Handyman for a day

by Grace aka costofcollege

I’ve been seeing variations on this Angie’s List deal.

$279 Handyman for the Day

Are you tempted?

Your list of projects around the house seems to keep growing with no end in sight. Skip the hassle and let the professionals do the work for less with this great offer!

$279.00 for 8 labor hours of skilled handyman services (1 worker for 8 hours or 2 workers for 4 hours each)
Deal can be used for everything from shelving installation to minor electrical and minor plumbing repairs

Assuming you could get a competent handyman, do you have any projects you’d like to get done?  I can think of a few, including that sagging garage trim that needs to be straightened, weatherstripping around some doors that needs to be replaced, and a new doorbell.  If I gave it more thought, I’m sure I could come up with lots more.  What about you?  How about landscaping or housecleaning chores that you’d like to take care of with a similar deal?

Have you ever used a service like this?  One thing I thought of was that I’d want to be very organized and make sure to have all the materials on hand so that minimal time would be wasted on trips to the hardware store.

What’s your next home project?

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137 thoughts on “Handyman for a day

  1. We hired a handyman to strip and then paint our porch a couple of years ago, as well as some minor repairs to the wood on the steps. They did a total half-a$$ed job. All the paint peeled off within a year, and the repairs were bad. This time around, we are using the same contractor who built our new shed to do the repairs, as well as repairs to our back deck. The work done by his people seems pretty good, but they are expensive and SLOW. Still waiting for the final paint coat on the porch.

    In any case, I now think I would avoid people calling themselves handymen unless it is for truly stupid jobs

  2. I used one of those for a yard clean up. I think it was $75 or 100 for 6 hours or so. Much cheaper than I was quoted by others (everything was overgrown and most add in a nice neighborhood/single lady premium). They brought 4-5 guys and I think it only took 1 hour total for them. They did a great job and hauled everything away for me.

  3. We have used handymen from time to time. By the time we hire one, there are several things on the list and they have enough for two/three days of work. Separately, we have used a pressure wash and window cleaning service. The guys do a great job.
    We terminated our lawn guy and replaced him with a more comprehensive landscaping service. Our yard really required a good clean up. House cleaning we do ourselves. I wish I had a cleaning service but we already outsource the rest.

  4. We hired a handyman vetted by a very frugal longtime area resident. He replaced the wooden doors on a shed and leveled some pavers on the patio that were sagging from chipmunk activity underneath. He also had unsentimental suggestions for dispatching said creatures but DS objected so they were spared. Shaved Irish Spring soap was the Plan B and so far that noxious substance seems to deter them. Can’t believe that people bathe with it.
    RMS, now you can enjoy a new song in your head. The young uns won’t get it.

    I would hire him again. It pays to have a frugal longtime resident to consult.

  5. On topic, we hired a handyman a few years ago to take out the bar in our family room and turn the area into a storage alcove. He advertised $69 an hour to do pretty much anything. He did a pretty good job.

  6. Off-topic, but relevant to many conversations here, I took DS to freshman registration this morning. It’s a pretty diverse school and you could see that some of the parents had a lot of difficulty navigating the process. It’s not hard to figure that they will have a lot of difficulty navigating the college application process in a few years.

  7. DH does a lot of the usual ‘handyman’ things but if it is delayed, it turns into a bigger project and we hire people to do it instead. :) We first got a dumpster to get rid of some of the stuff they left. Next on the list is painting the truly objectionable rooms, replacing the fridges, replacing the dishwasher. We may also need to get an exterminator if the current mouse traps don’t work sufficiently.

  8. We have a handyman who is great. He has replaced the molding around several leaky windows, redid our deck, and repainted some rooms. We need to do a repaint of several rooms/doors, a repaint of the metal gate around the front door, as well as a good cleaning and re-staining of our back deck. I will reach out to him in another month to get these things on the menu.

    We have a ton of yard work to do–it is truly never ending. However, we will wait until the fall, when the weather is better and we will be more likely to actually do the work and more likely to actually be outside to enjoy our yard.

  9. When I’ve needed a recommendation for something small, I’ll ask the contractor who’s done the bigger projects for us for his recommendation, and that’s worked out well.

    When I wanted the stainless steel fine mesh screens on the gutters, I made the mistake of contacting one of the big national brands. And they’re a bunch of crooks. They send a sales rep out with a tape measure, and he gave an initial price of $4k. I said “great, thank you. I’m going to compare that to another quote and I’ll let you know.” Instead of leaving, he kept lowering the price, ultimately to about $2200, but I had to agree now. Then he got really angry that he had driven all this way, and this was an incredible price, and for someone like me living in a $600k house, I shouldn’t be nitpicking like this. (I’m totally serious, that’s what he said.)

    At the church Trunk or Treat, I relayed the story to our contractor and he laughed and said $2200 was ridiculous, and he told me the local siding company that he had already used when he built our porch would do it for a lot less. They came out and quoted me $800 with no drama.

  10. So frugal old timers and “big job” contractors are good sources of references. Who else? Has anyone used someone who was recommended by people in a neighborhood app, and how did that work out? I see a lot of people looking for recommendations of people to cut hair, mow lawns, and other things, always wonder if the responses are valid or nepotism.

    Denver, does your HS require kids to physically come out and register? Ours takes schedule requests in the spring, makes schedules available starting a couple weeks before class begins–on paper, to be picked up at the school, and has an open house a few days before school starts where kids can get their schedules, meet teachers, and get supplies lists. It is all voluntary, and I think there is still a lot of chaos on the first day because many people don’t do any of the above. Asking people to take time off work to come in is part of the problem, imo. Older kids drive in themselves, but they wouldn’t have as much trouble as the HS newbies anyway.

    Venturing even further off-topic, can anyone suggest weekends like this that do have kids stay on campus? Spending the night would be part of the allure for my (not so) little sunshine. http://tip.duke.edu/node/1553

  11. RMS, now you can enjoy a new song in your head.

    “Manly, yes, but I like it too!” Except, as you say, it makes turpentine smell like Chanel No. 22.

