Category Archives: Housing

90% of Contractors Suck

do not ever pay for work that isn’t done right and completed on time

what the Arc would have looked like if Noah had used a contractor

Stop letting contractors screw you over.  There is NO excuse for work that isn’t done right, finished on budget, and completed on time.  I’ve heard it again and again that some contractor totally fucked up a job, or charged far too much, or did work that didn’t need doing, left an utter mess behind them after they finished, caused far more damage than they were asked to come in and fix, never finished the job at all, didn’t do the job they were asked to do, or didn’t even turn up…..

This is not a new story for me, so why am I bothering to flog this comatose horse?  Well a couple of friends of mine, and another couple of nice people whose blogs I follow, have all had problems with contractors in the past few days.  In my expert opinion 90% of contractors of every ilk from decorators, to plumbers, to electricians, to garage mechanics, to moving men et al, are utterly useless, partly skilled, dishonest, lazy, misogynistic jerks.

So how to avoid being totally ripped off?

  • Do not hire a contractor based on somebody else’s unsupported recommendation.  Especially do not hire anyone recommended by another contractor; say your realtor.
  • Do not ever, ever hire a friend, or a friend of a friend, to do ANY work for you.
  • Do not ever hire a contractor without first having a totally clear picture of the work you want doing, when you want it done by, how much you are going to pay, and when.  If you don’t know any of this stuff, GO AWAY AND FIND OUT!
  • Do not ever hire a contractor who can’t show you a current copy of their appropriate certification, and customer references.  Check these out, and never just by making a phone call.
  • Do not hire a contractor who can’t give you a firm written quote, on a proper letter-head.  If possible get three quotes, (if it’s a big job then you must have at least two firm quotations)
  • Do not ever pay a contractor before they have started work, and never ever pay them in full until the work is completed to your satisfaction.  Agree stage payments if appropriate.  Go over everything your contractor has done with a fine tooth comb.  Your word is the final word!
  • Do not ever, ever allow an unsupervised contractor into your property. And, ensure they are watched over 100% of the time thereafter.
  • DO NOT hire day rate illegal aliens under any circumstances.  And don’t hire anyone who isn’t fluent in your language.
  • Learn some DIY stuff.  Learn a hell of a lot of DIY stuff.  It is always easier, cheaper, and better to do the job yourself than hire some utterly useless, partly skilled, dishonest, lazy, misogynistic jerk to do the work for you.  And if you have some idea about how to actually do a bit of say; decorating, then you are in a far better position to control your idiot contractor.
  • Finally; do not be a woman.  All contractors think women are easy marks.  If you are a woman then follow the suggestions above with the utmost regard.

This is your job, your money, your home, your safety.  If your plumber floods your home, your electrician sets fire to your home, or you home just blows up……  then ultimately it is YOUR fault.  Do not let ANYONE tell you how you should go about dealing with a contractor.  (except me)

Some say that they have had a really good contractor.  And that not all contractors are bad.  All I know is that anyone who says they have had one good contractor will also have had three utter disasters.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

some decorators can’t even varnish a floor without making a mess of it

Stupid DIY Mistakes

you’re only human, it’s all right to make mistakes

If you do most things for yourself, eschewing messy decorators, useless contractors, and rip-off garages, then every now and again you are bound to commit one of the classic howlers.  Mistakes you could kick yourself for.  Really stupid mess-ups that leave you thinking; ‘how the hell do I get out of this one…..?’

I might admit to being guilty of some or all of these;

  1. Painting yourself into a corner.  You can either walk on it or wait until it dries.
  2. Touching a spark-plug lead while the engine is running.  If you’re healthy you’ll just get a terrific jolt, if you have a heart pacemaker you might get dead.
  3. Opening the radiator cap on a hot engine.  Getting scalded hurts.
  4. Over-tightening a nut so the bolt / stud snaps.  That is likely to be expensive to repair, unless you know how.
  5. Sawing off the branch you’re sitting on.  The fall hurts.
  6. Sawing off the branch your ladder is leaning against.  The fall hurts.
  7. Taking off the bathroom door handle and closing the door while you’re inside, with no way to open the door to get out.
  8. Putting up a picture / shelf by hammering a nail / drilling into the wall, and going right through a water pipe.  Flooding is expensive to repair, so is the big hole you’re going to have in the wall.
  9. Ditto an electrical cable or gas pipe.
  10. Not learning how to use a spirit level and putting up a shelf.

