Thursday, December 31, 2009

On hiring contractors.

Sometimes even I get indecisive; or I buy property in small yachting towns that I love, but live five hours away from. In this case it was an apartment, well under market, that I bought in a Massachusetts sailing town.

First, a few notes:
  • This was a damn solid financial decision. And I'm stoked about leverage for my financial future. Buying foreclosures in rich towns is not as scary as other places, like Detroit. No offense, but that city is not up and coming, this town is more of a blue chip.
  • A punk rock past doesn't preclude the purchase of real estate, especially of real estate in a preppy sailing town. We all grow up eventually, or we should; we don't want to end up wards of the state. Take care of your finances, no one else will.
  • If you love pirates so much, learn how to sail. They all knew.
  • This town is nautically themed and early colonial. I like to think about all the tough ladies who lived here while their men-folk were basically out to sea all the time, and how bawdy and wild they were. I've heard stories, they were way awesomer broads than I am. I try not to out do them when I'm totally over served at trivia night. Instead I stumble home through the charming early colonial streets (never drive after drinking), and drunk dial boys. I like myself honest.
Aside, these things have nothing to do with the topic of hiring contractors.

Buying a place five hours from the city that I live in poses a few problems.
  1. Obviously, I won't be able to enjoy it much, because I don't get up there much. So I should rent it out in the meantime to preserve the investment. Flipping it should only be considered after the tax implications are weighed.
  2. Renovations. I've been spending all my vacation time working on gutting and renovating the bathroom and kitchen. Tonight, after another slow day of tiling, it's become clear that I will not finish before my train back to the city I live in, three days hence. Ok. But every weekend I return up here, I have to bail on my bartending shift. I hate taking the bus, so the train cuts a pretty penny. The costs of doing the labor need to be weighed against the opportunity costs of my traveling here to fix things.
In other words, I need to hire a contractor. Pronto.

I guess my uneasiness comes from realizing a few things:
  • My time is worth more than my labor. This is odd to me, but has become true. Yay, Jobs!
  • Work gives me vacation days so that I might relax, and be recharged for work. It's actually self serving to them, and not intended for me to do other labor-like tasks. Oh. Fail.
  • What did I get myself into? *stress stress teeth grinding stress*
Now I have to find a contractor who can see the place before I leave in a few days, even though the next few days are holidays. Sigh.


s_baghaii said...

Rachel, your approach is a little flawed. Picking a contractor can take some time. You don't want to end up with someone who will steal all the wiring of your house and sell it for crack. You typically need to talk to a few of these guys and find the one who will do it for the right balance of cost and convenience. Getting someone to come look over the holiday will likely be fairly difficult.

We have had decent luck with finding people on Angie's List. I think there is some fee associated with that, but the reviews were valuable in helping us find contractors when we had no experience with contractors in the area.

Since your job is a social one, you may know people who know people, even though you live considerably far away from your property.

Rachel said...

It's true. These are not hasty decisions. I know a few contractors in the area, though work they've done on friend's houses. I'm going to get bids from them, since I know they won't steal the pipes :)

Thanks for the angie's list rec! I'll check it out.