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This is a long rant. So settle in for a long read.

I am fairly handy around the house, but my skills pale in comparison to many on this board. There are some things I do not mind tackling, and there are some things I will be happy to pay a skilled tradesman to take off my hands.

Having moved into a new house and having a list of chores longer than my arm, I tried to hire a tradesman twice this week and both times it went sideways.

The first time I did some research on our local community Facebook page and found someone with lots of referrals and pictures of past work. This person is kind of a general overall handyman and does kitchen and bathroom renovations, deck building, door / doorframe replacements, etc.

I had a list of items for him tackle. The first was some sidelight and door frame repair.

Next to my front door, I have this sidelight.

The horizontal pieces of wood are torn up from the previous owner's dog. I would like these fixed. He looked at them and said, "Hmmmm....."

No issues yet, I understand some things require thought. I said, "Ponder that while I show you the you the other items."

I walk him to my back door.

I showed him where the dog also damaged this one, but no where near as badly. My thought was some wood filler, some sanding, maybe 30-60 minutes of time and this would look nearly as good as new.

Well, he starts measuring the door. I cock my head in thought as it takes me moment, and I say, "If you are measuring that door for replacement, that is not an option." He looks surprised and asks, "Why not?" I respond, "Because that door is probably $2,000 and I am not spending that much money to fix some scratches." He pauses and says, "Well, we could patch it, but I have no idea how good it will look."

Ok, let's move on.

I take him to our pergola out back.

It is hard to tell, but the pergola is leaning slightly towards the camera, most notably the front right post. The 6"x6" vertical posts are sitting on a 6"x6" horizontal post laid in the ground and they are bolted together with hardware, which can be seen on the left post at the bottom. The post laid on the ground, the front right side has started to sink a little bit. My vision, if I tackled this myself, attach a block of wood, jack up the post / front right corner, support it, dig underneath the horizontal 6"x6", lay some concrete block for support, lower back down so it's level and straight.

Note that my tree guy will be at the house on Monday to trim this bougainvillea back significantly to take much of the weight off and make the repair easier.

Well, this guy recommends completely cutting out the bougainvillea, sinking new 6"x6" into the ground and rebuilding the whole pergola. Ummmm, have you priced wood lately? Hell, those 4 6"x6" posts alone would be close to $300. And that's before the rest of the wood, hardware or labor. I thank him for his time, tell him I am looking for a repair, not a replacement and send him on his way.

In our master shower the handle to turn on the shower requires you to pull it out to turn it on, push it in to turn it off and rotate clockwise / counter clockwise to adjust the temperature. The handle pulling out / pushing in was kind of stiff, and there was also a leak from between the trim and valve when the shower was on. It wasn't at the top of my list since it only leaked when on, I knew it would be a nightmare of a project and would probably require a plumber. But yesterday my wife hopped in the shower, turned it on, adjusted the temperture and water stopped flowing.

I had messed with the the trim a few times, trying to figure out how it came off. I assumed it was a screw cap, but I could not turn it by hand and figured it would wait for another day. Well, it was now that day. But since I was in the middle of another project, my compressor died, I have to go buy a new one, I had other things on my list afterwards, and I was trying to work and actually earn money in between to pay for all this stuff, I told my wife, call a plumber.

The plumber arrives and he cannot get the trim off. He goes out to his truck and calls Pfister to ask for advice and if there are any tricks. He comes back in and is tapping away, working, and essentially gets nowhere. He tells me it would be best to get a tile guy to remove some tiles so he can see the valve and pipes and then he can replace the entire valve and trim pieces. Which by the way would cost $800. I do pay him $150 for his time for today.

I call my uncle up, who is the most handy guy I know. He comes over for a second opinion. With a pair of channel locks and about 60 seconds of time, he and I have the trim cap screwed off. About 5 minutes after that, we have the entire trim off and are looking at the valve and valve guts.

Here is the trim piece, with the cap that screws off, which then grants access to screws for trim disassembly.

Is it too much to ask that a working, licensed plumber be able to figure out how to remove that part?

Anyway, my uncle and I dug into it, we were able to get the valve guts removed. They were plastic and essentially welded to the brass of the main valve body and starting to breakdown, hence the stickiness and leaking. Now I will need to source the valve guts from Pfister, and hopefully they have some new trim also.

But on the bright side, I did have painters at my place this week, and they did awesome. Now, my buddy owns the painting company, but still, it was a good experience. And I also hired a company to mount my TV above the fireplace. The guy was knowledgeable, listened to my requests and did a fantastic job.

So I know there are good tradesmen out there. But man, my batting average in finding them sure ain't great.
Posts: 1927 | Location: Orlando | Registered: April 22, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Just finding someone who will show up is often tough around here.
Posts: 11402 | Location: Michigan | Registered: July 01, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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One of the many reasons I do as much as I can myself and only hire jobs out as a last resort.

I remember being in HS and how hard the guidance counselors and teachers worked to dissuade students from any career path involving their hands that didn't involve typing on a computer as they were the future.......
Posts: 733 | Location: Midwest | Registered: April 13, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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same here on both accounts. "Sigh"...If only I had followed my instinct/passions then I'd probably be much wealthier and certainly happier.

