Thursday, February 16, 2017

Profile of a Lady Contractor

This is me.  And I am a contractor.
I just sort of stumbled upon it. Yet I have been flipping houses long before it was trendy.
I plan.  I build. I organize. I communicate. I spend.
I study. I get dirty. I operate noisy tools. I sweat. I pray.
I put on makeup and curl my hair.
I am a lady contractor.

I think about this time last year.
I owned a beautiful red brick farmhouse.  In pristine styled order.
Take the tour here

One year later, I own four properties.
The blue farmhouse, the bungalow, the country house and the city condo.
All in various stages of renovations or styling for market staging.
My world is construction, sub-contractors, hardware shopping, online shopping, phone calls, text messages, admin paperwork.

In the course of one year, how did I get from being a city lady moved to the country,
to a woman overlooking the complex renovations of several properties?
I had a plan one year ago.  A very good plan.
I sold my pretty brick farmhouse and set out to follow my goal.
My long term goal - living mortgage free in the country.
And happy to say, I'm still on track.  It's still going to take me a few more years yet, but I'm on track.

 Profile of a lady contractor
Well lets see.....
On site, I wear blue jeans, it would be crazy to wear anything else, I always walk away dirty. Always.
I have boots in my vehicle, a change of cloths, headbands to tie my hair back, several pair of work gloves.
I am a quirky woman, slightly insane.  But doing what I'm doing, my personality fits.
And never far away is a pretty good sense of humour.
I have money, but almost never have cash....totally hate that, but cash is hard to keep when you are buying for four properties.
And every once in a while I like to feed myself.

The team
I have over the year put together an excellent team.
Some know my long term goals, some don't.
They range from sub-contractors, drywallers, floor guys, electrical guys, basement guys, plumbers, lawyer, investors, advisors, employees.  A couple of sisters and my mother.

Throughout this blog post, you will see how much I love what I do.
Everyday I look forward to my being in each property.
I'm proud of all my houses and what I have achieved.
When I think back a decade, I had
I love my new vocation.  There's no turning back now.  There's no stopping me now.

The big boys
Without a doubt, it's a man's world.  I am a woman in a sea of men.
I would say when I am at the Contractors desk at any given hardware store, I am surrounded by 98% men.
But I hold up to these guys.  I know what I am ordering.  From sizes of lumber to the screws and nails that go with them.
Sure, I may not be able to carry the lumber around, but that's what the carts are for right!

I will confess sometimes in my world of construction, dirt, sawdust, mud and tools, sometimes I need pretty.
So to channel this need I sat down one day and opened up an Etsy shop selling teacups. Just like that! Just teacups.
So in a nutshell, I order bulks of nails, lumber, drywall and at the same time teacups.
I am a complex woman.

Lessons leaned
When I set out on this journey I knew it would not always be easy.
I gave myself some forgiveness for mistakes.  And I know there would be difficult choices to make.
And there would be times when there would be no money, no food.
And that I would be standing alone for parts of my journey.  And at times I would be defeated.

I would say I made a lot of mistakes with the blue farmhouse.  Lessons learn.
There would be workers I would befriend, and then have to watch them move on.
I'm pretty sure I have lost a few pounds when money got so tight, I went hungry.
But I have learned to appreciate more.  Food tastes better.
And with no vehicle, I  walked more.  I feel healthier.
I had time on my hands, I did a lot of thinking.  Made decisions.

This past December was a particular difficult month.
My vehicle breaks down.
And I was going through a difficult mortgage transaction.
A new investor, his mortgage broker and his lawyer had no idea had to process a private mortgage.
My own lawyer had to pretty much walk them through the legal process.  This took months.  Long grueling months.
So many things I should have done differently, I should have walked away when they made their first major mistake.
I suffered so badly. No money, no car, no food, very alone. Lesson learned.

These days I feel stronger.  I call the shots.  I pick and choose my investors.  I determine what is best for me, my investments, my goal.
But all the while still feel I have a few more lessons to learn.

Just recently I was able to buy myself a new vehicle....a Jeep Liberty.  I love my Jeeps.

Money may not always be plentiful, so I stock up on food.  In the freezer and cupboards.
I try to keep a small stash of cash for fuel.
I feel that much smarter.  I feel a little more in control.  I stand a bit taller.


Responsibilities of Four Properties
You would think that owning four properties would seem daunting.  Overwhelming.
Sure I have four hydro bills to pay.  Four mortgages.  Four gas bills.  Four tax bills.
But having four properties makes me feel secure.
The hydro gives me access to my computer to work on getting property number five.
And it gives power for my guys to build one more square foot of my dream.
The gas bill heats my home, allowing for a good nights sleep.
The mortgages remind me that I paid for these properties low and am selling them high.
I have private mortgages, someone was kind enough to give my dream flight.  Sure they make money, but thank you anyway.
The tax bill I see every time a snowplow goes up and down my road.  My garbage is picked up at my curbside.
The OPP drive around my community, keeping it safe.  The parks in the summer are breathtaking.

I am planning for a secure future, so I'm working my butt off now while I'm still in good health.
I may have a gypsy soul, staying put is hard for someone like me.  Commitments are tough.
But these responsibilities I take stone solid.  I protect my four houses.  I do not lose my investments.

Decorating 101
When I started this project, sure I had my long term goal mapped out.
But I so looked forward to the decorating end of these flip houses.
However, as time goes on I am finding I have less and less money to buy the furnishings I need to style it the way I want.
Most if not all of my money goes into the material end of renovating the houses.
So it is taking a little longer to style the houses that are finished.
And I will confess this frustrates me.  I love decorating houses.
But when it comes to buying a pretty table or paying for lumber and labour, the lumber and labour always wins.
I have started to budget a little more in detail for the decorating end of things.
While other parts of the reno material I am putting aside for a bit.
Trying to produce an even balance between the two areas of my job.

   So now that you know how I got to be a contractor, where I'm heading and my overall mentality,
follow along with me tomorrow and spend a day in the life of a lady contractor.

This is a two part series
Stay tune tomorrow for Part Two
A Day In The Life of a Lady Contractor

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  1. I have to say Congrats to you! I would love to flip and decorate houses.I don't have the risk-taking drive that it needs, so I live it through you! Thanks!

  2. Someday in the future, you should write a book!