Today I was guilty of #7.  Just as well I took lessons from a master locksmith.

Some say that we learn by our mistakes.  And that necessity is the mother of invention.  All I know is that I can now build, decorate, install, make, repair….. just about anything ~ and I have the scars to prove it.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

I didn’t build that,

but I could

 

Scenes on Sunday ~ Cool Homes

wherever I hang my hat is my home

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

outdoor living is an option in sunnier climes

Random Jottings #18

the fire inside isn’t something to share lightly

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but who knows what he’s thinking about?

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nothing makes a log fire so good as a storm outside

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there is something about really bad weather that makes inside a good place to be

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the worst thing about very bad weather in England is that we insist on talking about it

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life as a cat is mostly about things that go squeek crunch in the night

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

a storm outside, a wood burner, a rug, and a lover

The Lockdown That Never Was

one day, surviving lockdown will be a badge of honour

It’s not a matter for applause Boris

Here in England it’s day 44 of the official lockdown, and around the country there are many people still suffering self-isolation.  You want to know something, solitary confinement constitutes a ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, and yet the British Government has inflicted this torture on it’s entire population, for no very good reason at all.

Of course this lockdown does not apply to them, not to the British Government, not to the great and the good.  All the swines at the trough, all the government ministers, politicians, health officials, civil servants, the scientists, the intelligentsia advising the government and National Health Service through multifarious committees, none of these people either believes in lockdown or think it applies to them.

Among the dozens and dozens of scandals around the self-important, sanctimonious, and stupid people who have cheated the whole lockdown thing we have Catherine Calderwood, who used to be Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer.  She had to resign her post after breaking her own rules and visiting her second home in Earlsferry, Fife, which is a hell of a long way from Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.

But that pales into insignificance if we consider the case of Professor Neil Ferguson, who happens to be the bastard who told the British Government there would be 500,000 avoidable deaths here if we didn’t have lockdown.  Mr Trump was persuaded to impose lockdown in the USA after Ferguson told the President there would be 2,000,000 deaths in the USA if lockdown wasn’t imposed.

Well, it seems married with kids Feruguson (51) has been having his amoral slut, married with kids Antonia Staats (38) travel all across London for a regular fuck while Ferguson’s own lockdown was in force.  I’d like to bet I know what kind of people these two are, since they met on an online dating site OKCupid.  You know what, the architect of lockdown having his slut break the lockdown rules so they could do whatever it is they do for sexual gratification is beyond contemptible disgust.

Personally, I gave up on lockdown on the first of May.  Today I took a 3 hour walk by the sea, in the fresh air and sunshine, and I feel a hell of a lot better for it.

Not many others around here seem to be much interested in self-isolation either.  Lots of cars on the road, lots of bicyclists around, and where I walk there were lots of other people taking the air and enjoying the sunshine and fresh sea breezes.

The supermarkets are open, although you may need to stand in line outside for a while.  Restaurants are offering take-outs, our local DIY super-store is doing take-outs for stuff like paint and tools, building and gardening contractors are working, and IKEA is opening its UK stores on May 18th.

Some say we are all equal, we are all in this COVID-19 thing together.  And that we should stay at home to protect the Health Services.  All I know is they can all fuck with whoever they like as long as they leave the rest of us alone.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

meanwhile the rest stand in line

 

Health, Safety, and Security

we live in strange and disturbing times

These days, crime is endemic, and getting worse every damn day.  Sadly we are not allowed to shoot people here,

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, Health and Safety was never on anyone’s mind.  But then, in the recent living memory of most English people were the horrors of WWII, and we had the ongoing privations of post-war austerity.  So, things like the paleo diet, or obesity, or walking 10,000 steps a day would have seemed like something from a weird Druidic cult.  As a growing boy my main concern was getting enough to eat.

