Fix it up: How to hire general maintenance help – The Denver Post

Here is another nice write up about what to look for when hiring a handyperson.

Fix it up: How to hire general maintenance help – The Denver Post.

You love your home. But that leaky faucet, clogged gutter or cracked shower tile is driving you crazy. Who ya gonna call? A handyperson. This general practitioner of the home-repair industry is the go-to professional for jobs you don’t want to do, haven’t time to do or simply can’t do (and have no business attempting).

You don’t want to hire just anyone. Like a housekeeper, caregiver or babysitter, a handyman has access to your home. The right one is more than just a guy, or gal, with a tool box. It’s someone with whom you may build a long-term trusting relationship.

Heather Bays, a single parent living in Lowry, found her current handyman by asking a friend who is a real estate agent for a recommendation. Most recently, she had him replace an 8-foot-by-10-foot backyard planter.

“The referral from my friend was key,” says Bays. “I want someone I know and trust to have used this person before and be satisfied with the work.”

Word of mouth is still the favored way to find a pro. But instead of swapping info over the backyard fence, many of us head online, using neighborhood social networks such as Nextdoor.com. After all, if someone you know has used a particular handyman, odds are he won’t disappear overnight.

When he wanted to remodel the kitchen in his 1928 Spanish bungalow, Hilltop resident John Sunderland turned to Craigslist. His approach: Place a notice in the Gigs section under “Labor.”

Sunderland carefully laid out the project, noting that he need an “experienced carpenter” and asked for three references with phone numbers. Of the four responses, only one provided the information he asked for. Impeccable references scored him the job.

After a test “job” replacing two kitchen windows went well, Sunderland hired him for the rest of the kitchen redo and plans to have him drywall the garage ceiling.

A handyman for nine years, Buddy Hendrickson says he appreciates clients who let him know their expectations. “It’s all about the right fit. Someone is letting me into their home and I respect that,” he says.

Online services such as HomeAdvisor.com (formerly Service Magic) or Angie’s List match homeowners with qualified service professionals and include user reviews. While Angie’s List charges users to search listings, Denver-based HomeAdvisor’s ProFinder is free. Listed professionals pay a membership fee and must pass a financial and background check.

Robert Schreiber, a handyman with HomeAdvisor, works on the framing of a door at a job site in Denver.

Robert Schreiber, a handyman with HomeAdvisor, works on the framing of a door at a job site in Denver. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Once you have a few names, it’s time to narrow the field. After an initial phone interview, arrange for an in-home walk-through. Have a list of things you want done and a time frame.

“Some handymen may be booked out weeks in advance. Others won’t work on weekends,” says Hendrickson. Expect an estimate within a day.

Charlene Andrisen’s trick? She “interviews” their tool box.

“At that first meeting I ask about what tools they use, look at their tool box and even casually walk out and check out their truck,” says Andrisen, who owns several rental properties. “Is everything neat or a trash pile of cigarette butts and candy wrappers? That’s a good clue as to the type of job they’ll do.”

“Home projects are so emotional,” says Brooke Gabbert of HomeAdvisor. “To find someone who respects both you and your home and with whom you are comfortable takes educating yourself.”

That means laying out your project list in detail and asking questions. The most critical: What are your skills? Is this job something you have done before?

That’s the question Barbara Schmidt wishes she had asked. The retired accountant needed indoor-outdoor carpet replaced on her garage steps and the sliding doors in the bedroom trimmed because of new, thicker carpet.

The two-man team she found through an online service did a decent job on the steps, but the doors were a mess. “They cut one shorter than the other and didn’t install a floor track because they were uncomfortable doing it,” she says.

Schmidt found a new handyman whose mother-in-law lived across the street. “He took one look and knew the door was too short, so trimmed the other one to match. I still may need to buy new doors, but for now they work,” Schmidt says. “He did a great job, and, more important, I know where he lives.”

What to ask

Whatare your areas of expertise?

Is this a project that requires a licensed specialist (such as an electrician)?

Do you have references?

Can I call them?

Do you charge by the hour or by the job?

Is there a fee for you to come to my home and give an initial quote?

Do you bill trip charges, either to my home or to pick up supplies?

Do you have a local address?

What is your availability?

Do you warrant your work? If so, for how long?

Do you have insurance?

Will you haul away trash and old materials when finished?

Will you put our agreement in writing?

Popular jobs

A maintenance worker was the No. 1 service request in Denver for January through March 2014, according to HomeAdvisor.com. The average project cost for the metro area as reported by homeowners is $367 (the national average is $526). The five most-requested jobs:

Install, repair or replace plumbing fixtures

Install electrical switches, outlets or fixtures

Paint, varnish or stain exteriors

Repair or service an appliance

Categories: Checklist, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Quick tip for Friday-Water saving tip-check your water bill

How closely to you check your water bill?

Reading the comparison information regarding USAGE may be the surest way to look for bigger problems.

Are you taking shorter showers and still paying more?  We get accustomed to the prices of everything increasing, do you forgot to look how much water you are actually using and not just how much you are paying?

