Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home Improvements

I wanted to utilize this time while it's not snowing to get a few of the more major home improvements done, despite my financial adviser's warning not to spend any money just yet.  I'm on a time schedule to move, so I just have to do what I have to do while the weather is still dry.  My husband and I have done a few DIY home improvements over the years and were frustrated with how much time it took.  Simply painting a room can take weeks since we rarely can get time in our schedules to concentrate on home improvements.

So, I am interviewing handymen at the moment and getting estimates for jobs.  I need to hurry up and get that new truck registered because the very first thing these guys notice when they show up is the new truck with the temporary tags, and that gives them the impression that I have money to spare.  So, I suspect they are charging me more than what they might be charging others.  Also, I can't trust people who ask me what my husband does for a living before giving me an estimate on a job.  It sounds like they are working with a sliding scale. 

I haven't used a handyman in years, because I've had some trouble with strangers coming into our house and then blabbing to others about what we have inside our house, and next thing we knew someone was trying to rob us.  This time I looked for a licensed handyman through a website that does background checks and requires great references and reviews.  Since I will be asked to fill out a review online of his work, he knows he will be held accountable.

What was weird was that when I called the service to locate the handymen in my area for me who had gone through their screening process, my other phone started ringing immediately while I was still talking with the service.  The lady input the information on my job in the database, and these guys got notified through email, and called me immediately to set up an appointment.  I consider that amazing, because when we first moved into this house 18 years ago, we couldn't get a handyman or contractor to do anything if our lives depended on it.  They were all tied up in big jobs working in new subdivisions.  Then the housing market crashed, and they had to abandon those subdivisions and start begging for work.  Now these guys appreciate any job they can get, even if it's just cleaning someone's gutters.

One problem with living in Nevada is that a lot of these guys have the mafia mentality.  One guy said to me, "We aren't friends.  We are acquaintances.  If a friend calls me with an emergency, I will leave your job to go help him.  If you keep hiring me for other jobs, then we will become friends and I will return the favor to you."

It sounded a bit like both a threat and a bribe at the same time.  There was also a lot of arm twisting to try to get me to give him a perfect review.  Car salesmen do that too.  My attitude is that they should do their job, and I'll give them a fair review based on their overall performance.  I'm not going agree to give them a perfect review before they've done any work.  That's dishonest.

Dodge/Chrysler called me the day after I bought my truck, and wanted me to answer survey questions in which the results get published as customer satisfaction ratings.  I refused to take the survey, because I had only driven the truck home from the dealership.  My husband said, "That's very socially responsible of you."  I didn't have enough experience with it to give an accurate assessment.  It's a good thing, because yesterday morning when I had to start up the truck in these cold temperatures, it almost didn't start.  You'd think a brand new truck off the assembly line would start up as soon as you turn the key.  My Ford never sputtered and choked.  It started right up even in below zero temperatures.

As a writer, I got a bad review on my novel.  It really wasn't a bad review, because the person said that she loved the book all the way through to the end, but just couldn't find the ending to be believable.  So, she gave me one out of five stars.  I didn't think that her star rating was fair, because she did say that she loved essentially 95% of the book. I thought it would be more appropriate to give the book four stars under those circumstances, but some people feel the need to fail everything that has any flaw at all.  I guess the ending was everything to her, but her review resulted in a huge drop in sales of my book.  Words are powerful.  They can make you rich or they can make you poor, so I'm very careful and fair when I review other people's products and services, knowing that people do take my opinion seriously.  I don't want to put anyone out of job, but I also don't want to vouch for someone who may end up disappointing some other customer in the future.

The guy I interviewed today took up an hour and a half of my time looking around my house and pointing out other things that need to be fixed.  I told him I'm aware of those, but I only have so much money, so I have to prioritize.  I don't want to make this house perfect.  I just want to get it into livable condition.  If I'm going to sell it, there's no point in putting in new flooring and painting every room in the house, because the new owners may not like my choices and will just switch it out with something else.  Then all of my money will be wasted.  If I'm going to rent it, I would want clean things up a bit more.

