The Handyman conundrum

Got a big job that needs doing? Building an extension? A major refurbishment of a property perhaps, replacing windows, replastering walls and putting in a new kitchen and bathroom?Perhaps having the outside of the house repainted? The process is quite easy, isn’t it? You get friends or acquaintances to recommend someone who does what you are after and you get a quote. In fact, you get several quotes.The parties concerned are certainly interested and available to carry out the work because there is enough money at stake to make it worthwhile. 

And when these workers set everything out to carry out this job, you can get them to do some other, small, ad hoc jobs that you had put off because they are there with their tools, spirit levels, ladders, some scaffolding even. The cost of these extra things you have had done gets absorbed into the overall cost that the builder quoted and turns out to be minimal. There is no call-out fee because they are already there! They don’t need a special parking permit as you have put it in place for them to start with. They don’t need scaffolding because it’s in place!

However, what happens when you have a small job that needs doing, especially in a rental property, where you are under time pressure because you want to look after your tenants? It is a job that, say, involves putting up a shower curtain rail. It has to be someone who is handy with a drill (I couldn’t do it myself – I don’t trust myself to let that drill bit slip across those expensive bath tiles). You aren’t really going to go round getting quotes for this as it isn’t a big enough job to interest a ‘builder’. Also, you don’t want to be fleeced by someone who feels they have you over a barrel either!

A friend said, “what’s the problem, I can get that Latvian guy I sent you before to come round and it won’t cost very much”. Hmm. The Latvian guy, who is very nice and good at these things, isn’t actually around. He disappeared back home during the pandemic and now, having returned, has got himself a job with the local council. Regular hours, decent money. Not having to be the equivalent of zero hours and having no stability. He did eventually call me back and say that he could come over at the crack of dawn at the weekend but it would cost me £300 and what alternative did I have?! So I went out and bought myself a drill and put that rail up. All I need now is someone to come and re-tile where I had been working…

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