The handyman that won’t ever leave!

If you read my blog on a regular basis you’ll know that we’re trying to sell our condo so that we can buy a house upstate. There is nothing wrong with our condo. We’ve just outgrown it. It’s only a one bedroom (possible two bedroom – the dining room can be turned into another room). Our kids share the bedroom and my husband and I sleep on a sofa bed in the living room. After 11 years of sleeping in the living room we dream of having our own room.

Our home has been on the market for a few months. We’ve had a few people come over. Every time someone comes to see our place we ask our real estate agent for feedback. We want to know what people like and don’t like so that we can improve the negative things. Our agent (we don’t like him and we plan on getting a new one to represent us) has always complained about the paneling on two walls in our living room. We never thought much of it when we bought our condo 15+ years ago. However others have told us that paneling is very old fashion and often it’s used to cover up something bag.

We finally caved and asked our handyman to rip down the paneling and paint the walls the same color as the other two walls in the living room. We’ve known our handyman for years. My husband has known him for about 20 years. He does a lot of the work in our condo complex. He always does a great job. A few months ago he fixed up and repainted the bedroom and bedroom walk in closet. There is no other handyman we rather use then him. Plus he only charged us $125 plus materials to fix up the bedroom and did the closet for free.

Paneling on the big wall.

Paneling on 1/2 the wall (the rest is the sliding glass doors)

The game plan was for the paneling to get removed and the walls repainted. That was two weeks ago (and he’s been here EVERY DAY – including during Hurricane Sandy). The living room was FINALLY completed last night.

My husband had this brilliant idea to remove all the pictures and memorabilia in the hallway and repaint it. He also wanted to repaint the dining room. Our dining room was covered in stencils, including a 5′ tree, fence and a collection of life size rabbits, birds, ducks and other critters. There was even a squirrel that sat on top of the curtains.

We thought the stencils were turning people off. Our agent said it was the paneling. Some people liked the stencils. My husband didn’t want to take any chances so he started to spackle and prime the dining room too.

Before you knew it the living room, dining room and hallway were all being fixed up and painted. Everything in the three rooms were moved elsewhere so my home looked like a bomb hit it. Either that or an episode of Hoarders with boxes and stuff everywhere.

My husband has to work so he doesn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to painting. The other day I asked the handyman how much we were into him for thus far (he said $350 – ouch!). I asked how much more to paint the hallway and dining room. He said another $100. I figured it was worth it to get it done ASAP rather then my husband do a little work here and there and have it take another month.

Dining Room. Notice the stenciling including the 5' tree on the right side.


What started as removing paneling has now spun into replacing the molding, adding molding where there wasn’t molding, molding around the windows… and a half dozen things we didn’t plan on doing.

The other day the handyman was talking about the brown molding in the kitchen. He said it didn’t look right and should be removed. I told him maybe we’ll do that down the road but for now it was fine. WITHOUT ASKING ME he not only ripped down the molding in the kitchen but also snapped the big pieces in half so they could fit in the big garbage bag. He also found out that there was something wrong with the wall that had to be repaired. So now we have to repair this piece on the wall and put big white molding where there was once thing wood molding (our cabinets are dark brown, the flooring it different shades of brown and the counter top is light brown – now we’ll have white molding – UGH!).

He hasn’t even finished the dining room yet and he’s already telling us a list of things HE wants to do in our kitchen (replace the fan, paint the ceiling, paint the walls…). He even wants to put a chair rail in the hallway to add some pizazz and he’s talking about doing some touch ups in the bathroom.

This all started with removing paneling on two walls and painting them.

Hallway prior to being re-painted.

He’s been here EVERY DAY for two weeks (including weekends and the hurricane). He spends HOURS here (most of which is spent chi-chatting). And I’ve even fed him a few times and the other night HE invited himself to dinner.

Speaking of dinner, we have been eating dinner between 8-9 PM because that is what time he leaves and we can put everything back so we can eat at the table. We normally eat around 6 PM.

Our entire lives have been totally disrupted. My home is an absolute mess. We had to turn away people coming over to see our place because it’s such a mess. We have furniture all over the place, a huge electric saw in the corner of my living room, tools all over our couch… UGH!!!!

We know he means well. His heart is in the right place. He’s a friend of the family. Like I said, my husband has known him for 20 years – longer then he’s known me. He’s always nice to us and he wants our place to look nice. But at the same time our lives are totally turned upside down. We just want him done so that we can put things back where they belong, clean and get back to our lives.

How do we get him to finish up and stop looking for more work to do? First and foremost we cannot afford anything more. I already know that we’re going to owe him around $500 and we honestly don’t have that kind of $$$. It was originally going to be around $200 for just removing the paneling and painting. It’s crazy!!!

We DON’T want to hurt his feelings and we DON’T want to see ungrateful or unappreciative. He does to amazing work and he is a really nice guy. It’s just that enough is enough.

Even our asthmatic cat has been having a lot of attacks lately because of all the dust from using the saw and from sanding down spackling. I have dust in places there shouldn’t be dust and it will take me days just to fully clean everything off.


If you were in my shoes what would you do? How can you nicely get him to leave? How can you turn down work he wants to do to make our place better? I think we should be honest about the $$$ stuff. Even so, he wanted to “gift” us the chair railing in the hallway, so that means another day of work. In fact he was supposed to be done yesterday but he wasn’t. We had hoped for today but he needs to get some wood from the lumber yard so that means he’ll be back tomorrow.


OK. I’m done rambling.


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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Just tell him that you don’t want to put any more money in your condo because you just want to sell it and you probably won’t get a good return on the improvements. Maybe, your hubby would be the “bad guy” and say something.