Tuesday, 25 August 2015

House Painting the African Way

Gosh - I forgot it was dirt drum day - this is our house

One disadvantage with having a beautiful cream-painted house and garden wall is that it needs painting every few years.  This has become a really costly exercise or is it just that in the intervening 6 - 8 years prices have gone up a lot?  A lot of yellow/green moss has accumulated unattractively on top of our walls this winter, so it has resulted in sharp-eyed house painters roaming the streets looking for work, ringing our bell with almost daily regularity.  We bought suitable paint a while ago (to split the cost a little) and have been waiting for the first warm days to start the job.  The lucky contractor (who rang the bell the day we were ready), has been working in our town for the last 42 years, has a small team of guys, a very humble-looking pick-up truck (in need of a coat of paint!), but he does have references, a business card and a bank account. He doesn't do Internet advertising.   To our great joy, he takes a pride in his work, keeps an eagle eye on his staff at all times and even paints a little himself.  The house is looking much better.  When it comes to the money side, he is not quite so organized.  In order to beat any competition, he quoted his price by simply walking around and hazarding a guess. We wouldn't have to pay until the job was completed he assured us. Right. I know this will not be the case because of much past experience with these guys, (i.e.  previously classified as Cape Coloureds.)  Friday of the first week will arrive and he will ask for cash to pay his guys "otherwise, they won't be able to eat over the week-end."  Indeed, this is what came to pass: but I had the cash ready and a typed receipt for him to sign.  Midway through the following week, he asks me how much money is still due to him?   In the end, I drew up a spreadsheet for him, showing four equal payments and the descending balance.  This is Africa. At least the sun always shines.


  1. That's cool how it all worked out for you. Our house is yellow with dark brown brick halfway up the front and dark forest green trim all around. I like the yellow and brick but want to paint the trim white. Could do it myself but I'm pretty lazy but cant afford to hire anyone yet.

  2. Wow quite an unusual billing method...but apparently it works. As long as they do a good job and on time, who cares about the payments.

    1. One just has to watch for a little vagueness about the specs for the job and get it in writing.