How I hosted travelers in return for labor help with my flip

8 Replies

Hey BP Community, 

I've been using a travel work exchange site for labor help on my live-in flip, and thought others here would be interested as it has reduced my labor costs to zero on some of my projects, so I wrote about it in detail here: The free and fulfilling way to fix up your home: Workaway and HelpX

More importantly, Workaway has provided a fulfilling experience for me and those I've hosted. It can be intimating and lonely rehabbing your first home, so if you're househacking, have the extra room, and enjoy international company, this could be a win-win. 

This is not a site to be taken advantage of, so if you consider hosting, do be fair and show them a memorable experience if you decide to consider this unique channel of assistance. More about that in the article. 


@Drew Sing , I hadn't heard of those sites before. I took a look at your link, it sounds like it was a  win/win experience for you and your guests and it sounds like you are an excellent host. 

I did a live in flip in 2010 so probably could of benefited from something like this, not sure if those sites were around order not back then.

One thing I was wondering is how you had the work scheduled out. Did you ever have any situations where the guests slacked off or decided not to do any more work after a day or so?..

Was it a certain set time each day?

 Also what happens if someone gets injured while working on the house? Do they have to verify they have health insurance , is there something they sign that protects you legally or anything? 

Of course not something that is going to happen every time, but it's a possibility of course. 

@Drew Sing Great stuff! With labor contributing significant cost to a rehab what a great way to increase your margin. Leveraging the increasingly share-friendly connection websites is excellent thinking. Totally agree with the responsibility of not viewing those sites as free labor though. I particularly like your laying out of the tasks of the day and having a discussion in the morning with your helpers...

Concerning liability, probably worth a discussion with your insurance provider and/or an attorney to ensure you're covered adequately. As with most things, open communication will protect the interests of all involved! Host/helper/insurance/contractor etc

Thanks for the feedback everyone @Joseph M. @Marcia Maynard @Spencer Coday

@Joseph - Yes, I'd have a backlog of tasks on Google Keep, and based on priority, would then write the top ones on a piece of paper and review with the Workawayers in the morning to ensure everyone was clear on the things we'd be doing. Sometimes I'd assign tasks based on skill levels. To ensure everyone was happy and comfortable with the work at hand, I'd always talk to people before they arrived to make sure their expectations were set on the stay. I did not have any issues with people slacking off. If anything, people went above and beyond and exceeded my expectations because they enjoyed learning/doing these things and were clear on things. Note: I did not expect perfect results as they're not pros. 

It's important to note I don't accept anyone who pings me on the platform - I only accept people who seem enthusiastic and have background/want to learn basic skills (eg. painting). We'd normally do 5 hours a day from morning to early afternoon, so there was a bit of routine. 

Tasks I'd assign are low risk, such as painting, clean-up, tiling, etc. As we all know, so much of the work is clean up and prep. Anything with any remote risk, I'd do, but they may spot/assist m. Just like airbnb where there's a trust factor, these workaway sites work in a similar fashion, but I'd make sure people have travelers insurance before arriving.

Again, it's about the experience for both sites, and there were many hours spent playing board games, hiking, and ensuring it wasn't just a labor transaction, but a friendship that'll last too. 

Not in spite of these people, but more an overall insurance I also have umbrella insurance.  

I like it, I traveled and hosted through SERVAS when I was younger and really enjoyed it.  The work element is an interesting way to add purpose to the relationship and probably helps engage people. It is so often you need those extra hands just because you can't do it alone but the activity you need them for isn't rocket science. 

I wonder what you mean by "I don't accept anyone who pings me on the platform "  does this mean you don't accept people who ask to come but only those you invite?  If so what is the rationale?

Hi @Colleen F.  

Workaway and HelpX are platform where travelers can contact hosts who have profiles for travelers to stay. I receive about 5 message requests a week to stay and help out, but only accept maybe 10% based on their experience, timing, etc. That's what I mean by "I don't accept anyone who pings me". Definitely could have been more clear on that. Thanks!

Makes sense now I interpreted it differently.  We did not accept all the SERVAS guests who asked. You just can't. If you are in a location they want or you have specified more free time you get more requests and you have a life you have to live too.   I imagine here work experience can be a factor especially if someone doesn't have any you don't always have the time to be their introductory experience.