Has anyone heard of having a Home Repair Party?
March 8, 2015 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I own a home in UpState New York that will soon need a new roof, outside painting, repairing of gutters etc.and was wondering if anyone has heard of a Home Repair, Painting etc Party and would have thoughts or details..

I have gone through a divorce and loss of a job and then got new job with much less pay.Has anyone heard of been involved in a Roof Replacement, Painting etc party where I would provide booze and food and people would help do the work needed. Sort of like Habitat for Humanity But Not. I am not looking for a handout.Just looking for options.
posted by lynnwilson120 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The combination of booze, inexperienced friends and roof/gutters sounds like a really bad idea. You could probably get some friends over to do some interior painting or light gardening work, and a nice BBQ afterwards, but you really do not want inexperienced folks up on a ladder doing work on your roof or gutters. Professionals are expensive, but liability and/or medical expenses after an accident are MUCH more expensive.
posted by barnone at 2:23 PM on March 8, 2015 [22 favorites]

I agreed to be part of a weekend event that painted the outside of a friend's house. I think it would be best to ask your friends for a favor rather than couch it as a party. Also, don't provide the booze until after the job is done or you will have a job like the one I did where one side of the house definitely looks like it was painted by folks who already had 4 or 5 beers in them.
posted by 724A at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

My neighbor does this! They have an agreement with a bunch of friends who all need work on their house so everyone benefits. Mostly painting, siding, that kind of light work.

That said, many of them have worked in construction and building trades in the past so they do actually know what they are doing.
posted by miyabo at 2:25 PM on March 8, 2015

"Gee, I'm sorry, I'm busy that weekend...."

May be the response from people whose opinion of you took a move in a negative direction at that moment. Be prepared to put a few people off... and, be prepared, 20 years later, to have folks say... "hey, remember when I helped roof your house? I'm putting up a barn this weekend, what time do you want to come..."

And, for the record, I'm busy that weekend...
posted by HuronBob at 2:30 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have helped a friend with home repair. A bunch of us got together and helped paint the exterior part of a house. This happened when i was in my twenties, before kids and a full-time job. Would I do it again? Not unless it was for a very close friend. People are so busy nowadays. I wouldn't throw this kind of party for my friends, but your friends might be different.
posted by Fairchild at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

This was pretty much my life on weekends growing up. It's what a certain kind of working class people do when somebody's house needs work. Coldcuts, big bags of chips, garbage cans full of ice, beer and pop. People who aren't working sit around in lawn chairs gossiping. Kids running around everywhere.

Of course, my dad and his friends were all the kind of guys who owned their own tool belts and brought them along, along with spares of any power tools the job required. None of the work was new to them--they'd all started out as kids helping their dads do the same thing. If that's not your friends, you should stick to things amateurs can handle where the consequences of poor work aren't dire, like painting, power washing, and so on. Lots of friends helped us with general cleaning, unpacking, and I interior painting when we moved. People are happy to help, for the most part.
posted by not that girl at 2:31 PM on March 8, 2015 [13 favorites]

I'd be so worried about liability issues, especially with inexperienced people attempting to work on a roof.
posted by sageleaf at 2:37 PM on March 8, 2015

I wish this was more of a thing, I would much rather spend time with a group of friends working on a project than eating a meal as the main event. If you do it, be on the lookout for when your friends might be able to use your help doing something.
posted by InkaLomax at 2:48 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

You might want to look into whether or not there is a time bank in your area. Time bankers are all about these sorts of collective efforts. It means you return the favor by helping others in ways that you can. Your time is all valued equally.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think it depends a lot in knowing your audience, both in terms of temperament and skill level. I personally would be up for helping with something like this on the same level that I am happy to help friends move, at least in theory, except that with moving there is basically no skill involved but with this it seems like one really should know what they are doing (and I do not!).

