Things I Learned in Contractors Class: You Do Not Know It All

 Huh. It says it right here on my notes.

When we got to this section of the course I gave MysteryMan a look that said, “Obviously this guy doesn’t know I have access to Google at all times on my phone, so, in fact, I do know it all.”

MysteryMan responded with a look that I can most accurately interpret as, “shut up and pay attention.”

So apparently (and contrary to popular believe, I’m sure) I don’t know it all, which explains why I’m taking contractors classes with no intention of becoming a contractor.

We’re just finishing up Business Management & Cost Estimating, class 2 of 7 in the prelicensure courses. I actually found the whole thing interesting, since in theory I learned all about Business Management when I got my MBA. (From professors who, as far as I can tell, never actually worked in business.) So while I spent months learning about globalization and macro trends (first and last time business school terminology will rear its ugly head on this website), all they really needed to say was “you do not know it all.”

Knowing is not nearly as important as “can you find it out when you need to?” Or, “can you critically think through a problem and come up with a solution?” Those are the skills that will contribute to success when you dive headfirst into a big, ugly project, the likes of which you’ve never attempted before.

Practice also doesn’t hurt. And neither does an extra-large dose of insanity.

The only thing I preach about on this website is if you want to do it, you can, and your gender, height, occupation, or all those people in your life who look at you with their eyes crossed can’t stop you. As long as you don’t let them.

So the most important lesson MysteryMan and I will learn throughout this big, crazy project is that we do not know it all. Our key to success will be figuring out how to deal with the reality of not knowing everything we need to.  (MysteryMan, are you reading this? I vote for Google.)

Hey look, that adorable man just rolled his eyes so far back into his head that they got stuck.

Stop Waxing Philosophic, What Did You REALLY Learn

Okay, okay, I really did learn a couple of interesting facts in Business Management & Cost Estimating.

Did you know:

  • You cannot contract to do residential construction in the state of Michican in excess of $600 if you don’t have a license.
  • If you are licensed, you must have a written contract to do work — and once you sign that contract you’ve just put half your soul on layaway until you finish it. God forbid you make a mistake in the bidding process, because once that piece of paper is signed You. Are. Screwed.

Here’s something else that will be useful for all of us, especially those putting on their own addition. There are a couple of handy calculators out there that help you figure out if the insulation you have planned is up to code.

  • Free REScheck software from the US Department of Energy, here.
  • There is also a ton of information–though no calculators that I can find– on the Energy Star website. (Most notable, the information on tax credits.)

6 Responses

  1. When you take the contractor test in Lansing be ready to be the only female there. When I took the test about 10 years ago, I was THE ONLY female in the auditorium.

    Don’t fret…’s not that bad.

    I took the class and the test on a bet. A fellow co worker was taking the class and test for a second time. I asked “why? it can’t be that hard?” He replied, “What? you think you can pass it the first time?” I said “hell, yes.” and the bet was on.

  2. Great idea – taking a contractors class… I’d do that to make sure that I didn’t get screwed by contractors… What does a class like that cost?

  3. Jan – I’m one of two women in the classes at this point, but since I started out working in the construction industry, I’m used to it. I don’t think you have to go to Lansing to take the test anymore, they have testing centers all over, but you have to take the 60 hours of pre-req courses before you can get your license.

    Meredith- In Michigan they require 60 hours of classes, which have been moderately helpful thus-far. (We haven’t gotten into the meat of the content yet.) They’re more geared to “how do you run a successful construction business” at this point, but I’ve learned some things about when contractors are locked into a job, what is their responsibility and what is the homeowners responsibility, etc. If you didn’t know this stuff, it’s quite possible to get screwed, particularly if something goes wrong on the job.

    For the full 60 hours it will be around $700, but the classes range from $75 – $125, which isn’t too bad if you’re just interested in a specific topic.

    I think we should invent that class… How Not To Get Screwed By a Contractor 101. My syllabus would start with:
    1.) Make sure your water meter is installed in the correct direction.

  4. I seem to be having a problem , subscribing to your RSS feed. It comes up with error 302. Let me know if its a known error or if its just me . Ive tried firefox and IE. Im using Eset Firewall and im not sure if its turned on . Im not Great with PCs. Ill revisit your site and see if you have responded. much appreciated

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.