    One benefit of knowing Mennonites is that there are plenty of conscientious, skilled handyman types. We hire from the church pool. Unfortunately they’re all getting on in years.

  12. L, beyond exterminators, there are outfits that specialize in getting critters out and keeping them out, by e.g.repairing/replacing flashing, sealing off crawlspaces, screening off ventilation openings. If the traps don’t work, your population is probably being refreshed regularly.

  13. My husband does most of the handyman stuff — I do small things but when it comes to replacing a door or a toilet it’s always him. I’d be happy enough to hire someone to do that kind of job as it takes him all day and he dreads it, but perhaps it would just feel wrong to him — for whatever reason, he prefers to do it himself.

    We fired our yard service a couple of years ago because it seemed like they had a personal grudge against roses and landscape lights. I’d like to have my oldest doing the weed-whacking (I’d pay him), but my husband has been reluctant to have him take it on for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me. I should ask him about that again. I do the detail work, like cutting the grass out from around planters or bushes with my beloved mini scythe and trimming the gardenia and come to think of it I need to trim a bunch of jacaranda suckers this weekend.

  14. HM, would your husband be persueded by the argument that doing the yard work would instill in your son the same values that lead him (your husband) to replace a toilet himself?

  15. As meal planning is to me, handyman stuff is to DH, so we outsource *all* home repairs. The contractor who has done major remodeling for us will either do it at handyman rates or point us to someone good who will, so we have had great luck with quality of work.

    The outsourcing of home repair was so odd to me at first, b/c my dad and brother are so incredibly handy and will fix or build things for sport. The first time my parents came to visit us, he blinked in a does-not-compute way when he asked DH where he keeps his tools (my dad wanted to fix some things for us, of course) and DH responded, “I don’t have any.”

    I expect DH finds it just as odd that I refuse to plan meals, have no idea where to find a vacuum in this house (or whether we even own one anymore) and haven’t touched my gardening tools in years.

    As for the outsourcing of things like cleaning and gardening and lawn mowing, for me, this is likely in the top 5 list of things I have done to improve my quality of life. Especially in the summer (it’s about 589% humidity here today), and especially as I and my skeleton age, I find physical things like scrubbing floors and weeding gardens are just hard on my body–they wear me out and make my joints ache–without any of the benefit of the kinds of exercise I actually like doing (i.e., no sustained increased heart rate, no real strength work, no flexibility gain, no endorphins). Plus, all of those things are a huge time suck. I am willing to pay to have those hours available to do things I really want to do.

    I should add, for the benefit of those (most of the people here) who are younger: this is a life stage thing, for certain. I didn’t outsource nearly this many things when I had daycare costs, or even when the kids were younger and around all the time. Spending the entire weekend outside gardening was fun back then–I was younger and they were all running around in the yard or biking in the driveway, and it was sort of a family togetherness thing. Now that we’re a little further along in savings, etc, and now that the kids are off doing their thing anyway and I have the freedom to do other things rather than needing to be available to them every second, I want to be sure that time is available to me. Paying others to do all the chores is a way to make that time available.

  16. My partner was doing most of the handyman stuff, but lately he is not interested in most of it unless it is something bothering him. A man in my tai chi class is having work done on his house and is happy with his handyman’s work. I am working on the list now.

    Our best handyman came at a realtor’s referral. Used him several times, but then he seems to have fallen off the map. We have a tile guy we really like. We needed a wood floor repair, called the “best” company in town. They had a 6 month wait list, but asked about our project. They referred us to someone and he was great. Wish he did other things, but he is a wood floor only guy. We also have a tree guy who comes by to check on us yearly. We sometimes do a fair amount, sometimes just get the limbs back off the roof. A little more than the price our neighbor pays, but they clean up the yard afterward – neighbor has to clean the small stuff himself.

  17. Has anyone used someone who was recommended by people in a neighborhood app, and how did that work out?

    We’ve hired a painter and a plumber from recommendations on our neighborhood Nextdoor site, and they both worked out very well.

  18. School registration – For DD#2 going to public school, she is a transfer to a IB program in another district. After we did all the paperwork to get accepted, she had to meet with the IB counselor. Almost everything was done in that one visit, except she was thinking about sports. The coach would have to agree to a single block vs double block schedule in order for her to play. After talking to the coach and looking at the demands on her time, she decided not to play. Submitting that required another trip to the school. IF we were not transfers, we could have done it online.

    The school had a June orientation, then an August (next week) day to come get your schedule and books, maybe a supply list but not guaranteed until the 1st day. The August day also has a new parent meeting.

  19. We’ve had fairly good luck with referrals from our neighborhood app/board.

    DS1 mows the lawn. DS2 will take over when he grows a little more. When both kids are out of the house, I will talk DH into hiring a service. I hate our yard–it’s just one big obligation to me. No benefits now that the kids are older and don’t play outside. The next house we buy will ideally have no yard.

  20. Denver, does your HS require kids to physically come out and register?

    They had two evenings back in March to register for classes and they got their schedules at the end of May. What the registration today was for was to fill out required DPS paperwork (contact info, etc) which you could do ahead of time online and save some time, complete the application for free/reduced lunch (they want everyone to do it even if you know you don’t qualify), pay student fees, get their student ID, have the nurse verify they have immunization and other medical info, and there was a form for the magnet program he had to complete.

    There were 9 stations you had to go to and it was pretty straightforward, but you could see some people just struggling with understanding some of the information they were given.

    They have “Freshman academy” next week – half days all week, but DS is going to miss it because we’re leaving on our trip tonight. Then the first day of school is freshman only, so it gives them a chance to get acclimated without the full chaos.

  21. Re: the crazy Nextdoor.com users, a couple weeks ago a neighbor posted that they were having someone named whatever (just gave a first name) at XXX phone number over to their house to give them a quote, posting this for “safety purposes.” In other words, if the police discover our mutilated bodies stuffed into the trash bins, this should be their first lead.