As for security; doors were only locked at night, we didn’t chain up our bicycles, and banks were for rich people.  The thought that someone would install a CCTV camera would seem like something from George Orwell’s 1984, (which I was reading at grammar school).

And yet, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  Today I will buy a CCTV system to monitor my apartment, especially my front door.  I have a good reason or three.

Yesterday I had a rather unfortunate incident involving a drugged-up piece of shit banging on my door.  Of course I was stupid enough to open the damn door.  From there things went downhill, up to the point of my calling the police.  It seems that the young male concerned is well known to the local police, although he is not a convicted criminal.  The senior police officer made it clear that it was better that I hadn’t hit the disgusting drugged-up piece of shit.

I have to concur.  This isn’t Texas, or Arizona, or New Mexico where blasting holes in the guy would have been the thing to do.  Here in England we have very few rights when it comes to defending ourselves and our homes.

Hence the new CCTV cameras, which will be installed as soon as I can get them delivered.

We live in strange and disturbing times.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

this is not the world I expected to live in

Monochrome Monday ~ It’s So Quiet In the Ruins

and when the lockdown was over, the world lay in ruins

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

and all the colours had been stolen

What Do You Want In your Life?

life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all

look towards the far horizons

Might I suggest that you take some time out to be with yourself, find a time and space where you can be alone with your thoughts, an hour and a place where you will be certain of just a little privacy, and ask yourself some simple questions.

  • What do I need?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What is it in my life that’s making me unhappy?
  • What and who am I afraid of, and why is that?
  • Where and when do I feel safe and comfortable?
  • What is happening to my health, why am I tired all the time?
  • When and how can I make some time for myself?
  • Who are my friends, and who can I really trust?
  • How can I spend more time with my real friends?
  • How can I express myself, how do I show the real me to the world?
  • How can I connect with the people I love and care about?
  • How can I pay all the bills this month, what about the mortgage?
  • How do I find the time to do the shopping, and how do I pay for it?
  • If I leave, who is going to do everything that needs doing around here?
  • How can I ever show my face in that bar, ever again?

Some of these are big important questions, and some may seem more trivial, but if you ask yourself any of these questions, then the answers are very important to you.  If you try to look at the big and very important questions first, then you may become discouraged because they are just too difficult to answer.  So maybe don’t look for any answers at all just now.  Just for now concentrate on the questions, write them down in your journal, or notebook, but for Gods sakes don’t leave your jottings anywhere where anyone else has the slightest chance in Hades of finding them.

If all that seems to difficult, then make the questions simpler, like;

  • How do I feel today?
  • What excites me?
  • Who has captured my heart?
  • What I want is…..
  • My heart longs for…..

Or perhaps write all this stuff down, and then burn it, and flush the ashes down the toilet to join your failed marriage / relationship / friendship / love / partnership / shitty job.

Only by knowing what it is that we really want, need, and desire ~ and what we don’t want in our life under any circumstances can we move on in any constructive and positive way.

Some say that we have to understand what our needs are, first and foremost.  And that if you don’t know what your needs are how can you ever satisfy them.  All I know is that the more you are forced to give to others, the more you need to give to yourself.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

give yourself a wonderful sunrise,

enjoy the peace of the natural world

Unfuck Your Life

you can start with nothing,
and out of nothing and nowhere, you will find a way

if you sink low enough you could live in a building like this

Although I have been putting them on this blog for ages, I never understood quotations like the one at the top of this page, probably because I didn’t read them properly, and never took the time to think about them carefully enough.  The little bit I thought I understood about self-help, self-development, self-denial, and spirituality I found to be rather twee, overly religious, and happy clappy churchy.  How pretentious of me.

The modern church is producing passionate people with empty heads who love the Jesus they don’t know very well.  ~  Voddie Baucham.

