It’s That Time of the Year Again and I Don’t Mean Football Season

The Importance of Having a Plan and Executing it

It’s September. Labor Day has come and gone. And the 2021 football season is underway.

It’s hard to believe that Fall is less than a couple of weeks away, with temperatures in the nineties.

You don’t think football teams just show up to the first game of the season without plans, preparation and follow through expecting to win, do you?

Your home maintenance should be approached the same way.

You need to have plans, preparation and follow through to get your home in the best shape and prepared for the season…just like football teams. When football players haven’t done their best to be prepared their more likely to be injured. The same is true for your home.

In June of 2019 I wrote about how to make home maintenance manageable. It is a plan complete with monthly, quarterly and seasonal actions to be taken to keep your home in the game.

Fall maintenance is about cleaning up grass and leaves that have collected and preparing for cold weather.

It’s hard to think cold weather, but it will be here sooner than you think.

The current warm weather makes it hard to think Fall maintenance, but there is enough that needs done it’s not too early to get started.

The Fall maintenance list includes:

  • Servicing central heating systems
  • Covering or removing window air conditioners
  • Closing foundation vents
  • Cleaning out gutters
  • Cleaning out basement window wells
  • Flushing and turning off outdoor water faucets
  • Cleaning and inspecting chimneys
  • Checking entry doors and windows

There are also quarterly maintenance actions to be done:

  • Changing HVAC filters
  • Testing smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
  • Testing GFCI receptacles
  • Checking water softeners and adding salt if needed

Don’t forget the monthly maintenance:

  • Cleaning garbage disposal
  • Cleaning range hood filters
  • Inspecting fire extinguishers
  • Cleaning clothes washer
  • Cleaning dishwasher

Just like football teams prepare for the upcoming seasons…

You should prepare your home for its upcoming season.

Having a plan and being prepared is important to a winning season. If you would like your own winning plan, get a free Home Maintenance Plan and Seasonal Checklist by going to the bottom of the Solution Building home page and download it.

Why It’s Important to Measure Twice and Cut Once

Having a Good Plan is the Best Way to Avoid Mistakes

The importance of planning became evident this morning while working on a project at home. I mis-figured and cut two boards the wrong length. Fortunately, the cut was too long rather than too short. The boards were salvageable, it just wasted a couple of 3” pieces.

My wife had been wanting some chickens and the opportunity came up a few weeks back. My sister had more chickens than she needed as well as a small (3’ x 6’) chicken pen/coop that she didn’t need.

The goal or purpose of chickens is to have fresh eggs as well as reducing bugs. (Also, my wife loves hearing a rooster crow.) We can’t let the chickens out because the dog and them wouldn’t get along. If we leave them in one location for more than a few days, there won’t be any grass left in that spot.

It’s up to me to find a solution…

The best solution is a mobile pen that can moved around, otherwise known as a “chicken tractor”. The difference between our pen and a “chicken tractor” is the ease of portability. Our pen needs some wheels.

My problem solving/builder brain kicked in.

The pen is two separate units attached together which allows it to flex in the middle when moved. The more flexing done when moved, the weaker the attachment of the two sections will get. Okay, this means we need a frame that will prevent this from happening.

The next thing is wheels. We need to keep the pen down tight to the ground so that snakes can’t get in and get the eggs but make it so it can be rolled when it needs moved. They need to be able to be raised and lowered.

Back to the plan and minimizing mistakes.

An important part of a plan is knowing the cost upfront. Most ready to go chicken tractors of a comparable size are between $350 to $500. So, one question a plan can provide, “Can I modify the one we have so that it will do what we need for less money?”

I found a 2x4x16’ rough cedar board in the shop, left over from a project, that will work for the frame. I’ve got an old push lawn mower that doesn’t work… it has adjustable wheels. I think those will work. I have plenty of screws, etc. for fastening. So…zero cost for material.

Now comes the design and engineering phase.