    Then about 10 people replied “Great idea! Can’t be too cautious! Safety first!”

    Then the old folks never posted anything again, and there were all these additional replies “Are they OK? Bob, Jane? Are you guys OK? Check in, please?”

    So many things wrong with this, but just for starters, even if you want to give the police an advance lead on your murderer’s identity, just text the information to a friend or something.

  22. Risley, we’re in a very similar situation to yours in that we do very little of our own home repairs and maintenance. It’s actually my job to get most of this stuff done, either do it myself or hire it out. The hardest part is finding a reliable tradesman or handyman. Sometimes I inwardly grumble at how much this stuff costs, but then I remind myself of the value we’re getting.

    We just paid to have all our smoke/co alarms replaced, a job that many homeowners handle themselves with no problem and save significantly. But because we were replacing most of hardwired units with battery powered ones, I didn’t want to mess with the electric wires and having to make sure everything was done to code. It worked out well, and as usual the hardest part was finding the right worker to do the job.

  23. My ongoing problem is that DH doesn’t have time to do any of this stuff, but he’s super-picky and always hates the job that the contractors/handymen do. There’s really nothing I can do about it. I think it’s all tied up with his Indiana upbringing and thinking that he should be the one to do everything and be self-reliant and how Granddad would admire him, but financially it’s totally stupid for a senior law partner to spend 40 hours doing some home improvement thing instead of billing the hours and paying a fraction to a contractor.

  24. “Milo, they posted someone else’s phone number?”

    Yeah. A business #, presumably, and one that a legitimate contractor would want to be advertised (unless he’s also a serial killer). I don’t even know who the people are; our neighborhood loop is a little over 3 miles in circumference, with many courts and cul-de-sacs shooting inward and outward.

  25. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I’m being super-picky or if the worker did a lousy job. We had one bathroom tile job (including tiling on half all the walls) torn out and redone after it was not done to our satisfaction. I just couldn’t imagine living with mistakes like the outside corner tiles having rough edges because the workers didn’t know you had to use a particular tile piece for designed for that location. Right now I’m dealing with a long trusted plumber who left our toilet bowl with black scratch marks. The plumber said they would fade, but it’s been a few months and they’re still there. Now I don’t even know if I trust them to replace the toilet bowl, if that’s the only remedy.

  26. My realtor recommends all my handymen. He’s given us our go-to painter, plumber, and handyman. Our electrician came from a rec form DH”s coworker. All have done great work. Our contractor who rebuilt our first floor 2 years ago got the job because he was the only person to call me back. I kid you not. It was a complete Money Pit situation. He was a rec of a former boss. And we are planning on calling him back in the fall to discuss another built-in for our living room. We need more shelf space, and I’d like to consolidate our “office” stuff into one place.

    On a sad note – I need a new canopy for my gazebo. 2 sizeable dead branches fell out of the tree and through the canopy. I don’t mind spending the $80 but I *just* put the new one up this year. And I also need to get a tree service in to trim the oak tree of its dead and dying branches.

    Milo – that’s just weird. But I live in New England where people never admit to peaking over fences.

  27. Re: the crazy Nextdoor.com users,

    We’ve had the discussion about before about busy bodies calling police/CPS on kids wandering the neighborhood. Just a few weeks ago, the police accidentally shot a group home employee dealing with an autistic young man. The busy bodies apparently reported the incident as suicidal man with gun. It was an autistic man with a toy truck.

    It sure seems like at least part of the issue is crazed busy bodies.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/07/21/fla-police-shoot-black-man-with-his-hands-up-as-he-tries-to-help-autistic-patient/

  28. Ever since we talked about nextdoor.com, I’ve been keeping an eye on the comments to see what the trends are. In addition to “There has been a car parked in front of my house for two hours; I’ve called the police! Remember to keep your women and children inside!” and a truly endless number of lost-dog, lost-cat, found-dog, found-cat, and posts about “Why can’t you idiot pet owners keep your pets inside or on leashes?”, the other big one in my area is constant whining about why we can’t have a “good” supermarket in our area. We’re rich and white! Why doesn’t Whole Foods / Trader Joe’s / Marzcyk / Sprouts / Independent Co-op open a store here? All we have is that dreadful King Soopers (aka Kroger). And the answer is that all those other chains did a review of the demographics of our area and determined that they wouldn’t make money coming here. But no one believes that’s possible, not when we’re all so very rich and so very white! Now King Soopers is building another store in our area and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    I like King Soopers. I think they’re fine.

  29. ” But no one believes that’s possible, not when we’re all so very rich and so very white!”

    LOL. How much does the typical house in the neighborhood go for?

  30. Milo, you should quit your day job and tell these stories for a living. That tale was hilarious.

  31. “Remember to keep your women and children inside!”” Aye-yi-yi!

    Our local sites don’t allow postings about animals for fear they’d be used in animal-fighting scenes. Every once it a while, a gruesome photo (different every time) is posted to remind us.

  32. How much does the typical house in the neighborhood go for?

    Good question. Looks like it’s around $500K, which is high for Denver.

    Cheerful, ew! How awful!

  33. Thanks, Scarlett. If only I could get paid.

    In my brother’s recent move, one of the motivations was to get out of the pressure cooker academic environment where just about every kid in the fifth grade is going to extra math tutoring as a matter of course, even though they’re already getting A’s. I explained my Big Fish Theory to my brother, and it was like it was something he had never considered before. He actually shared it with his kids when they were talking about moving, “Uncle Milo thinks that…” and they were like “Yep, let’s go.”

    So now, as my brother puts it, they left a neighborhood of all academically obsessed parents who are academics themselves and professionals/PhDs/researchers, and now they’re surrounded by business owners. And my car-obsessed nephew (normal for his age) has neighbors two doors down from him with a Sequoia, an Escalade, a Bentley, and not one, but two Lamborghinis.

    People are so demographically predictable.

