We Need Full Stack Contractors

February 09, 2024

When I first moved into my home I needed a repair to my HVAC system. My wife dutifully contacted a repair company that came to inspect it. Unable to fit in our crawl space the technician cut through our drywall to access it. He then proclaimed it fine, charged us $250, and left. I had both a hole in my wall and my wallet.

A few days ago a helpful consultant came to do a MassSave evaluation of my home. As a part of this he drilled a couple holes in the wall. A few years later and wiser I am able to patch my own holes, but in almost any other line of business you would expect your item to be in the same condition you left it in. The bummer continued as I learned that the company only did state subsidized insulation work, the interior wall I was thinking of dense packing would not qualify.

As a software engineer I spend most of my time in what we call the backend. I work on data pipelines, APIs, and tooling for processing and encoding video. I am not an expert in React but I know enough coding to read some of it. For the main application I worked on we adopted a user interface using the Hotwire tool set. Although my speciality is backend and video, I can and do frontend work. Like my home drywall repairs this frontend work isn’t perfect, but it is certainly good enough. That’s all I would want from a tradesperson: a good enough repair to my wall and consideration of the entire home, not just their narrow speciality.

In a massive failure of capitalism I have discovered that small to medium and even some tougher jobs around the house are more efficiently and quality wise done myself than by hired professionals. The market for generalists only seems to exist for property management companies or new construction projects. The “general contractor” or “handyman” has disappeared. Many tradespeople only want to stay in their lane. I think there is opportunity in filling this hole for the right business, but in the meantime I’ll just continue to do things myself.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.