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What percentage of labor work do you do?

  • I do 0% of the labor

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I do 10% of the labor

    Votes: 4 10.5%
  • I do 20% of the labor

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I do 30% of the labor

    Votes: 2 5.3%
  • I do 40% of the labor

    Votes: 2 5.3%
  • I do 50% of the labor

    Votes: 6 15.8%
  • I do 60% of the labor

    Votes: 1 2.6%
  • I do 70% of the labor

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I do 80% of the labor

    Votes: 2 5.3%
  • I do 90% of the labor

    Votes: 5 13.2%
  • I do 100% of the labor

    Votes: 12 31.6%
  • I DON'T WANT TO WORK PERIOD

    Votes: 4 10.5%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was in construction doing home improvements for 5 years. Then, I decided to change my career path. I don’t want to do the labor part. I just read a book “The E-Myth” which described that there is the Entrepreneur, the Manager, and the Technician. I’m not a technician. That is why I got out of home improvements. They’re fun doing them the first time, but when you do them over and over, (to me) they get boring (not to sound offensive to the artists that consider themselves as the greatest tradesmen in the world). However, entrepreneurial and managerial work has always interested me. My uncle opened a home improvement general contracting business doing primarily additions, basements, kitchens, and bathrooms. He didn’t do any of the labor work, except for the electrical work. He never had any experience in carpentry, plumbing, painting, etc. He worked at a plant for 20 years. He was very successful at the general contracting for 10 years until the economy collapsed in 2009. Now, he drives a truck. I opened a construction business so I could do what he does… the estimates, the managerial work, the accounting work and NOT the labor/skilled trades/whatever. I don’t want to be in his position and drive a truck. I want to do white collar work. I don’t have any engineering experience, so I thought of sticking to home improvements. After 6 months, I find myself constantly doing most of the labor… like 75%. Has anyone gotten to the level where they’re just doing business work… or is there anyone in here with a sad story of how their business failed because they weren’t businessmen and they loved their trade, so they ended up working 16 hour days, because they wanted to be known as the greatest tradesman of all time? Or does anyone have a story of how their business failed because they hired someone who didn’t do it “the right way” and they worked 16 hours a day doing other people’s work, because they didn’t trust those people? Those last 2 sentences are somewhat off-topic, but I’m curious to find out what everyone’s mindset is. Thanks for any response! All responses are welcome... hateful or friendly! :thumbup:
 

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When my dad and I got this going 5 years ago (his second company, he had just left a position as a PM) I wore my bags every day, and learned how to bid at night. I already had a lot of trades skills and management experience, I gave up a job as a commercial super to be a GC.

After I learned his method for bidding, I networked my azz off every evening, read about business and the trades every night. I developed my own methods for bidding, somewhat the same and somewhat different from his.

A couple years in, I was invited and elected to several boards of directors, we got busy. As we got busy I was doing PM and sales and bidding most of the time.

Still that way. I spend as much time as I can bagged up, about 20% of the time at best, sometimes we are super busy, I spend 10 hours doing my "real" job and 2-3 finishing what my guys couldn't before they went home.

I just was elected to my second consecutive term as HBA president and my first term as the state builders associations Area VP. Looks to be real busy next year. Booked for some time.

Personally, Id never do this chit if I didn't like building things and didn't even have a hope to bag up.

If I dug business only, id be in oil and gas or retail.
 
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To answer your question, I do what needs doing to get the job done on time and on budget, and make a profit after salaries and expenses.
 
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I wear my bags a lot when I build decks, I enjoy that. I do all my estimates on weekends, when I do remodel work I don't wear my bags so much, I rely on my subs to get it done. When I do remodel work I'm on the phone quite a bit. My job is to make sure nobody is held up on my behave. And scheduling in advance so I'm not calling subs at the last minute to get them on the job. It's not rocket surgery, but there are 1000 ways to phuck sh!t up.
 

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I wear my bags a lot when I build decks, I enjoy that. I do all my estimates on weekends, when I do remodel work I don't wear my bags so much, I rely on my subs to get it done. When I do remodel work I'm on the phone quite a bit. My job is to make sure nobody is held up on my behave. And scheduling in advance so I'm not calling subs at the last minute to get them on the job. It's not rocket surgery, but there are 1000 ways to phuck sh!t up.
I quit working weekends unless im really behind.