  34. My Nextdoor neighborhood group is SOO boring in comparison. All adverts for handymen actually…

    Now, my City’s FB page is where it’s at. Complaints about construction in town, lost pets, property owners who don’t care about their properties, the airport… My favorite is a recent exchange about a series of roundabouts being built to easy traffic flow in a busy section of the city:
    “The lanes are too narrow!” (they aren’t, you need to SLOW DOWN!)
    “No one lets me into the roundabout!”( Uh, those in the roundabout have the right of way. Either wait, or get daring)
    “The roundabouts need traffic lights!” (You do understand that the roundabouts are being constructed to REMOVE the traffic lights, right? It’s the lights that are causing the traffic jams; that and people not knowing what lane they need to be in)
    “The construction is never ending! And no notice about when its done!” (actually there’s a blue sign that says Fall 2017 if they stay on time. The paper published that they were 2 months ahead of schedule because of the mild winter.)

  35. Our Nextdoor group is a mix of (1) have X it is at the curb, you want it come take it….followed by its gone. (2) looking for Y, anyone have one they don’t want. (3) looking for various service providers including handymen and maids. (4) reporting suspicious activity – cars, door-to-door sales, etc. (5) lost and found pets. and (6) the most common – complaints about the postal carriers taking/leaving or not taking/leaving things properly. Our neighborhood has two routes and ours never has problems and all the complaints are on the other one.

  36. The hard thing about being a big fish in a small pond is staying motivated.

  37. Oh, and moving boxes! Constant offers of or requests for moving boxes.

  38. “The hard thing about being a big fish in a small pond is staying motivated.”

    It’s really not a small pond; the schools are very high on the Great Schools ratings. But in terms of parental obsession, it’s the difference between top 3% and top 0.3%.

  39. The hard thing about being a big fish in a small pond is staying motivated.

    How so? It seems like it would be easier to stay at the top if it required less effort.

  40. Of course it would be easier to stay at the top if it required less effort, but “on top” in the small pond might be much less than top level (even top 10%) across the state or country, so unless the fish wants to stay in that pond forever, s/he needs to find motivation to do more than just stay on top there. That’s hard.

  41. My kids’ HS registration is in a couple of weeks, the week before school starts. It’s mainly picking up their schedules, laptops, and IDs. They did their class selections in January and finalized them in February, and all the permissions, immunization and other medical info, and updating of student/parent info were due in July.

    I don’t think there’s much parent involvement at all next week. DS will be a senior, and neither DW nor I has had any involvement beyond dropping him off or picking him up.

    Back in my HS days, we had the scramble system for registration, and even with that there was virtually no parent involvement. When I was a junior and senior, I was one of the students helping out the freshmen and sophomores who had difficulty navigating the system themselves, but most students were able to handle it by the time they were juniors and seniors.

  42. The kind of program I posted about above–an overnight weekend program that is focused on academics, not “the college experience” can be one way to keep kids in touch with others who actually like learning when kids at their home schools don’t, and can give a gentle, fun push. A few years ago, maybe even on TOS, there was a great discussion about participation in summer programs like TIP, and a lot of Totebaggers wrote about what a huge difference that had made in their lives, how it kept them going.
    But the weekend program I linked to is no longer overnight. I’d like to find others that are. Most college overnights for HS students seem to be about recruiting.

  43. “so unless the fish wants to stay in that pond forever, s/he needs to find motivation to do more than just stay on top there”

    Well, a couple points. These business owner types are wealthier than the researchers.

    But the whole point of the Theory is that assuming you do want a shot at Harvard (the bigger pond for the purposes of this discussion, which is what the researchers want for their kids–the business owners, according to my brother, are thrilled with JMU), you’re better off being able to distinguish yourself in the smaller pond in high school.

  44. “One benefit of knowing Mennonites is that there are plenty of conscientious, skilled handyman types. We hire from the church pool. Unfortunately they’re all getting on in years.”

    Did they not pass their handyman skills to the next generation?

  45. “When both kids are out of the house, I will talk DH into hiring a service. I hate our yard–it’s just one big obligation to me. No benefits now that the kids are older and don’t play outside. ”

    Any thought to converting it to a low-maintenance yard? Perhaps replace some grass with a ground cover like gravel or bark and stepping stones over weedblock, and plant some hardy, slow-growing plants?

    I think the only reason DW wants a yard is to live somewhere with a low housing density. She almost never goes out into the yard.

  46. “The hardest part is finding a reliable tradesman or handyman.”

    That’s one of the main reasons we don’t hire one. Especially for small jobs, it would take about the same amount of time to find and hire a handyman as for me to do it.

  47. Did they not pass their handyman skills to the next generation?

    Typically not, no. It’s an odd phenomenon. The kids are either going to college and then getting more white-collar jobs, or else they are sort of abject failures. I think it’s related to the earlier group growing up in more rural areas but the current generation growing up in the cities. But that’s not the whole story. I don’t know what the whole story is. And most of the younger generation no longer goes to church. It’s a big topic of discussion at the national level.

  48. From what I can tell, most of my neighbors use their lots for privacy rather than active recreation of any kind. If filmmakers wanted a location to give the impression of a population vaporized by aliens, they could come here. Our back yard neighbor is a retired athletic coach whose pool is silent and undisturbed all summer except for several weekend visits from the grandkids. It’s always a shock to hear splashing and laughter over there.

  49. Finn, I somehow didn’t know your DS was a high school senior. I’m sure you’ll keep us updated on the college search/application process in the coming months.

    When I was in Brooklyn a few days ago I saw a number of young urban guys wearing cargo shorts. I made a point of noticing after the discussion here.

  50. Y’all are making me appreciate Mr WCE, who does lots of household stuff. We just refinished our large deck, including replacing several boards, which was ~40 hours of hard work. The US forest service cleaning recipe (hot water, bleach, TSP) works well. I did the cleaning/scrubbing/staining and he did the board removal/cutting/replacement. (30+ hours for me with him watching kids, a few hours for him) I don’t think a handyman would have been as conscientious about the scrubbing. We have cracked boards with algae and organic matter that needs to be scrubbed out before staining.

