Getting Workers

My daughter has a condo in Austin, Texas which needs some work. Since this occurred we have conversed more in 2 days then in a life time. Getting reputable carpenters, plumbers and electricians is a feat.

When I moved to St. Augustine I knew no one and the realtor assured me what I purchased was a turn key condo. $10,000. later I knew she only wanted a sale and though I had a home inspection I question the man’s credentials.

We all have transferable skills and much of what I used to locate reputable workers came from my days as a single parent when I needed babysitter support. Here are some of my ideas and I hope it helps:

  • Ask your friends, neighbors, and co-workers if they know anyone reputable who has done work for them. Check out the reference, their work and get estimates.
  • Your local hardware or big chain store may know folks. The “big stores” no longer give references but sometimes you can find a kind salesperson who will give you a name.
  • Some stores have bulletin boards with biz cards on them. Worth a shot, get references, check out the work.
  • Cruise your condo parking lot or neighborhood for maintenance vehicles. See who other folks are using. If they are in the area they might stop by after they have finished their job and give you an estimate. The best carpenter I ever got was from a chat in the Dunkin’ parking lot.
  • Church advertising on the back of the weekly bulletin. Who is going to mess with the Lord???
  • Ask your condo maintenance man if he’d be interested in the job or the condo manager for a reference.
  • The on-line services – Auntie Google them. They will give you 3 vendors for estimates.
  • Amazon has workers associated with their products. I bought a ceiling fan from them and was able to purchase installation services from a local electrician. It even had the time slot listed for his arrival. I now have a reputable electrician for the future in this one stop shopping. YES!
  • Your realtor, but don’t ask mine :).
  • Home warranty services, but read the fine print. I haven’t been lucky here, but others have.
  • Talk to everyone you know as someone always knows someone else. I’ve said this twice and repetition is a sign of insanity but trying to locate these folks can cause this. Stay cool and don’t jump quickly. The right person will come. Trust.
  • If the worker comes looking like Rambo, (but avoid anyone packing), is a bit dirty or disheveled chat him up to test the waters. I had a great worker with hair in a long pony tail. During the interview he brought up his appearance which was a plus for me. Offense is the best defense.
  • For some things learn to do it yourself, however, I only recommend this for painting as not everyone is so inclined or has the time.

Once you locate the worker..

  • Get the estimate in writing and pin them down to a date.
  • Give them the ground rules (gently). Tell them if you don’t want anyone smoking in your house. Once I had someone arrive post-interview who then spoke every other word as f–k. I began to wonder if he had another vocabulary word. He also spit enormously. Glad this was an outside job as it was particularly disconcerting. I was grateful he was only there 4 hours. When I let his boss know he shrugged. Need I say it was a one time job??
  • Go with your gut, but single women especially, let someone know you have a worker coming and be safe. It’s important to trust the individual. Keep his or her biz card. Don’t have your jewelry sitting out and hide anything valuable. Look poor.
  • Offer cold water and be pleasant but let them do what needs to be done and get them on their way. Check to see how it’s going periodically. They have schedules to keep and money to make. They don’t have time to chat with you.
  • Pay when the work is done, not ahead of time. If they want money for supplies, meet them at the store and take the supplies to your home. I had a guy I thought was reputable and used him for a long time then he skipped town with quite a sum. Besides a worker, he had become a friend, and that hurt. Protect yourself. This is a business relationship and it’s your money.
  • If you do have someone who is not reputable take the appropriate actions. Save someone else grief.

Good luck and once the right worker arrives treasure him or her.

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