Selling your house requires preparation. And by preparation, I mean more than removing your personal belongings. In today’s buyer’s market, you must fix things, clean things, paint things, etc. As my husband and I have no relatives in the construction-slash-handyman business, no paint-and-repair job comes cheap.
We are too lazy to “do research” on contractors and too skittish to flip through the Yellow Pages blindfolded, so one hot summer day we grabbed the guy who was working on a neighbor’s house across the street to see what he could do for us.
Blaine decided to be honest with us, as if we seemed like nice people and he’d tell us what he “was gonna do.” First, he wasn’t licensed. I would like to submit this as Red Flag Exhibit A. Second, one of his laborers was still in jail for some vaguely described reason. This would be Red Flag Exhibit B. Third, while his guys came to work sober, they were “”tweakers”” (not sure on the spelling of that as I do not have the latest information on synonyms for methamphetamine addicts and this would be Red Flag Exhibit C.)
Meanwhile, Selma, from next door, had the same idea we did and had already hired them to “prepare” her house for sale. At some point, she had to leave the house with the front door unlocked because when you paint the front door, you must paint the whole front door.
Now, I don’t know if these guys had a weekend bender and were still recovering or what. And I have limited knowledge on what certain drugs will do to your body and how certain quantities and types of foods play a role in your professional behavior as a house painter, but SOMEBODY went into the house to use Selma’s bathroom and apparently had a difficult time getting everything to flush because he came over to our house to borrow a plunger, which means Selma did not have a plunger anywhere in the house because this guy would have found it and we made this assumption because he also took it upon himself to dig through the kitchen cupboards and microwave some popcorn.
He might have gotten away with the toilet violation, had he also borrowed the scrubber, but there was no mistaking his lack of chef skills when our neighbor returned to the distinctive smell of burnt popcorn. I would like to submit these as Red Flag Exhibits D and E.
Magazine articles are numerous, Home Depot classes are aplenty, and entire How To books exist on the subject of hiring a contractor. Many a nightmare story has passed through this reporter’s auditory and olfactory devices. I have heard and read about contractors who never call back, never show up, and start work and take forever to finish. And they are the ones who are licensed and have great references and seem professional as hell.
We are endlessly advised that these guys must be MUST BE licensed; how else are you going to go through the hell of legal recourse? But ladies and gentlemen of the jury outside of Small Claims Court, I ask you, would anyone in their right mind, after reviewing all the evidence, hire these guys? Even unarmed with all the advice from articles, classes and books, I think the answer is pretty obvious.
So we hired them to paint our house, repair dry rot, and other miscellaneous tasks. Their fearless leader, Blaine, laughed as loud and as high as Tom Hulce in Amadeus, while somewhat resembling Richard Simmons in physical features and tone of voice. He underbid any other licensed contractor by more than half. We threw caution to the wind and set low expectations. We were pleasantly surprised that Blaine and his crew did excellent work, paid close attention to detail, finished quickly and behaved professionally. My husband was so impressed, he wrote a letter of recommendation for the man. And left a big tip on the table.
Now what did we do to achieve such successful results? It could have been that we occasionally fed them and provided cool drinks in the 100+ degree weather. It could have been our charming demeanors, winning smiles, and magnetic personalities. It could have been that Blaine is in the license application process so he’s making the extra effort.
It could have been all these things, but my money is on our ultimate decision to paint the front door ourselves.