Last week I was talking to a friend of mine, telling him that I was taking two days off of work later in the week. He asked me if I had anything fun planned during my time off. I told him that I was looking to get a dump truck full of dirt delivered to my house. He asked why I was getting so much dirt. I explained that I built a garage about 8 years ago and then added on a side drive a couple of years later. After all the construction, I was in need of a lot of dirt to support all the cement work. It is a project that I have been wanting and needing to do for a while.
I told my friend that I was still considering how I would tackle the project: hire a company to deliver and place the dirt or have the dirt delivered and place it myself with the help of Anna and my parents. If I hired the work out, I could use my days off to rest and relax.
My friend then told me that he once had a mentor who talked with him about calculating what your time is worth. His mentor told him that if you figure out what you earn per hour, then you can easily determine whether or not you want to hire projects out or do them yourself.
In the past, I wouldn’t have thought twice about just getting the dirt delivered and placing it myself. However, the older I get and the more responsibilities I have, the more I hate using days off of work to do things that I don’t want to do like hauling dirt. Also, the older I get, the less physical work I want to do.
Making the decision to do the work myself
I decided to have the dirt delivered and place it ourselves. What ultimately made the decision was time, cost, and the quality of dirt.
I planned to take those two days off of work regardless of whether or not I was going to place the dirt or hire to have it done. Unlike my friend’s story, I didn’t take into consideration what my time was worth for this task because I didn’t plan to focus my efforts on making money but rather just getting a task done. Also, what better way to bond with your wife and parents than by shoveling dirt? My kids were also in daycare during the week, so we didn’t having to worry about someone watching the kids.
Having the dirt delivered and placed would have cost $1,000. To have the dirt delivered was $350. By placing it ourselves, I was able to save $650. With the savings of placing the dirt ourselves, I was able to use some of that money to buy grass seed and sprinkler hoses to water the new grass seed.
Quality of Dirt
The tipping point for doing it ourselves was that I knew the dirt was sifted for rocks and would be easy to shovel and spread. If I hadn’t been reassured that the dirt would have been easy to shovel or spread, I would have paid someone else to move it. Also, during delivery I received an omen that reassured me that I made the right decision.
“RELAX” on the back of the dump truck made me laugh when the dirt was delivered. I can’t say that I was relaxed when I saw all that dirt sitting on my driveway. However, it went much more smoothly than what I had anticipated.
Do the math before you tell people
We knew we needed 10 cubic feet of dirt delivered. 10 cubic feet of dirt equals about 2.7 tons. I was telling people that it was 12 tons of dirt when they asked how much dirt we got delivered because I didn’t think people would have a reference for cubic yards. I initially messed up the math and thought 12 tons sounded high but continued to tell people anyway. Once I did the math using an online unit conversion tool, it confirmed my initial thoughts that I am a liar. So, sorry to all the people that I told that I moved 12 tons of dirt in two days instead of 2.7 tons.
Accomplishing a big task
In all, it took two days, four people, four shovels, two wheel barrows, 2 rakes, and a lot of grass seed to finish the project. We all felt a sense of accomplishment for tackling a large project and finishing it in only two days, even though we were all sore and tired afterward. We did a great job and feel good about placing the dirt exactly where we wanted it placed and saving a lot of money in the process. Anna and I have plenty of other tasks we want to check off the list this summer, so we will roll that savings into those projects.
How do you handle big projects at your house? Do you consider what your time is worth and decide if you hire the work out or do it yourself? Or, do you just do the work because you want the project done and know it is a task you can handle?