I neglected to put any of my ideas into a drawing and this is where the mistake that I spoke about earlier happened. It was a simple mistake. One that was easily fixed but could have been avoided with a simple drawing. It was a miscalculation and dimensions on a plan would have shown this.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re modifying a chicken pen or building a multi-million-dollar building, both turn out better with a plan. The same is true for your life. The end result will be better having a plan and being intentional about implementing it.

The two boards that I cut too long because I didn’t have a plan on this little project was an easy fix. A new home or your life might not be so easy or inexpensive.

I will let you know how the finished project turns out!

Action is Required if You’re Going to Accomplish Anything

A Plan is a Great Place to Start, But Won’t Build the House

I don’t know about you, but I find it easier to plan than to do. Last week we discussed how overthinking things slows down our plans. The thinking part is important, but it alone isn’t going to accomplish our goals.

The week before we examined how learning can keep us stuck and prevent us from moving forward. Like thinking, learning is also essential to moving forward toward our dreams.

It became evident that while both of these are great, neither will work without action.

We must “do” if we’re going to succeed.

On the other hand, just doing has issues as well. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish how will you know if what you’re doing is the right thing.

If you want to build a new home, you need a plan before you start. Granted, it doesn’t have to be a full blown super detailed set of blueprints. It could even be just in your mind, but there’s still a plan.

The problem is that it’s hard to clearly share plans when they’re only in your head.

So, if there are any others you plan to share the home with…it might be a good idea to find a clear way to communicate your plans.

The key to accomplishing the things you want is in understanding how planning and doing work together. Napoleon Hill summarizes this well with his quote…

“Plan your work and work your plan.”

Building a house is a great example for building anything, whether that’s a building, a business or a life. You need to start with the end in mind. What is it’s purpose? What will it look like when it’s finished? What needs to be done to achieve that outcome? In what order do these things need to be done? This is the planning part.

The doing part comes with some questions as well. Are you going to do it by yourself or hire professionals? Do you know how to do it or are you going to need to learn how? How long is it going to take if you do it yourself? Do you have that much time?

The bottom line is that you need to be clear on what it is that you want to accomplish and then determine the best way to get there. Once you’ve figured this out get started building.

If you don’t get started, you’ll never get finished!

How to Achieve Your Desired Life Results

 

Not to be Confused with Goal Setting

 

 

I think most of the time goal setting is seen the same way as budgeting – restricting, confining, controlling, restraining, and limiting. This is the opposite of how either should be seen.

 


Both should serve as a plan for intentionally building the life of your dreams.


Do you have a plan for what you want your dream life to be? I bet you do, we all do. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we choose to ignore these dreams, to push them down and forget them. Maybe it’s because we’ve had our dreams shattered or after years of waiting, we just gave up. Whatever the reason, you can decide to make that dream a reality or give up on it.

 


I remember years ago, before I knew about Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, I didn’t like the idea of budgeting. I thought it would keep me from being free to spend money or have fun. Then after going through the class and beginning to budget, I found it to be the opposite. I then had a plan for spending, it gave me more freedom than I had before. Budgeting actually gave me more control of my money.


Goal setting can give you more control of your life.


Our perception of words is part of the problem. We connect our own experiences with words which creates our own individual perspective. Goals is one of those words. Like budgeting, goals can feel constraining. Like budgeting, the opposite is the case.

 

 


Look at the negative, comedic way New Year’s resolutions are viewed. This is a good example of how the lack of intentionality is misleading. When we get caught up in the rhetoric we will just float through life without a plan. If we don’t bother to dig down and build our lives on a solid foundation, we will be blown in whatever direction the wind blows us.

 


A goal is a desired result. A desired result sounds good.


I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to achieve their desired results. If we are to live this life we have been given to the fullest, we need to be intentional to do all that we can to achieve the results God has planned for us.


