Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pass Me a Hammer...

My name is Joanie T and I am home repair challenged.

Yup, can’t do hardly anything when it comes to fixing the things I need repaired around my house. It isn’t laziness….all the time…but a lack of skill and understanding how things work. And I hate it, I really do.

But my house is now 18 years old and starting to look a bit raggedy. Ok, so hurricane damage might not count as day to day wear and tear but it did get me to taking a look at some things.

Not that I have an overwhelming need to whip out my trusty “Do It Herself” tool kit (A present from my ever optimistic Daddy on the advent of moving to my own place. Hey! I’ve used the screwdrivers….a few times…in eighteen years.) and fix things. But I do wish I had a better understanding of what DOES need to be done, how it IS done and how much it should COST to get done.

I’ve had a couple of instances of lack of knowledge impacting getting things taken care of. As many of you know, in September Hurricane Ike blew through my Old Kentucky Home. It stripped some siding off and lifted a boatload of shingles free of their seal.

I had a reputable roofer come out and give me an estimate. I dutifully waited for the insurance company to send an assessor. I was home when a contracted assessment company came to look at the damage. It was a sixteen year old boy! He was up on my roof for THREE minutes! He sent in a claim for less than 2 pkgs of shingles to replace “the few” that were loose.

So who do I believe? The roofer who demonstrates how the seal of the roof was compromised, the grit blown off the surface of the shingles into my gutter, the negative impact on the warranty with a patched roof or the main insurance assessor who told me he was “too busy” to re-assess.

I believed the roofer and got my settlement.

Even then, I had to deal with a very condescending agent who implied in more than one way that I was being taken. Grrrrr….

Onto the next home repair. I need the rear door of my garage replaced with a more solid one that doesn’t hang at an angle and actually has a deadbolt that will hold. Thinking I’d go ahead and have the kitchen/garage and basement door replaced I arranged for the home improvement guy to come and measure. Final cost? Over $1,000!!!!! AND that does not include the doorknobs/deadbolts. I dropped the two interior doors.

Countless friends with busy, handy husbands with lives of their own gasped at my agreement to the rear door anyway. “That’s ridiculous! Call my cousin’s second son’s sister in law’s brother. He’ll do it way cheaper.”

Yeah? But then if things don’t go right or are done shabbily you might lose friends.

I’ve tried the Handyman services too and most are just as expensive. Had a guy come by and had to pay a flat rate for 1 ½ hours AND charged for any items used. Very expensive just to get some vents fixed and who knew a simple nail cost almost $3?
(Of course if my handyman's toolbelt had looked like this guy's it would have been worth it :-)

So I wish I knew more about home “stuff” like my critique partner who re-did her bathroom…by herself!! I wish I knew how to put down a hardwood floor like I want for my kitchen, hang new cabinets too. Heck, I’d like to know how to hammer a nail straight!

Guess the closest I’ll come is baking cookies like these :-)

What about you? Who do you rely on for home repairs? How many have handy husbands/fathers/boyfriends? Do you know how to do “stuff”? Who taught you and what is your favorite tool?


Anna Campbell said...

Aha!!!! Bwok, bwok, bwok! Except he now has an AUSSIE accent! He's Golden Rooster Jackman!

Anna Campbell said...

JT, having settled down from my extreme excitement at the Rooster's visit (little does he know your post has inspired me to get him working on a few things!), what a great post. I know exactly how you feel. I'm hopeless with anything in that line. I've nearly always lived in flats, well, since I was an adult and I didn't have a dad in the house to fix anything that squeaked or leaked or basically fell to pieces. Now I'm in a house and there's all this extra stuff that just seems to come out of nowhere to bite my butt!

jo robertson said...

Interesting topic, Joan! In my rational mind, I know that anything a man can do, home-repair-wise, a woman can do. But somehow that never happens at my house. I don't even screw in the lightbulbs. My husband probably thinks I don't know how to do it!

Home repairs are the most frustrating things, and learning how to do the stuff yourself is worth its weight in gold. My single friend Kelly does EVERYTHING. She's a school teacher and says it's a matter of survival. Seriously, she buys a book and figures it out! Amazing!

Donna MacMeans said...

I love my husband. I truly do. But I continually remind him that I didn't fall in love with him due to his handyman skills (which is a very good thing!) My favorite tool is the phone book that I use to hire the professional to refix whatever my husband mended.

