Know Your Strengths. Know Your Limits. Plan Accordingly.

 
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Understand your strengths, know your limits, and prioritize how you want to spend your time and money.

I tend to take on too much in my life. Let’s just start with that in mind. So I should have known better on my last rehab project that I would mistakenly believe I could single-handedly remodel every inch of a duplex while working full time and getting the kids to school and sports practices. It all looked so doable on paper!

 

I planned to do the entire interior painting myself along with demoing the kitchen, replacing all the hardware, sourcing all the materials, selecting all the subcontractors, hanging cabinets, laying tile, and the list goes on. Again, all while working my office job and carting the kids to and fro. After a couple weeks on the project I realized that I needed to adjust my game plan FAST! I found a contractor I could offload a good amount of the work to while I focused on the tasks I could manage in my schedule and where I had the tools and talents to get the job done. 

Here are a few things I learned about my own limits.

  1. Expertise: Have you ever hung cabinets before? I hadn’t, but it seemed simple enough. I know how to use a level, how to find studs, I know the general principle of hanging cabinets. But after one Sunday when my husband and I spent three hours trying to hang cabinets (while my children entertained themselves in pop up chairs in the living room) we quickly realized that we were in over our heads. After those three hours we had zero cabinets hung! I ran home that day and found a contractor to hang them for me. You need to ask yourself if you know how to do the project. How much money, whether it be in equipment or additional holding costs, is it worth to you. How delayed will the schedule be if you are learning on the fly.

  2. Tools & Materials: I also planned to install the tile for the kitchen floor and backsplash. I have installed tile plenty of times in my life, so figured I knew what I was getting into. However my husband quickly reminded me that our tile saw is not big enough for large format tile. I decided that renting a larger tile saw and the equipment to adjust the door jamb height this was not time well spent for me and I found someone to complete the work. I'm so glad I did; they did a far superior job and I could focus my time on other tasks.

  3. Time: I knew on this project I would be doing most of the work since my husband would be helping cover childcare while I was away. As a result, I needed to be able to get a lot done in a short amount of time without a large crew. While I love to work on rehabs, I only have two hands and can’t be installing a dishwasher at the same time I’m painting a room and I can’t be hanging a door while installing a light fixture. I needed to offload tasks to get the project done quickly, get tenants in place, and close out the construction loan. Bringing on contractors does cost money, but so do carrying costs.

Before you start your next rehab project, have your plan in place. Understand your strengths, know your limits, and prioritize how you want to spend your time and money. Inexperience, a lack of tools, or being short on time should not prevent you from moving forward. They are all solvable problems, but you must identify them honestly and address them earnestly.

Carissa Swanwick