1. My friend Edwin is a contractor. He offered his crew at cost to do the demolition since he'll probably be doing some of the framing as well as the utilities. His cost is about $200 / man / day or $25.00/ hr. Not too bad, considering I know many contractors that would charge several times that rate. Edwin is also bonded and insured and has overhead costs as a general contractor. Still, for demolition, I felt this was a bit much.
2. Edwin uses a guy named Paul for hauling (another subject in itself). Paul also does demo. I called him up and he charges $21.00 / hr, which is a bit better than Edwin but not too much. I heard he just picks up day laborers on Caesar Chavez for about $10.00 / hr. This means over 100% profit and overhead. I still thought I could find a better solution.
3. A light bulb went off in my head and I realized that I could hire day laborers for myself. This would obviously be cheaper ($10.00 / hr), but let some questions in my mind. First off was the practicality of finding them; Caesar Chavez is a long street. Second off is communication as my Spanish skills are non-existent. Third was the safety question of having strangers come into my home. Fourth was the legal question and not being very informed of labor and employment laws in this city. This seemed cheapest, but a bit risky.
4. The last option was found from a quick search online. San Francisco has a Day Laborer Program, sponsored by the City. Their website will fill you in on more information. It seemed like a good way to hook employers up with employees in a more safe and reliable environment for both parties. They ensure that the laborers get paid a decent wage ($15.00 / hr) and they are a convenient source for employers to find reliable help.
I decided to go with option #4. I called the program office, described the work I needed done, and gave them my address. The next day, Saturday, they sent three guys out, with one fluent in English, to my house. I was still a bit nervous, but explained the work that needed to get done and provided the necessary tools. They quickly got to work, scraping floor finishes, removing sheetrock, and removing lath & plaster from the walls. I paid them at the end of eight hours, after each day, and gave them a bit of extra money for lunch. In two days, Gary, Eduardo, & Miguel finished the entire upper level of our home.
Based on prior progress, by myself, this would have taken me well over a month. Needless to say, even with my very limited budget, it was very much worth it. During the time they were working, we worked on other parts of the house, and left them for periods of time to run errands. They were efficient and hard working, but needed periodic direction. Also, a watchful eye definitely increased productivity. I need to call them back to finish the lower level this coming weekend. I would highly recommend the program to anyone needing temporary manual labor.