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Neighbours helping neighbours

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

There are three new families that I know about in my part of town. Two couples, one with adult children and one with a young son, live down the street from me.

There is another person, a lady, who moved into a home around the corner. All three households see Amherst as a good, affordable place to live, and all have been investing a fair amount of dollars to update their living spaces.

I had the opportunity to chat with these people at a recent birthday celebration. In fact, the birthday gal and her husband became the source of information which allowed me to get my furnace working again. In my last column, I recounted the story of what it is like to be really chilly in January.

I had been without a main source of heat for eight days when Patricia and Peter Barrett gave me the name of the person who had done their furnace installation. I contacted that person and in less than 24 hours had a working natural gas furnace.

So there I was...a old-timer in the community and the newcomers had the information I needed to “get the job done.” I have since discovered this is a couple who really do their homework regarding hiring work to be done. They moved from British Columbia and had built a couple of homes there. Peter is willing to assist others and has developed a business name - P Squared Home Enhancement Services. He can be reached at www.facebook.com/psquaredhomeservices.

Here are some hints that Peter offers. First, he suggests that you do not wait for a problem to happen. Do the research ahead of time and have a list of contractors at hand. Chat with friends and neighbours and get the names of an electrician, a plumber, a heating specialist they have used and like.

You can also check internet sites for reviews on contractors – and it saves money if you can hire locally. However, there will be times when you will need to hire outside the community. You can check things out with the Better Business Bureau, you can also check the site houzz.com and some contractors have Google reviews.

A couple of years ago I had a very good electrician who showed up on time, did the work, and charged almost exactly what was in his quote. The small difference was because I added a couple of outlets. As it turns out Peter and Patricia also had this fellow do some work for them and found him to be good.

I also had renovation done at my cottage and the work was very good. However, the contractor started the job a couple of months late. I lost a full season at the shore, and a septic tank had to be installed rather than a septic field since the cottage had to be ready for a family wedding. I was cleaning up sawdust and arranging furniture two days before the wedding.

I had a similar experience with a painter. The job done was excellent but began a whole summer late. Much of the time a delay in getting the work done is not an issue. However, there are times when things need to be completed in a timely fashion.

Peter also indicates that the homeowner wants to get a written quote...not an estimate. The quote should include the company information, the work to be completed, the materials and amount of material, the timeline, and the daily routine, work site safety, and daily clean-up. You want to be sure the contractor has workman's compensation and all necessary certifications to do the job. Also, never pay the full amount in advance. At most pay 50 per cent of the quote, then pay the remaining balance at the end of the project.

Peter and Patricia have had some life experiences which required good planning and strong management capabilities. Peter served 20 years in the Canadian Forces, then both he and Patricia held senior management positions for a petrochemical company. They spent time in Qatar, UAE...and then three years in Iraq. The car bombs and other interesting experiences prompted the move back to Canada where the stress of building houses seemed like a walk in the park.

I have had a fair amount of work done on my living spaces. Some experiences have been positive and others less positive. It would have been good to have Peter and Patricia nearby at those times, but they are here now.

Shirley Hallee’s column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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