor who built our custom home saved money by doing it himself and didn’t know what he was doing. When confronted he said I don’t have any money to fix it. We just paid for a new $11,000 roof and showed them 10 TIMES the problem areas. We had a slow rain all day yesterday and had a bedroom full of water and ruined drywall. Sigh…….

  18. One word–micro-manage. I do it and if they can’t handle it, too bad. I know people who go out of town when work is being done and are then surprised that major mistakes have been made. My best contractors realize and accept that I am an involved, informed and particular customer. Yes, I wish I could trust it all to the contractors. I do have other things to do. But it doesn’t work that way. Micro-manage!

  19. You have done such an amazing job. I wish I had your talent, but you are right to hire out some of the more complicated work. It’s amazing to see how far you have come with all your goals and you have done an amazing job. Keep up the good work and looking forward to seeing what you have accomplished.

  20. At least hiring a contractor gives you the option to fire said contractor! Hard to do when hubs is doing the work! LOL Mine does a fair job but sometimes I have to step in and shove a YouTube video under his nose. My word doesn’t count! The main thing that makes the biggest difference is knowing how something should be done. Ignorance is the best friend of a shoddy contractor. If you don’t know how it should be done, you will be taken advantage of. Somehow, I doubt seriously that you will be taken advantage of, Kristi!

  21. So glad to hear your hand is healing well!
    And good on you for your healing with the ‘troll’!
    I for one look forward to seeing you get to the fun stuff. I enjoy the process, but the end results and the little things are what thrill me!

  22. “…One issue — and I’m sure most of you can relate — is that I just don’t trust others to take care of my house the way that I would.”

    You are so right about that. Thank goodness for the Internet and Youtube. I’ve learned to patch drywall, repair mortar, make picture ledges, etc. Except for MOST electricians and plumbers (they have to pass a test to be licensed), I want as little as possible to do with other home improvement “professionals.” You have to stay on top of them to make sure they do it right.

  23. I believe it is the mark of a mature woman who knows when to say when. I’ve done a lot of home remodeling over the years and these days I’m admitting my limitations and hiring out stuff that I just can’t do. So good on you! And I hope your hand starts to feel better soon!

  24. Yes, keep an eye on those contractors every inch of the way! Our story was that the day our garage floor was supposed to be poured and the roof put on, I looked out the upstairs window and all of the ceiling joists were set at an angle both horizontally and vertically. My poor husband went out in the snow and reset all of them by himself. Needless to say, the contractor was fired immediately. I am glad you have someone you can trust. We thought we did too, but thankfully we knew enough to know what should have been done. And fortunately, so do you!

  25. I feel it’s important to have a good working relationship with a contractor. You are 100% correct that it’s your home and they are essentially your employee. So as another commenter said being “ in your face” doesn’t always get the right results. But once you and he/she get on the same page (lay down some ground rules and expectations) you can concentrate on A, B & C and they can do X,Y and Z. Karen from The Art Of Doing Stuff is just as independent as you are likewise The Young House Love duo. But finding the right contractor and having a good relationship with them pays off exponentially. Glad your hand is healing. That had to be one frightening moment. Take care!

    1. I completely agree, micro-managing is super off-putting. Think how you would feel if someone (essentially a stranger) stood over your shoulder nitpicking your process while you were completing a task that you’ve done a million times before. Contractors definitely care less about your home than you do. But they also care about their own reputation and bottom line. Working on building a good with relationship with your contractor will make everything so much smoother and save everyone a lot of heartburn 🙂

  26. I am so sorry about Annie’s comment. I don’t understand her problem. That said, I am glad you have reached the decision to hire more work out. Just because you CAN do a job well (and you can), doesn’t mean you always SHOULD. You can use your knowledge and skills to hover and supervise those you hire, and that could be a much more efficient, quick way to get some of the jobs done so that you will be able to do the work that gives you joy, personalizing your space, done all that sooner. You will still have plenty to do, I suspect. Go for it!

  27. We have found numerous live wires and it is frustrating. I have people ask me all the time about why we do not hire out work. I always tell them that if I have to re do it after they leave then I might as well save the money in the first place. We found a live wire with a nail through it that was covered with a second layer of cedar shingles. A lot of contractors do not want to work on old houses nor take the time.

  28. I completely understand, Kristie. I just renovated two houses (superficial but extensive renovations), and had to re-do quite a bit of the work I’d already paid people to do. I know what I want and the standard I’ll accept, but sadly don’t find that tradesmen generally will do it. What I really need is two of me!

  29. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it! You are a very strong intelligent hard working and talented, which I’m sure it took much hard work to become this talented so go take a break and let the hard work be done be others and you do the things that please you and make you Happy! You don’t need to prove anything to anyone you have by far exceeded any expectations anyone could possibly expect! I’m 67 and recently been diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency and Addison’s disease and believe me most of what I have always been able to do in the past has come to a screeching halt and I don’t have a choice, so please take care of yourself first and farmomost! Most of that other stuff can successfully be done by others but your well-being is a one shot thing!
    Get well hugs to you!