I like doing decks. I am usually on site when we are framing, almost always do layout, although its starting to really piss my leads off. Love trim. Proverbial and literal :laughing:
 
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For someone who is so well educated, you sure seem to ask a lot of basic construction/business questions.

Are you sure you're ready for this?


To answer the question, yes I do 8 hrs of labor a day (minimum)

Estimates are in the evenings or weekends.

proposals and drawings are on the weekends.

Sorry to burst the bubble, but being a GC is not as easy as they make it look on tv.
 

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I've always been on the tools...At the moment I'm doing subcontract work, just me the carpenter.

But when I had guys working for me on my own jobs, i'd be doing the running around- picking up materials, figuring out the scheduling, etc. But that would only be a couple hours a day on bigger jobs, the rest of the day i'd be working alongside, then doing paperwork at night after work.

For me it would be hard to let go of that feeling of control that the job is being done the way I'd want it to be. I assume the key is to put together a group of people, or at least find a lead person you can trust to get it done properly.

That said it would be nice to back off the physical aspect a bit at some point, although I don't mind it and enjoy building most of the time, for now. Hopefully i'll figure it out.
 

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Yep, even a light day has atleast 6 hours of labor. Today we jacked a house up from 8 to 2:30, then I went and walked around a commercial job we are looking at bidding from 3 to 4, then I went and looked at a roof job. Then I went and picked up a check that was owed to me for the last month. Then I went to the bank. Got home at 5:30 and changed my tire back (i had a flat Monday morning so I've been running the spair all week) finished that up at 6. Oh and last night I was up till about 2 am putting numbers together for that commercial job, and again from 6 to 730 this morning. Now throw in 30 phone calls and you have a pretty good look at my day
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
When my dad and I got this going 5 years ago (his second company, he had just left a position as a PM) I wore my bags every day, and learned how to bid at night. I already had a lot of trades skills and management experience, I gave up a job as a commercial super to be a GC.

After I learned his method for bidding, I networked my azz off every evening, read about business and the trades every night. I developed my own methods for bidding, somewhat the same and somewhat different from his.

A couple years in, I was invited and elected to several boards of directors, we got busy. As we got busy I was doing PM and sales and bidding most of the time.

Still that way. I spend as much time as I can bagged up, about 20% of the time at best, sometimes we are super busy, I spend 10 hours doing my "real" job and 2-3 finishing what my guys couldn't before they went home.

I just was elected to my second consecutive term as HBA president and my first term as the state builders associations Area VP. Looks to be real busy next year. Booked for some time.

Personally, Id never do this chit if I didn't like building things and didn't even have a hope to bag up.

If I dug business only, id be in oil and gas or retail.
I see what you mean. You're involved in a lot of things. Come to think of it, that is why I stayed in construction for 5 years. My uncle, who was a general, had me on one jobsite, then pull me off to pick up materials, then pull me off to go to another jobsite. He'd take me on estimates and to other places. There was always something new. That is what I need. That is what I enjoy.

I'm doing mostly painting jobs right now. Seems like there is plenty of work right now in painting because of the fall/winter. Decks and additions have died down. I'd like to finish a basement...something new everyday. My mom's boyfriend is promising that we'll get big jobs, but I haven't seen any big jobs from him so far. I've done bigger jobs for my company than I've done for his.

It's a tough decision to stay in construction with the volatility of the construction industry. When the economy is down, the construction unemployment rate is high. I have to deal with a lot of drug addicts and alcoholics.

The median salary of a construction manager/general contractor/construction project manager, etc. is around $80,000. I recently learned that if I owned an accounting firm... the median salary for an accounting partner is $180,000 (yep, didn't spell that wrong... another $100,000). The work is less stressful. The work is recession-proof. Accounting is on the list of top 50 occupations with the most job openings. All I need is five accounting classes. I'll take them in the Spring. If the construction thing picks up to where I'm making decent $, I might stay and use the knowledge from the accounting classes to be put towards the construction business.
 

