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Do You DIY?

December 31, 2022

Do You DIY?

Are you fed up waiting around for builders? Or even getting them to commit to a time and day?

I believe that for ourselves and society’s sake, we should mostly operate at our highest level of value. I’m responsible for a salon team of 50 staff looking after 5000 clients. I run a product company that manufactures and trades globally. I’m heavily involved in developing and restoring the Georgian buildings we live and work in.

I get that if I change lightbulbs, I’m not maximising the value of my experience, and I do mostly stay in my lane. But I just can’t help getting hands-on at times, especially as having some works done costs more time and hassle than doing it myself. The authorities have driven so many builders out of central London. A lot of good tradespeople no longer want the traffic or TFL aggravation.

And not to mention the taxes and charges that almost triple the cost. One small job recently was £100 for the builder. Once all his taxes, NIC, VAT, Congestion charge and parking went on, the invoice was £270. I happily paid it for a good job efficiently done. But I baulked at one quote which opened my eyes to doing some things myself and ultimately saving myself a lot of time and angst.

I’d bought a grandfather clock which I wanted to position against a wall where three electrical switches were sited. These needed to be moved six inches to the left or right. It was a stud wall, hence a simple job to cut new holes in the plasterboard and fill the old ones. To move the sockets and repair the wall I was quoted £1800 inc. VAT!

I’d have to make myself available at the start of the work, be on hand for any problems, and check I was happy with the work at the end. Not much time saving for me and £1800 lighter. I estimated about three hours work (it took four) and it was this incident that caused a paradigm shift in my thoughts. If I did it myself, which I did, I’d learn something, and the boys could learn something. Instead of my default thinking being always to call for ‘expert’ help, it’s now become, can I just get this done myself? Many times in the past the experts turned out less than competent anyway.

Recently I’ve stretched into areas I’d never dreamed of touching before, thanks to YouTube, taking on small tasks of electrics, plumbing, carpentry, upholstery, stonework-restoration to name a few. It feels like The Repair Shop here sometimes. I find the linear, mechanical nature of this work therapeutic and satisfying.

As long as you input the right action you get the right result. Which is nothing like running a business or managing people where an input might give one of 30 outcomes (there’s nowt queer as folk) that each impact in dozens of different ways. It’s akin to herding spaghetti. Or is it cats? While highly skilled, these crafts afford some light relief from the messiness, complexity and turmoil of running businesses.

Michael Van Clarke

 





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