Pam Rainey: It’s OK to take time on repairs

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Senior Connections

Usually I am not afraid of storms. Recently, I was terrified during a hailstorm that hit Denton County. The hail sounded like giant rocks hitting our house.

As a result of the April 3 storms, the roofs on both our home and the recently completed workshop in the backyard were declared “totaled” by the insurance adjustor. Many people in our area have damage similar to ours, and worse. My heart goes out to everyone who has experienced loss due to weather or other unforeseen events.

We experienced several hailstorms in Denton on the same day in our neighborhood. We heard from neighbors that roofers were handing out cards between storms. Having been in a business where marketing is a vital part of my business, I understand the urgency of meeting people’s needs in a timely manner. But hold on.

Perhaps you have a roofer with whom you’ve done business before and it is a no-brainer for you. But if you’ve not had roof repair, you might want to back up and interview the right people to help you with your home roof repair — after your insurance adjuster has examined your roof.

As a real estate agent, I have compiled a list of handy helpers I trust. If you have a real estate agent, give them a call first and you’ll find she or he probably has a similar list. It’s the same with all home repairs. Most real estate agents have names of people who have helped them solve client’s problems.

Getting older often means your home is getting older along with you. New homes need maintenance, too. So how can we hire the right person even if they are recommended to us by a friend?

I wish I could simply suggest trusting everyone. Sadly, I’ve learned the hard way that folks in all walks of life are not always honest people. Sorry to give you the bad news.

The biggest and most costly mistake I’ve ever made was not asking the right question when interviewing. The prospective employee didn’t exactly lie, he just didn’t tell the whole truth. Learn to ask the right questions up front. And remember, omission of the whole truth is the same as telling a whopper. How disappointing and costly it is to learn that we’ve been misled.

A great website, eHow.com, provided an article by Chelsea Fitzgerald: “How to Find Reliable Handyman in Your Area.” I think you will appreciate her suggestions:

  • Jot down all the handyman projects you need done in your house. It may be cheaper to have them done all at once.
  • Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers or those with homes you admire to give you names of people they trust to do handyman projects.
  • Interview three people who have been recommended to you. Remember, when hiring an electrician or plumber, it is important to hire someone who is licensed.

Since Denton residents are being flooded with demands for immediate roof repairs, it is tempting to hire the first person that comes along. When you have your roof secured and are safe from wet weather, take the time to check out roofers that are flooding our area. Ask for references. Ask how long they have been in the business. Ask if you can go look at roofs they have done.

It is so important to know that those making repairs to your home will be around should a problem arise. Chances are, if they have a good track record now, they will be here to help you should you have a problem arise in the future.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t give any handyman money up front. Many seniors have lost thousands of dollars to people who have promised to do work for them and never came back to complete the work.

You can always use your children or someone younger you trust as an excuse if a handyman pesters you for a contract. Tell them you need to call your children or another party to help you make a decision. Then do it.

We’ve all made emotional purchases. (That’s why I try to stay away from some of my favorite department stores.) But it is even more difficult when someone comes to your home and insists you pay him for work he promises to do for you later. Post this column on your refrigerator and read it as a reminder if you are tempted to pay someone before they complete work for you.

And finally, if the workman fails to complete the work you’ve hired him to do with honesty, integrity and a good work ethic, remember this: The best way to vote is with your feet. Never use them again. While the best form of advertisement is word of mouth, it can also be the worst form of advertisement, too.

PAM RAINEY is a longtime Denton resident and a real estate agent who has helped many seniors make decisions about living arrangements. She can be reached at pam@realestatedenton.biz or 940-293-3117.


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