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Handyman Corner

Company Update

Several months ago I decided to put more time and effort into efficiency and make some needed changes. One change was to no longer have daily helpers with me and or have others complete work I was only able to start. This change has had a drastic positive effect on my ability to serve others and actually do better work. Occasionally I do need a helper but  now I only use family members and only when it's critical.

Another change I implemented was to allow advanced scheduling up to three months out. Some of my clients are now planning their projects during vacations while they are away and this adds more flexibility to the overall schedule. There are a few others that lay out a years worth of projects ( gutter cleaning, landscaping, tree care, painting and pressure washing) to be done at certain intervals.

Overall, these changes and a few other minor tweaks to the business have allowed me to deal with less stress and frustration. Keeping this business small and controllable has also given benefits to us and our clients.

The Handyman's place in the current economy

Prior to 2009 when we started our company in Lodi, Contractor's outnumbered handymen by at least 5 to 1. Today, the number is about 2 to 1 however, many contractors have re-invented themselves as "Handymen" and downsized their operation and overhead to stay competitive. In my opinion, this a good thing.
 
Why is this a good thing? Well, first of all, the general public now has a much better "pool" of experienced service providers to choose from that have been in business for many years and have handled just about every project you can imagine. The average hourly rate is lower than before as well.
 
Secondly, having more experienced handymen available, helps to weed out the part timers or less experienced "handymen" in our area which is another plus for the general public. However, don't get me wrong. There are some part time handymen that are in actuality, retired contractors or construction workers that are experienced and do great work. I guess what I'm trying to really say here is that anyone with a few tools and a vehicle can call themselves a handyman and tell you they can do any job. But, (in my opinion), the public needs to be wary of anyone claiming that "I can do anything" and actually have the skill set to do the work.
 
Finally, competition is a good thing. It keeps all of us experienced handymen sharp and willing to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible price.
 
Rich Jones
Handyman Extraordinaire
handymanlodi.com

Changing your home

As the economy tries to recover, it is apparent that many home owners are deciding to stay put and improve the home they currently live in rather than buy a new home. I'm not talking about full remodeling or making major changes here. No, I'm finding that many people are re-organizing the layout of their  homes by changing or adding one or two windows to allow more light. Or opening up a kitchen or dining room wall to have the appearance of a larger living space. Maybe adding new flooring that has a mix of wood and tile. These kinds of changes sound like alot of work and some are, but most are not that difficult to do.
 
If you simply look around your home and visualize the changes that you would like do and make simple sketches for a contractor or handyman to build from, your ideas will be better interpretted by the people doing the work. Many contractors have their own design groups or automatically refer you to an architect and wait for them to come up with something to present. Sometimes this is the best way to proceed but there are contractors and handymen out there that have a gift of visulaizing simple changes and conveying those changes in such a way that the homeowner better understands the ideas and how the project will benefit them at a much lower cost. In other words, you don't always need an architect or designer if you already have a good idea of what you want and you have a good contractor or handyman to guide you through the project. 
 
I'm all for helping people do projects on their own and I often provide advice or guidance on projects that homeowners think (at first) they can't do themselves but later realize they can. Most of the time however, I'm hired to actually do or assist the customer with the start-up or completion of projects and that is the reason I love this kind of work.
 
Rich Jones
Handyman Extraordinaire
handymanlodi.com

Scam Alert!!!

We are hearing from several sources that some handymen, contractors and service providers are charging for estimates with no apparent intent on doing any work.
 
Here's how it works:
 
The company representative arrives at your home or place of business after telling you upon initial contact that a fee is required for an estimate and receives a check from you before they leave. In most cases this is roughly $50.00. You were told that the estimate will be applied to your project if you decide to use their services. When the bid is presented after the representative leaves (via email or by phone) it is so high that you reject it at once or decide to obtain other bids. The company giving you the bid can and will do the work if you choose them and they will apply the estimate fee to the total price. However, you will be paying much more than to most other providers.
 
We have heard of one cleaning company that collected $40.00 to provide an estimate for a customer that needed a garage cleaned (remove boxes, furniture, etc.and clean) and cleared of  a few rat droppings, oil and battery acid (one leaking battery stored in a sealed container) and other items that required some special handling (standard yard and garden chemicals and old paint all contained properly). The cleaning company does not do this kind of work and they even stated that they usually prefer housecleaning upon arrival. It turns out that they do basic house cleaning only.
 