 

Another problem with goal setting is that it can become overwhelming. Most of us have way more dreams and goals than we can ever get done. We built this mountain of things that we want to do. We’re the ones who let it get this big and we’re the ones who can make it smaller. To keep it from feeling so daunting we need to focus on one shovel full at a time rather than the whole thing.


We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for the size of our mountain.

 

It’s also important to remember that if we always set our goals small, we will never grow. We need to be growing and learning all the time. If your goals are always reached, then they aren’t big enough.

 


God has put a life dream in each of us. If we want to achieve it, we need to plan it. It doesn’t matter what you call it, what matters is that you do it. The mountain can be moved, it isn’t too big.


What matters is to align our plan with God’s and start shoveling.

How to Make Home Maintenance Manageable

 

 

 

A Home Maintenance Plan Complete with Checklist

 

 

I don’t think anyone likes it when something plugs up, leaks or quits working, especially at home. Home is supposed to be the place where we go to get away from the troubles, not deal with them.

 


Routine maintenance is a good way to minimize these costly disruptions.


Nothing is permanent. Everything wears out and deteriorates over time. Regular maintenance will help extend the life of your home and that sizable investment. Closing your eyes or looking the other way doesn’t make it go away.


Last week we discussed the importance of having an intentional plan. Today we will look at an excerpt of what this plan should include and why. (Get the full plan here)

 

Home Maintenance Plan


Home maintenance – Prevents breakdowns, saves money and keeps your home in the best possible condition. This regularly scheduled review can expose conditions that might not otherwise be found. This reduces mental, physical and financial stress and strain.


Seasons happen every year and are a natural part of life. Each of these seasons presents different weather conditions and temperatures which effect your home in varying ways. We also use calendars to schedule our lives. Combining these two things into a seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist breaks a big responsibility into small manageable scheduled tasks.


MONTHLY MAINTENANCE – These tasks should be done every month. You might prefer to schedule one day to do them all or spread them out over the month doing one or two items periodically throughout.

 

Clean garbage disposals – Put a little vinegar in an ice cube tray, add some water and freeze, then run some cubes through the disposal. Follow up with a little baking soda and warm water. The ice cubes will sharpen the blades, the vinegar and baking soda will break down food and grease build up and will leave it smelling fresh and clean.

 

QUARTERLY MAINTENANCE – These quarterly tasks, like the monthly ones, can be scheduled for one day each quarter or disbursed through out the quarter at monthly, weekly or other intervals. The important thing is to schedule them and do them.


Change HVAC and/or water filters – How often you change the filter of your furnace / air conditioner will be determined by how much it runs, how many people live in your home, whether you have animals in the house and the geographic location. Also, if you use thinner less expensive filters they should be changed more often.

 

ANNUAL MAINTENANCE (By Season) – Annual tasks are more seasonal than monthly or quarterly. There is still some flexibility that can be determined by your own preference or life schedule. Some of them are not specific to the season but have been placed as they have, to spread them more evenly throughout the year.


WINTER


Clean faucet aerators and shower heads – Dirty aerators on the end of your faucets and in shower heads can mean limescale and sediment are blocking the flow and water pressure. Unscrew the aerators and shower heads, remove the aerator and/or screen, soak them in a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture for 30 minutes or until clean, rinse and reinstall. Be careful to pay attention to the order and direction the parts come apart so that you can put them back together correctly.

 

SPRING
Service central air conditioner – It’s a good idea to have your central air conditioner serviced annually by a professional. Depending on where you live this will generally cost between $100 and $300.

 

SUMMER


Lubricate and test overhead garage door – Garage doors have moving parts that should be lubricated. With the door closed clean dirt and debris from the track. Use a lithium-based aerosol and spray rollers, bearings and other moving parts of the door and opener (chain or threaded rod). Your garage door should have stop and auto reverse motion detection to sense if an object is in its path. Get a 2×4 piece of wood and place it underneath the open door, then close the door using the opener button. The door should stop closing once it detects the wood and go back up. Also test the photo-electric sensors by moving something in front of them while the door is coming down, it should reverse direction and go back up.

