It’s cheaper to live in a cave

By Melissa Martin

Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, heating and cooling workers, and skilled laborers are necessary, but expensive. And so are tree-trimmers. And carpet installers. As I’ve said many times—profit is not a dirty word. But I expect you to make a fair profit when you work for me.

And do not price-gauge just because you can during an emergency. While I understand that you have a life, a spouse, kids, a dog, and need to charge more when a pipe bursts outside of regular 8 to 4 working hours—don’t overcharge. That’s not nice.

The days of charging a service fee needs to be over. “Ma’am, I charge a $100 service call fee.” What? When you work in people’s homes, you don’t need to charge them for just showing up. I don’t charge clients a-show-up-fee just because I show up to my place of employment. “But Ma’am, I don’t step onto your property for less than a hundred dollars right off the bat.” What?

As painters, my grandmother, mother, and aunt never charged a fee for just showing up. They were straightforward ladies with work ethics. And they cared about their customers. That’s why they had so much repeat business. Along with their impeccable work reputation.

I am aware that contractors receive discounts at supply stores—so don’t mark up the price for items required for my job. Isn’t that double-dipping? And do I keep the leftover materials or do you? If I pay for it—then I keep it. Please put this clause in our contract.

Please do not explain how you have to pay for your work license and insurance and that’s why your fee is so high. I also pay for a work license and insurance. And I also pay for required continuing education classes and trainings. I also pay for gasoline to get to and from my place of employment.

When you come to provide an estimate and tell me about your company, work experience, license and bonding information—here’s the thing—I expect you to do the work. Do not send a helper that you trained. If you come to my house to meet me then I expect you to show up. And if not, then I expect you to tell me who will be doing the work at my house or place of business.

After we discuss your credentials and the price estimate, I have more questions. Are you showing up to do the work yourself? If not, then is the worker you are sending licensed and bonded? What is his/her work experience? How long have they worked for you? Did you perform a background check on them? Do they have a criminal record? Do they know as much as you know about the job? What is he/she allowed to do and what is he/she not allowed to do?

Please do not allow your new helper to perform job duties that you should be doing. I understand that employees need on-the-job training, but do not allow him/her to do the major duties that you should be doing. Please do not train someone on my house when I am paying bookoo bucks. Small jobs are different. And certainly do not cover up your helper’s mistakes and not tell me. If your helper makes a mistake then it’s your responsibility to make it right—at your cost not mine.

I have the utmost respect for skilled laborers because of the hard-working women in my family. And I have met a few contractors that do quality work and charge a fair price (and no service fee charged). And a couple contractors even went the extra mile.

Living in a maintenance-free cave is not looking all that bad.

By Melissa Martin

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at [email protected]

Reach:Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. Contact her at me[email protected]