Warm weather is upon us and construction season is in full swing. Construction season is defined as that period of the year when you can’t find a contractor or tradesman for love or money. Okay money — for sure, as I haven’t seriously tried love yet. Money is easy: it’s quantifiable and well defined, while love has many slippery definitions and nuances that may or may not apply to attracting a plumber, for example.

Anyway, calls go unanswered, voicemail boxes are full and if you actually drive to where the contractors live hoping that you might catch them at home to plead your case, you won’t find a parking spot as everyone else is there waiting for them.

Do you need a painter? Ha, as if any painter is available when the weather is warm. They’ve all been promised out during the fall and winter to people with big jobs who reliably pay their bills. If you don’t have someone to vouch that you always come up with the cash when the job is done, then you may as well call in your brother-in-law, ply him with beers, hand him a roller and hope for the best.

The best painters are closely held by their clients who understand their value. When my wife and I needed and actually found a painter who delivered the quality we were looking for and was willing to do the work, we had to “borrow” him from our landlord who begrudgingly “let us” hire him for a week by slacking off on lining up jobs for him to do. This happened on condition that we didn’t speak to anyone about him or how he might have come to work for us.







General contractors have been working all winter and spring with clients planning their projects just waiting for the weather to break. Planning includes hoarding all of the subcontractors and tradespeople so that no one can snatch them when the sun finally starts warming this part of the globe. Roofers and stonemasons, bricklayers and landscape professionals; anyone whose work is affected by the weather is likely already committed to a job.

Electricians and plumbers are generally more available because they are able to work year-round. Still, their high skills are really in demand during construction season and so they are some of the more pricy tradesmen around. Most of them come with solid experience and are worth what they charge. Unfortunately, as they say on the jobsite, the only people who can afford plumbers are electricians.

Years ago, noticing this shortage of skilled workers I decided to train my early elementary school aged daughter in some of the tricks of the trade. My wife refused to let me start her out on the chop saw even though I desperately needed someone to cut lumber and hand it up to me on the scaffolding. Looking around for a safer tool, I chose the hammer reasoning that if I had her hold it with two hands she could not hit her thumb.

I demonstrated the hammer motion many times until she felt ready. Everything looked safe. She placed the hammer head on the nail she planned to hit. Lifting the hammer to swing down onto the target, she dug the claw part of the hammer (only very slightly) into the middle of her forehead. The scream was deafening and actually made me hoarse. Also, my daughter was not pleased and expressed that she was in pain. That single half-swing hurt dad from a business perspective too: it didn’t bring me any closer to getting a carpenter’s helper.

There is hope. You could get lucky and score a tip that a drywall hanger may be available. You’ll have to trade your car for his number but when you call, you might not get a reassuring professional answering the phone with a cheery voice saying something like “Good morning A-B-C Drywall Hanging Service, how may I direct your call?”

Instead, chances are good you get a gruff, older lady greeting you with a “Yeh?” When you inquire about sheetrock hanging she might put her hand over the phone and yell, “Jimmy put down that game controller and pick up the phone. Some guy wants to talk sheep rock.”

That’s exactly how my friend Tim Lawrence got “Scary Nipple Man” to put up the dry wall in his kitchen — but that is a story which will have to wait for another time.