At some point during your life in Mexico you will need to hire a maintenance man. While finding one is super-easy, finding a good one is not.
My first suggestion to hiring a maintenance man is to hit up your neighbors. Ask them for “their guy” (they all have a guy). Asking a neighbor means the person is familiar with the neighborhood (important for exterior work such as water or electric) and will also act as a bit of a reference. Mexicans don’t like to be shown-up, so they’re not going to recommend someone that will make them look bad.
Even overcharging you or screwing you on quality parts or work will make them look bad, so again, it’s mostly about saving face but take it as a godsend. You are much more likely to get a good guy.
You can also hit up social media platforms in your area. I once hired a guy from expat social media in my area. Worst handyman ever! I had him back twice to fix his mistakes then finally, just fixed them myself. Expat referrals are not necessarily the best — just because he speaks English.
Once you have a guy and he’s visited your problem, you then have a few options. You can 1) have him give you a complete cost for the repairs (parts plus his time) and pay him cash so he can buy the parts then pay his time when he’s done or 2) you buy the replacement parts after you know what’s needed.
I recently had two expensive repairs done on my house and utilized both options for my own convenience. In the first instance, the guy could see my problem through photos I sent so he showed up at my house with the parts (we had already agreed on a work price). After the repair, I paid him in full for the parts and his time. Easy-peasy.
Note: Never have them arrive to work without agreeing on a price first. Repeat it back to them. Play Spanish dumb if you have to. Say you only want to understand and have them write their price down in their hand. I make them write out price plus parts. It’s common for them to try to increase the price once they see your home and / or realize you’re a single female — no esposo.
The second repair, which was done by the same guy, I prepaid him nearly 3,000 peso for his rate as well as the parts needed for my home. That was just easier for me because he didn’t have to enter my home to do the job. If I wasn’t there for some reason, the work could still be done.
However, after he left with my cash I did a small hail mary hoping to see him the next morning as agreed. I also reminded myself that he was a high recommendation from a neighbor. I was unlikely to get screwed.
He did show and the work was done. It was a success. But I don’t recommend giving cash to handymen unless there truly is no other way. Even then, I suggest finding another way to get the parts and pay him when the work is done. There is nothing stopping them from taking your cash and buggering off.
Meet with your guy and find out what’s needed to make the repairs. Have him write down exactly what’s needed if you don’t understand. You can then go to a hardware store on your own to buy the parts. Going together is also an option. Hop in your car or in a taxi and go to the store together so you can pay for the parts. He can then do the work.
On your way home, stop at an ATM, grab the exact cash to pay him and make sure he understands you don’t have more. The only time you pay more is if there is more work — that you both agree on. I’ve had guys create more (unnecessary) work just to get more money. Beware and use common sense.
And remember, always only pay per job, not per hour!