    We asked our shop contractor (who goes to our church and whose parents live ~6 houses from us) for a recommendation when Mr WCE accidentally damaged the ornamental brick on the garage. My favorite repair guy just replaced the fill valve on the leaking dishwasher while Mr WCE was overseas. But we do most stuff ourselves.

    Risley, I wonder if your physiological challenges make yard work unusually unpleasant for you. My Dad and neighbors (think RMS’s Mennonite handymen) mostly seem to enjoy outdoor/yard/handyman work, especially when it doesn’t have to be done on a schedule. I suspect my Dad will wind up doing that sort of work for his new wife’s widowed sister’s house as well as their house.

  51. My neighborhood is the exact opposite. Everyone is outside all the time. But that may be a product of long and cold winters. in 2015 when we had 3 blizzards 3 weeks in a row, the first nice day in March the entire neighborhood was out, even though it was still in the 40s and damp.

    Its weird when the neighborhood is quiet.

  52. Our neighborhood is the quietest in the summer when families are gone on vacation or family visits. Otherwise, the kids are outside a lot plus people walking their dogs, runners, walkers and a few gardeners.
    So, though most of the neighborhood dosent directly use their yards they use the common space formed by the neighborhood.

  53. WCE, I’m wondering whether a pressure washer might’ve made much shorter work of prepping your deck for stain.

  54. Back to cargo shorts, Ivy made the point the other day that cargo shorts are analogous to minivans.

    I’d take that a bit further, and guess that the same type of guy who wears cargo shorts is also the type of guy who has no problem driving a minivan. He is practical and not a slave to fashion, and secure in in manliness. This of course describes many (male) engineers.

    I’d also guess that the wives with problems with their husbands wearing cargo shorts are vain and impractical, the type often in denial that minivans are the most practical vehicles for them, instead deluding themselves into thinking that big SUVs are more practical, and willing to spend thousands of extra dollars on their SUVs and the gas for them to preserve their self-images.

    I don’t see cargo shorts going away anytime soon, just as I don’t see minivans going away anytime soon. Perhaps their ubiquity will wax and wane, but with cell phones getting bigger, cargo shorts (and cargo pants) offer a solution for the emerging issue of phones getting too big for regular front or back pockets.

    BTW, I like that my cargo pants have pockets big enough to hold my tablet.

  55. Finn, Mr WCE thinks the pressure washer is too hard on the wood. Also, bleach kills mildew/algae. I would have used a pressure washer…

  56. WCE, I’ve heard that concern before. Perhaps a very inexpensive pressure washer, not capable of as high pressure as most washers, might avoid that issue.

    What kind of bleach did you use? I’m wondering if a hydrogen peroxide bleach (e.g., OxiClean) would have less of in impact on the environment than a chlorine bleach.

    I used a pressure washer to prep our stuccoed retaining walls for paint. There was some concern of damage to the stucco, but that was offset by not needing to use any chemicals.

  57. But hydrogen peroxide bleach wouldn’t kill the bacteria/mildew/algae in the wood like chlorine bleach does. Chlorine bleach isn’t an environmental concern and the ~3 gal of bleach I used for the deck is a negligible amount of chlorine compared to what is used in drinking water, swimming pools, paper pulp manufacturing, etc. Chlorine isn’t a problematic atom.

  58. @WCE – I think the pressure wash service used chlorine bleach to do the exterior of our house including deck. The deck and the driveway/front walk look so clean after they are done. Moss/Mildew grows like crazy in our humid climate.

  59. I hate cargo shorts and minivans! No delusions over SUVs, though. I hate those, too. :)

  60. I was discussing the Soviet spies and how they led a normal life in America. At the end of the conversation DS looked at me funny and asked me whether we were spies :-).

  61. I can confirm that, in the hands of a novice, even the most basic power washer is capable of gouging a wooden deck.

  62. Trolls advising trolls, how loverly.

    Rhett and CoC, it doesn’t look to me like those people will be hindered by their clothes from doing what they want to do, they cover the bits we don’t show to strangers, and none of the people seem to be breaking dress codes of the social (eg black tie) or uniform variety. I just can’t find it in myself to care. I generally don’t speak poorly of others on the blog, but what Finn says about women worrying that others will think poorly of them based on their husbands attire sounds about right to me.

  63. @S&M

    they are not trolls. take a hint and lower the volume/quantity of your posts.

  64. Isn’t anyone else amused by the reaction to the WSJ article on cargo shorts? (there was another article today.) I was commenting to DH how men are dismayed that they might be judged by their level of sex appeal and fashion sense. “But it’s practical!” “but it’s comfortable.” “how could anyone find anything wrong with that?” HAHAHA- welcome to our world.

  65. Had lunch with my brother today, noticed what he was wearing, asked him “Did you see-” and he cut me off with “yes and I am wearing them in defiance!”

  66. Well, I like men who wear cargo shorts and men who drive minivans. I think both are sexy

  67. Bless you, Mooshi.

    I seem to remember one or two posters on here a while back complaining about how badly American tourists embarrass themselves in Europe by wearing their fanny packs, sneakers with white socks, and other such offenses. It’s interesting to see that we have evolved so defiantly to never judge or criticize such a thing again.

  68. Today, I saw a Dad I knew wearing cargo shorts with a Vineyard Vines type shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the tails half tucked in sporting a hipsterish stubble. It was such a different look from all the other guys that it drew my attention. So, if you want to dress up the cargo pants adding a more formal shirt can help.

  69. Milo, you expect us to believe you’re too dumb to distinguish between a queen bee using fashion to put others down/elevate herself and a boor who thumbs their nose at the idea of adapting to where they are in the slightest? You’re too smart to think the point was the specific item of clothing, so quit pretending.

