Q: How many people work for Phillips Home Repair?
A: Just me, Mark J. Phillips.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I am an Iowa City native. I went to Regina Elementary/High School until 10th grade, graduated from City High in 1996 and received my Electronics Engineering Technologies degree from Kirkwood in 1998.
Q: How long have you been doing this kind of work?
A: In a way, my whole life. I have always been a tinkerer. Whether it’s building custom bicycles, fixing stereo equipment, restoring cars, working on vintage Vespas, or building skateboard parks, I have always been a DIY type of person. I was that kid digging through your garbage looking for cool things to take apart. As it pertains to home repair, I started by fixing up my first house after I bought it in 2001. People started taking notice of the work I was doing there and I started doing small jobs on the side. By 2007, I was so busy that I quit my day job and made this my full time gig.
Q: What is your service area?
A: I have narrowed my service area quite a bit since I started. I live on the east side of Iowa City and prefer to stick to a few miles of here. That includes Longfellow, Goosetown, Northside, Downtown, Eastside, Southside, pretty much anything in Iowa City, this side of the Mormon Trek area. When I was just starting out I had to take every job that came along, which meant I was leaving Iowa City and traveling to surrounding towns quite a bit. Now that I am so busy, I stick closer to home in the interest of saving time and vehicle miles.
Q: How big a job can you handle?
A: Generally speaking, I can handle any job that can be accomplished with only one person and in a reasonable amount of time.
Q: How small of a job will you do?
A: No job is too small. I do charge a 1 hour minimum, so feel free to make a list of several small jobs so you get your money’s worth.
Q: Are there any jobs you can not do?
A: Not many. Sometimes a job comes along that is so unpleasant sounding that I turn it down. I hate cold weather, so I don’t do much outside work in the winter. I do not have the equipment or skills necessary to lay carpet or pour concrete. I don’t have a tall ladder, so I stick to things about 12 feet up and lower. Bottom line: The busier I get, the more picky I get, but it never hurts to ask.
Q: Are there any jobs that you are not allowed to do?
A: I am limited legally when it comes to electrical work. I can replace existing items such as outlets, switches and light fixtures, but anything involving running new wires has to be done by a licensed electrician. The same restrictions apply to plumbing and ventilation work.
Q: What are your favorite types of jobs?
A: I love about any job involving the preservation of old and/or unique houses. I am a huge fan of Moffitt houses, so much so that my wife and I bought one. (We no longer live there, but we still own, maintain, and rent it out.) Working on Moffitts isn’t work to me, it’s a joy and a privilege. I have a passion for original house details and I love restoring them and making new work blend with the old. I love removing ugly updates and seeing the original spirit of the house come back to life.
I really love fixing doors and windows. I think it is appealing to me because they involve moving, mechanical parts. I love figuring out how things work and finding ways to make them work better. I also despise vinyl replacement windows, so I love preserving the originals and sticking it to the “vinyl villains” (as Bob Yapp calls them.)
I’ve also been doing more repairing of old appliances and electronics since there aren’t many places that still do this kind of work. Also I am occasionally hired to make a custom item out of wood or metal. I have a decent home workshop and can make just about anything. This kind of repair/restoration/fabrication work is fun and I’d love to do more of it.
Q: Do you supply parts, or should I?
A: Either is fine with me. I do not markup supplies, but I do charge my regular hourly rate for picking them up. I love showing up to a job to find the parts already there, but I know sometimes we don’t know what you need until I tear something apart. I carry the small basics with me at all times such as wall anchors, spackle, caulking, light switches, misc. hardware, etc.
Q: What do you do with the old parts and supplies?
A: In most cases, I will haul away any debris or packaging for free. Any usable items are taken to Habitat for Humanity ReStore or added to my collection of spare supplies. Anything recyclable is recycled, any damaged, unpainted wood is used for firewood, and anything that is unmistakably trash is taken to the landfill.
Q: What are your hours?
A: My hours are approximately Monday through Friday from 10-5. If I have nothing scheduled early, I am not above sleeping in. And if I need to work a few hours past 5 to accommodate someone’s work schedule, I can sometimes do that too.
Q: Do you work Saturdays, Sundays or holidays?
Q: Why not?
A: Would you?
Q: I called and left you a message and I never heard back. What’s the deal?
A: The short answer: I am a better handyman than receptionist. The long answer: I stopped answering my phone because more than half of my calls are from telemarketers. I prefer to work through email for new clients, but once we are acquainted, I will save your number and answer your calls.
Q: Will you barter?
A: Yes. I am extremely into old tools, both hand and power tools. I’m not just a collector, but I am a user of them. I know it’s cliche`, but they really don’t make ’em like they used to.
Q: Is Phillips Home Repair LGBT friendly?
A: Absolutely! I am a lifelong ally and unapologetic supporter of all LGBT causes. I would love to work with your family, no matter how it’s constructed.