Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THE HARRUMPHING HANDYMAN; Victoria Whitlock Makes Sure the Repairman Pays for Being Late; THE ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

THE HARRUMPHING HANDYMAN; Victoria Whitlock Makes Sure the Repairman Pays for Being Late; THE ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

AFTER three years of spending his spare evenings and weekends doing odd jobs at rental flats, my husband has decided he's had enough. No more DIY he says, hanging up his drill. "Next time you need a handyman, you'll have to hire one," he tells me.

Fair enough, I think. After all, he has got a day job and unblocking other people's sinks, re-grouting bathrooms and mending locks is not everyone's idea of fun. However, hiring someone to do these jobs is neither easy nor cheap, as I discover when a shower rail in one of the flats snaps in two and falls off the wall.

I suppose I could try to replace it myself -- I fancy getting my hands on the drill -- but I decide against it when he says: "One broken tile and we'll have to redo the whole bathroom."

There's no shortage of handyman outfits in London. Google "handyman" and at least a dozen crop up. But which one to choose? I rule out the odd-job company I hired to put up a blind because I had wanted it straight and they put it up wonky. I also rule out The Handy Squad, even though I've used them before and they were actually quite good.

Trouble is, like many of these now much sought-after companies, they charge a [pounds sterling]20 call-out fee, which I think is a bit steep on top of their [pounds sterling]20 per half hour fee, especially for such a small job. Finally, and after hours of ringing around, I choose Handyman Plus, which charges [pounds sterling]40 an hour but no call-out fee.

I'm at the flat at the appointed time the following morning to meet the chap, but he's nowhere to be seen. I call him. "I'm at Tower Bridge," he says. That's miles away. I remind him we had an appointment for 9am. "Harrumph," he goes. He actually "harrumphed". "There's no way I'm going to get there for nine," he says. …

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