  70. WCE thanks for posting that. There have been some really horrible stories out of the foster care system here. It is on my radar more since my relatives adopted some siblings that they had fostered. (Planned to adopt just the infant they were fostering, but her 7 yr old sister was being taken away from her mother, and they didn’t want to separate the infant from a sibling, so after much consideration, decided to adopt the sister as well. During this time, the birth mother had another, who they agreed to foster, but were not going to adopt. They adopted that one in December, but said that is absolutely it. The birth mother is now pregnant with multiples.) The care of children in desperate straits should not be subject to a profit motivation. That almost guarantees the kind of issues they are seeing with inadequate supervision. I hope something comes of the investigation.

  71. I try to do the chores I can myself, and when I can’t we call one of the relatives who is handier and stronger than I am. If it involves a blowtorch, it’s a good job for someone other than me :)

    Current unfinished projects:

    1) Building 12 stone garden stairs (started but it got too hot, so going to wait until the kids are back at school).

    2) Painting upstairs bath and trim (really tempted to gut the shower wall tile but DH would not be pleased).

    3) Tilling back garden and laying stone edging around smaller flower bed so I can replace the rest with grass (saw poison ivy and will likely outsource this because it is not going to get done before the snow flies if I do it).

    What are the rest of you doing to get your kids engaged in DIY tasks? When it’s not urgent I remind myself to bring DD over and have her use the tools for a while, but she’s still too small to be much use at painting trim or laying a stone wall.

  72. Recent ND thread (with 100+ replies) was discussing/complaining about neighbors who disposed of dog waste in others trash cans rather than taking it home. Others complain about purses stolen from cars (I just left it in the car for 5 minutes when I ran inside). On a positive note, there was a thread that raised funds for a mentally disabled resident who had is adult tricycle stolen (known as the trike guy by many)..

  73. Sky, we had lots of organic matter (mostly decaying pine needles, but also dirt, etc.) between our deck boards that needed to be shoved out. The whole family walked around with paint stirsticks from Home Depot shoving stuff through the cracks before I hosed and then scrubbed. There was some difficulty moving debris located over joists but generally everyone except Baby WCE had the skill to do the job. She still enjoyed walking around with a paint stirstick being part of the action. Otherwise, my kids were of no use refinishing the deck. They sprayed cobwebs off the side of the house with the hose last week as one of their “chores” with the babysitter. I’m trying to assign a small chore to each of them each day.

  74. From CollegeConfidential:

    Will your kid be a handy adult?

    Will your kid call a plumber when the drain clogs? Would they know how to paint a room? Clean the carpet? Replace a furnace filter? Lube a garage door opener?
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parent-cafe/1910241-will-your-kid-be-a-handy-adult.html

    I have not taught my kids most of these skills because I’m deficient in them, and as a SAHM I became lazy in having them do many chores. However, they seem to have learned some things when needed. The first time my oldest did his own laundry was when he went away to college, and it worked out fine. The other kid says she learned to wash dishes and mop floors on the job at a small retail store where those are part of her duties.

    (Some of these comments are either inscrutable to me or just nonsense. WordPress provides me with regular reports listing top commenters, and cs is not among them.)

  75. Yesterday we had to set up our old creaky outdoor ping pong table, which needed reattachment and tightening of some parts. One of my D’s friends helped out and did a great job, much better thane either of my kids would have. I will admit that I do yearn for that kind of kid sometimes.

  76. “sneakers with white socks, and other such offenses.”

    I thought white athletic socks were the correct thing to wear with sneakers?

  77. Coc – I ask my kids to keep their own rooms and bathroom clean. I am surprised by how much they have learned outside the house, starting with daycare, school, camp.
    In college I had one very messy roommate who dressed well and was organized where her books and campus job were concerned but her half of the room was a disaster. Either she didn’t notice, was too lazy and didn’t care. It was quite unpleasant sharing the room with her. At work there is one guy in cube land who is so messy, that his cube is like a tourist stop when newcomers are taken around the first day.

  78. My kids are OK at keeping their rooms clean, for teenagers. The one day that their rooms are totally picked up is the day before our cleaning person comes.

  79. I don’t think my kids will be handy as adults. DH is handy and involves the kids in installing ceiling fans, etc, so they know their way around basic tools and projects. However, we usually hire out for larger projects.

  80. neighbors who disposed of dog waste in others trash cans

    Ooh, that can be a hot topic here. While I would consider it somewhat annoying to be on the receiving end, our garbage can smells very thoroughly like garbage so it’s not like it would be defiling something pristine. But I gather there are people who will regularly scrub out their garbage can so the plastic doesn’t smell all garbagey, and when those people find that someone has left dog shit to ripen in the heat in their can they get piiiiiiissed.

  81. Oh, I would be so pissed. I do clean out my garbage can twice a year and that is enough. I did not put my own kids soiled diapers in the big garbage can. I think it’s just rude to throw your dogs poop in someone else’s garbage.

  82. Yup, people detest finding other people’s dog poop in their trash bins. And on their lawns.

    This was posted in our FB parents page.

    “Hi, I am in need of a sitter just one afternoon a week, probably on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons beginning this fall. Ideally, the responsible individual will be mature, have a driver’s license, make sure my sons’ homework gets done, throw a load or two of laundry in the wash, prepare lunches for next day and dinner for kids. Hours would be about 2:45 PM-6:20 PM. If you know of someone who may be interested, please private message me.”

    I rolled my eyes when I saw it, and sure enough the first response was:

    “Good luck with that”

    A more helpful response about high expectations followed.

  83. It’s possible she could find a college student living at home who would be happy with that one-afternoon-a-week arrangement. What grates on me is how the wording downplays the tasks. Do you really just want someone to “throw a load or two of laundry in the wash” because you’re going to have it already sorted in the laundry room, or do you want someone to collect the hampers from each bedroom closet, sort, look for stains, pre-spot, wash, transfer to dryer, start second load, …?

    I’m surprised she doesn’t expect some “light housekeeping” during all the downtime.