Save Water graphic

Increases in consumption can indicate a need to change habits, update appliances or serve as a warning for leaks in the household.

Put into practice the water saving tips we hear all the time (if you are not already doing so):

  • Take shorter showers
  • Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth
  • Run only full loads of dishwasher or washing machine
  • Reduce watering days for lawns etc to 1 or 2 days a week

If you don’t see enough change in consumption for the next billing cycle it may be a good idea to check  for leaks or consider updating water using appliances such as dishwashers, toilets, washing machines, etc.

Categories: helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, Quick tip friday, Uncategorized, Water saving advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Repairing a sprinkler line

Follow up to my last post where I very easily fixed a watering system problem, because sometimes a leak in a watering system is more complicated than a screw off sprinkler head.  For one thing, not all sprinkler heads attach that easily.  🙂

A break or hole in the line can be more challenging, to discover and to repair.

In this case there was damage caused to one of the pipes leading from one nozzle to the other. It was a pretty good-sized hole and a substantial leak. Luckily being  in between two small rose plants bordering the space between the lawn and sidewalk made it quickly noticed by the homeowner.

However, there was only a small area to work with without disturbing the plants, as the 2 roses were only a few feet apart and that was a bit challenging.

broken sprinkler line and not a lot of room to work

broken sprinkler line and not a lot of room to work

Typically this repair is done by cutting out the broken section and replacing it with a larger diameter piece, but it takes a little room to work so you can cut, then get a good seal and apply the glue without a bunch of dirt getting in the line. I was in the neighborhood of my favorite hardware store, Kurt True Value, so I dashed over there for supplies.

I saw this and decided it just might be the answer to the cramped condition I was working with and I was back out the door!

Fix kit I found at my favorite hardware store.

Fix kit I found at my favorite hardware store.

As you can see I didn’t even have to make the hole any larger to complete repair. I cleared as much dirt as possible from the line with my shop vac and snapped the repair coupling over the existing line. Per the instructions I also sealed the seams with PVC glue but I was impressed with the seal even without it.

worked great!

worked great!

I did repair months ago and it is still holding strong!

Categories: DIY tips, gardening, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, Lawn care, Uncategorized, Water saving advice | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quick Tip Friday- Water saving tip – Check your sprinklers

We are in a drought here in California. A phrase I have been hearing my entire life, but I still take it seriously and try not to be wasteful.

I will be posting water saving tips as often as I can through the spring and summer months.

My water saving advice today is related specifically to sprinklers or watering systems and it is very simple.

Watch when your sprinklers or watering systems run to check for needed repairs or adjustments.

A few years back a neighbor told me about a broken sprinkler she happened to see because our sprinklers ran the same time she left for work everyday. We never happened to see it. Since then I try to check things out twice a year and it paid off this year. We ran a check on the watering system in the backyard recently and discovered a leak that could have gone undetected for a very long time.

As you can see in the pictures there was no obvious problem besides the puddle. Timing and location might have kept us from noticing this puddle for quite some time.  There was a crack in a sprinkler head below the surface we w0uldn’t  know about until we watched our system running to check for possible adjustments in spray pattern or timing.

It was a easy fix to replace the sprinkler head (it just screws off/on) and no more water is being wasted watering our pavers instead of the grass.

sprinkler head sprinkler head2

Take a few minutes to check out your watering system regularly , it’s worth it!

 

 

Categories: gardening, helpful tips, home maintenance, home repairs, Lawn care, outdoors, Quick tip friday, Uncategorized, Water saving advice | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to properly fill a nail hole. | The Art of Doing Stuff

I know it has been a very long time since I have written my own blog post, it’s one of the few drawbacks to the wonderfulness of having business going really well and my customers keeping me busy fixing, building and improving stuff!
When I saw this post from The Art of Doing Stuff  (seriously, if you don’t follow her already, start now!) I knew it had to be my next post instead of my own original content.

How to properly fill a nail hole. | The Art of Doing Stuff.

It’s too good not to share and I have been wanting to write about NOT using things like toothpaste to fill nail holes. Honestly, who came up with that idea in the first place??

Thanks to Karen for always being so informative, witty and fun!

 

Categories: DIY tips, do it anyway, hanging pictures, hanging shelves, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Paint!

Another improperly sealed paint can with nothing left inside but a giant hard puck of what was once paint. Another paint can with a roller left inside submerged in the liquid (someday I will find out why people do that!). Another paint can lid bent and punctured allowing the can to rust and ruin what is left of the paint. Another search through various cans of paint trying, unsuccessfully, to find the right color and correct sheen to touch up the areas on a wall I just did some minor repairs on.
These are leading me to post once again my tips about paint, storage and care:
https://thefixitlass.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/paint-storage-tips/

Now I also have some new information to share that I am really excited about! As a Tomboy Tools Consultant I have been introduced to the paint company YOLO Colorhouse and I am looking forward to getting a chance to work with these paints!

