I Think I’m Actually Going To Hire Someone To Fix Something.

I have things that need fixing and it suddenly occurred to me … I could actually hire someone to do the work. But that never seems to work out well for me so I always end up doing things myself.


I don’t think I’ve hired someone to fix something in my house since the great toilet debacle of 2014.  That ended with a close to $10,000 bill for ripping up asphalt and replacing sewer lines.  I’ve since figured out all I probably needed to do was change my toilet paper and install a new toilet (my post here has a really, really good, step by step video of how to remove and install a toilet)

When I first moved into my house I hired someone was to rebuild my backyard fence. The first guy to show up to give me an estimate was rosy-cheeked and cheerfully drunk at 10 a.m.  He bumbled around my front yard seemingly looking for the most discrete place to pee.

Everyone else I called for a fencing estimate didn’t show up at all.  So I hired the only guys who actually showed up – sober.  They built me a fence that was 6″ higher on one side than the other and used nails that were inches longer than the fence boards were thick and therefore protruded like a torture device on the other side of the fence.  It was a MESS.

It was right around that time I started doing everything myself.  I’d always done “stuff” but it was exactly then that I thought, If that’s the kind of idiot it takes to do work around the house, I am idiot enough to do it myself. Since then I’ve built, fixed and broken pretty much everything in my home other than things that have the very real potential of killing me; like laying a new roof or adding a new electrical panel.  

I’ve fixed my washing machine and dryer more times than I can count, replacing fuses, motor brushes and belts.  I’ve built cob ovens

and interior shutters


and built in bookcases.



I designed and built a chicken coop that turned out to be the darling of Pinterest (with Pink Tool Belt’s help).




I redid my entire backyard, ripping it apart and building planter beds and laying the entire yard in square cut flagstone.  Piece by piece. 

So I’m no stranger to doing stuff.  But with a 170 year old house there’s ALWAYS stuff to do and if I’m going to do stuff I’d like it to be stuff I enjoy doing. Like ripping up floors. 

What I don’t feel like doing is re-roofing my chicken coop.  Or ripping out and pouring a new concrete window well.  I’ll also have to redo the picket fence around my home in the fall and remove all the posts that are set in concrete.  Again, that doesn’t sound like nearly as much fun as ripping up floors.  Add installing some sort of roof over the coop run, replacing my backdoor and finally doing all the trim work I need to do after ripping up those floors.  

This weekend I’m going to make a list of the jobs that need to get done and divide them into ones I’ll do and ones I’ll hire someone to do.  

Then I’ll pick up the phone, make a few calls, put a bucket out on the front lawn and wait for the “mess”timates to come rolling in.

Have a good weekend!


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  1. A guy says:

    Just re-read your old post on re-building your backyard. What a difference between then and now.

  2. Kailee says:

    I recently tried to hire out some of the work on my master bath reno because I did not have the time or energy for all that right now. Well ended up getting scammed by the contractor and left with a ripped out bathroom with no money or person to do the work. So now I am back to doing it myself! But I did conquer my first big drywalling project and am learning tons of other new skills. So even though I still dont really have the time or energy for it I am much more proud of doing myself.

  3. Cussot says:

    My personal favourite is your self-levelling cement tutorial. Epic and terrifying. Here, let’s mix up some of this goo that hardens into rock and pour a truckload of it onto the kitchen floor – relax, it’ll be fine.

    You inspire us to take on the world, one project at a time. Which of course doesn’t mean we have to take on ALL the projects. WANTED – COOP ROOFER.

  4. Cathy says:

    Hi Karen! My suggestion is this: contact someone in a local real estate office that also does long-term property management. If you have a friend who does this, even better. Ask them for recommendations for contractors for your jobs. I’m a property manager here in Florida, and we keep an active list of contractors that are reliable, know what they are doing, and are reasonably priced. We can’t afford to have questionable contractors do repairs or installs for our owners or tenants. Good luck!🍀

  5. judy says:

    I have just had a kitchen install,the man the cabinet company assigned to the job took the job even though he knew he was going to Canada for several weeks. He thought he could promise “monday” but then said it might be June 24th-My no produced the guy direct from hell-Ran around in circles,talked to himself,phone conversations consisting of family emergencies and promising “clients” that he was “on his way.” Huh? Paid his wife the 1700 on the phone and refused to sign the -job done-I am satisfied form because cabinet company had not sent 4 cabinets -the cabinets are crooked-the sides of my dishwasher are exposed? He cut my cherry butcher block wrong. The bottom plate of the dishwasher has disappeared? Kept telling my son he was not contracted to do much of anything and he had not seen the contract I had with 1st guy enumerating that -yes he was for another 1785 bucks….Now we are waiting for the local store to come through-I sense a distinct chill in the air as Hell freezes over. He won’t receive those funds until I do sign the form so maybe some hope? sob.

