Hard to find a good worker

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Big Sky Country, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    MT
    Dh and I want to restore our home and could use a little help. So I asked around and got a few quotes :eek:. What the heck? Do people think we are stupid? I called MDU to put in a high end 90% furnace, with that and a water heater they wanted $5,500 :eek:. Then the guy wanted to BUY our home. He said, "well I was looking at it and couldn't make up my mind if I wanted it or not..." He offered me cash right there on the spot. I could have slugged him.

    Ok, now quote #2: Dd really good friends father. He wanted $3,500 to put the furnace in and then $900.00 to punch out a wall and put a sheet of plywood in to make a floor. See what we want is to close off that entry-way to the basement and knock down the wall to make the kitchen bigger. Nope, I think not.

    Quote #3: An honest guy quoted $1,900.00. So we went with him. Did an excellent job and even took off and capped some pipe for us. We gave him an extra $200.00 for doing that, being honest, and an excellent job. He even put in a 90% high end furnance.

    We still haven't found a worker to tear down that wall. I had a guy come over and look at it. He said he would charge by the hour and barter some stuff, that wasn't a problem. I called him a week later wanting to know if he was interested. Not a word from him. This is now months later.

    People either charge too much or don't want to work. Dh works 48-55 hours a week. He only has one day off on the weekends and is headed out of town for work next week. When he's gone, he's gone for weeks at a time. We can't get it done.

    What is it with people?
     
  2. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    So here's what I'm thinking: the guy who didn't call you back found a better offer. It isn't that he doesn't want to work, it is that you don't want to pay. Admittedly, rape and pillage prices don't seem fair, but neither of the other two companies were "dishonest." They were bidding on a job, you got three bids, you took the one most to your liking.

    The reverse is true of labor... the three men who bid did it based on their overhead, costs, and anticipated return. The two companies you didn't take presumably command these high prices because people other than you are willing to pay them. The guy who never called back found someone willing to bid more for his time than you were, so your bid gets pushed to the bottom of the pile.

    The unspoken agreement with tradesmen is that if you're not willing to pay full freight in cash (barter is not cash) then you have to accept that if something better comes along, they'll take that job... and get to yours when they can.

    I do not understand why people think that tradesmen or vendors who charge high prices are "dishonest." They are not being dishonest, they are charging high prices, which you can take or not. What's the big deal?

    If your beef is that you'd like to have work done but can't afford the going rate in your area, that sounds to me like your problem... not like you're surrounded by lazy people who don't want to work for a living.
     

  3. Wanda

    Wanda Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,165
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2002
    \

    I think you hit the nail on the head!!!! When someone gives you a bid and changes the price or amount of work then you should complain. Most people bid high due to the fact that a retrofit never goes as easily as someone lays it out on paper :no:
     
  4. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    MT
    I first offered cash as a payment, he was the one that said it would be an hourly pay.

    Then he saw a couple of saddles that were Dh's and wanted to know if he could work out a deal that if he took down the wall, he would take one of the saddles as a partial payment. Dh said ok, that's fine. A lot of people in this area do barter for work.

    The other guy (dd friends father) has a reputation in town for doing a poor job. He never worked for us and therefore we didn't know if it was true or not. I had people tell me that they don't even want him on their property. That was after the bid. So, we feel that we made the right choice.

    How would you feel when some guy pushes to buy your house and is extremely rude about it? Once I said no, the offer of $5,500 came.



     
  5. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    I know how I'd feel... seriously annoyed. This happens to me all the time, people offering to buy my house. And usually they aren't very polite about it either. Obviously some dumb hick like me doesn't belong in such an "upscale" neighborhood.

    Mind you... nobody who has ever offered to buy my house has clapped eyes on the INSIDE of the house. They're just standing there admiring the view and the neighborhood. I'm thinking they'd change their minds right quick if they saw the inside.