I think you might have better luck if you are part of a religious community...I know my church regularly does this sort of thing for elderly people in the congregation, and I wouldn't be surprised if they would be up for doing it for someone who was going through an economic struggle. Part of why this is good is that you can draw from a larger crossection of people than your personal friends group, and hopefully have someone who is actually skilled in doing this type of work. Just a thought, if you have this type of connection I think this is a time to use them. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:12 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I do this on a rotating basis with a group of friends. I'd suggest figuring out who you know who might also a) need help with house repair or yardwork and also b) is willing to devote some weekend days to this over the course of a summer. Send out an email to everyone who might be willing to participate proposing a work exchange, see who answers.
I've done yardwork, drywall, painting, cleaning, and hanging doors, etc, but I don't know that i'd actually do any roof repair this way- the failure mode here could be catastrophic.
We usually do a Saturday at each participating house, rotating through all the houses, once a year. After doing this for three summers in a row, here's what I can suggest:
- Have a realistic idea of what everyone's abilities/skills are, and what you can achieve in a day.
- If there are kids, assign one person to childcare. In our circle this is usually one of the parents of the youngest child present- which parent depends on who has the skills most likely to be useful that day.
- Make a detailed list of what you want to get done. Break large projects down into small tasks.
- Figure out ahead of time who will be best suited to doing what, and also who works well or poorly together. That one is more important than you may think.
- Do all your shopping ahead of time. Don't expect people to wait around while you go by paint on the day of the work party.

Generally I've found that the more I organize and prepare ahead of time, the more productive the day is.
Finish with grilling or pizza. Water, juice, and Gatorade during the work, beer after.
posted by Adridne at 3:20 PM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Roofing is dangerous enough for professionals. You do not want random people working on your roof, or even on your roof, period.
posted by Slinga at 4:01 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you could put together a group of home owners in similar situations and do what Adridne and friends are doing--sort of like a babysitting co-op for home repairs. Since you won't be bound by friendship (initially, at least), you probably should come up with some guidelines or formal agreement regarding who can participate, what is expected, etc.

Start small and recruit group members carefully. I imagine this could attract a whole lot of people who would LOVE help with home improvement chores that they can't handle, who would also have little to contribute to the group.

Try googling babysitting co-ops for ideas regarding structuring the group.
posted by she's not there at 4:26 PM on March 8, 2015

I am a poor homeowner who has been fortunate enough to have had a variety of things done to my house through the generosity of others. My advice would be to get rid of the idea that you can put friends to work on anything that involves any risk, and get rid of the idea that it is "not a handout." It is! And if you need it, that's fine. But it's not a "party." You will want to suss out who has the ability and inclination to help you, and approach those people cap in hand with a request for a favour, ideally with an offer of some of your time in return. What can you do reasonably well that takes time? Offer to barter that. Do give them a good meal and booze at the end of the work day too, sure.

Expect that people will not be as fussy as professionals or as they would be if it was their own house. Unless they are quite notably fond of you, it will be a "lynnwilson120 needs paint on here before it gets worse -- let's get that paint on there then" sort of job you get, an efficient thing with a few uneven edges.

Expect a good number of people to just not get the request for help, because, well, you have a house, right? Poor people don't own property... If you can't afford to maintain the house, shouldn't you just sell it and buy somewhere cheaper? Why not get a home equity line of credit to finance the work and... I am not saying any of these are feasible/good ideas for your situation. But you should expect others to wonder why they are not feasible/good ideas. Not in a mean way. They just won't get it, financially, if it hasn't happened to them or somebody they know well. Be patient.
posted by kmennie at 5:44 PM on March 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

I have a couple of friends where we sometimes help each other with this stuff, but it's very much a reciprocity-based situation (such as, I'm helping build the retaining wall because he will help me with the roof) and also super casual and low-key, which sounds different than what you are describing.

Are you imagining a rotating work arrangement, where you take turns working on each other's houses? Or just a big work party to fix the urgent issues with you house? Those are different things and you will want to approach them differently.

Lastly, the local frats and sororities sometimes do these kind of work days, where they paint a few houses or do yard projects. If you have a college or university nearby, that might be an option; I've seen church groups doing it also.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:00 PM on March 8, 2015

We have done work parties with very few friends for small projects. But it is definitely a favor that we expect to reciprocate sometime down the line. What we need help with us usually only a five or ten minute thing where it's helpful to have some one strong and knowledgeable. But we wouldn't redo a roof or drywall ourselves, so we wouldn't ask friends to. Painting is so easy that we don't need help. And usually, it's only helpful if a friend has actual construction experience.

If you do get friends to help you redo your roof, I would strongly suggest you get an umbrella insurance policy.
posted by ethidda at 1:48 AM on March 9, 2015

I think it kinda depends on your friends -- I've had several sets of friends who do this semi-regularly, but we're all at least a little bit skilled in things like working safely at height and other not-breaking-ourselves skills. Also we collectively really like doing this kind of manual labor in exchange for pizza and beer. (AFTER the work was done.)

So, work parties aren't unheard-of, but you may or may not want to actually host one.
posted by kalimac at 8:54 AM on March 9, 2015

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