Oikodomophobia – a new word


It was a new word for me as well!

It means “The condition which leaves millions of people in fear of dealing with cowboy tradesmen. Six in 10 people claim to suffer from the condition when forced to negotiate with plumbers, builders and roofers for a job on their property —Fear of rogue tradesmen” according to the Glasgow Evening Times*. It’s not just a Glasgow phenomenon, though: we often meet sufferers, and sadly they often have good reason.

I was going to write an educated piece about preparing wood for repainting today, but curing Oikodomophobia sounds much more impressive. It’s my new mission in life.

After much research, I have decided that the only cure for Oikodomophobia is elbow-grease, and lots of it.

The problem with cowboy painters isn’t so much their rowdy behaviour as the fact that they think wood-filler is better than elbow-grease. 

Take wooden window frames. They are subject to rain (often quite acidic), wind, heat and cold. They have joints and fixings and screw-holes, and edges to hold the glass.  All of these are areas where water likes to penetrate, and once inside the wood the water feeds the spores of fungi which start to eat away the wood. To do a proper job on repainting a window-frame takes hard work, and the willingness to keep on taking away the rot until there is nothing left. Only then can you start to start think about using filler.

Anyone – especially an oik – can slap in some filler on top of dodgy wood and leave a job which looks great for a month or two. But if the job underneath is not properly done that is as long as it will last before you see blistering and cracking again.  Modern paints and professional preparation should give several years of protection, and a finish which continues to look good.

The same principle holds true for interior paintwork, for example in a kitchen or a bathroom where steam and heat can lead to mould and mildew. Or on wallpapering where plaster isn’t properly repaired and prepared.

I don’t mean to rant, but it’s as depressing for us as it is for our customers when we’re called out to remove expensive wallpaper that was hung without the proper work being done first.

I’m preparing an article about Rot (my good wife Holly says that’s all I write anyway) and how to spot it before it gets out of control, and I hope you can stand the suspense till I have completed that. In the meantime I do recommend having a look at work that decorators have done in the past, and talking to some previous customers, if you’re in any way concerned about the quality of tradesmen you are looking at employing. In the words of the old proverb, I used to think it was expensive hiring a professional until I tried hiring an amateur.

All the best,

Geoff Parvin

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*
“Oik” is of course an old English Public School term for ordinary people. A bit like “Plebs”, so best not to use the word if you’re cycling past the House of Commons.