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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is a random question I know, but I don't really have anyone to ask due to the circumstances.. Let me give some details here.

My niece's boyfriend is a carpenter apprentice, they live together and have a little baby and are doing their best to make ends meet. Sometimes I'll have a need for some help and I'll drop him a few bucks for helping, but this time is a little different.

He was mentioning that he isn't able to work on the weekends anymore since it's the slow season for work and if there was anything I needed, to let him know. So I thought about it and I asked him about building some outside stairs up to my front porch. We also had a baby this last week, and the cinder block stairs are just too sketchy to let my wife keep using them.

The stairs will only be about 4 foot tall and have a hand rail.

The reason I'm asking here is because he never really gives me a price for helping, he just shrugs his shoulders and lets me come up with the price. I don't want to lowball him but I don't want to overpay either. Recently they have been getting a lot of monetary help from family, to the point it almost feels like they may be taking advantage (like $1000 to buy a car, then another $200 for registering the car, then a battery for the car, etc) I don't mind paying for a job well done, I just don't think they need charity.

So after I buy the lumber and I'll probably help him do the work, what do you think would be a fair amount to hand him when the job is done and he is standing there shrugging his shoulders?

My initial thinking is around $50, but I know I'm out of touch when it comes to things like this, which is why I'm asking..
 

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im inclined to agree with jhog... paid cash for labor services only, thats a decent price... this is considering you are upstate. down this way, it would be closer to $30 an hour cash for a situation like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was thinking the same thing, $20-$25/hr. Even if you did overpay just a bit, they are family. Nothing wrong with being generous IMO.
Yeah, I generally try to be pretty generous, I just didn't want to go overboard. I've paid him $50 before just to help me pull junk out of the basement (which actually may have been cheap without hazmat pay) :-D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cost of materials + (2x cost of materials) = total cost of job

$100 in wood + $200 in labor = $300 job
Maybe if I was calling someone out of the yellow pages I'd agree with that, but this is family helping family mutually beneficial. Remind me to never ask you for a favor ;) lol
 

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I'd suggest you talk to him about setting a price first, most likely he has a figure in his head but is too timid to speak, if you give him less then he is expecting feelings might be hurt. There could also be some charity/pride feelings coming into the picture on his part. I'd say something along the lines, "I'd be happy to have you do the work, this will help us both out but please, I need you to give me a price and we can go from there. I just want to avoid hard feelings." If he does a stellar job and the price is reasonable you can aways give him a tip or get them a gift card for kid stuff. There's a win-win, everyone's happy, he's appreciative and he won't forget it. He'll probably do a better job if he's not worried about getting short changed, (short changed in his mind).
 

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I'll add one other thing, something I heard former UCLA Coach John Wooden say,
"The worst things you can do for the ones you love are the things they could do and should do for themselves"

I think it's great your family has been helping these kids, God knows my family and many kind people helped my wife and I when we were young, but sometimes a helping hand can hurt in the long run, life's hard lesson's are some of the best.

Coach Wooden was an incredibly insightful and wise man, I urge you to read about him, there are also many video on youtube, here's one
 

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If he buckles down and works fast and gets the job done in one day - maybe $20 an hour. If he stands yacking, takes breaks, and generally takes his time $10 / hour. At no point would I pay more than the cost of materials for labor unless he is doing some sort of skilled craftsman work - not general labor. I paid a family member $10 / hour to do yard work, and the same man $25 an hour to do ladder work (which I hate).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you Benellinut for the insightful posts, I agree fully with both posts you've made, and the 2nd post is a bit of a sore spot for me. I have been of the same mindset as the Coach Wooden quote for as long as I can remember. When I was young and my car's engine dropped a valve 700 miles from home, I sold the shell for bus fare, got home and took out a $1500 personal loan to buy a car, and got a 2nd job at Autozone to pay for it (plus 15% discount on parts) I would have never thought of taking that kind of cash from family. I've tried to get that point across to the over-generous family members but they are my parents, and the baby is their first great -grand so they will do just about anything for them. That is why I refuse to just give them money (except for a birthday or something like that) but instead look for projects that I don't have the time or ability to finish on my own.

Of course, it's tough for me as well, I do not have overflowing pockets, quite the opposite all of my savings has gotten dumped into this house + medical bills. I am not scraping the bottom of the barrel to help them out, but I'm getting near it.
 
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