My father was many things, but handy around the house he was not. Oh sure, he could pound a nail into the wall to hang a picture or use a screwdriver to tighten a doorknob, but beyond that, I don’t remember seeing him do many chores involving tools. But, give him a trowel and let him outside to tend his tomatoes and he was a happy man.
Because Dad handled rental properties, he had a list of independent contractors and plumbing, painting, and electrical companies he used to maintain those properties. He used them for our own house repairs as well. So if there’s one thing that he taught me it was that you can always hire somebody to do the jobs that you don’t want to or cannot do.
I have come to rely on that knowledge.
I have owned my own home for 15 years and about 10 years ago totally remodeled the interior — knocking out walls, updating the bathroom, and pretty much changing every single surface in the house. I was lucky while doing that project — which went on for several months — in that I had a friend who owned a masonry company and served as my contractor. He had a crew of workers who did the demolition work, and he hooked me up with a painter, an electrician, and a drywall person. I had wood floors installed, and he had a source for that job as well.
My brother inherited from our mother the Fearless Gene. He will try anything once. He has also been a source of help. Although he doesn’t live in Louisville, when he comes to visit I usually have a list of little chores for him to do, and he doesn’t mind helping me out at all. He hung ceiling fans for me, repaired a broken chair, and has completed other minor tasks around the house and I’m grateful for that. He doesn’t even charge me. Ah, such is brotherly love.
In addition to family and friends I have found my neighbors to be a terrific resource for hiring help. The first time I had my kitchen painted I used the company the neighbor was using at the time. She liked their work, and I felt comfortable letting the crew into my home.
Word of mouth is perhaps the best way to find contractors or work people for your home repair projects. Asking someone in your yoga class or an art class can be very helpful. If you have just purchased a home or condo, your real estate agent might have suggestions.
One friend of mine has used a professional handyman service, and she says the best way to do that is to save up and have a few chores for the worker to do at one time. But first, ask if the company charges by the hour or by the job. If you have curtain rods to be installed and a door to be unstuck and a shelf to be hung, have those completed all at once.
Another way to find competent workers is through a neighborhood hardware store or home improvement store. There are usually business cards or some other contact information that can be found.
For big jobs, check with the Better Business Bureau if you are considering hiring a company — plumbing, HVAC, electrical, or the like. Better stick with licensed companies who most likely (please check if it is) are insured and offer some sort of warranty on the work. Ask for references. You might be wise to get a couple of estimates for large jobs of this sort.
If you live alone and are hesitant to have a stranger come into your home, by all means call on a neighbor, friend, or family member to be with you while work is being done. Don’t leave any valuables or money lying around, and although there is no need to hover over the workers, at least stay aware of what they are doing and where they are in your home.
Outside home maintenance jobs need attending to as well. If like me you have a yard and garden but no interest in doing anything more than gazing at it, you will need to find someone to mow and weed. I am lucky enough to have a neighbor who cuts my modest back yard for me. As far as weeding and keeping my small flower garden under control, I found a young woman who I hired based on the recommendation of the woman who used to handle that chore for me.
I have a neighbor who runs a landscaping company but also does odd jobs, and he keeps my gutters cleaned out and free flowing. He has also done a few heavy duty landscaping jobs for me.
If worse comes to worse and you find you have a small repair that needs to be done you can always access YouTube. I had to replace the flushing mechanism of my toilet and turned to YouTube for help. Success!
As you might imagine, I was very pleased with myself after making that minor repair. But for anything more complicated than that, I will continue to rely on the professionals.
P.S. See how this woman transformed her home.
BY: LUCY M. PRITCHETT
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