Virginia Young (YO) and Janie Lowe (LO), founded YOLO Colorhouse in 2005.  They offer premium, zero VOC interior paint line with select palettes.

I limit the painting jobs I take to small projects- primarily interior and typically just one room or less (accent wall, trim, touch ups) so this is going to be perfect for my business! Founded by women, they made it so easy to choose the perfect hues with simple palettes and a really cool pick a color tool on their website! This paint can be ordered through a Tomboy Tools Consultant and shipped directly to you (careful, it can freeze, unlike most paints). I got my fan decks a few weeks ago and they are gorgeous!! Oh, and the product is made right here in the United States.

So if you are thinking about updating a room or two (or painting your whole interior) please check them out. If you are local to me and need help with the job or want to see the fan decks let me know!  I’m looking forward to an opportunity to get my paint brush into these beautiful colors of environmentally friendly, U.S. manufactured, women created paints!!

Happy Painting!

Cass – The Fix It Lass

Categories: decorating, DIY tips, helpful tips, home maintenance, Tomboy Tools | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Tips for Friday – packing up Christmas

 

More holiday decoration storage and organization tips

While putting up my decorations for the year I noticed some of my little tricks I’ve developed that might be worth sharing.

To keep the musty attic smell out of soft items like stockings, tree skirts, table runners, garlands, even wreaths I toss some cinnamon sticks or cloves in the box or bag with them. Take care not to let them be in direct contact if oils or colors could affect the seasonal items, it won’t do much good to have things smell better if they are ruined with stains!

Some years ago after buying some new ornaments I wrote on the packages they came in what the they looked like, before hanging them. Now when I am undressing the Christmas tree I can very easily put them back in the same box. I have gotten so used to this handy little trick I didn’t think to share it at the start of the season!

 

Mark ornament boxes to re-use for storage.

Mark ornament boxes to re-use for storage.

This makes packing Christmas ornaments so much easier!

This makes packing Christmas ornaments so much easier!

 

I also try to keep certain types of items together in the storage bins I use. Outdoor lights are in different bins than ornaments used for the tree, stockings are stored with tree skirt, etc. With this system I can take a peek into one bin and find a whole category of items quickly; even when I forget to put a label on the bin or can’t remember the genius plan of remembering what color bin is supposed to go with what items.

Happy un-decorating!

Categories: Christmas, cleaning, decorating, helpful tips, holiday decorating, holiday tips, Quick tip friday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Tip for Friday – taking down holiday lights and decorations

If your decorations were complicated to put up, you did them for the first time or they turned out especially great this year – DO THIS FIRST.
Take photos for reference.
I don’t mean lighted nighttime ‘Look, how pretty!’ shots, but daytime ‘This is how it is done.’ shots. Concentrate on anything that will help you duplicate the positive results next year. Print and store with your decorations, make notes if you thought of better ways to do it or complications you had. Or create a folder on your computer to save it.
It is easier than figuring out how to get the ornaments back in the boxes and will be as useful as having untangled light strands next year.

Oh, speaking of storing ornaments, bonus tip here:

Those plastic containers with apples and other fruit from Costco are great for packing away ornaments safely!

Re use store packages for fruits to store Christmas ornament

Re use store packages for fruits to store Christmas ornament

Feel free to come back and thank me next December. 🙂

Categories: Christmas, Christmas lights, decorating, helpful tips, holiday decorating, holiday tips, organizing, Quick tip friday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Tip for Friday: 10 Things plumbers wish you knew

I got out of the habit on my Quick Tip for Friday posts, so I am going to make it up to you by sharing 10 really good ones!

There is such great advice in this article from  She Knows I had to share it. It is short and easy to read so I will count it as a quick tip still.

10 Things plumbers wish you knew.

I think # 9 should really be top of the list, knowing where/how to shut off your water is extremely important.

Anytime you move into a new home it’s a good idea to get familiar with 3 things right away:

  1. breaker box
  2. water shut off
  3. gas shut off

Learn where these are and how to use them, it will not be a waste of time.

#7 is the best explanation for why I decline certain plumbing jobs  and refer customers to a licensed plumber.

Leaks and other plumbing issues can lead to such bigger problems it is important to take care of correctly. Water damage and mold are very expensive and difficult correct.

One more just so I can make this one go to eleven:

11. Be careful what you put down the toilet. Just because it passes out of the bowl doesn’t mean it won’t cause a huge problem in the pipe on it’s journey to….um…away, wherever. I will skip mentioning some of the more obvious things we have all been warned about. However, I have heard from plumbers over the years that a lot of people flush Q-tips and those really belong in the trash can instead.

Keep your pipes happy!

Cass

Categories: DIY tips, helpful tips, Home Improvement, home maintenance, home repairs, plumbing, Quick tip friday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Natural” remedies sometimes not safe or effective

“Natural” remedies sometimes not safe or effective.

Very interesting blog that appeared last month on the Old Farmers Almanac page. Information that seems worth sharing!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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