  84. Also, Rhett, it’s weird that she’s asking for “probably Wednesday or Thursday.” It could be a flexible work arrangement, or it could just be her afternoon for Crossfit, and either is fine, of course, but one gets the sense that she’s trying to defer as much work as possible for this poor hire.

    I mean, how often are you doing laundry? We typically do it on Sundays. If you’re going to have someone just one afternoon a week, it sounds like you’re trying to load her up with everything.

  85. That list of duties are what a SAHP would do. Juggling the homework, cooking and laundry.
    However, Not sure why the household tasks would be scheduled at the same time as kid tasks especially when you have a sitter. The sitters we had only did kid related tasks.

  86. Thanks, CoC. I had considered doing such stats by hand, discarded the idea as too much effort, but am glad to hear they exist already, and I appreciate your support ;)

    In repairs stuff, my kid is the same as with everything else–the difficulty is in getting in the right head space to do it. He assembled IKEA furniture when he was 5 just fine, and could operate a drill (with me right there doing nothing but focus on him & the drill, or with the screwdriver bit with me in the room) a couple of years later. We have painted together and done housework together. Neither of us likes housework, and he claims not to know how to do laundry these days, but I know it’s in there somewhere, because he used to help with it (tossing X load in the washer or transferring from washer to dryer). Whereas I prefer to do things from hanging laundry to building a loft bed by myself (but not snaking a drain–as long as I’m a renter, I will call for a plumber for that!), he does not. I expect that as an adult, he will hire out things that I’d rather do myself. The only time he’s likely to say “let’s open this up and see what’s wrong with it” are certain computer issues, where he looks at the code. Just like the old joke about the bike that doesn’t work because somebody fixed it too good (sic), we have a computer that needs to have the OS reinstalled because of his work. (Fortunately, it is that lemon model that WCE also has, and had been relegated to data storage before his tinkering.) Hiring things out when he’s an adult is fine, but right now I wish he would do some of it, because that nice feeling of accomplishment would be good for him.

  87. The 2:45 pm – 6:20 pm is strangely specific, especially when it can be Wed or Thurs (probably). And she wants a mature person who will help with homework, do laundry, make dinner and make lunches for the next day. She better be paying a lot!

  88. on outdoor garbage cans, um , they are for garbage, and they sit outside in the heat

    I don’t expect it to smell good or be clean (still wouldn’t want other people tossing poop in it, gross)

    MIL asked me what I used in our cans at home to get rid of the cat poop/pee odor, umm nothing?

  89. Louise, why would a SAHP not do kid things and household work at the same time? Is that really what you meant to say?

    Do most people have separate laundry hampers in each closet? I grew up in a house with a laundry chute. We’d throw things in from the first or second floor, and it landed in the basement laundry room, from whence it would reappear in our closets and drawers, neatly folded or ironed. As I’ve never lived in more than a two-person household as an adult, a central collection spot is nbd. My sister, her husband and their kids each do their own laundry, which I think is inefficient, weird, and none of my business.

  90. “I did not put my own kids soiled diapers in the big garbage can.”

    Where did you put the diapers then? We’re talking about the garbage can that is outside that the garbage truck empties, right?

    That babysitting ad doesn’t really strike me as that odd. Isn’t it kind of normal to hire a college kid to watch your kids after school & help them with their homework? I did that when I was a college kid & I also did odd tasks for the same family. One afternoon, they paid me to come over & put winter weather proof stuff around their windows. Sometimes they sent me to the grocery store to pick up a few things. It does have a vibe that this person might be difficult to work for, but I don’t know. It does seem like a lot for 3 hours one afternoon a week, but it might just be poor wording. It depends if making lunches is making a couple of sandwiches and throwing an apple in a bag or making some elaborate concoctions. Same with dinner – is this mom okay with a frozen pizza for dinner or expecting gourmet from-scratch meals?

  91. I don’t think the request list is over the top for a regular nanny or a SAH parent. But it is quite intense for a 3 hr and 35 min gig once a week. Usually people just want someone who will kee the kids alive.

    I keep the kids’ dirty laundry in the laundry room. It is in a constant state of flux and I am always doing some sort of laundry. I keep my own stuff in a basket in my closet. Husband does the same.

  92. When we bought our house and I was unnecessarily worried about a couple of kid safety concerns, I had the laundry chute removed from the upstairs hallway as part of the bonus room finishing. I don’t miss it. Our mudroom is kind of cramped, anyway, and it should be reconfigured with different built-ins, but we tend to do the sorting on our bedroom floor.

  93. I don’t think the laundry chute worry was necessarily unnecessary. We sent my youngest brother down my relative’s a few times. He got pretty hurt once. At least where we live, new builds cannot have them as they are now considered fire hazards.

  94. The times on that ad make me think the parent is considering taking a class or something that runs from 3:00 to 6:00, with 15 min drive time, and 5 extra min in case they’re a little late coming home. So very specific, but not that odd. But who makes the next day’s lunches in the middle of the afternoon?

  95. growing up, my family shared one laundry hamper

    now DH and I have one, DS has one in his room I dump in with ours when I do the laundry (I do laundry about every other day)

  96. DW’s parents like clean garbage and recycling cans. Both are always lined with those giant black garden garbage bags, and anything that gets deposited into them are in the kitchen garbage bags so any actual garbage or recyclable is at least two layers of plastic from touching the actual container.

  97. if the kids are older, (mostly self-suffcient) , but not old enough to leave alone, I don’t blame the parent for trying to keep the sitter busy with other household tasks

  98. Our laundry room/bathroom in the new house is driving me crazy – it is on the 2nd floor (good) but the layout is such that the door, when fully open (opens in), blocks the entire washer and some of the dryer. Then when I need to go back and forth from the laundry room to the hallway (bc there is not enough room in the actual room to hang clothes, nor to sort/fold stuff into the appropriate laundry baskets) or to move stuff between the washer and dryer, the door keeps hitting me in the rear bc it will not stay closed, just wants to open. Grr. I think DH is going to take the door off and that will improve things (although it does make it less usable as a bathroom!).

