ADVICE PLEASE! - Caretaker poistions

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by DenverGirlie, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. DenverGirlie

    DenverGirlie Well-Known Member

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    We've all been reading about Moonpups issues him and FlaGal have run into with their caretakers poistion, so I already know a few things to bring up during discussions.

    However, please help me come up with other questions that need to be discussed before accepting a poistion.

    We have found a lady that has a log house, acreage, 25 miles from where we currently live, so the coomute is no issue.

    We found out about her need yesterday and sent off an email. We received a call back today and are going to meet with her tomorrow afternoon as a meet and greet, etc.



    Her is her advertisement:I am looking for someone who loves to grow things, pull weeds, work hard and can maintain a property with a lot of fencing and acreage, able to conceptualize what is needed and work independently. Organic gardening, dirt moving, chicken keeping, mowing, tree care, recycling, composting knowledge helpful. I believe strongly in caring for our environment, keeping our soil, water, and air as clean as possible, so I do what I can VERY conscientiously and wish to know more about solar & wind power, etc. I am an EXTREME recycler. This is a horse property with barn and riding arena, but have no large animals at this time. I'm very curious about the Alpaca business, and love horses, cows, goats. Also have a tipi that has never been put up...need poles and help to set it up near the creek.
    You must be skilled, conscientious, coordinated, healthy and strong. What I can give you for about 50 hrs a month of work is a beautiful basement apartment in a big country home east of Boulder. You would pay $100 to $200 a month, utilities contribution.
    The apartment is completely independent with separate entrance, kitchen with dishwasher and comm'l gas range, laundry room, steam shower, and one large bedroom with tv and phone. The floors are concrete, so it is very clean and cleanable. You would have use of the pool and hot tub as well. The rest of the property is rustic and needs attention, but the basement is all new.
    I am seriously in need of quality help. Pool/hot tub maintenance experience would be nice, but it's easy to learn. It just takes TIME and attention. I want someone with whom I could leave the entire property and have no worries, therefore more freedom to work and travel occasionally.


    She lives on the property, so it's not like she would be an absent landowner.




    Please help us come up with some different angles to consider before our meeting tomorrow.

    Thanks all! It's very appreciated








    BTW - Here was our response to the advertisement in case you are curiousTo Whom It May Concern,

    We found your advertisement on Denver Craigslist.org about your current search for a “Gardener, helper, cleaner, handy person/s”.

    We would be interested in speaking with you a bit more about your needs and how an arrangement might be a fit for the two of us.

    We currently live in Central Denver is a cottage Victorian rental house. Luckily we have an indifferent landlord, as he has let us take out the grass (read – waist high weeds) and have replaced all “grass” with raised beds; both in the front and back yard. The front yard currently consists of an herb garden, raspberries, strawberries and four rotating crop boxes. Currently we have carrots and beets growing up front, and plan to harvest them in the spring. This past summer the garden in back grew tomatoes, winter and summer squash, cucumbers, hot and sweet peppers, onions, a variety of lettuces, radishes and a few more things that I’m not remembering at this time. Also in the back yard we have a three bin compost system and as well as have worms for vermicomposting, they summer in the back yard and winter in the basement.

    This past summer we also built a solar dehydrator, for sun drying our garden harvest. Unfortunately, we have not yet had the opportunity to get into solar, wind and hydro power but we would love to be off grid in our future. We are also very interested in water catchments systems for harvesting rainfall for gray water garden use.

    Seeing that we are smack dab in the middle of the city, we can not have chickens, goats, cows, etc but they are a desire of ours. We considered getting rabbits (we can have “pet” rabbits in Denver ) for the sole use of using the manure as a soil amendment, but thus have yet to make that move. However we do have a “rabbit man” connection out in Aurora that lets us come and harvest his manure every few months.

