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Our Amish Contractor

March 30th, 2016 at 07:29 am

The Amish guys that sided and roofed our barn didn't use all the materials we purchased. They were left in a nice, neat stack, but they never did mention to me or DW that there were any left overs.

My experience is that Amish crews do a great job. They work quickly, they are honest, and the finished product is done very well. They biggest complaint I have is how they communicate. Generally, they don't do very well with communications. First, and most obvious is the lack of phone communication.

What I'm about to describe is the Amish order that lives in my neighborhood. As I understand it, the different rules that govern Amish orders can vary drastically, and the community in my neighborhood is probably about in the middle, not particularly conservative, not particularly liberal.

Amish people in my neighborhood are allowed to have telephones in their place of business, but not in the house, and they can't own cell phones. They guy that did our work has a land line out in his shop that he shares with his dad, who is a tarp maker. There is no answering machine, but there must be caller ID. Every time I called, I would let the phone ring several times and hang up. Then I would get a call back, it might be later that evening, it might three days later.

When they guy was working on our barn, he did give me the cell phone number for his English driver so I could talk to him directly. If he happened to be with his driver. And, I'm pretty sure that Paul, our contractor, wasn't strictly on the up and up when using the cell. It has to do with whether or not the phone is connected to the earth. I'm not really sure.

Also, Paul wasn't on-site actually doing the work. He had two employees that did all the physical building. You see, Paul had been kicked in the ribs by a horse a few weeks before. That was a terrible, and painful accident, and I felt bad for him, but it also created another barrier to communication. With him not on site each day, I communicated in person with his employees, rather than Paul himself each day. Again, they did great work, but I didn't always know for sure what was going on.

Which brings me back to the beginning of my post. The afternoon that the crew finished the roof and siding, we were hit with a big snow storm. When the snow melted, there were three piles of stuff that the Amish crew left. One was a pile of mostly scrap lumber, with some plastic and steel mixed in. One was a pile of mostly scrap steel, with some lumber and plastic mixed in, and one was a pliƩ od unused, returnable steel.

I hadn't recognized it immediately as returnable steel, because of the snow and the mess in the yard, and because no one had mentioned to either DW or me that there were any left overs.

When I did recognize it as returnable, it took me a while to get back there, and get the stuff returned. The ground has been fairly wet and soft, and I didn't want to rut things up too badly.

I finally did get the stuff returned this morning. The steel roofing/siding dealer is another Amish neighbor who lives about 1/2 mile down the road from me. What I returned was - 17 pieces of J Channel @ $5 per piece, 1 piece of L Shaped steel @ $12 per piece, and 1-10' piece of steel siding @ $20. That's $117 of returned material. I had no idea it would be that much.

I took the cash directly to the bank that we used for the loan to renovate the barn. I used it as a payment toward the loan. That seemed like the only logical thing to do with it.

If you ever have to opportunity to do business with an Amish person, they do good work. At least the Amish people I've worked with. Every group has its bad apples, I'm sure. But, they are culturally different from non-Amish. They work hard, but at a different pace. The things I find important, and worth getting in a rush over, aren't necessarily the same things that they get in a rush over.

4 Responses to “Our Amish Contractor”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    Sounds like a good experience overall. The communication factor is a bit too bad, as so many of us are so connected and expect to be able to communicate with someone we are paying to do a job. Nice work on the returns and applying it to the loan. Makes sense to me too!

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    A nice find.

  3. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Cool. I've never met an amish person.

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I'm glad it turned out well!

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