Ultimately, it's just nice to know that there are people out there available to do the work.  It seems that when it comes to construction and home improvements, it's feast or famine.  I've been alive long enough to see fluctuations in the economic tide, and I use timing to my advantage to get what I need now.  I'll take before and after pictures of my projects for you in future posts. 

I'm still struggling with my bizarre phone chaos.  I can go for hours without anyone calling, and then as soon as one person calls on one line, someone calls on the other line, so I waste a lot of my day playing telephone tag trying to return those calls I missed.  I didn't start the process of looking for a handyman until I was sure that I was done with all my insurance policy changes and other estate settlement decisions, because I didn't want too much going on at once.

Well, I was busy registering an account online, and my input was being timed for security reasons, and the freakin' phone kept ringing.  I didn't want to get kicked out of the registration process by a time out, but I also have been waiting for a couple of important calls.  So, I picked up.  It turns out that my insurance changes are not complete like I was told.  Now the insurance company wants me to do all this work to give them serial numbers and purchase prices and what not.  I let the agent know that I wasn't happy about having to give up more of my time to prove that I own stuff.  If I buy a policy, I shouldn't have to bend over backwards to provide them with such detailed information.  It's paid for.  What more do they want?  Of course, once I got off the phone with the agent, my registration timed out.  That's typical.

I would love to know why everything has to happen all at once.  Now that I may be having a handyman start work tomorrow, the truck salesman finally called and said that we could probably put together the tow package tomorrow.  I'm not leaving a strange man alone in my house to go take care of something that should have been taken care of last week.  Something's gotta give.  I know everyone's schedules are tight, but it truly seems ridiculous that everything has to happen all at the same time.

The animal welfare organization that I've been doing volunteer work for wants me to take a bigger part and start attending their meetings and events, and I had to explain that my life is so insane that it is impossible for me to keep a schedule.  I don't want to commit to anything, because chances are that I will have to cancel, which disrupts other people's schedules.  Most of these ladies are homemakers or retired, so they don't understand my lifestyle.  It seems impossible to come into contact with other people and not have them want something from me.  I miss the good old days when people could just interact without strings attached.  Sometimes we should just scratch someone's back without expecting for them to scratch us back.

I was feeling good this week because I crossed a number of items off my To Do List, but now in just a few meetings and phone calls, my legal pad is filled up again with things to do for other people -- people who I hired to help me.  For instance, this one handyman gave me a list of things he needs me to do in order to complete the project I was trying to hire him to do.  I just want the guy to do it all, do it all quickly, do it all quietly, and stay out of my hair.

Right now I'm feeling like living in a cave with nothing more than a campfire, some water and food looks pretty attractive to me.  I'd like to get down to the simplicity of a dog's life:  Eat, sleep, poop, eat, sleep, poop.  No insurance policies, no fussy websites, no dishonest salespeople, no handymen who charge $40 an hour in labor when I've worked ten times harder in my life and only earned half of that, and no more dogs dropping dead mice at my feet while I'm eating my breakfast. 

Oh yeah, and remember how I just recently paid $500 to repair all the damage that Bombay did inside my horse trailer?  Well, I just discovered that the big winds we had the other day blew my tack room door open and broke the spring controlled mechanism.  (Sigh.)  One more thing to fix.  I was really hoping I could trade in that trailer before anything else went wrong.

I think I'll head outside for some stall mucking therapy, if my annoying neighbors and their dozens of guests will let me.  I find it so bizarre that most mornings I can wake up, walk outside to feed the horses, and find two more cars I've never seen before parked on my neighbor's lot.  They seem to multiply like rabbits overnight.  My husband said I should pick a spot, and stand in the same spot and take pictures of their property each day, and then do a time-lapsed montage of it on YouTube.  I wish I had the time, because I'm sure the results would be astounding.


fernvalley01 said...

your day to day makes my head spin girl! wow! hope you find a good handyman and a bit of a break

achieve1dream said...

Ugh. Good luck finding a good handyman. I can't believe how such rude behavior is considered normal these days. :(