The Universal Promise of the Home Contractor: Mañana

There’s a good bit of evidence, aside from my own experience, that suggests home contractors fit nicely into distinct categories. These categories are given affectionate labels: The Dog and Pick-Up Truck, Salt of the Earth, the Professional, the Enterprise.

While one wonderful soul prefers to work alone, others build large companies. Some work six days, and six nights every week; others have employees that keep the work going while they enjoy flex time and vacations.


Dog and Pick-Up Truck:  has a heart as big as the outdoors and likes working alone, easy to get to know, probably has a pick-up truck or van with a dog. Takes great pride in their work.

Salt of the Earth: also has a big heart; just not quite as big as all outdoors. They like having employees because they do not want to work alone, and because they like taking vacations.

The Professional: also has a big heart; they just keep it under cover.

The Enterprise:  with 100+ employees, the life span of the Enterprise owner may be shorter than any of the other contractors. . . due to enormous stress.


Different situations call for different contractors. The bigger the job, the more I lean toward the Professional. The pressure of regular county inspections seems to keep them on their toes, and juggling more than one job at a time can keep the schedule moving. The best Professionals also seem to attract the best ‘trade’ labor – those folks that are impossible to hire on your own.

Our last Professional employed just two people: a very talented carpenter, and what she called “the clean-up guy” – the one that really kept things running smooth. He made endless trips to the hardware store, finished odd jobs around the house, and cleaned up after the trade. But it was the trade that cycled in and out of our house on a regular and, maybe more importantly, a predictable schedule. Our Professional ran a tight ship.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those contractors who follow a well-known, and highly frustrating schedule. . .

ma·ña·na /mənˈyänə/ adverb 1. in the indefinite future (used to indicate procrastination): Powered by Oxford Dictionaries

With all the best intentions, things happen. Days are missed, hours cut short, schedules fall behind. They play the catch-up game, make excuses, blame it on something, or somebody. They say they’ll show up tomorrow (mañana). They don’t show up. I quietly put them on notice.

They say they feel your pain. They don’t. They go home and use their own bathroom. We have buckets of muddy water sitting in ours, the shower’s a piece of rubble. That’s precisely when they ask for another draw ($$$).

One of our Dog and Pick-Up Truck contractors has been in our house for seven weeks. The first electrician hasn’t been here in six. We hired another one. He was delightful and finished everything, save for one light. The first electrician wrote me this week asking to come back to finish the job. He’ll be here mañana.

To date, we have used one Professional, one Enterprise – who subcontracted to a Dog and Pick-Up Truck, one Salt of the Earth, four Dog and Pick-Up Trucks. . . and we’re not done. It’s fitting that we’ve labeled this our ‘forever’ home because it will take forever to finish it. Mañana!

Merry Christmas from our (unfinished) house to yours.

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(Image courtesy countryclipart.com)

Reference: Four Types of Contractors

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