 

FALL
Service central heating system – It’s a good idea to have your furnace serviced annually by a professional. Depending on where you live this will generally cost between $100 and $300.

 

The complete list is long and there are still more things that could be added. Keep in mind that everyone’s individual lifestyle, type of construction, geographic location, etc. will determine specifics to your individual plan.

 

 

The complete list can certainly seem overwhelming. This is a big part of why routine maintenance gets overlooked. If you break it down into the individual tasks, spread them out and schedule them, it’s doable, like eating an elephant one bite at a time.

 

(Get the full maintenance plan here)

How to Be Intentional About Home Maintenance

 

 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind Is Not A Good Plan

 

 

Your home is far more than just a place to reside, it’s where you live. It provides a feeling of safety and security, like a mother’s hug. It’s the place you want to be when everything around you is falling apart.


If your home is a place of shelter you don’t want it to be the thing falling apart.


Whether you rent or own your home, it’s one of your biggest investments. It’s where you spend much of your time, money, and life. With it being this important, you need to take care of it.


If our homes are so important, why are they neglected?


We are creatures of habit, whether good or bad. We preform our daily routines of coming and going and rarely bother to look around. Unless a doorknob falls off in our hand or there’s no hot water for our shower, or the sink gets stopped up, or the AC doesn’t work, or any number of other problems occur, we just go through life without giving any thought to the condition of our homes.

 

 

Maintenance isn’t going to prevent every big problem from happening, but it decreases the likely hood. Having a scheduled maintenance plan will also help you find needed repairs before they become major.

 


Having an intentional plan is important, but it won’t work if you don’t use it.

 

With everything else going on in life, how can we remember one more thing? We don’t have to if we have a scheduled plan. First you need to decide if home maintenance is important enough for you to bother with. If it doesn’t bother you when you’re forced to deal with a big problem, then don’t worry about it. You’ll know the sump pump has quit working when you replace the carpet, baseboard and lower portion of the sheetrock in your basement.


The most important part of the maintenance plan is having a system in place that works for you. I use my computer calendar for this. I can set reminders for different time periods and it will automatically remind me. Just this last weekend I was reminded that is was time to clean the coffee maker. If it hadn’t been for the reminder it wouldn’t have gotten done. Whether you use a computer, a paper calendar or something else, you need to follow through regularly.


The overwhelming maintenance mountain becomes manageable if you break it down into shovel size amounts.


Your home and life are specific to you. Your maintenance plan needs to be designed to fit those specificities. Different manufacturers of appliances and home equipment will have their own recommendations, so you should schedule your plan around that. If you have hard well water you might need to clean faucets, shower heads, coffee makers, etc. more often than recommended. If you don’t use some things regularly, they might need less maintenance.

 


Next week we’ll dig deeper into the specifics of what a maintenance plan includes, complete with a downloadable Home Maintenance Checklist for you to use.

 

The Next Chapter in “The Saga of the Grain-Bin Home”

The Hero and Her Guide Are Defeating the Evil Budget Monster

As the voyage continues, Hannah and Mark trek forward on their journey toward the allusive ‘Grain-Bin Home’. An expedition like this is not for the faint of heart. It requires the passionate desire of a hero and the experience and knowledge of a trusted guide.

This story began a year ago with the idea of building a small home by repurposing a couple of used grain bins. The two steel bins would be connected by framed wood construction. This idea was dreamt about, discussed, thought about, revised, discussed some more and over the next several months, the preliminary plan emerged.

The collaboration of the hero and the guide in developing a plan before starting on an adventure like this is critically important to achieving a positive outcome. This planning stage is often as long or longer than the building portion. Turning a dream into a reality is the hardest part of the quest. It’s also the most exciting. It is the part where the imagining turns into the doing.