    Anyhow, my standard response to "is this for sale" is "yes, of course." And they say "how much?" And I say "how much is it worth to you?" At which point we get the hedging shimmy. Usually they don't want to put a price on it, because, of course, that constitutes an offer. But if they're really serious they'll lowball it. And I'll say "interesting. It is worth much more than that to me." Which ends the converstation. If they say "how much more," I say something vague about not having thought up a precise figure, but the figure he's mentioned isn't even tempting.

    Again, I think I said this somewhere else... business is not personal. Mind you, when a tenant is trying to get out of paying the agreed upon rent, damaging the property, or generally being a royal PITA, it sure FEELS personal. But if I step back from it, I assume the tenant is making what they consider rational business decisions. The fact that those decisions may land them smack in the middle of the road with their possessions around them, is, I assume, part of their computations. My job is to protect my interests, enforce the contract, and if that lands them out on the street... well... just like their decision to pass on fulfilling their obligations was just business, being put out on the street is just business too.

    If someone is trying to pressure or manipulate you into doing something which is not in your best interest (think "used car salesman on a quota") you need to simply take the situation in hand and say that while you appreciate their position, you're not interested at this time. End of discussion. If they are then dumb enough to throw an unreasonable quote for their services in your general direction, so much the better.

    You can then really refuse to do business with them!
     
  6. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    We had mdu put in an ac. They bid high, but when we told the business office we would not be paying it out but paying cash on completion, the bill went down in a hurry. Their service was excellent. They do have a lot of people wanting them to do the work, then wanting to pay it out on the utility bill a little at a time. So they do bid high. Maybe next time if you make it clear it will be cash on completion they will bid lower. I'm never insulted when someone wants to buy my house--heck, it is compliment!
     
  7. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,007
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    Neighbors and I keep looking for someone to do real house cleaning work for 3 or 4 hours a piece every other week. Paying $9.00 an hour. That's more than half the people around here make an hour. Some want the money but don't want to have to work very hard. Some are too worthy to work for $9.00 an hour (so they just stay with welfare). And some are honest and just flat don't want to work and are content with the welfare lifestyle although they do wish it was more.
     
  8. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    N.Ar
    wow,
    you know theres so many things that work into a bid price for a job ,
    when i bid i talk to the people see what they want , look at what, see what they Need , and see what they can afford, oftentimes those 3 figures are VASTLY disparate
    so what do you do , try to work with all 3 ,
    something simple like knocking down a section of wall, i would have bid time and material too ,
    figure, sounds like roughly 4 foot doorway, assuming no electrical in the wal , then it will take me all of 45 minutes to tear out, then i have to clean up bout an hour ...and frame it, to frame i most likely need a double header for safety sake , so thats about an hour to hour and a half , repair drywall thats been ripped , and frame the rest of the door, depending on how well you want it framed, lets say full job , make it look good, but youre gonna paint/stain yourself, so 3 hours for that, im gonna add an hour on that for JIC and heres my bid, the lumber is gonna be about 100.00 , time is roughly 8 hours, times my going rate which is 35.00 an hour looking at about total with tax and all a 400.00 job, taking one day, now if im bartering this out , that saddle had better be in poor condition , otherwise the homeowner is getting ripped off, or if its a good saddle, then i the contractor am rippign them off ....
    either way if i get a job that will take me 2-3 weeks or days even , and that person wants to pay cash , unless i NEED a saddle NOW, guess whos job im gonna take ?, and well me being me, i would probobly call the little job guy back and say , can i get to you on a sat or sunday?
    since its just for me a barter job , and then i would insist and write in my contract, im bartering my labor, but you have to pay for materials.


    jsut my opinion FWIW of how i would have handled it .
     
  9. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

    Messages:
    426
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland
    $9 an hour? Is that the going rate for housecleaning there? That's a steal! Here it's about $75 to $125 to clean a whole house and they'll do it in 2 to 3 hours.

    But apparently you can't get anyone to do it for that, so maybe it's not the going rate; you just want it to be?


     
  10. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    311
    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    Shoot, I wouldn't even clean my own house for just nine bucks an hour!