  99. I don’t blame the parent for trying to keep the sitter busy with other household tasks

    I assume she’s only paying the $15/hr sit on the couch and text her friends price not the tutoring, cooking and light housekeeping price.

  100. Kate, that is hilarious and awful! I take it the chute wasn’t straight down? They aren’t code for new build where I grew up anymore. The house I described was built in 1972 (Rhett, is that still the best year ever to take out a mortgage?) Laundry rooms aren’t in basements anymore anyway–who wants to lug everything upstairs? When you’re old, it’s a real chore. My mom sets the basket up a few stairs, takes some steps up, and repeats. All the way up. L, you need stacked W/D! They make some that are top-load, but I like front-load better. And get hampers with angled fronts so you can stack them under the new folding table you put in next to the machines. You can keep soaps, etc in a wire basket hung on the side wall back far enough so it’s not in your way, but not so far back its hard to reach.

    Isn’t dog poop already in a plastic bag before being disposed of? I don’t have a dog, but will occasionally toss a gum wrapper or something in a trash can I pass while walking. Some people could find a way to be offended by that, I’m sure.

  101. L, you should consider a louvere door for that room. My dad has those in a small breakfast room that has 4 entry points. What the previous owners did was install doors that were sawed in half with a hinge running down the entire middle of the door. Can be a bit tricky to fully open or close if you aren’t familiar, but they function as doors and do fold up. Not sure if this was a thing back in the 60’s or someone’s invention. Never seen it elsewhere.

  102. L, didn’t see that it’s folded clothes into baskets, not hampers. You could put a shelf under your new folding table. Then you’d have your baskets on it, to pull out part way to put things in.

  103. L, easiest solution is that you can just get a new door and frame that opens out, or cheaper and better a high density (not louvered) folding closet type door with a sturdy magnetic closure for times when the bathroom is being used, Or get a stackable washer/dryer to free up floor space (sometimes not possible on a second floor – too much movement for a front loader). Long term you would relocate either the laundry or the bathroom fixtures. My kids have the laundry side by side on the second floor with a set of folding doors in a wide but not deep closet – standard laundry set up in many homes. No laundry room. The clothes simply leave the dryer and go to mom’s bed or kid clothes to the floor to be folded – toddler loves to help.

  104. So many ideas! We can’t get a stack, there are already built-ins above the washer-dryer. There is also no room to put folding tables or anything else in the room. I suppose a louver door would be a possibility but I hate those things. We already have a guest bath in the guest apt, so this bathroom is a little bit superfluous >> part of why it makes sense for now to remove the door. I do like the solution of making it open out :)

  105. CS – not sure about the chute. I remember thinking that it was a terrible idea, but he and my older brothers really wanted to do it. And youngest brother loved it the first few times. But then he didn’t stick the landing on what would be the final ride and it ended in a broken bone and an angry father.

  106. These things always happen on the last ride of the day (or more commonly, the last ski run of the day). Just like your keys are always in the last place you look.

  107. Milo – I do like the idea of the garbage bin liner but it is *one more thing*. We put all our garbage in bags and try not to throw things directly into the big bin. It is still stinky and needs to be washed out.

  108. Or a pocket door, but that’s not a simple fix like switching the way the door swings.

  109. Doing separate loads for separate people (more precisely, for separate closets/drawers/rooms or wherever clothes are stored) is the single best way to streamline the laundry process. Then there are no issues about whose socks are these or where do these shorts go? If it’s Tuesday, they go in the boys’ room. I have an extremely disorganized friend with 7 kids, and there are NO HAMPERS in her house. Dirty clothes can be found on the floor in every room, and they just get unceremoniously dumped on the laundry room floor at irregular intervals. The clean clothes and linens are piled up on the dining room table, which seems to take the place of closets or dressers. If it worked, more power to her, but she’s always complaining about it.

  110. “Doing separate loads for separate people (more precisely, for separate closets/drawers/rooms or wherever clothes are stored) is the single best way to streamline the laundry process.”

    This is why I always do DS’s clothes in a separate load. Much easier not to have to sort between rooms. Plus, we make him do it himself (with just a little help with things he can’t reach). His clothes are all so casual that it really doesn’t matter. There is nothing delicate to worry about.

  111. Today’s topic is reconnecting with past people. My FB “memories” brought up an old post that I think fits better with the handyman topic:

    Laughing as I cue up Helen Reddy. Just showed two women how to jump start a car. “I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MUBnxqEVKlk Lol

  112. L, pocket door – best $300 I spent in the renovation, because it made our tiny powder room usable.

  113. I love my pocket doors, but they need adjoining space that is clear of electric or HVAC within the walls.

    I find doing everyone’s laundry at once the most easy. When individual family members do their own laundry it requires more coordination. But really the main problem is that most other people don’t seem to understand that “doing laundry” includes getting your clothes out of the laundry room, out of my way. One of our architect’s best recommendations was moving the washer/dryer from the basement to the second floor. We have a lovely laundry room with folding space and lots of storage. But between that and his/her walk-in closets, we had to give up a fourth bedroom on that floor.

  114. CoC, DS and DH have apparently not received your memo regarding the definition of “doing laundry.” Yes, it includes taking that last load out of the dryer rather than just removing that one item you want to wear….

  115. L, we had a similar issue in our bathroom, with the door needing to be closed in order to access the cabinet. I replaced it with an accordion door. OT, it was a very easy change that I did myself.

  116. “I love my pocket doors, but they need adjoining space that is clear of electric or HVAC within the walls.”

    And if anything goes wrong with a pocket door, it can be a major task to fix.

  117. “will occasionally toss a gum wrapper or something in a trash can I pass while walking. Some people could find a way to be offended by that, I’m sure.”

    A lot of people here bag their trash before putting it into the big bin to prevent little bits from going airborne during the pickup process and not making it into the truck.

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