Don’t Do It Yourself

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

I am what you would call “inept” when it comes to DIY. The thought of hanging a painting fills me with despair and flashbacks of high-school, where my woodwork skills were laughed at by class-mates. In fact, so poor were my efforts that on one occasion a post-box I had made fell apart in my teacher’s hands as he picked it up. Bizarrely, I still received a better grading than the kid who decided to spray-paint his wooden post-box pink. I generally do a different type of DIY – Destroy It Yourself.

Luckily, I am fairly adept at research and in the short period I have been a homeowner I have managed a few projects from behind a PC screen. This isn’t without some pitfalls though. Unfortunately, web literacy and Search Engine Optimisation are not high on the priority list of many small businesses. Often, you will do a web search for a type of repair and find very few related websites. Your search results will feature in online directories which may or may not have the correct contact information. It seems as though small contractors all but disappear online. Instead of having access to an abundance of quotes from contractors, web research sometimes serves up a wealth of useless information. For us terrible-with-tools types this is disastrous because it adds an extra dimension to our frustration – unable to fix things and now, unable to find people who know how to fix things.

Below are a few relatively new services I have used for projects at home. Whether you have an aversion to DIY and feel that the best way to put in a new light bulb is with a hammer, or simply don’t have time to complete a task yourself, these online portals put you in touch with professionals who can. The main advantage of such services is that they offer tailored solutions. You input a problem, they find suppliers who can assist.

Toodu is pretty simple to use. You register, create a list of tasks you need completed and they match it to businesses who can assist. There are two main benefits of the service they offer. Firstly, it saves you time by having suppliers contact you via message boards. You don’t need to spend hours on the phone or browsing sites for contractors. Through one portal you can manage any home repairs or installation. A second advantage is that their suppliers are screened. This gives you some peace of mind. Can you imagine hiring a random contractor only to find their team is made up of people like me?

1CallASAP offers a similar service but goes one step further. A centrally managed call centre follows up once you have requested quotes and information. They ensure that contractors have returned your calls and aim to give you at least three quotes per job you need completed. Their contractors are also covered by all risk insurance and have compliance targets to meet. Failure to make the grade results in expulsion from their listing.

Having used both I can recommend these online services as a starting point for home projects. It saves phone calls, time and is a brilliant way to get multiple quotes in a hurry.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go do some wiring. I don’t have screw drivers but this butter knife seems fine. Did I remember to cut the power at the DB board? Hmm...

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