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Based on television shows, it seems borrowing tools from neighbors is a potential minefield. I need to power wash my front and back porches and the siding of my house. My neighbor has a power washer that he uses to do this on his house 2 times a year. In the ideal world I would borrow the power washer every year or two (I don't care if my siding and porch are a little dirty).

Details that may be relevant: I live in a highly urban area of a major US city in a block of row homes. I have no space to store a power washer, but the neighbor has a shed in his back yard. I see the neighbor regularly (he likes to sit on his porch) and we happily chat for a few minutes. We have been into each other's houses a few times.

Can I ask to borrow the power washer and if so how? I would plan on using it for a few hours and returning it clean and dry, is there anything else I should do? Is payment in beer (he drinks beer on his porch) appropriate?

50

Sure you can

Not an American but having lent and borrowed many tools to and from many different people from different cultures, this seems universal:

I would plan on using it for a few hours and returning it clean and dry, is there anything else I should do? Is payment in beer (he drinks beer on his porch) appropriate?

This is fine. Simply ask him if you can use it, thank him in advance and promise him the beer.

Where things go wrong (in my experience), the "minefield" bit if you will, is when people borrow things but don't use them right away, or return them in a worse state. Or when people excessively borrow and don't return the favor when called upon. I've never seen any argument over something that was borrowed once, promptly returned and accompanied by beer.

It could be that your neighbor has some bad experience lending things though, so he might deny your request, or be a little firm on cleaning/returning. If he denies your request, just accept it and say you understand, no harm done. Otherwise, just do as he requests, he'll appreciate that.

Edit: As @StianYttervik points out, this is something to keep in mind:

I'd also add, be very aware of the possibility of your having to replace the power tool in question. Don't borrow toys you cannot afford to replace...

11

If you talk that regularly, then you can certainly ask, as long as:

  1. You give him a clear expectation that he'll get it back by X day/time and stick to that.

  2. You let him know you'll return it clean and refueled, and stick to that.

  3. It costs about 60 bucks a day to rent one from the local big-box store, so maybe a twelve-pack is appropriate? Make it worth his while but never go over half the value of rental.

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Douwe's answer is good. I just wanted to add that I've been in the exact position as you before, and I opted to request to borrow a willing lender's pressure washer from a community site called Nextdoor (not affiliated). I simply made a post asking if anyone had equipment I could borrow and someone responded. You may have access to a similar neighborhood website via an HOA Facebook group or town forum.

While nothing is expected by the lender when you borrow (except that the item be returned in the same or better condition), it is certainly nice to return the gesture if possible. I opted to provide a small tip to show my thanks. Much cheaper than buying or renting the equipment, and everybody wins.

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