Exterior carpentry and painting - Vancouver BC
May 13, 2016 9:13 AM   Subscribe

We’re home-owners in Vancouver, BC. We love our house, but it’s needs some minor work on the exterior. Some of the wood trim needs repair, and the trim, fencing, and deck need painting. The majority of the work is the painting, and we are unsure of the best way to get this done. We are not handy, and so need to hire someone.

We have two related questions:
1. What kind of person or persons are we looking to hire for this work? We know we need a painter. Will the painter know a carpenter, or do should we hire him separately?
2. What is the easiest way to find them in Vancouver? We do have one or two recommendations from friends, but they haven’t proven to be the most reliable types when we've used them in the past.
posted by V'Ger to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
You sound like you want either a general contractor or a handyman, depending on the scale of the work.

A handyman is a generalist who will do all the work himself (or herself…but it's a really heavily gendered field) and is useful for jobs where the scope of work is fairly small and there is more than one trade involved (e.g. both painting and carpentry) but there's nothing too technical and you aren't in a huge rush to get it all done. Prices vary wildly, and you're more likely to be dealing with an individual tradesperson and paying them on a time and materials basis rather than having a contract to do a specific well-defined job for a specific well-defined price.

A GC will basically manage your job for you, setting the schedule, handling any necessary paperwork, wrangling subcontractors, and things like that. (I work for a GC, but on the other side of the continent from you.) They may do some or all of the labor in-house, or they may not, but they either have the people or know the people who can make your job happen, and it's their job to coordinate all of that appropriately. There is generally more markup compared to hiring tradespeople on your own, because you're outsourcing a lot of the day-to-day management to someone who theoretically knows how to do it better than you do, and who can concentrate on it full time. They also are responsible for communicating with you and making sure that everything is being done in accordance with your wishes, and that everyone is on the same page as far as standards and expectations. The bigger and more complex the job, the more it makes sense to use a general contractor—though some manage to be competitive even for very small (sub-$1000) jobs.

Finding a reliable one is more of a thing than I have time to get into right now. The short answer is that there are no guarantees, but you should always get more than one estimate and you should listen to your gut. I also think that longevity (how long they have been in business) is a good indicator of reliability and quality of workmanship, and that you should look for someone who seems more professional and "official" (if you know what I mean) rather than some dude in a ratty old truck wearing an old band t-shirt or whatever. For a handyman I would relax that some, as that's a line of work that by its very nature attracts people who prize independence over corporatism and they're likely to be working on their own, possibly even as a side job, but they should still be punctual, polite, good communicators, and they should come with references.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:20 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

1. IME, house painters will sub out the carpentry (and gutter repair, if needed), usually to someone they work with frequently. You probably can hire the carpenter separately, if you want, but I've never done that.

2. Yeah, finding reliable people to do any kind of home repair stuff is always a challenge. I don't think i have any great advice on this point, especially for Vancouver.
posted by slenderloris at 2:33 PM on May 13, 2016

Painters will almost always have a carpenter they can call to do repairs. So for question 1, the painter will almost certainly know a carpenter, and it'll be easier on you to only deal with one person by hiring the painter.

I don't know about Vancouver, but here in Minneapolis, I've had better luck with the Yellow Pages and neighborhood newspapers than with online review sites like Angie's List. The latter seem to rate younger people with good people skills highly, regardless of their skill level. The former was better at finding "old fashioned" or "crusty" contractors who might not have great people skills, but had been doing good work for decades.
posted by DaveP at 4:14 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older DBA for dummies?   |   What car accessories do I need if I work out of my... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.