Where Are the Skilled Tradesmen These Days?

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Forum topic by Rich posted 05-06-2018 04:48 PM 1883 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5725 posts in 1400 days

05-06-2018 04:48 PM

I was visiting a woman whom I’ll be building doors for yesterday and listening to her horror stories about the contractors doing the work on the addition to their house. It’s been going since January and its still just framing, nothing else.

I did a vanity for a woman’s guest bath remodel recently. When the contractor installed it, he scuffed the finish badly. I went over at her request to assess the damage and was appalled at what I saw. I had milled two matching pieces of scribe molding for him to use. He had installed it flat to the wall, not the face frame. Seriously, she has scribe molding in her kitchen, so how hard would it have been to go look to see which way it goes? I had also cut it a little long so he could trim it to be exact after the countertop went on. He didn’t trim it, so it sticks down into the kick space.

Then, the “plumber” she hired destroyed the interior. I had put in a 4 inch tall center divider she requested so she could add some pull out trays. Apparently all the guy had was about a 14” piece of pipe to attach to the sink drain. Cutting it would have been above his pay grade I guess because it put it in, and in order to make room for the p-trap he hacked out a big chunk of the divider. It just ruined it and also there’s no way she can add pull out trays now because the stinking trap is sticking out both sides.

Being the nice guy that I am, I repaired the finish at no charge, but it’s just heartbreaking to see the other damage. I take a lot of pride in my work and to have it chopped like that sucks. I mean he didn’t even sand it smooth, it’s just rough cut with splinters sticking out.

I’m not building the vanity for the addition I mentioned in the first paragraph. She wanted to get me over for a bid, but her husband hired a cabinet shop here in town without talking to her first. They say if a marriage can survive a home remodel, it can survive anything…lol. Anyway, I’m dying to see the completed space and see what kind of work that shop does.

Whew. Feels good to vent…lol

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

42 replies so far

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5874 posts in 3120 days

#1 posted 05-06-2018 05:15 PM

Where Are the Skilled Tradesmen These Days?

They are too old to do much work any longer. :)

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Woodknack's profile


13444 posts in 3191 days

#2 posted 05-06-2018 05:34 PM

The skilled guys around here stay very busy and have waiting lists months long. They also charge a pretty penny. And then there are lots of guys who pretend to be tradesmen and are likely to do as much damage as good. No different than the guys selling Anna White tables which subsequently blow apart.

-- Rick M,

View builtinbkyn's profile


3009 posts in 1751 days

#3 posted 05-06-2018 06:03 PM

Rich you read the rant I posted in my blog. I feel her pain. I’m almost tempted to go back into business. Could probably make a killing on 2 week or less duration projects. Nothing longer and no full house renos. Just smaller jobs where you’re in and out. There’s a real market here in Pittsburgh, for people who know what the heck they’re doing. I would just worry about finding good help.

My painters had a boss who didn’t show except to do the estimate and then when I told him on the phone I was sending them home, he came for payment which we settled amicably. I was told they’d arrive between 8 and 8:30. They got here 9:45. Then stood around in the driveway greeting one another and smoking butts. Then finally by 10:30 they had some drop cloths down and started to patch and prime. They broke for lunch at 11:45 lol I knew then it wasn’t going to last here for them. They’re skills were less than mediocre. Ragged edges on caulking, not chipping out cracks that needed attention. Just bad overall work.

Here I feel like a fish out of water. Back in NY I know reliable, competent subs and or just call the guys I had working for me to get stuff done.

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View Andre's profile


3647 posts in 2617 days

#4 posted 05-06-2018 07:00 PM

Widow friend of my wife’s has had 2 quotes for a small wood deck, they won’t even return her calls?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 3676 days

#5 posted 05-06-2018 07:28 PM

Some of the problem is the people that allow that sort of thing.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5874 posts in 3120 days

#6 posted 05-06-2018 08:16 PM

Is it lack of skill or they just don;t care and want the money.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2297 days

#7 posted 05-06-2018 08:21 PM

Where Are the Skilled Tradesmen These Days?