We prepared a proposal based on the preliminary plans. The dollar amount was more than Hannah wanted to spend. So, we went through a list of things that could be changed or removed to get the project closer to the target figure. This included things like radiant floor heating, Pella Designer Series windows with blinds between the glass, and a pass-through indoor/outdoor fireplace.

As we worked on these revisions, Hannah on the drawing and me on the proposal we were presented with some benefits of having an experience guide and the connections that come with them.

First, I became aware of some tongue and grove V-jointed 1×6 pine that a painter had, which had been stained the wrong color for one of his projects. There was enough of it to do the interior wall that we are planning to put stained wood on. It was offered to us at the cost of the wood…we bought it.

Next, I received a communication from my Pella representatives, that Pella Products of Kansas was going to have a “Contractor Garage Sale”. This was to reduce the number of unclaimed, mis-ordered or slightly damaged items taking up space in their warehouse. Hannah and I went to this sale. With some ‘on the spot’ creative solutions we made some idea adjustments and were able to get all the windows and one of the doors needed. This was a price reduction for the customer of over $23,000 from the original proposal. We will spend a portion of that savings on painting the windows so they will all be the same color.

We are on the cusp of transitioning to the doing.

Hannah is finalizing the design changes created by the earlier price reduction list and the windows and door that were purchased. At the same time, I’m finalizing the figures as per those things as well. In the next few weeks Hannah will securing the money needed, and we will be starting on this adventure.

Keep watching for the next chapter in “Saga of the Grain-Bin Home” and share it with others you think might enjoy this story.

What Does It Take to Be A Builder?

There’s So Much More to This Building Thing Than Just Construction

I regularly go back through my life plans, especially at this time of the year, reviewing and revising them as needed to build the best life. Just like a construction project needs reviewed and revised in different phases of the project. Whether a building or a life, this process shouldn’t stop once the initial construction is complete. It is an on-going process until the end.

It is amazing to me the correlations between building a business, a life or doing construction. Building terminology is used everywhere. As a part of my life plan review, I was going back through some Michael Hyatt’s Platform University training. One of the things that caught my attention were the words that were used. In the first two sentences of the instructions I found this; “…building your website…”, “…lay an important foundation….” and “…platform-building…”.

The use of this construction terminology is a great analogy with life building as is evident in the more than eighty times it’s used in Scripture. You can find some examples here. In Luke 6:48 (NCV) it says, “…everyone who comes to me and hears my words and obeys. That person is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the floods came, the water tried to wash the house away, but it could not shake it, because the house was built well.” This sounds like a pretty good plan for building a life to me.

If you have read more than a few “Weekly Solutions” posts, you will have noticed the connections with building in many of them. Here are just a few – Building the Life of Your Dreams, Building the Best Life, Means It’s Always Under Construction, The Importance of Intentionality for Building Your Dream Life and Building Your Business Is Critical to The Survival of the Business. This really is the underlying theme for Solution Building. The central purpose is to “help people find solutions for building their dream business and life through improved communication, better business systems, quality construction projects and life lessons.

Most importantly any kind of building, whether it’s a construction project, a life or a business, needs to start with a solid foundation. My foundation is my CORE VALUES built on the SOLID ROCK of Jesus. 1 Cor. 3:11

As we move forward into this new year, we will be sharing more specific examples and systems to help you build your dream business and life. If there are areas in your business or life where you need a solution, let me know in the comment section below.

How to Simplify A Complicated Business System

Focusing on One Shovel Full of the Mountain at A Time

With my years of construction experience, I tend to view things from a building perspective. The things needed to build a good structure are the same for building a good business.

 

These things are:

Purpose – The why, the reason for building it, who is it going to serve?

Design – How is it going to look, how is it going to serve (products, services or both)?

Style – Personal preference of the finished project, not everyone wants everything to be the same, we are all individuals.

Foundation – This is what supports everything else, the core values of the construction.

