The handyman blues

Every home has its issues. Kurt and I thought we'd chosen one with relatively few. We acknowledged upfront that we were definitely not fixer-upper types and tried to choose a home that was move-in ready.

The inspection showed a few problems but nothing that couldn't be resolved in a couple days by a competent handyman. Of course, no one told us what an ordeal it would be to find a competent handyman!

It all started with ... well ... let's call him Ted. Ted was recommended by our realtor as we were negotiating the deal. His estimates were reasonable, and she vouched for the quality of his work. What she neglected to tell us was that Ted has to be "managed". Translation: Ted does nothing without several daily texts (he won't return calls) and much haranguing.

Not knowing this, we left for our honeymoon having given Ted a key to our vacant home and a list of items that needed to be completed before our return at the end of June. We were clear that we wanted these items done before we moved our furniture in.

So off we went to paradise, only to return to find ... nothing. Not one item from the list had been completed. Not only that, but Ted's roofing crew had left a giant dumpster on the drive. Once it was removed, there was an enormous rust stain left on our concrete drive. Ted truly was the gift that kept on giving.

Ted's response to all this: I had no idea you were in a hurry.

We weren't in a hurry! We gave him a whole month to do two days work. How could we fathom that he would consider that a rush job? Added to a couple doubts we had about Ted from our roofing experience, we decided to look elsewhere. Neither of us had the patience to doggedly pursue him to get a few simple things done.

Handyman #2 entered the scene through a recommendation from a well respected local business. We'll call him Troy.

Troy is a nice man, friendly and honest. Unfortunately, Troy is no spring chicken and seems to have a particular aversion to heat. Given that several items to be fixed are located in the attic, this should have given us pause.

One month and five visits later, we have maybe 5% of the items on our list complete. Somehow, Troy usually manages to forget a needed part and ends up putzing around our house without actually accomplishing anything. And forget going into the attic after 9am (which is the earliest he'll come - good luck figuring that one out).

The last straw came on Saturday when Troy failed to show up for his afternoon appointment. Given that he'd removed both bathroom fans and left us without a light and with two gaping holes in the ceiling, this was a problem.

The news (and attitude) when Kurt called him were discouraging at best. No, he wasn't coming. His last job went late, and he was tired. He didn't feel like working anymore this weekend. Maybe he'd see us next week.

You got it. No call to tell us he wasn't coming. No apology. Nada.

Plus, knowing that we currently live out of town (waiting to get the work done before we move furniture in), a postponed date means another 3 hours spent driving for us.


Kurt came home from the hardware store tonight with a new list of handymen and contractors to call. Surely one of them can show up for two days, bring the necessary equipment, and handle our list of supposedly simple tasks. It can't be that hard, can it?

If nothing else, this whole debacle has convinced me of one thing: I need to become handy. If I have my way, this will be the last time I am beholden to someone else to get simple things done in my own home. While I may never do large projects or heavy lifting (or anything in the crawlspace - yuck!), I can learn simple wiring and plumbing and how to diagnose common problems myself.

With a handy father and father-in-law, I won't want for teachers. In fact, my dad spent the first eighteen years of my life trying to teach me just these skills. If only I'd paid attention.

Photo by simone-walsh


Craig Miyamoto said...

Oh Becca, I'd laugh at your story, if it weren't so tragically funny! I don't know whether to giggle myself silly at your descriptions, or sigh deeply at your dilemma, or maybe even catch a plane over to see you guys and pat you both gently on the forehead with a sympathetic, "there, there."

I do hope it all works out somehow. And until then, I have just one word of advice. When you work on wiring, don't forget to turn off the main switch in the breaker box.

Bevlove said...

Not only is a good man hard to find, a good handyman is even harder. Thank goodness I have both. Oh, how I wish you were closer, Becca, you would dearly love my handyman. He's reliable, a perfectionist, and I would love to share him with you.