Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Free Handyman May Have a High Price

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: One of my brother’s friends is in construction, and when he heard I needed some help with a fixer-upper I’m buying from a much older second cousin, he offered to help out on a few of the bigger projects. I offered to pay him in cash, but he said he was fine. So long as I paid for all the materials and supplies, he would settle for a pizza and a case of his favorite brew.

The first couple of projects went well. He does good work, at least as far as I can tell, and some other people who have seen it agree.

We just started working on replacing the back deck and are about halfway through. This time, he started with not so hidden suggestions that I could pay him with something much more personal than pizza and beer.

I don’t think he’s a bad guy, and we get along well when we’re working together, but I am most certainly not into him in any other way than as a friend, and a friend of my brother.

He’s currently out of town on a job that will take at least four weeks, and he has promised to finish the deck when he gets back. I’m just not willing to pay his price for it.

I haven’t told my brother about this, because I don’t want it to affect their friendship, but I don’t know what to do about his friend and my unfinished deck. --- NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL

DEAR NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL: Is it possible your brother’s friend was just testing the waters with a little flirtation? If so, then hopefully all he needs is some simple, but firm, redirection.

If, however, you’re certain he means business, then you have to shut it down and find another way to get your deck finished. You have a convenient excuse that you don’t want to go the whole summer without a deck, and ideally since having the earlier work done with minimal expense, you’ve saved enough money to afford to hire a professional to finish the job.

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