• Clarke Wallace


Have you ever wanted some work done around the house? And hopefully done well? It might come down to hiring a relative. Family members will tell you the relative did a real good job at a neighbor’s place. They admitted this distant cousin wasn’t a professional but what the hell, the job only involved tearing down a basement wall, adding a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. Throw in a set of new stairs…

The result? A disaster. You thanked him, insisting on paying him more than he deserved because you didn’t want  family members thinking you took advantage of him. You rehire someone not in the family to tear out what’s been done, and start over.

It’s spring and we had work to be done. Replacing cedar boards on the deck showing signs of wear. Holes really. Work on the eavestrough that leaks like a sieve. We reached a company guaranteeing an independent, qualified workman.

Mike Bowler-James showed up to assess the damage. A pleasant guy with unruly grey hair, slim build. A no-nonsense sense about him. He took notes on what was needed, like cross pieces on the underside of the deck that needed attention. We threw in several other things at the last minute, which didn’t faze him. He gave us a written estimate without asking for money in advance.

He turned up two days later with a panel truck packed with equipment and cedar boards. He worked steadily through the day, finishing the deck in the early evening. He returned the following day to repair the sagging eavestroughs and top them with wire mesh to stop leaves from plugging them up. The work was exactly what we’d hoped for.

Then there’s Nathan Williams, the window cleaner. He arrived to clean our windows on the outside and tackle the solarium on the inside as well. He left behind the brightest, cleanest windows you could ever imagine, to take us through the summer, fall and winter. He’ll show up, as promised, in the spring.

Author’s comment: Finding those who will do a good job isn’t easy; relatives notwithstanding. You dig through the yellow pages hoping who you’ll pick will do a good job. Better still, find someone by word of mouth. You want a result that makes you smile.

As did we with Mike who worked on our deck, and Nathan who made our windows look as if they were brand new.

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