Based on the status of the garage when we saw it, the work was not considered "hazardous" by our standards. Using gloves and a mask and delivering the items to a appropriate facility was all that was required. The homeowner's relative actually did the work in order to save the $125.00 bid we provided but we were surprised to hear that the other company provided a bid of $1750.00!!! We saw the bid and there was no mention of how they were going to do the work, who would do the work, any special tools or equipment they thought they needed, where the debris would be taken or how long it would take. It simply said, "remove hazardous material and sweep out garage".
 
We also heard of a contractor that gave a bid for a fence for $6700.00 when two other companies provided bids of under  $2000.00. All three required payment for the estimate and the company winning the job did apply it to the final price.
 
Here's what we suggest you do when someone requires you to pay for an estimate.
 
1. Call around to find a company that doesn't charge for estimates.
2. Ask why you need to pay if you can't find a free estimate.
3. Make sure the representative is taking notes and go over the notes with them.
4. Ask for a ballpark figure or cost range before they leave.
5. Always try to get a written estimate before they leave.
 
We charge an estimate fee ONLY when we have to travel outside our standard service area mainly for fuel costs and we apply it to the project cost should you choose us. We prefer to work locally so we won't have to charge fees for estimates.
 
 
 

Spring and Summer Cleaning

We have been doing numerous home and barn clean-outs lately as usual during the summer months. Many of our customers are moving items to storage facilities, downsizing their homes or just trying to make life a bit simpler by re-organizing what they have.
 
We recently completed a large cleaning job that was spread over several weeks and required several trips to the dump. Our customer had once owned a store and instead of liquidating their inventory, they stored it in several buildings on their property for future garage sales and personal use. There was so much product that it was a bit overwhelming for them and that's where we came in to help.
 
We spent several days taking everything out of the buildings and placing everything out where it could be sorted. Unfortunately, over the last few years, the roofs on some of the buildings fell into disrepair and some of the items were damaged. After sorting, and after several trips to the dump, all items were re-packed in tubs, barrels and boxes. The buildings were then cleaned out and all the items were placed in the buildings in such a way that when fall arrives, we can assist our customer with a huge garage/barn sale they are planning. We will post the dates and times of the coming sale here and on our website at www.handymanlodi.com. While on site, we also completed numerous projects relating to landscaping hose bib repairs and will be called back next month to replace a pump house roof, do home painting and start other landscaping projects.
 
So, if you or someone you know in Lodi or the surrounding area is in a similar situation and needs help, no matter what size the project is, please feel free to call us. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 209-663-3662 or 209-366-3288.
 
Thanks,
 
Rich Jones CHP
Handyman Extraordinaire

Handyman Corner

Twice a year, since we have been in business, I visit an older gentleman who has a rather large home. The purpose of each visit is to determine what types of maintenance will be needed and when those projects should be done. We usually spend a couple of hours going over his list and if I see something that can wait until next year or longer, I mention it. I noticed that the paint on the exterior of the home was in excellent condition but the trim was peeling and fading. So, he decided to paint the trim this time and check on the exterior paint next year. I never try to push him into a project that's not on his list because the last handyman he tried did that and well, he is now his previous handyman.
 
Another thing that's interesting is that most people I meet to bid on one project, will quite often say "I don't know if you are interested in this type of other work I need done or not but I need .....". In most cases I can do the other project and when I can't, I refer to someone who can. My wife and I started this business to help people and make a living for ourselves. If I'm asked to do something I can't (for whatever reason) I honestly make the best effort to find someone else for them. By doing that, I am remembered and the next time the customer needs something (even if they know I don't do it) they will call me and ask for help. And I always try to help.
 
The point I guess I'm trying to make here is this. Most people are reasonable. They want to be treated fairly. They appreciate help when they really need it. They want a good job at a fair price and they are usually patient with other reasonable people. So, whatever industry you are currently in, doing whatever type of work you do, treat everyone (even those few tough customers out there) with great respect for their needs, opinions and expectations, and you will excel.

Like very few others

Do you have a handyman yet? Did you know that not all handymen are alike?
 
When you decide it's time to get some extra help around the house with a small project or need someone to maintain your home, a handyman may be the answer. But how do you choose one? There are hundreds of handymen/handywomen in my area alone. And with that said, I can assure you there are many that are very good at what they do. I've even referred  a few of them to take on projects I can't always get to in the time frame desired. 
 
