A Day in the Life of a Handyman

Before you get all excited and maybe a bit perturbed that things aren’t going your way as your handyman had maybe cancelled or postponed you work (maybe even several times) here is what my typical day can be like. Granted, not all days are like this but, with the severe shortage of skilled help, people are clamoring for someone (not just anyone but someone who actually knows what they are doing and does the right thing) to help them in their hour of need.

Here is my typical week so far (and it is only Wednesday):

Monday:  my customer and I agreed that I would do the following:

Install some custom metal shelving to help organize their garage space so they could actually park their car in their brand new house (as opposed to leaving it out in the elements in favor of a bunch of boxes of stuff they have carted around from house to house)

Install plywood flooring in the attic above the garage so they could store more stuff

Move a towel ring in a bathroom

Mount a TV/DVD shelf unit

What I actually did:

Forget the plywood flooring, TV/DVD shelf unit, and moving the towel ring, let’s fix some new home warranty stuff like the plastic trim kit around the cabinet mounted microwave, level out the microwave and stove so they actually fit the cabinet, mount the metal shelving in the garage, and secure an outside faucet that the builder’s stooges crudely mounted to the siding.

When I got home today I checked my voicemail. 8 messages pending from potential new customers. Some days I spend hours discussing work they want done. Other days it goes more quickly, especially when my schedule is full out a few weeks. Many people call and seem to expect that I can just come over tomorrow or something to do their work. I guess they probably think I have a staff of people working for me who can come at almost a moment’s notice.

Tuesday: my customer agreed on the following work ahead of time:

Replace old stainless shallow kitchen sink and ugly faucet with a new sink and faucet, move a wall secured book case to gain access to an outlet behind the book case to connect a 3 outlet extension cord, take down a 4 door wall mounted cabinet in the laundry room to make room for new  piggy backed washer/dryer combo, mount a flat screen TV on a wall in a bedroom closet so it is visible for two people sitting in bed, trim about 4 inches off the legs of 2 wood bar stools to fit under the counter on the kitchen island, and remove the stem for a broken caster under a motorized bed so a replacement caster can be installed.

What I actually did:

The new kitchen sink is beautiful but there are some issues. The line for the dishwasher is too short under the cabinet so a new section of hose is needed. In addition, we need a new short length of water supply hose for the cold water to the faucet due to differences between the old faucet and the new one. And we find that the hardware kit for mounting the TV to the wall mount does not have the right screws to secure the TV to mounting plate. Fortunately the trimming of the wood bar stool legs and gaining access to the electrical outlet behind the book case goes without a hitch. The kitchen sink issues require a trip by the home owner and one for me for the screws for the TV mount and for the parts for the dishwasher connection to the plumbing.

The new bed caster was the wrong type: the stem was the wrong one for the bed frame.

I started work at 9:30am and finally got home at 8pm. Can you say “late dinner and really tired?” Oh, and I made a quick side trip to estimate the work needed to repair a patio support post that a neighbor down the road about 5 houses asked me about. She is a previous customer in good standing and I figured “Hey, it will take just a few minutes.” Turns out is was 1/2 hr after discussing the repairs options.

I started work at 9:30 and got home at 8pm; long day. Oh yeah, the daytime high was 103 in my truck when I drove off to get the plumbing parts.

Wednesday: I had high hopes of a quick and easy day. I’m foolishly naive sometimes. lol

I hoped to take care of my first customer who needed the cord in her long drapery traverse rod replaced (it was frayed so badly it would probably break the next time it was pulled) and then drop off a key for a valued customer whose sister lived about 1/2 mile from this first customer, visit a possible new customer’s rental (she is an absentee landlord living out of state trying to make ends meet after her husband suddenly passed away and left her with a lot of responsibility for many things she doesn’t understand well enough yet). The rental is on the other side of town and is sort of on the way back home. Then the last thing I wanted to do is to finish a quick job of installing a short stairway handrail for a female customer whose husband is still living at home with her help and is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

What I actually did:

I started on the drapery rod cord repair and also noticed that the weather stripping around the front door was not doing its job. You could see daylight all around the door and the bottom had sunshine showing through to the carpet. I notice these things as a sort of habit I’ve picked up doing handyman work. I’ll bet there is a heck of a wind during the cold months. Yes, this new customer confirms my suspicions. She lives in a motorized chair with a joy stick for a controller for speed and direction. I joke with her that she could moon light as an Air Force drone pilot and make lots of money off that skill. We laughed a lot. She stays home and takes care of her invalid husband.

 I had a YouTube video from a drapery business explaining how to replace the cord and that task went smoothly.

I made a trip to Home Depot to get new weather stripping and a new door threshold and door bottom sweep to seal the big gap and to hopefully purchase one of those spring tensioned cord thingies for the drapery rod. I got everything except for the tensioner; looks like I’ll have to do some research on where to purchase one. They’re not so common anymore. I was lucky enough that my other customer waiting for the key lives along the route to Home Depot. The key was delivered easily.

I got the weather stripping installed easily but ran up against an issue with how the metal threshold is mounted (not mounted level) so I’ll have to make a return visit and likely build a custom wood piece to go under the metal threshold so it seals against the door bottom correctly.

She asked me to look at a tall set of drawers  that was missing a leg and was supported on that corner by a plaster cast of a black Labrador dog. I kid you not! The screws to attach the leg are missing so that task is on my list for our next visit: buy 2 bolts to attach the leg.

I finished around 4pm and headed to the new customer’s rental. What a mess! Long story here that I won’t go into. Spent around 45 minutes inspecting for various issues we had discussed on the phone prior.

Arrived at my last customer’s home to install the short hand rail, which went on without a hitch. I fortunately got home at 6pm.

Many days are like these I’ve described here; sometimes things go smoothly and sometimes all hell breaks loose and I have to rearrange my scheduled work so I don’t leave work half done. Now, you may think I just need to stick with the original agreed upon work that was scheduled and work out a new appointment time/day to take care of the added/different work. And you probably have a valid point. In my experience though, folks are often juggling priorities based on finances and other concerns, and, in some respects, they are my temporary bosses who sort of dictate the work to be done. Customer satisfaction is a big deal with me so I oblige them as best I can.

About handymanlou

Boise, ID native, USNavy veteran, survivor of 26yrs at Hewlett Packard (during the good years), love to tinker, take apart and put back together (without extra pieces left over), gardener, amateur landscaper, love to fish for trout, crappie, smallmouth bass, catfish, and just about anything else that swims in fresh water. I would like to do more woodworking with my Shopsmith but there's so much other stuff to do that I also like and love.
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