Anyone used Amish builders? experiences good? bad?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by heather, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. heather

    heather Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2002
    western PA
    We are in the middle of getting quotes for everything to build our house -
    We're getting a quote from an Amish crew for the interior framing, upstairs & downstairs -

    I'm just curious if anyone's had good or bad experiences with an Amish crew?
    I'm not trying to be (what's the right word?) prejudice -
    I just know that our culture & their culture are different & may bring up some issues that I haven't thought of & would appreciate any & all input -

    THANKS in advance
  2. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2003
    Missouri, Springfield
    from what I hear they do Very good work. Fast too because they bring the commune.

    price wise I couldn't tell ya

  3. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    ive seen some of there work they are good carpenters
  4. PLPP

    PLPP Boer Lover

    May 24, 2005
    New Castle, PA
    Growing up in W. PA they always did our roofing, built a garage, put in new floor in our kitchen. It was always fast and first quality work.

  5. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2002
    The good ones are good and the bad ones are bad. The question you are asking is akin to asking if Catholics (pick your favorite religion) are good at.... (pick your favorite occupation).

  6. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    In the past I hired a mennonite crew to build an addition to an older portion of the house. The 3 of them were excellent carpenters and hard workers. They did everything square and on time for a fair price as quoted. There was a special fit arched window they had to deal and they managed excellent with that. I would not hesitate to get them again to do work. They are good and tied up for work months ahead. It's fortunate to find such good constructors. I think their basic honesty can be something to learn from, and they were very polite. It's best to let them do their work without bothering once they get going, which is understandable.
  7. MaryNY

    MaryNY Well-Known Member

    Oct 25, 2004
    New York
    It's myunderstanding that they are generally excellent craftsmen who do good quality work - and take pride in it. I suppose there could always be a bad apple in the bunch, but since this group seems to make a living doing this work, it would seem they should do it well. You might ask them what they have built in the area and where it is so you can at least drive by and check it out.

    I have a book by a lady who was raised Amish which contains some of her memories of barn raisings and other community gatherings when she was young. She says all the neighbors in the community would get together to build a new barn for a young couple, or to replace one that had been damaged by fire, etc. Everyone would come early in the morning - the men with tools, the women with donations of food and to help prepare the meals.

    The building materials were all gathered before the day of building, and one experienced builder was in charge. Every man knew his own qualifications and limitations, and the work progressed rapidly. The whole barn would be erected in one day, and everyone stayed until the roof was completed. Many of the barns on Amish farms were erected in this manner, and are as sturdy and strong today as when they were built.

    The barn raising was a community event with food to fit the occasion. Platters were laid out on makeshift tables in the yard, and the men would eat first, with the women waiting on them. And they ate the prodigious amounts of the food provided. Some families were not as well to do, and the feast provided was not elaborate, but most families put out a big spread. Ham, roast beef, a variety of salads, many varieties of pickles, jams and jellies of every sort, hot breads and butter; several kinds of cakes, and pies; with coffee, tea, lemonade, etc. She says that the tables required no "decoration" the spread of food on them was decoration enough.

    She tells of "threshing day" when all the threshers came to the farm to work. It was expected that the family would provide the food for the threshers that day, and the cooking began the day before. The threshers were in the field early in the morning, and by nine o'clock children were sent to the fields with cold drinks (lemonade, tea, etc.), and pastries and cookies.

    At noon the men stopped work and came to the house, washed up, and sat down to the meal. The meat, potatoes, vegetables, pickles and jellies, cole slaw, applesauce, butter, gravy, bread, pies and cakes were served quickly so that the men could get back to work in the fields as quickly as possible. Apparently the ladies competed with each other to have the best food and biggest spread for the threshers, and the worst thing that could be said was that at some house or other they had been served only store bought bread and cold cuts.

    You should read what she says about old-fashioned Fourth of July celebrations! It's really nice to learn how life was in a simpler time.

    Yeah, I don't think I'd worry about the work they do any more than I'd worry about anyone else . . . probably less. Good luck!

  8. duke3522

    duke3522 Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2004
    I had an Amish crew put the new roof on our barn. They did a fine job for a far price. The only problem I had was that it was a 2 month wait because they were so busy.

  9. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2002
    South Central Michigan
    I agree with Mike in Ohio. We live among the Amish and just had a crew put on a deck and rough in a 20x30 addition onto our home. We knew the crew and knew their work and are extremely satisfied with the workmanship and the fair day's work for a fair day's pay. That said, there is another local crew who take on jobs and their performance is not as well recommended.

    Before I hired ANY construction crew, Amish or otherwise, I would want to see their work and visit a couple of customers. You get a bad crew and it can really make your life miserable!!
  10. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Yes, we had 2 sides of our barn resided with boards. The "crew" consisted of 2 men & sometimes one of their sons. They did wonderful work, and quickly. Some of the sills had become rotten (found this out after starting the job), and they ended up replaced the sills along 1 side of the barn which wasn't an easy job as they couldn't lift the entire barn side due to how it was built. They had to replace section by section. Upon getting the bill, it was cheaper than what I was quoted, even with the extra work and cost of the new sills.

    Now, with that being said, I'm sure most Amish are wonderful at their craft, but as was said before, there probably are a few "bad apples" out there. You have a better chance of getting a good crew than a bad one.

    I will be getting these same guys to reside the other 2 sides, once I decide to get it done.
  11. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 13, 2002
    No one mentioned transportation problems. A friend had some Amish workers for a house he was building but he had to pick them up and take them home. This could be a big hassle if they lived very far from you.
  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 23, 2003
    Good and bad experiences, generally pretty good.

    On large projects like barn restoration, stone walls and the like the amish and menonite crews did well. I would tip it to the menonites more. Prices were good to very good. Getting the job started could be slow. Once started, the jobs tended to progress very rapidly. End results were generally good to very good, with a few absolutely superbs thrown in. Jobs always came in on spec with no cost overruns.

    Fine detail work on the other hand, like cabinetry and furniture repairs, that hasn't been good generally. Poor quality, dishonesty, theft and the like. By and large the problem here has seemed to be a case of a barn builder bringing the same tools and mindset to a cabinet or other small intricate piece. The other part is at this level, comments about "english" start showing up.
  13. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2002
    We had a Mennonite crew build our 32x48' pole barn and after 15 years there is still not a single problem. Cement floor without cracks,everything straight,siding with no popped scews. We'd hire them again anytime...but our crew has a 6 mos. waiting list!! DEE
  14. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2003
    NE Ohio
    Our local crews do fine work. I know that they can charge quite a bit because people tend to think they naturally do better work and will pay more. Now, I'll add the disclosure that my husband competes for business with them, and I know that his work is just as good! :)

    When I first moved here, an Amish work crew gave me quite a shock. They were putting a roof on my neighbors house in the middle of summer, and at lunch time they all stripped completely naked and jumped into the pond!! :eek:
    In their defence, the pond isn't visable from the road, and I don't think they knew I was home. OH MY!