I have been experimenting for 5 years to carry out construction sites for free, on the basis of a donation. Why?
Love is a gift, and love is the most important source of happiness. Everything in nature is a free gift, not even a barter. So donating is in harmony with God’s laws of love and should in principle bring joy and harmony to me, my clients and by contagion those around us. This is what I experience. I think this is an interesting practice on several counts:
For the craftsman: she confronts him with his (lack of) self-esteem, his fears of lack and dying, his addictions to money, his greed, venality and avarice or lack of generosity when the acts are all weighed against what we will gain. What we attract reflects our condition of inner peace or fear.
For the client: this leads to an awareness, a kind of intimate reflection for the recipient: how to receive a gift without feeling indebted? How to realize your dream without fear of running out of money and trust in abundance, that our desire is pure? How to express gratitude or not? What is the value of a gift I receive?
In the relationship: it helps to create a quality bond. We get out of the infernal venal spiral of: “I pay you, so I have all the rights, do your job and shut up. The rest, I don’t want to know, take care of yourself”. We explore new avenues: “How do I give my client the best possible gift? And for the client, what do I really like and what does this mean in its realization? How do I properly express my gratitude for what I have received? How can I give the most beautiful gift possible to the craftsman, according to my desire and my means? »
As part of my private Terpaille&Co projects with individuals, I want to cultivate and engage, as much as possible, the principle of giving. We always decide together, me and the client, if we engage in this process. Common values are the desire to nurture trusting, caring human relationships and faith in the process. I discovered that it is a process that makes me grow, gives confidence in my abilities and in the generosity and abundance of the universe. And my clients seem to like it too.
How is it working in reality ?
I give my time for free, willingly share my know-how with people insofar as love is at the center of the transaction. What does that mean ?
Before the start of work:
- Safety: this is my No. 1 priority, the safety of the site for myself, other craftsmen and helpers, and passers-by through collective and individual protective equipment. The rental of collective protection equipment, such as scaffolding, is the responsibility of the customer. The practical and safe layout of access to the site, and of the work area on the site (backfilling of trenches, laying of crushed material, etc.), is also the responsibility of the client.
- Cleanliness: before the start of the work, I encourage the client to protect anything that could be soiled during my work (risk of splashes, splinters, friction, etc.), and if necessary, I put the client in guard against the remaining possible risks linked to a lack of general protection. I undertake to personally protect the objects and surroundings of the construction site as much as possible so as not to dirty or damage them. This will save money and cleaning time at the end of the construction site. Protective consumables are the responsibility of the customer (tarpaulins, films, tape, etc.). If the site is well protected, I save working time.
- Relationship of trust: this is essential for me. It is the basis of the joy of a job well done. I listen to the needs and desires of the client, and I try to apply them. The customer expresses his technical and aesthetic tastes and desires, and in this context, I make proposals, and I recommend the best technical options among which the customer makes his choice. I am totally transparent about my technical and practical choices, and I gladly share the reason for my choices and decisions. I also share my feelings about the site, and I want to hear the client share his. The relationship, my feelings and those of the client are also important, and to be taken into account. I commit to taking responsibility for my emotions. I try not to project them onto the client, even if I’m frustrated or stressed.
- Materials: either the customer already has the materials (to be avoided if possible), or he buys the materials that I recommend and makes them available to me on the site, or I buy the materials myself on behalf of my customer who pays me in advance or reimburses me on the basis of the invoice/receipt.
- Quote: In general, I work without a quote and then provide a detailed breakdown of my hours actually worked. I can give an estimate of the cost of materials, and labor time. However, it is only indicative and not contractual, unless decided otherwise. As I almost always do personalized “tailor-made” jobs, I have noticed that many jobs take much longer than expected, some tasks are extra, and others go faster. Neither me nor my clients are bound by an estimate with additional surprise work as is often the case, it is the realization of desires in a benevolent cooperation that takes precedence.
- Travel and living allowance: before the start of the work, I agree with the client on a lump sum to cover my living expenses if I am staying on site. Generally, I do not count my travel time, just the travel costs invoiced to the legal mileage scales in force.
