Hiring help for random odd jobs
August 4, 2022 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Say someone has a one-off physical task that requires low-to-minimal skill, mostly brawn, like hand-digging a few post holes or carrying this heavy thing up the stairs. Where does one go to hire that kind of assistance in suburban USA? What are best practices for doing it fairly, safely and efficiently?

Assume we're not in Taskrabbit-served major metro areas like NYC/LA/DC. I've checked out area Craigslist, but must not be using the right keywords, because I don't see anything relevant there. Thanks!
posted by Bardolph to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
go hang around the "pro" entrance of Lowes or Home Depot. people go there to ask folks coming and going for daily work. depending on the locality it might be the Walmart instead/also.
posted by glonous keming at 3:23 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]

Try asking on Nextdoor.
posted by pinochiette at 3:24 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

My smallish town has an active facebook page where people look for household or outdoor help, also the nextdoor 'community'. Both can be pools of toxicity at times if the moderators are inadequate. Jump in, ask, jump out if that's the case.
posted by theora55 at 3:44 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]

A local college may have a "jobs board."
posted by oceano at 4:25 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

Nextdoor is the right idea. Ask in your neighborhood. If you're not living on the actual moon, chances are some of the responses you'll get will come directly from people who do this kind of work for the money you're looking to spend.

You can also google - the term I searched for in this situation was "Handyman".

Finally - if you have ever used a decent general contractor for anything, you can ask them if they know anyone who wants to do odd jobs for very small money. A good GC won't want the kind of work you're talking about -- it's likely too small to be worth fiddling with their schedule for it. But they will know EVERYBODY in your area who does that kind of work.
posted by invincible summer at 4:25 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]

Handyman is the term. Just ask/post around until you get a recommendation and a phone number. The Home Depot idea is a good one, too, and I'd also suggest looking for work crews and stopping your car to ask if you're comfortable with that. If you don't like the work, try again.
posted by michaelh at 4:28 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

Seconding the Home Depot parking lot, and prepare to offer to hire two guys so they feel safer going to a strange house on the buddy system. Typically the folks who hang around looking for day laborer work will get hired as a crew.

Someone looking for one single job of post hole digging work because they need money is not typically the sort of person with resources enough to get themselves online into a regulated app, or even searching English language job boards.
posted by phunniemee at 4:32 PM on August 4 [7 favorites]

I mean, most people would just ask friends or neighbors to give them a hand. Barring that, they'd ask their friends for word of mouth recommendations. But I assume that there's a reason those aren't options for you, so what I would do is to expand my network until it's wide enough to get generate some recommendations, and by that I mean posting on local Facebook groups. My small town (~60k) has at least three, and people post all the time asking for labor recommendations. Most of those posts are for larger jobs, but regardless of the job, the comments are usually not people offering to do the job, but rather people tagging other people they know who they think would be good for it. That's the 21st century version of word of mouth, and it's probably the way that requires the least effort. I don't live *that* far from a Home Depot, but like, I don't feel like driving down and hanging around the parking lot hoping someone else is there. That seems like way too much time and effort, when I could just post on FB as I go about my other tasks.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:42 PM on August 4

Agreed with home depot, and "day laborer" is the general term. You can google for day laborers in your area, sometimes (if it's an agricultural or industrial area with a large first generation immigrant population) there may be a 'day laborer office' that tries to provide services for them.
posted by true at 4:55 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

My dad hired guys for exactly this work through the local Catholic Worker House. If there's one near you, it might be worth a shot.
posted by Caxton1476 at 7:35 PM on August 4

If your town is too small for a Home Depot, ask at the local motel, who their handyman is.
posted by happy_cat at 7:38 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

Very situational, but time banks are now a thing. If there's one in your area (and when I checked there weren't that many) and the concept appeals that might work.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 9:09 PM on August 4

In the next town over from me, every morning at about 6am, undocumented workers gather at the local train station and at the local deli looking for day work. I have hired them to do yard work and to help move large items from basement to dumpster.

I would search for handyman and for day laborer or day worker.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:34 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

A real estate broker’s office will help. They are hungry salespeople and know lots of people.
posted by bendy at 10:19 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]

The two guys and a truck type moving companies will often do this. They usually have a minimum time they’ll charge for, but sometimes they waive it if they’re in the area on a job. If it’s not urgent you can tell them to fit you in around something else. This is how I get furniture rearranged now that all my friends have aged out of good backs and and strong joints. The price is usually very fair and they’re amazingly quick about it.
posted by Bottlecap at 11:54 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]

Offices of the Aging often keep a list of names, especially in smaller communities.
posted by veery at 6:10 AM on August 5

Does your neighborhood print a neighborhood directory? If so, there may be a section listing people available to do this kind of work. I’d also ask some neighbors if there is a handyman they typically work with.
posted by capricorn at 6:14 AM on August 5

Hasn't been mentioned yet, but an alternative to Task Rabbit is Thumbtack, which feels more geared towards home-related work. I used the site to have someone out to install bathroom fixtures and had a good experience.
posted by homesickness at 11:34 AM on August 5

A real estate broker’s office will help. They are hungry salespeople and know lots of people.

Yes, we regularly ask our real estate agent for recommendations, even though we bought the house nearly ten years ago. They've always got recommendations on hand for people who are selling and need work done, or just bought and need work done. Plus a network that stays on top of stuff.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:58 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]

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