At one time (until the mid 90's) it was imperative that handymen and contractors were listed in the yellow pages. The yellow pages are still available and delivered to your door, but when was the last time you used it for more than a doorstop. A good majority of people are using the Internet to find what they want these days because it's more convenient and even fun. A large number of people find us every month and we  receive alot of phone calls because they saw our site. 
 
Most people look for handymen to build a fence, do  some painting, make repairs, etc.  But what if you simply  need someone to change your smoke detector batteries once a year,  move items into storage, clean out a garage or help you pack a U-haul? How about installing carpet, checking on your home or cabin while you are away, hauling and setting up an outdoor bar-b-que or maybe pick-up something like a TV or sewing machine and put it in your car so you can take it to the repair shop yourself? 
 
As far as we are concerned, these are all jobs for a handyman. However, and quite surprisingly, many handymen won't do these projects. Why not? Because they are not really handymen. They are contractors that call themselves handymen because a "handyman" sounds less expensive than a "contractor". Don't get me wrong, many of these guys and gals have lowered their prices, do excellent work and are still going strong and I must add that I'd do the same thing if I was a contractor that survived the housing fiasco.. However, most of them stay within the confines of their trade and subcontract other trades to do carpeting, tile, plumbing, etc. And I must agree that sometimes you really need a licensed contractor to do the work. We refer a few trusted contractors to our customers quite often for projects we can't legally do.
 
So if you have a project that just seems like no-one would be interested in. Or, you just need some advice that you can't find on the Internet, call a handyman. You can go to several sites such as I Got A Guy, Angies List, Service Master, Yelp or a number of others and search for one or you can visit us at www.handymanlodi.com for more information.

New Certification

New Certification:
 
I am pleased to annouce that I have recently been certified by the Association of Certified Handyman Professionals. They are a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and support of Handymen (and women) all over the country.
 
Contractors are required by law in most States to be licensed in their field. Until recently, Handymen didn't have a way to become licensed and or certified in some way to assure the general public that they are legitimate, skilled and someone you would want to hire. Handymen usually have experience in more than one field and may even have a few special skills to do projects contractors don't want to do or usually refer to someone else. We (Handymen) are more likely to take on very small projects such as changing out smoke detector batteries, replacing light bulbs, moving furniture or cleaning gutters.
Reliable and honest Handymen know not to change out circuit breakers, re-roof a home, install a new gas line or take on a large project that should always be done by a licensed contractor. We are also more likely to work at a much lower hourly rate, during odd hours or holidays.
 
So, the next time you have a small project or task to do and you just don't have time to do it yourself, try calling a Handyman (or woman) and see what they can do for you.
 
Please feel free to comment or suggest topics that may interest you for future communications.
 
 

Getting Ready for Winter

Now that temperatures are stating to dip, have you thought about how to lower your heating costs? Are you bracing for the first bill now that Winter has set in?
 
As seasons change, we change the way we think. Unfortunately, many homeowners get caught up in holidays and family events which distract us from chores that really need to be done. Did you seal up your windows, add weatherstripping around the doors or wrap your sprinkler lines and outdoor hose bibs yet? Chances are that you have it on your list but just can't seem to get around to it. Maybe you did all that last year so you're thinking I don't have to worry about it. You should.
 
If that's the case, here's some information that may get you moving a bit faster on these projects. Most people change their windshield wipers on their cars after it's already raining. That first rain comes along and you suddenly realize that your wiper blades are cracked and pretty much useless. They were exposed to temperature changes such as the scorching sun, frost and other types of damage caused by washing or dirt accumulation all year. They don't cost very much and you must have them to safely make it through the winter. Well, all the weather seals, pipe wraps, and caulking joints around your house went through the same conditions all year long. Chances are, many of them didn't fair too well.  However,  we fail to realize how important these items really are.
 
Your home moves. It settles. It shifts and It doesn't matter where you live or how your home was built. If you have windows and doors and I would imagine you have a few, temperature changes and all those events I mentioned above have most likely made a major impact on air flow and how rain is kept out of your home. Caulking and other types of sealants also crack or peal over time. Maintenance is the key and it's relatively inexpensive to have these issues handled by someone who has experience with weatherproofing.
 
So, if you are feeling drafts, worried about exposed pipes or not sure where to begin, give us a call for a free estimate. 209-366-3288.
 
