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Solo Features

Builders and the single woman

The best way to deal with a man is through his wife, according to Sylvia Harrison.

There is no doubt at all that men and women are completely different creatures. Some similarities may exist, but that’s only for reproduction. As a good lawyer friend once said to me, if men and women lived next door to each other, they would get on very well. Sharing the babysitting duties and the finances in respect of the children would be sufficient support for a normal happy alliance of both genders. However, as this is not likely to occur for years and years into the future, single women need to learn how to handle builders – the third species of our planet.

Women who are not used to dealing with builders would be wisely advised as follows:

1 Don’t pay money up front. Any reasonable tradesmen will not ask you to cover the cost of the labour. Payment of materials is acceptable. Anyone who approaches you on this setting needs to remove himself immediately from your line of vision.

2 Good guys will have funds to pay their staff. Payment, depending on the job, can be made in pre-arranged segments, but no less then 40 per cent should be withheld pending completion of the work. Once you have handed over all the money, you will not see the builder again. This is universal.

3 Keep a spreadsheet outlining expenditure. It should note material costs, monies paid to different tradesmen and the dates paid. Keep the withdrawal slips/records of payments to the spreadsheet, clearly highlighting the use of the monies.

4 Get receipts for the materials prior to paying the final balance. Make sure it is correct.

5 Always make sure before work begins that you have the home address of the tradesman. Dodgey gits won’t give their home address. Get their home phone number and car registration.

6 Get to know the wife – even over the telephone. A man’s wife is worth her weight in gold to a woman he is in the process of upsetting. She won’t want him embarrassing her and will sort it out immediately. Much better to be fighting with someone who depends on her for luvey duvs, then have everyone slagging her off in the pub.

7 Don’t allow your place to be used as a storage hut for tools. There are situations where there was ‘banging and hammering’ going on all day, and on arriving home, two tiles had been put up. It’s very common for builders to use your place as a base for carrying out other people’s work, especially when you’re not there during the day to keep an eye on things.

8 Building jobs require management. Do not assume that the work will be done as per your instructions. It will be done as per the convenience level of the builder and directly in connection with the amount of money you owe him. It’s a mistake to hand over money any time you are asked to. You need to design a communication system that is effective. Your builder is doing a job that you have to live with. And look at. And use. That in all likelihood you have remortgaged for. Make no mistake, it’s personal.

It’s a very rare thing to meet someone who felt happy living in their house in the months following major work. It’s very stressful and very upsetting when the builder is in control and generally keeping to his own time limit. But if the job is managed properly it can be a very rewarding experience. But management is the word. Remember that.

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