Originally posted by M1Garandy:
One of the many reasons I do as much as I can myself and only hire jobs out as a last resort.

I remember being in HS and how hard the guidance counselors and teachers worked to dissuade students from any career path involving their hands that didn't involve typing on a computer as they were the future.......
Posts: 385 | Location: /// DEPLOYED /// | Registered: December 16, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Getting people is tough all over the country.

Not enough people going into the trades.

Enough building of houses to suck up the labor market.

My contractor is pulling guys off houses to get things done.

7 months behind schedule.
Posts: 4138 | Registered: February 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Invest Early, Invest Often
Picture of TomV
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Around here there is so much new construction that nobody wants to bother for anything less than a couple of thousand dollar job. And when you do get a quote, I swear that they just double the price and see who bites since they have too much work.
Posts: 1042 | Location: Escaped California...Now In Sunny, Southern Utah | Registered: February 15, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Get my pies
outta the oven!

Picture of PASig
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We had to book the contractor that will be doing our new kitchen this summer (he starts demo on August 22) back in May of 2021. THAT’S how hard it is to get a good one around here.

Posts: 29951 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: November 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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That’s why I do stuff myself. I know what I don’t know..electric and roofing gets hired out. Otherwise, I’ll take a crack at it.

"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.” Robert A. Heinlein

“You may beat me, but you will never win.” sigmonkey-2020

“A single round of buckshot to the torso almost always results in an immediate change of behavior.” Chris Baker
Posts: 9545 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Most of guys are just feeding and housing their families so a triage of sorts is the order of the day. They won’t take a $200 component level job that takes two days when they can do it in 3 hours by swapping the entire unit. They become attuned to red flags and often find it easier to just stop taking calls or not show up than to deal with an argumentative client or a customer that obviously knows more than them.

Of course, the industry also attracts a certain type. Even perfect customers get left behind by the guys that just don’t want to work today or spent the gas money on illicit substances or aren’t organized enough to keep to-do lists or call logs.

I’ve personally dropped the ball a small number of times and could only apologize and move on. However, on the times I’ve purposely declined a job the client says they want an explanation but they really don’t.
Posts: 43644 | Location: Pennsyltucky | Registered: December 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It’s like that everywhere. The legit guys are booked up, often through the end of the year. Because no one can get the good guys anytime soon, half-assed hacks and bullshit artists are filling the gap. They either don’t show up, start and never come back or take whatever money they can get and vanish. The lady that grooms our dogs had been needing some repairs to the hand rails on the wheelchair ramp at her business. Couldn’t find anyone to do it and she was in the store one day buying what she thought she needed to try it herself. I drive by her place every day so I just had her buy the materials and I went by that afternoon to fix everything. Took me less than 45 minutes. A professional would’ve charged way too much because it would take him away from bigger, more profitable jobs. A hack would’ve done a shit job if anything.

Learn some of this stuff yourself or get on a waiting list now.
Posts: 13170 | Location: Shenandoah Valley, VA | Registered: October 16, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Step by step walk the thousand mile road
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Worse than not finding a reliable tradesman is finding what you think is a reliable person, only to have them defraud you.

In the vast number of instances, there is no prosecution of these fraudsters. I know of one case where a remodeling "contractor" took a person for >$100,000 and the Commonwealth Attorney for Loudoun County refused to prosecute (this is the same CA who prosecuted the father who became irate when the school board claimed his daughter was not sexually assaulted on school grounds by a male "transgender" sexual predator).

In my case, everyone kept saying it was a civil matter, even after I brought them the specific provisions in the Virginia Code and the VA Supreme Court case that upheld these laws. I did eventually recover my money, and the contractor was convicted of felony construction fraud.

Nice is overrated

"It's every freedom-loving individual's duty to lie to the government."
Airsoftguy, June 29, 2018

Posts: 29825 | Location: Loudoun County, Virginia | Registered: May 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We found a good one through word-of-mouth from people we trust who used him. That is one of the advantages of living in the same place for many years. When we need specialty trades our guy will tell us who to call. They are the ones he uses when needed. As pointed out above the good ones are booked well into the future. The hardwood floor guy we used in February was a true artisan, but it took eight months to get him.

"The world is too dangerous to live in-not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen." (Albert Einstein)
Posts: 883 | Location: Rural Virginia - USA | Registered: May 14, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Get my pies
outta the oven!

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My plumber used to be a member of the same church I’m getting ready to leave and he’s worth his weight in gold. I’ve had him now replace virtually every valve in this house starting with the main supply line from the street and just had him change out all the toilet and bathroom sink shutoff valves. Nothing in this house was ever replaced it appears from when it was built in 1951 which I guess is a testament to how well and over-engineered things were back then but I figure 71 years is pushing it for anything.

Don’t have a good electrician per say I can call on but between myself and an electrician from my work who helps me when I ask him, I’m good there. Got a good plumber, HVAC guy, and general contractor and they’re all great.

I actually tried to get the HVAC guy more work thinking he could use it, friend of mine needed a new heater/AC and the guy actually turned him down saying he couldn’t take on any new clients right now that’s how freaking busy he is!