    All of our gardening is organic in practice; we use a variety of amendments, mainly compost and composted manure. However, we also utilize other amendments like blood/ bone meal to things like kelp and worm castings.
    Currently we view ourselves as “Urban Homesteaders”. We are far from being self sufficient, but we feel we are doing pretty darn good between the gardening, canning, composting, vermicomposting, etc. This past summer we (read – she) also canned for the first time. We have 20 quarts of greens beans and 12 quarts of applesauce put up in the basement as well as have dehydrated the summer herbs and tomatoes and about 500 onions hanging in bunches and a variety of acorn and spaghetti squash.

    We are a committed couple who have a healthy and happy relationship in our mid 30’s. She’s 33, He’s 37. We have no children but they are in our future, not just at the moment. We are both college educated.

    He, owns and operates a medical answering service in Denver . He works Monday – Friday, full time. However he has a varied background working in landscaping, large equipment rental, professional logger (read –woodlot/forestry management), even working on fishing boats in Alaska , among other things. His grade school years were spent on a working cattle ranch in California , and attended a self sufficient working farm high school in Moab , UT. On that working farm he learned, blacksmithing, welding, truck farming (read - growing produce for sale in greenhouses and field), among numerous other useful skills and would be considered an experienced “jack of all trades”.

    She, is a departmental director for an Atlanta based event marketing company. Although her “office” is in Atlanta , she telecommutes from home, and has for the past 3 years. She has minimal travel required for work, perhaps 2-3 times year for up to a week at a time. Her background also includes 10+ years in the restaurant/ bar industry (read – great people skills).

    We live a rather quite life, we are not “party” people, and we watch more TV than we like in the winter, but our summers are spent outdoors working in the garden or on a variety of other projects (read- she always has a "honey do" list for him).

    We recycle and fill (overfill) those large wheeled purple bins every two weeks. We do save our cans separately and cash them in at the metal recycler every few months. We also shred about 50% of our Sunday newspaper and office paper and use in composting/ vermicomposting.

    We are currently aggressively paying down debts and saving money for our own patch of land, our homestead. We have been seeking a caretaker’s position, much like this one, for the past few months, our labor in exchange for rent or reduced rent.

    The position that you are seeking to fill seems to be a good match for our skills and interests, we would welcome the opportunity to speak/ meet with you in the near future.

    Thank you,
    __________
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I'd have it in writing how many hours you are to put in to pay for the rent on the apartment. Find out how the 100-200 per month utilities contribution is figured. Does the apt have its own meter? Calculate the value of your time and labor against the value (to you) of the rent. If you have to work extra hours, what will be your compensation? Get a contract! (I have some friends that got burned badly in a deal like this.)
     

  3. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    Maybe I am missing something here. YOU are going to PAY HER? Let's see 50 hours a month comes to (at $10 per hour) to 500 dollars a month. Throw in an apartment and forget the "utility" contribution and it *might* sound fair. Otherwise you are going to end up working your fanny off for nothing. She might say 50 hours a week now, but you can bet when the garden is in full swing and the horses are having problems and etc., etc., etc., that 50 hours is going to be a fond memory.

    I think I'd negotiate that monetary arrangement if I were you.

    donsgal
     
  4. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    I saw the statement 'no large animals at this time' in the ad, question that when you meet. The situtation need to be understood that shifts also cause shifts in your work load. And compensations. Via rent reductions or salary. Stay very alert, we did not do that adequately. Written contract are very correct things to consider.
     
  5. danb98577

    danb98577 Well-Known Member

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    Be very cautious-I was in a similar situation a few years ago in Deland, Fla. Guy came across initially as a kindly fellow, but things spun out of control after about six months: drug adled daughter, bitter deranged wife, work load increasing in myriad directions-the family was filthy rich, but basically NUTS. If she still has any livestock, check with the local feed stores-they will know of her, no doubt. It will not hurt you to check deeply-try to keep focused on what YOU want and expect out of this. Luck, Dan
     
  6. grannygardner

    grannygardner Well-Known Member

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    The woman's ad says "I am looking for someone who loves to grow things, pull weeds, work hard and can maintain a property with a lot of fencing and acreage, able to conceptualize what is needed and work independently. ............... What I can give you for about 50 hrs a month of work is a beautiful basement apartment in a big country home east of Boulder. You would pay $100 to $200 a month, utilities contribution.

