Saturday, May 10, 2008

A side trip down handyman lane

I've never had much luck with contractors. I suppose you could say they haven't had a lot of luck with me, either, since I don't think any of them are still in business. (Side note—same thing happened when I signed my first contract with a romance magazine—it immediately folded.)

But, the days are long gone when I get any satisfaction out of painting, and replacing rotten wood around a chimney is another task neither I nor my husband want to tackle. Roofs are tricky, and if they leak, that's very bad news. So, he found a company that does all kinds of 'handyman' work, and as always, everything sounded clean cut and straightforward.

Does anything ever work out the way it's supposed to? Our jobs: remove wallpaper from the kitchen and two bathrooms. Replace with paint instead. We're toying with retirement and moving away, and figured we need to start getting everything in good order for resale. We agreed that new owners would most likely have totally different tastes, and rather than go through the hassle and expense of choosing new wallpaper someone else would end up removing anyway, paint seemed the wisest move. The biggest challenge was picking colors, but since we probably won't be looking at the walls for many more years, I didn't feel a lot of pressure to get it perfect.

So, Day 1 arrives, and the two-person crew shows up. They actually called my husband at work to let him know they were stopping for supplies first. Of course, it would have been nice if my husband had let me know they were going to be legitimately late, but at least they called. That was a first.

Since this was my release day for Hidden Fire, I was busy at my computer and they did their thing. The day passed without many glitches. Everything near a wallpapered wall had to be moved, which pretty much took the kitchen out of commission. We knew there had been some water damage in the bathroom, and expected to need some drywall patching. The wall under the kitchen window also showed previous damage, and we approved them replacing that as well. We signed a revised work estimate. They sort of cleaned up (and I left their sodas on the counter right where they left them, so they could find them the next day, thank you very much) and left. My husband moved into the guest bath, because there were wallpaper scraps in his toilet, and they'd removed the shower curtain. He questioned whether they intended to get the wallpaper remnants off the wall behind the toilets. (Translation: "When they show up tomorrow, tell them they have to get the wallpaper off the wall even if it means reseating the toilets.")

Second glitch. I let my husband deal with the contract. All I did was say I thought the bottom line was reasonable. He didn't read the section that said materials weren't included, only labor. Mentally uptick the bottom line.

Dinner is cold leftovers because, although they did shove the stove and fridge back where they belong (let's not talk about what the floors looked like behind those appliances; suffice it to say it wasn't pretty, but I dealt with it), I don't want to move the microwave back onto the counter, and it's too much trouble to shift enough stuff to deal with anything more complicated.

Stay tuned for Day 2.


TarotByArwen said...

LOL! My day job is working for If you run into any hitches, you might see about using to find a pre-screened contractor! I really enjoyed the translation of what the DH said to what the DH meant. snort!

Terry Odell said...

Thanks for the advice. We used one of those 'find a contractor' services for our bathroom remodel a number of years ago. They were pre-screened, but it was still a nightmare (and now they're out of business)

Dara Edmondson said...

Home improvement can take its toll! We're doing some work as well, but we used someone DH knows from work - and DH happens to be this guy's boss's boss's boss. So, the guy showed up as planned, did a great job and charged us a more than fair rate. Note to self - hire more guys who work under DH!

Anita Birt said...

I feel for you Terry.Lucky for us we purchased this house brand new eighteen years ago and so far, (touch wood) no major problems but we had a new roof put on last spring. It took over three weeks but at least the inside of the house was okay. The roofers discovered a big wasps' nest and had to call in a bug man to get rid of it.

Best of luck with your new book.

Anonymous said...

Haha - these projects are never easy for the homeowner or the guys doing the work.
I work as a handyman & am off to finish a bathroom today...the homeowner attempted to do it himself. Always difficult to inherit a job partially completed.
I hope you get the results you are expecting...I'm sure you'll hear some grumbling and a revised price when told to remove the toilets!

Terry Odell said...

Good luck on your job -- yes, trying to fix anything after the fact, no matter what, is a hassle. And the contract says 'remove all wallpaper' so the toilet reseating should have been something they've already considered (they've got this 'minimum/maximum' thing in the paperwork, which I presume allows for their fudge factor. And since nobody knows what they'll find when the wallpaper comes down, I can accept that there will be revisions.

Mostly I'd be happy if they'd just stick around until the job was done, or at least tell me when they disappear, and for how long they expect to be gone. I have a life, too.