Where to find reliable people to perform small tasks?
February 11, 2014 6:56 PM   Subscribe

A friend who had many contacts has passed away. Where can we find people willing to do work ranging from staining the deck to wrapping Christmas presents?

Here's a sample list:
--clearing the brush out of a large yard
--"deep" housecleaning (windows, etc.)
--pressure washing
--washing/waxing vehicles
--shredding papers (shredders provided, in a garage setting)
--local moves (UHaul truck provided)
--processing home-grown herbs/flowers by hand
--basic painting (like painting the outside of a building to cover graffiti)

Our friend was a deacon in a large non-denominational church, but I'm not sure if that's where he found people who wanted this extra work. I tried to call a couple of churches but got nowhere -- is there a specific denomination I could try?

TaskRabbit is not in our area. A Craigslist ad brought only the wrong kind of attention. College kids preferred inconvenient hours or would no-show. We tried to use a labor company but unfortunately there were theft problems and a fistfight.

Yes, I could break down every task and seek the best way to advertise each one but it gets time-consuming to vet/check people. Cash money is paid but this is not charity -- we need these projects completed on a reasonable budget. All of this work is intermittent and it doesn't make sense to hire an ongoing assistant. Our friend used to send a mix of people, and each time they seemed suited (more or less) for the task we had planned that day.

Any suggestions? Otherwise, my next move would be to solicit anyone loitering near a home improvement store.
posted by 99percentfake to Work & Money (13 answers total)
Yelp, looking for a handyman?
posted by arnicae at 7:11 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your list suggests the "handyman" category of Angieslist. There's a small recurring fee to join, but the review system is very helpful.
posted by GPF at 7:12 PM on February 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

You could try the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Ask to speak with the employment specialist.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:19 PM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

You don't state where you are geographically located. That would help, as answers like "Angie's List" are not useful outside of the US.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:43 PM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sometimes grocery stores, hardware stores, etc will have a board where people can post flyers; you might see Handyman services posted here, or you could post what you're looking for. Or look in the phone book under "handyman"; it's a growing industry with more people out of work these days.
posted by The otter lady at 8:16 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yellow Pages, Yelp, or Google keywords for all the tasks you listed:

-clearing the brush out of a large yard


--"deep" housecleaning (windows, etc.)

Cleaning service

--pressure washing

Possibly some kind of handy-man, though I know of cleaning services that will do this stuff, too. (In fact, if you're in the LA area, PM me.)

--washing/waxing vehicles

Car Wash/Car Detailing shop; sometimes adjacent to nicer gas stations

--shredding papers (shredders provided, in a garage setting)

Shredding company (if you're in the NY or LA area, PM me)

--local moves (UHaul truck provided)

"Man With A Van"

--processing home-grown herbs/flowers by hand

Not sure what you mean by this. Could come under a landscaper, could come under a florist, could come under a personal chef or maybe cleaning service.

--basic painting (like painting the outside of a building to cover graffiti)

posted by Sara C. at 8:59 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

it doesn't make sense to hire an ongoing assistant

If you're not willing to source people yourself for each of these highly variable functions, I think maybe it does.

(For reference: as of today, February 11th, I have still not found a reliable snow removal service, having relied on recommendations and the local Angie's list equivalent, which have so far yielded three frosty disappointments.)

If you have need of, say, 4 hours' work a week, consider structuring at least the administration of your planned upkeep around a reliable college kid.

Alternatively, ask neighbours for a recommendation for a local handiman/person to do a good job at one of these things and a maybe ok job at others. At least they'd be right there. Maybe you'll have better luck!
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:37 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

This may sound stupid, but have you asked his contacts anything? "Hey, do you know who Friend got to wax the cars?"

I mean, you say you got people who were more or less suited... was no contact information recorded? I'm assuming these are volunteer/charity projects performed by the church?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:05 PM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you need to start looking for a decent high school aged kid in the neighborhood. I did most of those things when I was that age, except house cleaning, processing herbs/flowers or shredding for money for all of the little old ladies around the neighborhood who were unable to do it anymore. I charged about $5 an hour in 1990s so you might be looking at more like $8-$9 an hour now. Just find someone who looks fairly strong and willing to work a bit for some under the table cash and I bet you would find someone who knows a responsible teenager.
posted by koolkat at 5:58 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for these answers and all of the ideas to consider.
posted by 99percentfake at 5:27 PM on February 12, 2014

Another thought: If you do end up cobbling together various individuals/businesses to do these tasks, you may want to create some kind of list or spreadsheet with that information, on the off chance that there is another change in property manager (?) down the road.

Heck, it's even useful if you hire someone to do some pressure washing or brush clearing, and then in a year think, "Now, who did we hire the last time this task needed doing?"
posted by Sara C. at 10:04 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I just put your username together with your previous question.

Sounds like a good opportunity for your BIL to contribute a little more to the family coffers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:09 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

As an update, we had a good first experience with the Mormons. They found us some industrious people who had a positive/upbeat attitude and did not "flake". We hope to continue with them in the future.
posted by 99percentfake at 2:19 PM on March 1, 2014

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