  6. Eve says:


  7. Woniya says:

    So true. All of this is so true. Whenever people come over here and see things going on, plumbing or what have you, they ask me for my plumber’s number, or my whoever’s number as a good referral. I feel sheepish telling them I’m my own plumber and my own whoever. It’s hard to find reliable HONEST people. And I find that when dealing with a woman, many of the contractor types give me the ‘hey little lady let me tell ya something about this here pipe,’ and I don’t necessarily mean copper pipe. Ugh…. So like you, I think a lot A LOT of us do it ourselves. I can do things better, and much more to my liking if I handle all the work. But I’m with you on electric and cement pouring. And roofing. Nope.

  8. Lesley says:

    There are just not enough skilled tradespeople around anymore, and kids don’t get encouraged to take up trades like they used to. Now they all want to be the next YouTube star, or come up with the new gotta-have-app.

    Having said that, I need someone to come and paint the stupid faux vents that our builder installed in the roof peaks above our garage and bathroom window. Such a small task, probably take no more than an hour, but I’m too afraid of heights, and ladders on 2nd stories, to even think about tackling that myself. What’s a person to do when the job is so small, it’s very unlikely that anyone would even bother to come and give you an estimate?

  9. Paula G says:

    One word: Tradeswoman

  10. Cherie says:

    OMG! That chicken house is amazing as are all the other jobs you have done. I am hopeless with a saw, but I have the best solution to all the jobs that need doing: a handyman, that is my own man who does it all — except being tidy. Today, he is building my cucumber trellises, wooden ones so I don’t have to buy those expensive Lee Valley deals. BUT, there is a downside. Trim? What’s that? Oh, you mean those long boards that are between the living room and the dining room that have been there for months – but hey, it’s lower Vancouver Island and it’s warm outside and who wants to be inside then, and besides there are vehicles that need tending to, and an old (1956) wooden boat and…. Good luck with hiring.

  11. Bruce Cisco says:

    I couldn’t agree more. As a guy who turns 60 next week, ouch, and has long list of summer projects that I do not have the time to complete myself. I do the projects that I enjoy! And get help with the ones i don’t or would be too time consuming.

    Life is short! Pick your battles… and hopefully good contractors.

    PS: I may be fibbing a bit as I too, hate paying people to do stuff that i can do better 90% of the time.

    Love your blog!


  12. Lynn says:

    I can only think of a couple of things to say an that is one educate yourself on the job you want done before you hire someone. Then never ever pay up front for the job in full. An never just walk away and expect them to do the job right. Not only ask for references but go see said references Don’t just call.
    An Read the Small Print in the Contract. The good people at their jobs usually have a wait list because they are good, but not all people that have wait list are good.
    Contractor are like any other people in that there are good ones and bad ones. If you educate your self you stand a better chance same as in everything else you do.

  13. Dona Bowien says:

    Handyman professionals are a very good trade. If you can find a good one that will be a miracle. My wife forbids me from hiring anyone I find on the NextDoordoor site whether they come with glowing recommendations or not. That’s why we have four brand new boxes of ceiling fans with light kids sitting in our garage and have been sitting in there for probably 6 months. And have received 5 estimates for extra concrete to be poured in the backyard to make us a patio and yet all we have is weeds and grass and dog poo. Not only do the fixer people not want to show up, or actually do any work, they all want an arm and a leg for their crappy service. So we also try to do as much as we can to fix things here. But as we are getting older we are more tired and just don’t have the energy or desire to do the extra work. And sometimes the extra money. Hahaha. I’m with the lady that says once you find someone that does an exceptional job for you, tattoo their name on your left arm (paraphrasing) because you will use them till they won’t come anymore.

  14. Dd51 says:

    Ask your neighbors, when you see someone putting up a fence stop right then and ask him for a card so you can call him (if he is not the homeowner!), look at people who post notices at your local hardware store or somewhere like Lowe’s or Home Depot. If you see a house being built, stop and ask who is in charge and get info that way. That said my best advice is when you find someone, hang on to them. I send my “guy who can fix everything” a Christmas card and a food treat type present. Also,,,do not be afraid to tell the person if you are not liking the work, read up on what should be done and how, find the local code regulations, usually where you get permits from the city or county where you live, and in general act as the GC for the project. Always, always,always make sure your plumbing or electrical person is a “qualified” I.e., licensed . And BTW, when you are choosing a doctor or Nurse practitioner, ask a nurse who they go to. We can’t tell you who to go to , but we can tell you who we go to and believe me, we know the best and who to avoid.