Posts: 29951 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: November 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I Deal In Lead
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Lost one tile from just above a bay window. Called 2 different roofing companies to get one (1) tile replaced.

Both said they wouldn't come out for one tile, I had to sign up for a roof inspection ($2,000.00) plus they guaranteed me I'd need about a dozen tiles replaced for even more money.

Stumbled on a roofing contractor a block from me and he replaced it with a matching tile for $150.00
Posts: 8758 | Location: Gilbert Arizona | Registered: March 21, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
My other Sig
is a Steyr.
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Guess they all went to college to get a degree in Harry Potter or Intro to Surfing.

Support Sigforum and Para!
Posts: 7731 | Location: Somewhere looking for ammo that nobody has at a place I haven't been to for a pistol I couldn't live without... | Registered: December 02, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fighting the good fight
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Originally posted by .38supersig:
Guess they all went to college to get a degree in Harry Potter or Intro to Surfing.

That's actually not that far off.

As noted earlier, for the past 2 generations at least, the push has been "college, College, COLLEGE!" Every child was pressured from the time they were in elementary school to go. to. college. It was repeatedly reinforced that you would never be worth anything if you didn't have a piece of paper saying you had a college degree. That was true for me, even back in the 1980s-1990s.

Reminds me of a statement I saw a little while back: "Our teachers all used to tell us that if we didn't go to college like them we'd end up working as trash collectors, without ever bothering to mention that trash collectors make more money than teachers do..."

Our largest area school district even had as its motto for well over a decade: "Every Student, College Bound". Eek How naively blind can one be? Not every student deserves to go to college. Not every student needs to go to college. Not every student wants to go to college. And not every "good job" requires college!

So now we have had two entire generations where the majority have been pushed away from the much-needed skilled trades, and towards often-meaningless college degrees. I'm sorry to say that I was one of them... I didn't learn a damn thing in my 4 years of earning a Criminal Justice degree that I wouldn't have learned on the job. I just did it because it was expected. I "had to have a degree" to be worth anything. And it took me 14 years - fully half of my law enforcement career - to pay off the loans I had to take out to afford to get my "must-have" piece of paper.

So now, as the last real generation of skilled HVAC/plumbing/electrical/etc. tradesmen are retiring and dying, there's nowhere near enough replacement tradesmen to keep up with demand, thus resulting in a lack of availability and high prices when you can find one.

The good news is that the course is starting to be corrected, with schools now starting to again recognize the value of non-college education and careers, and skilled trades companies offering generous recruitment and training packages to entice more young workers. But it's probably going to take decades (at least one generation) before it gets back towards where it should be, so we won't see noticeable results anytime soon.
Posts: 28994 | Location: Northwest Arkansas | Registered: January 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Unmanned Writer
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The wood guy is correct about how a patch n sand will look if you plan to finish with oil or stain. (My personal preference is that natural look)

If you’re willing to allow the wood to be painted, find a custom cabinet shop or someone who can restore an old vehicle with a wood frame around / over the bed. My dad used to own a cabinet shop and one year his partner took on the restoration of said type vehicle. Back in the day, the vehicle, Artie (dad’s partner), and the shop were in a few magazines.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Only in an insane world are the sane considered insane.

The memories of a man in his old age
Are the deeds of a man in his prime

Posts: 13611 | Location: It was Lat: 33.xxxx Lon: 44.xxxx now it's CA :( | Registered: March 22, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Muzzle flash
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I am fortunate to have a local Handyman who takes good care of my house. He comes once or twice a week for an hour or so to take care of the cat's litter (he doesn't want me carrying stuff up and down the stairs) and do odd stuff around the house. He was here today replacing a broken valve train in the lower bathroom toilet. He's able to handle just about any task--built a great fence along the alley, put up a roof over my rear patio, did some electrical work, and took care of the flood and plumbing repair from the hard freeze last year. He also does all the ladder work with my Christmas lights each year. His wife was my maid until she developed medical issues. Now he runs the sweeper and does general cleaning, too. His rates are reasonable and he does a good job. I'm not his only customer and he does have a day job, too. He's an Army vet and I'm glad to have him available.


Texan by choice, not accident of birth
Posts: 26713 | Location: Dallas, TX | Registered: May 08, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Fourth line skater
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I've used the same plumber for years. There office is right across the street from my employer, and I know them personally. They are expensive as hell, but so far have not had issue with their work. Recently hired a roofer and that was an experience.

OH, Bonnie McMurray!
Posts: 6629 | Location: Pueblo, CO | Registered: July 03, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
quarter MOA visionary
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So I know there are good tradesmen out there. But man, my batting average in finding them sure ain't great.

Sure, going 0-for-2 isn't optimum but on the other hand it's only two at bats and the third with the uncle worked out so I'd call that a hit.

On the other hand what we (as consumer) think is easy and should only cost so much is not always the same as the perspective of they (the vendor) thinks who has to consider many other factors that may affect the price as well as weigh the expectations of them (the consumer).

It all gets worked out in the end if you let it and no real need to complain. Eek
Posts: 20327 | Location: Houston, TX | Registered: June 11, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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