They are too old to do much work any longer. :)

- AlaskaGuy

No lie.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Fresch's profile


496 posts in 2731 days

#8 posted 05-06-2018 08:32 PM

The skilled craft gilds have turned into as some would say ” jobs Americans don’t want”, only to find that we all can’t be engineers, internet gurus, the need for a skilled ditch digger Is still there. I moved and went by word of mouth on my kitchen remodel only to fire the idiot before he was complete with his crappy work. Then I completed it and mov d right into the bathroom remodel and still put in 40-60 hr. weeks at work, wife not too happy then but was after.

View Rich's profile


5725 posts in 1400 days

#9 posted 05-06-2018 09:05 PM

Some of the problem is the people that allow that sort of thing.

- patcollins

For sure. Thing is many people don’t know anything and just let the contractor run loose. I also think that, like auto shops, they sometimes take advantage of women, figuring they can get away with it.

I know how to interview someone before hiring them and they can tell that they won’t be able to get any BS past me. I also evaluate the work as it goes along — not hovering over them, but just checking in from time to time.

Then you get a situation like Bill ran into where the boss never showed up and the workers were slouches and there’s no way you can see that coming in advance. At least he had the cojones to fire them.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2532 posts in 973 days

#10 posted 05-06-2018 09:18 PM

well, this one retired in 2013. . . . . . .

now that we have passed the torch to the so called “Millenneals”,
the only training they get is from their stupid smart phone or YouTube.

nuff said on that right there (and yes Rich – it is a thorn in my backside too).

my last 5 years, I worked for Mr. Handyman in Central Florida and I was truly
amazed at the new hires that could barely read and write. yes, the future is in trouble !!


-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5874 posts in 3120 days

#11 posted 05-06-2018 09:31 PM

I have also worked with people who don’t even know what good work is but think they do. I have seen people brag on how well their project is, when in reality it’s really not very good at all.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Knockonit's profile


685 posts in 1013 days

#12 posted 05-06-2018 09:46 PM

I went thru over 50 new hires last year, and since jan 2 this year am at 31, while some have been decent on their way to be competent carpenters, they are not reliable.
I do mostly upper end remodels and adds, only by referral, been like that for over 20 years, and i do commercial also, but only cost plus a fee.

with that said, our volume stays steady, can’t grow, because we can’t hire decent help, my core group has been with me over 14 years, decent honest fellas, have had a couple good tradesmen retire, but most were in late 60s,

I’m a carpenter by trade, but have been in biz for over 40 years here in phoenix, being a second gen builder, i’ve seen them come and go, rob and plunder, and still people hire them, give them money up front, ect.

I have as of the last month or so, turned away as much work as we have completed since first of year.

bummer, i’m approaching 70 times around the sun, and frankly don’t want to quit, sure like what i do, but the lack of responsible employees is taking me on that spiraling ride to the end of the game.

have absolutely no interest by young folks to enter into the carpentry trade, bummer, its given me one heckuva life.

Rj in Az

-- Living the dream

View JCamp's profile


1211 posts in 1361 days

#13 posted 05-06-2018 10:31 PM

I’m to busy working on my own house. Lol.
I watched my in laws go thro probably 6 contractors when they were getting a old house completely rebuilt. Some of them wanted to work by the hour and then milked it with all kinds of breaks. Most didn’t show up anywhere near on time. I went down and did some electric work a couple nights after I got off my day job and I out worked all the contractors that were floating n and out
If you can get a guy that’ll show up when he’s suppose to and does a decent job (not even a great job) your very lucky.
For myself I tend to do almost all my own work cause no one can suite me and I work cheaper than everyone else

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5687 posts in 1393 days

#14 posted 05-07-2018 12:06 AM

I had my house restuccoed last year. The unskilled guys tearing off the old were Ukrainians. The skilled guys putting on the new were a mixed crew. Couple white guys, couple Hispanics, and a couple Eastern Europeans. The roofers were a crew of Central Americans.

Big jobs, it’s still possible to find a crew. But little jobs? Forget it. I need 20 feet of rain gutter replaced on my garage and I’m going to end up doing it myself because nobody will even come out to bid it. Not a big enough job to be worth their time.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5296 posts in 4771 days

#15 posted 05-07-2018 12:19 AM

You don’t EVEN want me to start in about painters and plumbers.
Fridge supply line in FRONT of the fridge? WHAT?
Painters working 2 to 3 hours, then pull off to go to another job?

-- [email protected]

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