    :haha:
     
  11. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    528
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002
    I get so tired of hearing that people don't want to work, when the truth of the situation is that people don't want to pay a realistic wage for the work expected.

    Around here, a lot of the construction guys don't do small jobs very often because they have to keep the pipeline of jobs going, so they try and get in with builders that can do volume and keep them busy.

    As far as tearing down a wall, this is a tricky job because as you have no idea what you might get into. Any smart construction person would charge by the hour and not the job. If you think it is so easy and doesn't take a rocket scientist ----you do it. If you get good, then you can bid on these jobs for others. Having built a house now, I'm here to tell you that parts of the job were so physically challenging that Dh and I both made comments to the effect that there isn't enough money to make us do the job for someone else.
     
  12. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    528
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2002

    Sounds to me like you think this is such a good deal, you should take the job yourself.
     
  13. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,977
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    Although Welfare varies from state to state, generally, whatever money the recipient earns is taken from their state check, including the income taxes that they can't spend anyway. So, at $9 that the state removes from your check, you have earned only, say $4 after paying taxes and a babysitter. Now, if you are on welfare you can't really afford to loose $5 out of your state check because you are so proud you want to work. I've been there, and you have to earn enough money to completely get off welfare, and don't forget the health insurance for your kids.
     
  14. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR
    well i must be a good worker i do it all and allways do extra at no charge i just finished a job and then painted the ceiling in 1 room for free people like a good deal and they allways call me back to do more work i make a time to be there im there but i do want to be paid in full at the end
     
  15. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

    Messages:
    6,844
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    "Although Welfare varies from state to state, generally, whatever money the recipient earns is taken from their state check, including the income taxes that they can't spend anyway. So, at $9 that the state removes from your check, you have earned only, say $4 after paying taxes and a babysitter. Now, if you are on welfare you can't really afford to loose $5 out of your state check because you are so proud you want to work. I've been there, and you have to earn enough money to completely get off welfare, and don't forget the health insurance for your kids."

    That's if they report it as income. I suspect a very high percentage wouldn't for occasional labor of this nature.

    Old saying in this county: While the official unemployment rate is about 6.5%, it does seem like everyone who wants a job has one.

    I hire occasional labor for farm work. I have hired several on Friday by phone and they didn't even show up on Monday. No calls, nothing.

    By the way $9.00 is about like working for $13 a hour when all of the benefits are taken out of it. A rude awaking for most high school kids is when they get their first paycheck and realize it isn't nearly as much as they expected.

    As long as the wall isn't load bearing (have a knowledgeable person verify that), you can likely tear it down yourself. Really just demolition work. A three pound sledge hammer and a good long prybar go a long way. Hiding where the wall use to be will be the trickly part. If plaster, seal off the area with plastic until it is all removed.

    If you plan on using it mostly for storage (e.g., pantry) anyway, perhaps putting in a doorway would be just as easy. You can put one in a load-bearing wall and not affect its purpose.
     
  16. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    MT
    Boy Mudwoman, it sure sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder. I came here for advice and guidance. I have no problem paying for work. What I have a problem with is people wanting to buy my house and being rude about it. A neighbor down the road from me that wants to do a half way job of doing the work and still get paid for it. And a guy that offered to barter with can't make a phone stating that he could do it later. Does that seem reasonable?

    I have cleaned the living room with 10 buckets of hot bleach water. Scrubbed every surface of that living room and then painted with Kiltz, and then colors I picked out. Same with our bedroom and dd room. I have re-wired and put in light fixtures. I have helped pound 10 foot ground rods in. I have also cleaned up the yard. Now, I'm taking a much needed rest. Heck I still have to finish stripping wood and there are hardwood floors to be dealt with. I did it all with a husband out of town, working part time, tending to my own home and homeschooling a child.

    My doctor told me to slow down because for about a month I was in so much pain that I just kept on working. I was so sick from pain that I would throw up all the time.