Richard Jones
R & D Enterprises
Lodi, California
getitdone@handymanlodi.com

Carbon Monoxide detectors

If you are selling or buying a home, you have certainly heard about the new law that took effect this year regarding carbon monoxide detectors. If you search the internet, you will find a huge amount of information (and comments) on the subject similar to the one below.
 
"The bottom line is that ALL SINGLE FAMILY residential dwelling units as of July 1, 2011 must have a CO detector, even those that are not being sold. All other dwelling units (multi-family, dormatories, hotels, motels, etc) must have CO detectors installed by January 1, 2013".
 
 
 
Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas that can kill you. And, It is relatively inexpensive to protect you and your family from it if you install the proper type and number of detectors in your home. The law does not specify the number needed or exactly where to place them however, so following manufacturers reccomendations is well, reccomended.
 
There are those that say they should be in every sleeping room, others suggest they be mounted near the floor, others still say near or on the ceiling. It has also been reccomended that they be placed near gas appliances such as water heaters, stoves, fireplaces, etc.. I personally think the later is the way to go. We have one in our garage, one in the living room near the fireplace and one more in the hall leading to all our bedrooms. We have smoke detectors in every room except baths and the garage.
 
In my humble opinion, It is always a good idea to err on the side of caution so investing in the prevention of anything that is odorless, colorless and can kill you, just makes sense to me.
 
However, if you search the internet, you'll find some of these thoughts about the subject: These comments do not represent my thoughts but I thought sharing some of them would be a good idea.
 
"Statistically, only 30 to 50 people die in California every year from carbon monoxide poisoning out of the 37 million + or - that live here. Most of those who die do so because they use a bar-b-que indoors for heat or in a tent or don't vent their chimney properly. In other words, out of stupidity". "We all have to pay for that now".
 
"Here's a thought. I make carbon monoxide detectors and I see an opportunity to make millions. All I have to do is find the right lobbyist, who then finds the right politician who is willing to draft a bill, push it through as an act of public safety and take a few envelopes of cash for their trouble. Before you know it, everyone is forced to buy them and as I said earlier, I make hundreds of millions of dollars".
 
"We must all remember that sometimes the government needs to protect us from ourselves so laws like this are needed".
 
"Education is the key. Simply getting the word out is the first step in prevention of senseless deaths, or is it"?

Using used material

We have been asked on several occasions to re-use material that a customer has on hand. Accumulated brick, tile, wood and other materials can be used again in unique ways that bring new life or purpose to a yard
 
. For example, using bricks for planter boxes or yard dividers that came out of an old walkway or garden path. One of our customers had us use tile from a bathroom remodel to cover ceramic pots and an old wooden table they used in the garden. We broke the tile in irregular pieces, glued them onto several red ceramic flower pots and filled in spaces with grout. Applying sealant over the surface made them more durable and ready for placement on their patio.
 
  Odd items not usually associated with a garden such as old toilets, small boats, sinks, tires, vehicle parts and wash basins can also be used to add a personal touch to a yard, garden or patio. The best thing about using used material that you have lying around the yard is the cost. Unless you need glue , grout or hardware, the only cost involved is labor and or time if you do it yourself. So the next time you find yourself relaxing on your patio, porch or deck, think about how to incorporate your "junk" into new and exciting features for your yard.

Why Hire a Handyman?

Aside from the fact that I am a handyman, there are numerous reasons I think the general public should consider what a handyman can do for them. There has always been the gardener that mows your lawn and cares for the yard, the pool man who of course takes care of your pool, the window washer, the house cleaner and of course the General Contractor who takes care of your construction and renovation needs.
 
 But what about a Handyman? Can He handle most of these jobs as well? The dictionary simply states that a Handyman is "one who does odd jobs". But more importantly, they are quite often skilled in various trades such as fencing, concrete, demolition, cleaning and even assembly with years of experience. They are typically less expensive, have unequaled patience and usually do all the work themselves. And instead of "specializing" in one trade, they are usually able to do just about anything. I would like to point out that any good Handyman certainly knows his limitations and when to refer to someone with more experience. I always tell my customers if I am certain that I can do what they ask of me or certain that I can not. There is no sense asking the customer to pay you to learn how to do something you've never done before. So, the next time you need just about anything done around your house or business, consider using a Handyman instead.
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