During the work:
- Safety: this remains the most important for me and for others. Compliant and secure tools and materials, work in safe conditions. I interrupt the construction site, and implement solutions, as soon as there is a risk of an accident.
- Quality: beautiful, clean, solid, useful and well-done work is my goal.
- Efficiency, without haste: I work as efficiently as possible. In this context, I favor the quality and the pleasure of a job well done. I avoid working in a hurry as much as possible. I try not to rush or hurry, but to focus on a job well done once and for all. Even under pressure. This often happens on construction sites, and I do not condone it. Being in a hurry leads to making mistakes, shoddy work, causing accidents, and destroying the pleasure of a job well done, and the quality of relationships.
- Working hours: I establish my working hours according to my priorities in compliance with my commitments, my physical well-being and the requirements of the site in cooperation with the other trades involved. Humility: I recognize that I always learn from my projects, that I don’t know everything, that there are often many technical options. I take the best option I think at the time, but I can make a mistake or improve the technique, and make a different choice later.
- Accountability: I take responsibility for my choices and mistakes. If I need to correct, improve, or start over, something, I agree to do so. If I do not have the means, the time or the money, I undertake to do everything in my power to find a solution that suits the client by assuming my personal responsibility to the best of my ability. I don’t have a ten-year guarantee at the moment, firstly because it’s very rare in my field, but also because it would force me to work a lot more, with higher fixed rates. Consequently, I only accept projects that I have confidence to carry out successfully without problems.
- Statement of work carried out: at the end of the project, or at the end of the month if the project is longer, I send the client a detailed statement of the tasks and hours worked. The customer then decides if he wishes to make a donation to me, freely, at his discretion.
There are 3 scenarios:
- The client is happy with the work done and wishes to make a donation to me. Our relationship is excellent, built to last. I feel his sense of gratitude and satisfaction for the work I have done for him.
- The client does not make a donation, or he gives me a donation without really wanting to (out of fear, guilt, a sense of being obliged, or whatever). In this case, I will decide if I wish to continue or stop the construction site, according to what seems to me a loving choice, on a case-by-case basis.
- The client is not satisfied with my work (hypothetically because this has never happened to me until now). It doesn’t matter if he gives me a donation or not, either we find a win-win solution for everyone by handing over the site to a colleague, or I simply stop the site.
The advantage of the practice of giving is that, not only does the client choose me for my unique way of being and working in a human and personalized way, but in addition, I myself choose my clients, only committing myself if I feel good about it. .
Consequently, if I have to interrupt or stop the project, regardless of the reason, professional or personal, I undertake to do everything in my power to find a colleague to complete it, and to collaborate and communicate all the necessary information so that it ends well and as soon as possible.
At the end of each month, I give the client an invoice including the amount of donations received during the month for the hours worked, as well as the amount of travel. Materials are reimbursed separately on the basis of invoices/receipts.
For information, of the declared invoiced amount, approximately 22% is used to pay social and professional charges and taxes. Then there are the costs of vehicle and professional tools and equipment. The self-employed craftsman has minimum social protection, with no guaranteed income in the event of accident or illness and no right to unemployment. Paying additional social protection is therefore necessary.
How to determine the “right” donation?
There is no “right” donation. There is what you desire to donate.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, imagine what you would like to receive if you were an artisan.
Think about the value of time, whether you think the value of each person’s time is the same or not. How much is an hour of your time worth. Do you treat everyone equally? Are you worth more, less or the same as others.
Try to be generous, or to give a minimum, and feel in your heart what seems right to you.
Listen to your heart and your conscience. Use this opportunity to develop your sense of love and giving of what is right for you.
Just to give you an indication, if you really have little means but appreciate my work, 120 to 150€ per day (15 to 20€ per hour of work) allows me to continue my activity, if it is from time to time . Otherwise, 200 to 250€ per day (25 to 30€ per hour) is an amount that allows me to live and develop my activity and engage my passions. Some people are more generous and give me 35 or 40 € per hour. If it is for a participatory group ot training work, more complex to prepare and manage, it is more like 250€ to 300€ per day.