The same dismissive attitude applied if ever I attended a self-help group, but in all honesty I put that down to the fact that I dislike intensely all clubs, groups, associations….. In fact I don’t much like being any place with a bunch of weirdos who have a committee and a ‘chair’ because I very quickly get totally unimpressed.

And yet, I always felt that I was drifting through my dysfunctional life, with just the occasional passage of being; a very cool guy, living a really great life to keep me sane and interested.  I was a mess, and the worst part was that I knew I had it in me to be a far, far better man than I had ever been before.  Some things I had already accomplished, I still have a cool roof over my head living in the garret, I have money in the bank, and generally speaking I’m pretty fit, strong and healthy.  (Admittedly I only just got of hospital, where they said I looked like a bad advertisement for death.)  But, generally, as my school reports and annual reviews at work usually read; He could do better if he tried.

As you’ve sought out my blog, then maybe you think there are some parts of your life that aren’t looking so good either.  And, that you could do a whole lot better if you tried.

The place to start is to stop doing all those things that completely fuck up your life.

  • stop lurching from one disastrous relationship after another
  • stop all that promiscuous casual sex that makes everyone with even an ounce of morality think you’re a cheap slut
  • stop the drunkeness, drug taking, smoking, smoking pot
  • give up the gambling, the impulsive buying of things you don’t need or want, spending and wasting a shit load of money you don’t have
  • stop driving that junker of a car that gets you a ticket every time a cop can be bothered to pull you over
  • stop getting yourself fired, or walking out on jobs you can’t afford to lose
  • stop alienating your family and true friends, just because they might tell you the brutal truth about yourself
  • stop being a total fucked-up jerk

Some say that there is a little good in all of us.  And, that if you dig deep enough you will always find a treasure.  All I know is that when I stopped being a total fucked-up jerk my life suddenly got much better.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

selling yourself and your self-respect isn’t a good way to escape your fucked-up life

 

Living Alone With Dignity

Life is a pigsty, and if you don’t know this, then what do you know?

I was just 18 when I first left home.  I bought myself a slightly neglected bungalow.  (In England a bungalow is a single-story dwelling, (it helps when your first job is being a banker)).  Hallway, reception room, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen ~ and every room needed redecorating.  The kitchen especially looked like something from the WWII era.  In fact the kitchen looked like WWII had been fought in there.

There was central heating that didn’t work, and an Edison-vintage electrical system that did, although technically the lights were so dim they were darks.  I had my clothes, two pieces of furniture that I stole from my folk’s place, (a beach chair and a mattress), my music, a tin plate and some cutlery.

The bungalow was close enough to the bank that I could walk in about 45 minutes.  I sold my sports car, an Austin-Healey Sprite, bought a Reliant Robin three-wheeler van, and tried to work out what else I needed to buy with my sudden small stash of cash.

With cash burning a hole in your pocket there is always the temptation to buy things that will give you instant gratification, more records for example…..  Well I gave in to a little of that and got myself a TV.  The rest of the stuff I bought was more practical; a washer / dryer, some tools, an oven, bed linen, brushes and paint, cleaning cloths….. stuff like that.

Ripping out the entire kitchen was messy but satisfying ~ and the little van was useful for taking all the wreckage to the city dump.  That thing did hundreds of miles on a teaspoon of petrol, (gas), and all the time I had it I never even opened the hood ~ of course eventually the poor thing fell apart.  Later I learned about car mechanics, regular maintenance, giving love, care, and attention to everyone and everything in my life.

My life was pretty good until I had almost finished my professional examinations ~ then I experimented with dating.  My first girl was older, curvy, blonde, great legs, and before I knew where I was she was leaving her stuff at my place and taking over.  That first time living alone taught me three great lessons;

  1. Don’t spend money you haven’t got.
  2. Nobody is allowed into my place.
  3. Do everything for yourself.

As well as building a new kitchen I made all the furniture for that place.  I still have some of it; decades later.

Some say you should never wrestle with an amoral woman.  And, that if you do, you will get dirty.  All I know is that she will like it.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Reliant Robin

one of the worst cars in the world

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