    I've read this post over and over and I don't think the woman who is looking for caretakers has a realistic idea of what can be accomplished in 50 hours a month. I think the woman is thinking 50 hours a week and saying 50 hours a month. That is a recipe for disaster. I'd be very careful about going into this situation.
     
  7. rkintn

    rkintn mean people suck

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    That was my thoughts too. I think she is seriously underestimating the time you are gonna put into the caretaking. I can see where things could spiral out of control quickly and get very ugly if there is no written contract that spells out everything from how many hours of work you are responsible for to what kind of compensation you will get if it goes over those hours...I also don't think I would go there in a caretaker position and PAY anything. After all, isn't that what the trade off is supposed to be? You doing the caretaking in return for room and board..I would think utilities would be included in that.
     
  8. painterswife

    painterswife Sock puppet reinstated Supporter

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    I have been in two caretaking positons. One great, one horrible.

    Look at it this way.

    Could you pay the rent for a similar home by working less hours some where else?

    If the answer is yes then don't take the position.

    In a caretaker position with a live-in owner you do not get to do the job at your own leisure or pace. They may state that as true but you will always looking over your shoulder. Better to work away from home and be able to get away from your boss. In a caretaking situation this is not possible.

    We worked in one situation where the owners were there more than they were away. They come to expect you to be available when ever they want to talk to you. No escape.

    We also worked for owners where this was their second home. We could make our own schedules and fit it into our lives. As long as we got things done it was at our convience not theirs.

    Think long and hard. You need to get a lot to give up your privacy and ability to control your own time.

    Jill
     
  9. painterswife

    painterswife Sock puppet reinstated Supporter

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    Just an extra note. I live in the land of caretaking positions (Jackson Hole Wyoming).

    They vary from hole in the wall one room cabins two massive estates that have all the luxuries that you can never afford. Only one in ten of the positions here are worth the hassle. If it is a good caretaking position it will never be advertised because there is a waiting line of people that are in the know.

    Jill
     
  10. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    I think it would be a good idea to always remember that the landower will expect you to do the job not as she has done it, but as she ideally thinks it should be done.

    Make sure you get in writing the complete job description, and the number of hours you agree to work. In the written contract note that a log shall be kept of actual hours worked and if you are expected to work more hours you will be compensated - make sure how you shall be additionally compensated a part of the written contract.

    Also have in writing how expenses you are responsible for shall be handled. It's best that you have access to an account that the owner is responsible for maintaining, then you paying out of pocket expenses and hope to be repaid. Perhaps accounts at the feed store etc., with a petty cash fund for smaller purchases?

    As far as the use of pool, hot tub, and other normally private areas of the property - make sure when and under what circumstances those extras shall be alloted to you.

    Since you will be sharing the property, be sure you know if and when you shall be allowed visitors.

    If you can get all of the details worked out, and in writing prior to starting out it could turn out to be an ideal position into which to gain great experience and knowledge prior to the purchase of your own homestead.

    Hope there are some useful ideas above, they're all I can think of right off the top of my head after reading your post.

    Hugs
    marlene
     
  11. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    I've heard of caretaking positions, but need to look further into this, I reckon...

    Cause if I can get some indentured servants to live in my basement, and PAY ME too! plus take care of utilities!

    You know I always thought slavery was pretty strange, but somebody paying to do menial work? :rolleyes:

    sorry, I know I'm of no help whatsoever... but I'd be leary of any basement apartment, and especially so, if I had to pay for the privelege... Now give me the caretaker position at some remote mountain lodge, WITH a small stipend, and yeah, we might talk.
     
