Ettiquette When Workers (Plumbers, etc.) Are In the Home

This has always been a bit of a touchy issue for me. I’m afraid workers will feel that I’m hovering, so I tend to vacate the room in which they’re working. When it comes to my housekeeper, I actually tend to avoid the floor on which she’s working, staying downstairs when she’s upstairs and vice-versa.

I had a plumber over the other day. I popped my head in the door every now and then to see if he needed something, but spent the rest of the time in the living room.

How do you guys deal with workers in the home? I know of some homeowners who stand and watch the work being done, but I almost feel like that’s insulting-- saying you don’t trust them to do a good job without intense supervision, or you think they might steal the silverware.

I’m with you.

I might make a pot of coffee and offer the person a cup (I’m not usually a coffee drinker).

Kinda depends on what’s being done.

If it’s the housekeeper then I piddle in the yard.

When two guys replaced the dishwasher then I just made sure they had everything they needed, left some ice water out and gave their work a onceover before they left. Same for the electrician.

But, heh, when the guys came out to install the home theater, I had a large jug of iced lemonade on the counter for them, crackers, blue cheese, manchego and caviar on the table and was right there with them all day asking questions or working alongside them as we put everything into place in the furniture. They got treated like royalty.

I can’t remember the last time there was a repairman in our house. I guess 8-10 years ago, we got a new AC unit put in (last house, though). My dad does everything, even electric work. Heh.

I’ve had to do that when the plumbers were here and had the water turned off. I don’t think your housekeeper will mind if you use the traditional facilities, as long as you close the door.

While she’s cleaning them?

Depends on what’s being done. I had two separate jobs being done at my house Tuesday morning - some guys came to install insulation, and electrician came to look at a couple of little curiosities. I followed the electrician more or less the entire time, because A.) my Dad and I had tried to fix two of the problems ourself, and we were curious about what the problem was, exactly, and B.) I have a tiny bit of background in Electrical Engineering, and am still fascinated by such things. The insulation guys got asked if they needed water a couple times, but that’s about it.

I would always offer maintenance people a soda or beer back when I lived in apartments, especially on hot days. I don’t hover, but I wouldn’t leave anyone alone at my home either.

Can’t you hold it?

Sheesh. Like having a puppy. :smiley:

After I show them where they need to be, I hang around. If they ignore me, I wander off and wait for them in the livingroom. If they strike up a conversation, I’ll hang around.
It’s always awkward when they have to go outside to retrieve something. Then when they return, I don’t know if they’ll knock and need to be let in, or if they’ll just come on in.

Workers in my house get the royal treatment. I figure a little soda or beer goes a LONG way towards motivating them to do a good job just because I was nice. I know it works for me.

I always keep an eye on them. It’s partly paranoia - I’ve been burgled too many times - and partly just to make sure they aren’t slacking.

Other than attempting to make sure my cat Albert doesn’t hitch a ride in a tote or toolbox, I leave them alone.

Albert loves visitors.

Most people ask a few questions at the outset, and at the end of the job. Hovering while I’m working is a pita. If I mash a knuckle, I’d like the privacy to say “f*ck” without offending tender ears. Most folks are very nice-offering water, iced tea, beer, although that’s not at all necessary.

Cats always want to be where I am. Try installing a faucet-you’re on your back in a cabinet and a kitten walks up on your chest to lick your chin. :smiley:

Depending on what I’m doing, I don’t mind the home owner watching me.

Like when I’m replacing windows. We take out the window without disturbing anything else, which many people find fascinating. They just want to see how it’s done, satisfy their curiosity. After they see it, tho, they usually go away.

When painting or doing drywall work, they usually find themselves quickly bored and leave the work area.

Whenever using power tools, I always point out that I have eye and ear protection, so they may want to exhibit caution. That usually results in them leaving the work area.

Now, if the person is trying to engage in prolonged conversation or nitpicking how I’m doing something, I may react in a couple of different ways. If they’re nice, just too chatty, I say something aboout needing to concentrate. If they’re critiquing my work choices, I may inform them that this is what it takes to get to the finish job they want, so just hold the complaints (which are usually totally unfounded, based on ignorance) till the job is finished. With some people, I bluntly tell them it will cost more if they don’t shut up. Usually doesn’t get to that point, but I’m the one doing the work here. If I didn’t know what I was doing, I wouldn’t have bid the job.

So, it all depends on the home owners attitude, basically. Also, this is in response to what I do. I’m a perfectionist and very good at the things I do. Unfortunately for people like me and Dances, there are some jerks in our field. This makes it hard for all of us.

To sum up: if you know the worker is good (and why didn’t you get references before hiring him if not?), just let him do the job. Satisfy your curiosities, by all means, but please don’t hamper progress on the job.

I can usually tell when people are a chatty sort or not. I’m more than willing to leave them alone and get their work done, as I hate it when people bother me when I’m concentrating or as danceswithcats said, have the freedom to say “fuck” if I need to.

But if they do seem chatty, I can be chatty right with 'em. I figure everyone’s got something interesting to say. I usually come across as someone who is very nonjudgmental and open minded. As a result, I sometimes get really interesting stories out of people.

Like the one guy I had chatting away, and then he’d drop a subtle political comment here or there to see how I’d react. Of course I’m all, “uh-huh, uh-huh, oh yeah, totally!”

So the next thing you know I’m hearing about how he’s working hard to save money so he can build that bomb shelter or flee the country because the government has been taken over by some secret cabal and/or space aliens and such.

People are great. I’ve never had a problem getting people to tell me what they really think.

As far as ettiquette goes, I usually offer beverages in a can or bottle, then leave if they seem intent on their work. They can drink it or take it with them. Some people might not feel comfortable drinking something you made and poured out of a pitcher, since who knows what nasty germs you might have?

I generally wouldn’t feed anybody, unless they were there for awhile and we were getting along. When the movers were at the house pretty much all day, I ordered pizza for everybody. I’d be sure to order something, again, because some people might not feel comfortable eating or drinking something I prepared.

Growing up, I had to watch my mother supervise everyone. It drove me nuts, so I never do it now. I will show them what needs to be done, etc, then say “yell if you need me” and let them get on with it.

To this day, my mom can’t leave people alone to do their work. A few weeks ago, she stood around in the heat for hours just to watch someone do yard work. :rolleyes:

When my computer guy first started coming to my house to work on my computer, he said he preferred to work without the owner in the room. After a while, though, after some interaction, he found out that I was not the hover-and-ask-STUPID-questions sort for whom the policy was developed. Now I sit in the other chair in my office while he works, and we talk through the problem, he teaches me little tricks, etc. He even showed up to our Christmas Eve open house last year.

This may be because of the morning he spent here doing some major revamping for me, and Mr. S provided coffee and freshly baked scones from scratch. :smiley:

For other workers, installers, etc., I use Brynda’s “Yell if you need me” approach. I usually have work to do anyway, and no time to stand over somebody. I do try to schedule things so that Mr. S is also home, though.

If what the plumber was doing was old-hat, you wouldn’t have called him in the first place. When I’m in such a situation, I say that I’m not trying to hover/inspect and the response is always positive. If you’ve ever seen competitive cup stacking, then you can appreciate that just about anything done skillfully can be enjoyable or interesting to watch.

Well, don’t do your house work in the nude.