  15. Jane S says:

    We once had a guy doing our basement who was terrible. Sloppy work and frequently didn’t show up. A friend suggested firing our guy and hiring someone who had done meticulous work for him. It was the same person!!!

  16. Doug Kevis says:

    I can relate to the “mess” timates, and also the calls to 5 contractors and maybe 1 shows up.
    Going through it right now with a new bathroom project.
    Looking forward to seeing your list.

  17. Denise Potter says:

    Do you have a service like Angie’s List we have here in Ohio? The craftspeople are reviewed by their customers. We’ve had wonderful results from the people we hired using this service.

  18. Cheryl Young says:

    Sometimes, it is better to hire someone else, especially for jobs like window wells, and yanking out fence posts! Used to operate a handy person company with my hubby, and we used this awesome product in place of concrete for fence posts sometimes. It was like magic!

    • Teri on the (unfortunately not) Wet Coast says:

      Thank you! I’ve been dreading the hassle of putting up one of those umbrella type clothes lines and messing with concrete. This looks like the answer.

    • Karen says:

      I’ll have a look. I’ve seen it before but never really looked into it. Now’s the time I guess, lol. ~ karen!

    • Jane Baker says:

      Wow, thanks, Cheryl! I have to move a chain link fence and this island is all rock! I was actually looking forward to renting a hammer drill to break up the rock but NOT looking forward to buying and mixing cement for all the holes. This looks like it might be worth every penny savings in time and effort not to mention that I’m certain those 50lb bags of cement actually weigh 100lbs!! Thank you, thank you for the link!

    • Jane Baker says:

      Oh, and we have exactly the same problem here! I can do everything except heights which means finding someone to hire to do some overhead and ladder work for me. Everyone worth anything is booked out a year ahead and it is not advisable to hire anyone else.

  19. whitequeen96 says:

    I feel ya! After years of fixing more things than I ever wanted to (not on your level, of course) I’ve finally decided that it’s time to have someone else do the stuff I dread. Then I can do the stuff I like to do!

    But you’re so right about how hard it is to find someone good! I had a guy put up some white paneling (long story) next to the shower, and found out he didn’t used used galvanized nails. So now all the many, many nails have rusted and I need to deal with that. I should have done it myself! (Head slap!)

  20. Paula says:

    Don’t forget your Restoration Hardware backyard furniture.

  21. Mark says:

    Karen, you never fail to impress!

  22. Ariel says:

    I totally just had this dilemma! I have successfully fixed my garbage disposal with all 10 fingers intact, but it started leaking a week ago. I googled it, and most articles pointed to replacing it. So I called the landlord and had her handyman figure it out. #noshame

  23. Tina says:

    Boy, once you find someone who can do the job well, keep his number and make sure he likes you!

    When I moved into my new house, there were a few things I wanted customized. I hired a guy who looked good on paper but was a mess. He brought in a LOAD of lumber, set it in the middle of my living room and then left, with no idea when he’d return! After a week of no contact, I fired him and told him to come get his wood. He wanted to charge me for it. I told him I wouldn’t pay for something that wasn’t used, that my new guy could order what he wanted. He never came back to pick it up, I gave it to the new guy who said the original man had ordered WAY more than necessary.

    The second guy was great! Wonderful craftsmanship and a good price but he’s booked at least a year ahead. So now I have another new guy. He does excellent work but I made the mistake of giving his name to some friends…now he’s too busy. Keep good workers a secret!

  24. Kmarie says:

    I think I’ve been lucky in my hometown- it helps that my husband is a Journeyman Carpenter ( and a self taught hack of all trades like you ) whom knows all the people to stay away from, what’s a good price and whom is worth the price … and it’s how he makes his living so in grateful to those who choose to hire him. However, I’ve heard the bad stories and I’m glad I’m married to him and don’t have to risk it. There are so many blue collar workers that are undervalued or here pre judged – but unfortunately there are a minority who have given the rest a bad name ( maybe it’s worse in a larger city?) I hope you have better luck next time and perhaps find a tradesperson who takes pride in their living and gives you the work you’ve paid for! Fingers crossed 🤞

  25. Lois M Baron says:

    It’s a good thing I was already sitting down when I read your headline. WHAT? I thought. That doesn’t sound like Karen! lol. Good luck with the hiring.

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