Framing – This is what sets on the foundation and connects everything, it is the system of operating.

Tools – These are used to put everything together and maintain it daily.

Team – The people employed to put the pieces together and to perform the daily operations.

 

There is a lot that goes into building something. I have written about how building and operating a business can be like standing in the shadow of an overwhelming mountain and the importance of having a clear plan and being organized. It is easy to be pulled in many different directions when trying to build and operate all the different pieces of a business.

 

By nature, I tend to make things complicated (sometimes more than they need to be). This is in part due to my focus on detail and isn’t all bad. The down side to being like this is that things don’t get done very fast. I know that I need help to build my business and move my mountain.

 

I have been working to get better at sharing shovels. I have determined that one of the things I’ve done in the past is to overwhelm new team members. So, to avoid this I am working on ways to simplify the system and to focus on one shovel of the mountain at a time.

 

Our business has three areas of focus; Sales/Marketing, Production/Operations and Administration/Finance. There is a lot in each of these areas and they all are critical to the support of the business. Keeping them operating equally is one of the most important and difficult tasks.

 

The focused shovel today is preparing a Proposal. This is the area that I’m currently working on in preparation for my Administrative Assistant. It involves things that both I need to do and things I can delegate.

 

Preparing a Proposal involves:

Meeting with the customer – Finding out what the project consists of and helping them figure out what their dream is. Take pictures, get measurements and make the necessary notes needed.

Writing down the scope of work to be done – Fill out the areas and categories of the Bid Sheet with the explanation of the work to be done.

Preparing the price for doing the work – Use the information gathered to determine lineal feet, square feet, cubic feet, etc. of the different areas described in the Bid Sheet and enter it into the Worksheet.

Compiling this information on to the Proposal – Take the information of the two previous bullet points and put it on the Proposal to be presented to the customer.

I know that I have almost forty years of developing this system and I need to get it out of my head, simplify it and put it on paper if I ever hope to move this mountain.

The Importance of Intentionality for Building Your Dream Life

Because It Isn’t Going to Magically Build Itself

For years people have asked me where I came up with the business system and procedures that I use. As I thought about it, I realized that my business and life had been developing for years without much intentionality.

After my accident in 2012 it caused me to think about what my life was and what I had expected it to be. Not that my life was terrible before, it just wasn’t what I had envisioned it to be. I had been living without a clear plan and there was so much more that I wanted to accomplish.

At that point I decided to become more intentional. I’ve always been a planner but it’s sad that it took a hit in the head for me to realize the importance of being intentional about the plan.

When we’re young the tendency is to think that we’ll have all the time we need. There’s no hurry to plan for the future…we’ll get around to that someday. Then one day we wake up and realize life is flying by and we haven’t done all those things we wanted to.

 

You don’t have to wait until you’re smacked in the head to become intentional.

 

While explaining my business operating system to my team, it became evident that even though I now have an intentional plan, it needed to be written down. When working alone, I would just do the next thing that needed done. I didn’t need a written plan, so I thought. Not only do I need a written plan to communicate to my team, but it helps me to be clearer.

Think of your life or business as a construction project. It all begins with a dream. You can see the vision of the completed project in your mind. The tricky part is getting that dream out of your head and making it a reality? Having it drawn out will let you see if it looks like your dream or not. It’s better and easier to make changes and corrections during the planning, rather than the construction. It improves the clarity of communication between all parties involved.

It’s also a good idea to have the help of a professional when drawing out your plans or building your dream. Their experience, knowledge and skill, can save you time and money. Done well, it will make the entire process more enjoyable.

In last week’s post, it once again was reinforced how important intentional planning for the future is and how rarely it is done.

Having a clear picture of what it is that you want your life or business to look like when you’re finished building it, takes intentionality.

Be intentional.


Don’t wait to be smacked in the head to get intentional about planning for the future. Let me know what areas you need some help with planning or building the life or business of your dreams