Your Time is Valuable!

Article - July 20, 2012

Once in a while, something needs fixing in the house and I just don’t have the time, desire, or know-how to fix it myself. During those oh-so-rare occasions, I am usually floored by the check I have to write. Here’s a perfect example. Our kitchen faucet has been leaking and threatening to completely break for the last few months. I took a close look at the situation since I am certainly capable of replacnig the faucet myself, and I noticed two issues. First, our sink is deep and the faucet is very close to the back splash. There just isn’t much room to work. I also noticed that our cold water shut-off valve was seizing up. Combined with the fact that I have my hands full with the shop build and other projects, it was time to call in a pro.

The guy took a look at the situation, pulled out his handy pricing guide, and told me that it would cost about $400 to replace the faucet using the new faucet I already purchased. He also said he would replace the cold water shut-off for $250. I thanked him for his time, paid the $60 trip fee, and decided that I was going to have to figure this crap out myself.

My step-dad, who has much more plumbing experience than I do, promptly came over to serve as my wing man and we had the job done in less than an hour. Turns out it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be although my back certainly didn’t enjoy the endeavor! So let’s assume I did pay the pro to do the job. If I could do it in about an hour, he sure as heck could have done it in half the time. Billing me $400 for the job would make his rate about $800/hr!! Yeah, chew on that for a while.

So the point of all this is not to diminish the value of our friendly neighborhood plumbers, but to encourage you to charge what you’re worth! If you happen to be in the position to sell your woodworking, please do NOT undervalue your time. Just because you enjoy doing it doesn’t make it any less valuable. I think that’s where many hobbyists/part-time pros get hung up. We see a paying job as something to help us break even. Well pardon my French but screw that! You should be charging for not only materials, but your time. And don’t forget about the elusive x-factor called “profit”. Every project you sell should absolutely bring in a substantial profit. We can’t compete with big box store prices and we shouldn’t even try. People who buy cardboard furniture are not our customers anyway…..yet. The pieces you create will outlast your lifetime and many more to come. We stand in defiance of the disposable society we find ourselves in. Take pride in that stance, build great furniture, and if you sell it, charge appropriately.