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Yep, even a light day has atleast 6 hours of labor. Today we jacked a house up from 8 to 2:30, then I went and walked around a commercial job we are looking at bidding from 3 to 4, then I went and looked at a roof job. Then I went and picked up a check that was owed to me for the last month. Then I went to the bank. Got home at 5:30 and changed my tire back (i had a flat Monday morning so I've been running the spair all week) finished that up at 6. Oh and last night I was up till about 2 am putting numbers together for that commercial job, and again from 6 to 730 this morning. Now throw in 30 phone calls and you have a pretty good look at my day
Typical day if your lucky, for a contractor.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
For someone who is so well educated, you sure seem to ask a lot of basic construction/business questions.

Are you sure you're ready for this?


To answer the question, yes I do 8 hrs of labor a day (minimum)

Estimates are in the evenings or weekends.

proposals and drawings are on the weekends.

Sorry to burst the bubble, but being a GC is not as easy as they make it look on tv.
:laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
there are 1000 ways to phuck sh!t up.
That is what I hate about doing this. There are so many things that can go wrong and homeowners don't understand that human beings can't do work that is 100% perfect... only God can. We can get close to 100%, but it's physically impossible to get everything 100% right.

And then they want everything done for free. They don't understand that if it's not in the contract and takes up alot of time, then you can't do it.

:censored:
 

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jlsconstruction said:
I actually forgot, at noon I met with another person about their roof, it's a pretty damn big one. 32 grand.
Maybe when that commercial job is complete (I think you'll get it) you and Mrs. Jls can take a vacation. :thumbsup:
 

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That is what I hate about doing this. There are so many things that can go wrong and homeowners don't understand that human beings can't do work that is 100% perfect... only God can. We can get close to 100%, but it's physically impossible to get everything 100% right.

And then they want everything done for free. They don't understand that if it's not in the contract and takes up alot of time, then you can't do it.

:censored:
They can be pretty damn close to perfect. If a homeowner catches it, its pretty bad in most cases. A contractors eye and standards should be higher than most of their clients, imo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've always been on the tools...At the moment I'm doing subcontract work, just me the carpenter.

But when I had guys working for me on my own jobs, i'd be doing the running around- picking up materials, figuring out the scheduling, etc. But that would only be a couple hours a day on bigger jobs, the rest of the day i'd be working alongside, then doing paperwork at night after work.

For me it would be hard to let go of that feeling of control that the job is being done the way I'd want it to be. I assume the key is to put together a group of people, or at least find a lead person you can trust to get it done properly.

That said it would be nice to back off the physical aspect a bit at some point. Hopefully i'll figure it out.
I've met guys in this business who did well for years. Then something got really fu<ked up or they ran out of work and they downsized and now it's just them... and after 30 years of doing labor, they're in so much pain, have lung problems, and have dealt with so much frustration over their lives that they have a bad outlook on life.
 

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I've met guys in this business who did well for years. Then something got really fu<ked up or they ran out of work and they downsized and now it's just them... and after 30 years of doing labor, they're in so much pain, have lung problems, and have dealt with so much frustration over their lives that they have a bad outlook on life.
It goes both ways. Dont be negative.

I know several contractors (personally) who are well off, and a couple who retired well after starting with a set of nail bags in the back of their truck.
 

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My father did pretty well as a contractor, he's almost 90 years old and still (as he puts it ) walks 3/8 of a mile daily. Don't ask me how he knows what 3/8 of a mile is, but I will let him tell his story. He can do whatever he wants, he's got it like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
They can be pretty damn close to perfect. If a homeowner catches it, its pretty bad in most cases. QUOTE]

I don't know. Not when it comes to painting. I had one homeowner point out so many things that weren't in the contract... putting up soffit DOES NOT include flashing... painting rooms DOES NOT include closets unless it is stated in the contract and the square footage is stated in the contract... if we agree to fill one giant crack in the ceiling, it DOES NOT mean that we'll fill the smaller cracks for free. The problem with her is that she didn't speak English. I pointed out this stuff during the estimate and she said that she didn't want any of it done.


A contractors eye and standards should be higher than most of their clients, imo.
One thing good about a lot of the guys that I hired is that their standards are higher than mine even though my standards are usually higher than the homeowners.
 
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