No Hot Water

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Can you help me with a contractor problem, please? I work with a
handyman type guy who is a MacGyver sort. There is literally nothing
he has not worked on at my house, from the irrigation system to
painting, deck and stonework to bathroom electrical. A long time I ago
I stopped counting his hours and he stopped charging me by the hour.
When I ask what I owe him, I wrote a check for what he says. I have
never been disappointed or felt taken advantage of, and he has come
to my rescue in a couple situations when I escaped big damage
because of his timely arrival. But he installed my new dishwasher in a
manner that protrudes from under the countertop, and does not allow
the bottom bin to slide out easily. The original install was fraught with
problems, because the owner-builder I bought the place from had
jerry-rigged the plumbing. When I asked him to fix it, there was,
again, one complication after another. Am I obligated to pay twice for
the same job? I like him, and want to continue to use him, but I think
his personal problems have intruded on his work.

No Hot Water

Dear No Hot Water:

Not having hot water and in the proverbial hot water are both
situations we try to avoid. You’re describing what sounds like an
ongoing relationship with the kind of guy most of us long to find:
someone skilled, reliable, and versatile who is a good problem solver
and unafraid to correct the mistakes of others. I’d be generous, not
scrupulous in your dealings with him. Continue to pay him what he
asks, and express your appreciating by feeding him when he’s around,
giving him little gifts of baked goods, and a bottle of something for his

I promise that the day he retires you will feel as badly as if you’ve
gotten divorced or had to put down a pet. If you’ve established trust,
rely on it rather than breaking it. If the same feelings come up again,
ask how he’s doing and if everything is okay. Then decide if you need
to act differently. But for now, be kind and continue to write checks.