  12. NWoods_Hippie

    NWoods_Hippie Well-Known Member

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    My 2 cents here, I am the caretaker for a large resort in Northern Wisconsin. The owners live and work in the Chicago area and rent the place out on a weekly basis to vacationers. The house is 8000 sq. feet, and the property is 640 acres with a 40 acre lake. While I don't have to do gardening and such, I have to make sure that when we have a storm and trees go down I get my butt up there and get them off the 3/4 of a mile long driveway. I also clean the home after rental type guest have been there, and I get $18.00 per hour for any and all work done on the property. This is about $3 above average for our area.

    The last caretaker for the place lived in the house, but was asked to leave the property any time there were guests renting, so she spent most of the summer and a few time during the winter living in a small pop-up trailer on a remote corner of the land. When I was contacted by the owner he also wanted me to live on property, I said NO, and we worked out the details (I am the first call when and if the alarm system goes off), however the owner is a bit forgetful and it never fails that he will call me from his private plane on his way back to Chicago and say "oh hey I forgot to lock this door or that door", and I have to drop everything and run up to the resort, but then I also get paid for an hour just to check the doors or gate so for me it works out pretty good. My advise is to make sure you have ALL your ducks in a row and there is some kind of contract signed by both parties spelling out the exact details of the position!!!

    Margie
     
  13. caretakermike

    caretakermike Member

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    if this doens't work for you, and if you are interested in caretaking positions, then go to www.caretaker.org for hundreds of caretaker positions. They have a lot of better caretaking position than the one you are interviewing for. Mike
     
  14. ldc

    ldc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I caretake, too. Mine was never in writing, it was worked out thru people in my religious organization (Quakers). I tho't it would last 6 months, it has lasted 10 years plus. Talk to the owner, and please, talk WITH the owner. I've had problems, but I'm still here. It's still more good than bad.
     
  15. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    I've had 2 caretaking positions in my life. Both provided free rent, utilities and one provided a phone.

    The first one provided a trailer space with hookups, but only provided 30 amps of electricity. I could run the fridge or the hot water but not both. My duties were to keep tresspassers and thieves off the property feed the watchdogs, water and fertilize patio plants, plant and maintain an incredibly fertile garden and share the harvest with the owners. Owner paid for seed. I decided to leave there when the owner sprayed herbicide all around the spring where our water came from.

    The second one was to simply live in a large, unoccupied house on three acres in Montana, keep it heated and keep it from being broken into and vandalized and mow it once in a while. No rent, free utilities and phone and even 3 cords of firewood a year. I was free to do anything I wanted, be it animals or gardening. Owner paid for repairs and maintainance that were beyond my abilities and reimbursed me for money spent to do repairs. I was there 3 years and I hated to leave and the owner didn't want me leaving either.

    The caretaking position mentioned in the original post? I think the owner has idealistic but unrealistic expectations. I would not get tangled up in a deal like that.
     
  16. DenverGirlie

    DenverGirlie Well-Known Member

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    Well we went and met with the couple. We could definately make the arrangement work, BUT..... the couple is in a awful state of flux and we are not currently comfortable with moving into that situation. With time their situation might change, and we have left it open until then.

    The reason we would have loved to make this work are several fold. They want someone to take care of the yard work and take care of a garden. We already do that, for us it would just involve growing a few extra plants and sharing the harvest. So since we already do that, for us it would be free rent. It would have also been nice to get out of the city center, but not at the price of being in an unstable environment.

    Caretakermike - We belong to caretakers.org already. In the two years I've been a paying member there has never been a poistion open here in the immediate area. Some times there are poistions that are up in the mountains a few hours from Denver, but we have to stay within reasonable distance from Denver due to his company. He is an owner/ operator and still works 12 hour days, 5 days a week, so we can't get to far out as then our quaility of life goes down as it gets eaten up by a daily commute.

    Thanks for all the feedback and we will keep looking.


    Thanks all!