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A Few Lessons Learned Dealing with Skilled Tradesmen

Updated: Mar 25, 2019


Years ago, my wife knew a good friend whose husband was out of work, or shall I say he had little work as an indoor painter. He'd get jobs from time to time but never seem to have a consistent work load. He was honest and competent so we didn't ask for any references.

Anyway, we hired him to paint our upstairs and downstairs hallways. He provided some samples from his color palette and we decided on a light brown Benjamin Moore paint. We agreed to pay him $1,000 for his work which he completed in less than 2 days. At the time, we asked him to leave us one paint can with a little paint for potential future touch up work. In addition, if we really liked the final color, having that paint can would allow us the option to paint other rooms the same color.

I had no issues with his work, being a perfectionist and someone who's dabbled in indoor painting, I'd give his work a B+.

My main complaint was the takeaway. He left no paint for touch up and we didn't know the exact color he used in our hallways.

After a few weeks, I called him to inquire about this and never heard from him. I followed up again and never got a reply.

Years later, because these hallways are connected, if I want to paint the downstairs a new color (or vice versa), the entire job will need to be done.

You often learn by doing or not doing so in retrospect, I should have met him at home and taken a picture of the Benjamin Moore paint can although at the time, never thought this would become an issue.

I thought our arrangement was a win-win ordeal and was a little surprised I never found out the exact color he used. Perhaps he didn't have the same perspective.

One Quick Note About Color Matching: Not having the exact color, I had limited success taking a picture of his work and trying to match it to the exact Benjamin Moore paint. Experience has taught me that not having the exact match of paint color and finish often creates a lot more work long term.


I was speaking with a blinds' salesman a few days ago when our sidebar conversation led to dealing with tradesman, specifically with an electrician he had hired years ago. The entire two story house had to be rewired by a licensed electrician. He was away on business but knew the electrician was honest, competent and certified and had solid references so he moved ahead with the work. Good news, the electrical circuit breaker panel and all wiring was successful, the houses' electrical was functioning fine and was done per local code. The challenging thing, the contractor didn't label anything on the circuit breaker panel after the rewiring.

This may not be a big deal if no ceiling fans or exhaust fans were going to be installed in the near future or the home owner wasn't going to upgrade any of his outlets. However, some electrical work was going to be done so he had to label all new wired circuits on his circuit breaker panel with the help of another person (his wife). Having a basement and two story home, lights, TVs, fans and other electrical devices would need to be turned on throughout the house as they attempted to identify each circuit one by one. He and his wife had smart phones so they could communicate throughout the house during the identification process. In addition, his wife would run between the 1st and 2nd floor as he went from switch to switch to identify what impacted what. Besides taking notes during this task, he'd also be responsible for the basement as that's where the circuit breakers were located.

After several hours and a little bit of yelling, they got everything identified. The lack of this being identified by the electrician could have avoided this task altogether. Never having this done before I'm wondering where the electrician's responsibility ends as it applies to the rewiring work.

One Quick Note About Circuit Identification: Arguably, this individual could have done this himself although it would have been a much more tedious process and would have involved him running up and down the stairs after each circuit was turned on and off. Instead of taking several hours, this may have been an all day task to get everything correctly identified.


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