Tuesday, 7 October 2014

How to Avoid "Handyman Horror Stories"

Video: "Weird Al" Yankovic performing Handy. (C) 2014 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment
“You need only two tools in life: WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use Duct Tape.”
~ Unknown

Image: Basic Home Repairs Engineering Flowchart.

Whether they’ve watched an episode of Holmes on Homes or not, it’s safe to say EVERYONE has seen, heard or experienced a “handyman horror story” at least once in their life.

And on some level, the whole self-image of the handyman is funny. After all, whether they adhere to “the-duct-tape-and-WD-40” school of home repair or are of the “A-type-military-grade-equipment-and-preparation” variety, they all seem to have a kind of “can-do attitude” which borders on the mythical.

Image Collage by Wo-Built: Multi-armed Handiman…mystical powers for fixing things!?

But there’s a real problem with having an “I can fix anything…” attitude, especially if that statement is finished with the words “…Duct Tape and WD-40.” But it’s just as bad if it’s completed with the phrase “…just look at my awesome toolkit.”

Unfortunately, “experience” doesn’t count for much these days, either. If someone has been doing cut-rate, patch-up repair and/or contracting work all their life, it doesn’t help—it makes matters worse! It’s like a musician who’s been playing out of key for twenty years. Their twenty years’ experience doesn’t mean they qualify to play in London’s Philharmonic Orchestra, it means they’re tone-deaf!

We all know people like that, have meet people like that, or have been on the receiving end of their work. Some of them honestly mean well. Many of them just don’t care. It’s not that they don’t care at all necessarily…it’s that they don’t care enough.

People who think they are god’s gift to renovations but have not made the effort to really observe what it means to do “a job well done,” simply don’t know what it takes. They just don’t know how to “make it right,” as Mike Holmes would say.

Following codes and guidelines with precision and attention to detail is one thing, but then there’s also a “feel” that comes into play. Like anything creative, one must put one’s heart into it—to really want to do the best job one’s capable of. It takes focused attention on oneself, the project, and of course, the client.

Anyone can follow a recipe, but it takes someone who loves cooking to make the ingredients and directions on the page spring to life in a way that’s almost magical. And we can ALL relate to that: mom’s home-cooking, grandma’s baking, our own signature dish. You know: the one you make when you want to really treat friends, family, or a romantic partner. The one you know how to do the best. Or if it is a completely new recipe, you make sure your approach it the same way: you, at your very best.

What you want in “handyman” is someone who approaches anything and everything they do with that same spirit…that sense of care and dedication; not just someone who thinks they can do anything and everything, in any old way. The slacker’s attitude “it’s good enough” is a slippery slope.

What’s true for the handyman goes DOUBLE for a designer and contractor. 

Do you want someone who looks at your requirements and says—without so much as a pause to consider the job—“oh, I can do that no problem!” Then proceeds to deliver you a ridiculously low quote, knowing full well their “can do” attitude hides a “what I know I can get away with” approach?

Or would you prefer someone who takes their time to really understand you, get to know your needs, desires, tastes, preferences, timelines, and budget, then come up with a realistic estimate—including those sub-contractors they need to bring in on the job who REALLY KNOW how to deliver what you’re looking for?

In short, would you prefer to work with a team who LOVES doing amazing work? Or do you want someone who likes making money at the project’s expense?...Your expense? Which do you think will make you feel special? Whose work will give you a real feeling of satisfaction?

Remember: at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to live with it.

So picking a contractor must be something you put your love and commitment into. You’ve got to feel it. It’s a relationship, a bond of trust and an expensive commitment. You wouldn’t get into bed with some sweet-talking “hottie” who tells you EXACTLY what you want to hear! So don’t fall for the gimmicks and rationalizations that “sounds really good” in the head. Don’t fall for the nonchalant charmer (“hey, relax, it’s no problem”), or for the pushy expert (“trust me, just look at the tools I’m packing”).  

Go with your gut instead. Go with the one who shows heart. Your life is a labour of love, and anyone entering it in a capacity where they have the ability to affect you and yours in any meaningful way should approach you and your life with the same level of commitment as you do.  

The choice is yours: Your renovation / building project can be a story filled with joy to share at your first dinner party in your newly renovated home; or, it can be another in a long list of handyman horror stories.

To see the difference LOVE makes to any project, check-out the latest article by PeapodLife on “Organic Landscaping.”

Image Collage by PeapodLife, Division of Wo-Built Inc: Organic Landscaping in Bloor West Village, Toronto

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