Cutting Edge Insights
with Dr. Lee

Little Things and Dirty Hands

It’s very easy and convenient to dismiss a detail or to perhaps ignore it altogether, especially if one feels that it may evade obvious detection.

Such was almost the case in a recent commercial make-ready when the tenant said to me, “Don’t worry about the unfinished end of that base cabinet. It’s a staff break room anyway, and we’ll probably have a refrigerator up against it.”

How convenient – an item taken off of my list for me. Love it.

But my contractor said, “Hey Lee, I think Home Depot sells unfinished wood to dress off the end…you could stain that and it would look good.”

First thought – darn, he’s making more work for me.

Second thought – He’s probably right. And, if a tenant (or client, or patient, etc.) feels that there is sloppiness with one detail, what are they going to think about more important decisions that need to be made?

Cutting, staining, sealing, and installing that piece of wood didn’t take more than 30 minutes total. And I believe the result was worth well over the $24.00 that the wood cost me.

Second topic for today – getting one’s hands dirty.

Many real estate investors/developers have the feeling that they are distanced somehow from the actual labor of the trades involved in a project. That’s why we hire tradespeople, contractors, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, etc.

But when good contractors say, “Could you move that pile of insulation into the dumpster and then I’ll be back tomorrow to finish up?”…what is your response? Do you roll up your sleeves and get to work? Or do you wait for the contractor to do it himself, because you’re above getting your hands dirty at all?

I choose the former. I do so because I’m good at physical labor, but mainly because anything that I can do to help the contractor with the job frees him or her to concentrate on their particular trade (I’ll let him hang and finish drywall because I suck at it) as well as helps move the job along more quickly. Most contractors have more than one job to work at a time, that is, if they’re any good.

I find that I end up with the most favorable costs on a project if I’m willing to participate in some ways and let the contractors know they can count on me to help bridge the gap if they are tight on time.

Or, sometimes I don’t feel like paying a tradesman rate for manual labor – this was the case when I needed a 70-foot trench, 3 feet deep, through the facility in today’s videos. It’s covered up nicely with carpet, but there is an 8-inch drain line running underneath the entire facility.

All I had to do was skip the gym for a few weeks and I had the means to work up a sweat under my own roof.

In summary:

  1. The little things do indeed matter.
  2. Never feel as a project owner/developer that you are somehow above all the people you hire to complete the project using their skills. Tradespeople like to see owners take an interest in their own projects.

We are indeed all playing for the same team.

Until next time,

Dr. Lee Newton

How A Doctor Learned To Develop Real Estate

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Little Things and Dirty Hands

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