    I know they would charge by the hour, that is one of the REASONS why I didn't go with the neighbor down the street. He likes to get paid the full amount for a crappy job. I thought that he would be honest with us. I guess rumor was right.

    You wouldn't believe how much I want to take down that wall myself. My husband and doctor (they are friends) have warned me not to go near that wall by myself. I am the type of person to do it and do it until I'm done...no matter what. What I would like is some help taking down that wall and I can't even seem to find someone to even help me.

    Oh, and I suppose that charging the elderly $8.00 an hour to clean their apartments is too little huh? Older people that are on a fixed incomes?

    I tell you what, I have cleaned houses for the rich and famous up in Northwest Montana and got paid the big bucks. But I would rather get paid $8.00 by an elderly person and have a history lesson that goes with it. I figure I'm a lot richer in more ways than one.





     
  17. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,260
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    AR
    wish i was closer id take that job i took the wall down in our old that we are working on and it had a 30 foot brick chimminy built on it that was tricky you can see a pic of the wall down but the chiminy still there since then ive taken it down www.rushingtrail.com now ive been taken out the old windows framing in with headers and putting in new windows
     
  18. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    MT
    Hi Ken,

    It is not a bearing wall. There is a door that goes down to the basement and it is a very dangerous staircase. More than likely (99%) we have to re-sheetrock the entire kitchen.

    This house is built in 1925 and the woman that owned it before was an alcoholic. She had no electricity and running water because she didn't pay her bills. Because of the temp change, the plaster has serious cracks in the kitchen. So the kitchen is the worst part of the home. We even had to take everything out of the bathroom, it was bad.

    This spring or summer we want to add on to the other door from the kitchen and make a ultility room. It will wrap part way way in the back so we can enclose the other door that leads into the basement.


     
  19. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Messages:
    3,736
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    VT
    You know, I can't sympathize with your view on wages, Big Sky... it sounds very much like you'd like to dictate what people "should" make for their work, and that isn't how the capitalist system works. The fact that the little old lady is on a fixed income and can't afford the house cleaner for more than $8/hour doesn't make it my responsibility to provide that service to her unless it so happens that it fits into my business plan to do so.

    If as a society we've decided that little old ladies on fixed incomes should have housekeepers then there are a number of public institutions set up to deliver that service... most of them privately funded charities... to which one can contribute (or not) or decide to work for (or not).

    But it sounds to me like a lot of your anger and frustration is over what you'd like to be able to afford or have, vs. the actual purchasing power of your resources. When you throw a modest pool of labor from which to draw into the mix, it must be very frustrating indeed. Almost everyone has experienced needing a tradesman to do something (fix a leaking roof for example) and been stimied by either being unable to pay the prevailing rates... or being unable to find a qualified tradesman with time available at any price.

    I myself have The Bucket In the Attic... which is there because we've been unable to find anyone who has the time on their schedule to do a new roof. All the money in the world (ok, maybe ALL the money!) isn't going to magically make that time appear.

    But it seems to me like you're lavishing a lot of frustration and anger on something that might be better met with humor and patience.

    Rather like I'm dealing with my roof... and the bathtub which has been sitting in the bathroom for 2 going on 3 years and is still waiting for a qualified plumber.

    I sit in it every once in a while and imagine bubbles.
     
  20. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2004
    Location:
    MT
    Once again you and I seem to disagree on something. So lets agree to disagree on another yet issue.

    If I were to charge a high price for my photography like they do in LA, I would be out of business. So I use the going rate of Billings and cut my prices by 5%. Because I live in a small town. I usually charge $1500.00 for 6 hours of work if it's in Denver. If I go to Las Vegas it's $2500.00 a day for 6 hours. If it's here in the town I live in $600.00 for the day. I make more money doing freelancing for various magazines than taking photographs for people.

    Of course it's not your responsibility in taking care of an older womans house. It does fit into my schedule. Therefore I choose to do it for that price. I get paid a whole lot more when I clean apartments for the owners.