Why I’m remodeling my house (instead of hiring someone else to do it)

I’m remodeling my house: A brand new, reconfigured (and expanded) kitchen. Same with the upstairs bathroom (put in a claw-foot bathtub!). Downstairs, it’s a similar story: We had some unused space so we tore down some walls and expanded the downstairs bathroom so it now has a shower.

I’m doing a lot of the work myself. Here’s why:

When I run the shower or plug something into an outlet or flush the toilet, I expect those things to work. Most of the time, those things do work and all is well. But once in a while, something is amiss and I hate not knowing what that is.

If you own a home, you probably know what I’m talking about. A great example is the inner workings of toilets. If a toilet suddenly stops flushing (or never stops flushing) do you know what to do? When I first moved out on my own (after living at home and then in a college dorm), I had no idea. Blown fuse? Leaky sink? Plugged drain? I had no idea what to do with those things.

And I HATE that I didn’t know.

When the option came to do some renovations on the first house I owned, I wasn’t in a financial position to hire someone else so I started doing them myself. One reno after another taught me more and more, not only about house construction but about many of the things I didn’t know… not to mention, some of the more complex renovations were lessons in project management.

I just read a story about the founder of Chrysler (although I’m not sure if it’s true — I haven’t been able to verify it). Supposedly, Chrysler spent all of his life savings on a car, which he then proceeded to take apart bolt by bolt until it lay in pieces on the floor. Then he put it together. Then he took it apart. Then he put it together. This made him an expert in that particular car and from this experience, he was able to build and innovate his own car.

Even if that story is apocryphal, it’s an inspiring lesson in the value of tearing something apart and rebuilding it to know how it works. (Which reminds me: My car is making a funny sound and I *should* bring it to the mechanic but if I took my car apart…”)

THERE’S A BUSINESS LESSON HERE

I hate being befuddled by a problem. I want to learn the solution — not just have it done for me but figure out how to do it myself. I own a writing business (which is sort of manifested in a few different forms, depending on the kind of writing) and I regularly take apart my business and put it back together again. I am always “lifting the hood”, trying new things, experimenting, tinkering, remodeling. I’m sure it drives my friends and my blog readers crazy.

There’s a drawback to all the business-remodeling: It seems like my business is in a constant state of flux. But there is also a benefit: I know my business inside and out. If my business ever breaks, I can fix it instantly.

Recently, I added a new line of business (which I bought from another business). It’s completely new to me. I’m learning as I go. And I’ve hit a couple of setbacks in that business, which are requiring me to tear it apart and put it back together again.

How well do you know your business? Which aspects of your business are still a mystery to you? What happens if something breaks in your business and needs immediate fixing; could you do it?

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