Nevertheless, we have every tool imaginable on a "work bench" that is piled to the rafters - and yet - whenever my dh works on the latest broken gadget - he never has the right tool...go figure!

limecello said...

Haha, congrats on the GR, Anna!
As for fixing things... super rudimentary things I can handle - hooking up electronics, generally, tinkering to see what's wrong with them... painting, screwdrivers are my friends - installing door knobs... bookshelves, computer chairs... and we're about out. I used to know how to replace fuses but I mean nearly all houses have circuit breakers now.
For the person who does all my repairs... can I claim youth? Haha - it's my dad. He's incredibly handy with everything. From cooking gourmet, to wiring, plumbing, building computers (he just can't use them as well) - cars, patching walls... everything. If I have a problem it's daddy to the rescue :X. [Once he gets a chance.] Growing up - and still now - friends call him to do everything from broken washing machines/sump pumps to getting rid of squirrels in the attic, installing heaters for underground pools and, well, nearly everything :P

Trish Milburn said...

I can do very simple things, though I have painted several rooms in our house. The people who owned our house before us fancied themselves home-improvement experts or something, and there's lots of evidence of half-a** work we're still gradually redoing. We're currently waiting for an estimate on some landscaping, and I'm hoping it's not stroke-inducing.

Anna, speaking of Australia and Hugh, I CAN'T WAIT to see the new movie, Australia.

Jo mentioned a book about home repair. Joanie, I can highly recommend the book Lowe's has in its stores (created by Lowe's) about home improvement. We've used it several times.

Ken Hatch said...

I want that handyman to come help me fix my house.... don't think hubbys waist would fit the tool belt. darn.

Tawny said...

Ooooh, tools. I love me some tools. I love me some dudes in tool belts! Yessiree, yum!

:-) Okay, yes, I can do simple repairs. Of course, pre-husband I used to use a shoe for a hammer and a butter knife for a screwdriver (*sniff* my daddy bought me the shoes, but not a toolbox). Poor hubby went from thrilled to have a handy wife to freaked at my idea of repair LOL.

I can paint. I can tile. I can grout. I can landscape. I can drywall and texture walls (hate it). I can do minor repairs. I can't do electrical or plumbing.

That said... I don't like to do it LOL

Anna -be gentle with that bird ;-)

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Anna.

My dad can do little jobs around the house. He can put up shelves and he knows what parts to get at the hardware store. My cousin and her husband are really crafty. He built all the cabinets in the laundry room. They built their own deck. The deck looked as if it were professionally done. The only thing I can do is put an IKEA shelf together and that's if I read the instructions more than once.

Helen said...

Congrats Anna he must need some warm weather and wants to help around the house

Great post Joanie, I can do general things like changing tap washers and putting things together my hubby is hopeless at fixing things and we usually pay someone to do the fixing and yes someone always tells us they know someone who would have done it cheaper we have a great handyman company here in Australia called Hire-A-Hubby and we have used them before and have always found them very reasonably priced and the guys are nice people not as good looking as the one in the photo but they appear to be honest and reliable and I would recomend these guys.
Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Argh, Joanie T, I feel your pain. I come from a family of academically, not mechanically minded people and my dh is fairly competent at straightforward stuff but most of the time I have to hire professionals. The worst thing is that until recently, tradesmen have been making money hand over fist where I live, so they just pick and choose who they bother with. A kitchen renovation? Fine, they'll be there asap. One toilet that keeps running? They just laugh and hang up. Well, ok, not quite that, but I've had to repeatedly hound them until they actually turn up when they say they will. Then they have to go away for parts (double the call-out fee) and so it goes... I'm sure I get taken quite a lot, so I sympathise with you on that one! I think they tend to see women as easy marks. I think instead of home economics, we should have been taught these things at school!

Congrats, Fo! Are you going to bring the GR down to my place to play?

Marisa O'Neill said...

Ah - my entire family can build a house from the bottom up by themselves! I, unfortunately, did not get that gene. Hence, my absolute favorite tool is the telephone. I use it to call other people to repair my home.

I feel your pain, there are so many repairs needed to be done in my home sometimes I think I should pack one suitcase and just move on.

Joan said...

Mornin' everyone!

A quick shoutout as I head into the pay for the repairmen!

I love that severay of ya'll have cited the phone book as your favorite tool, LOL.

And I CAN do somethings though it took me 3 months to figure out if I pushed up on the horizontal rod holding my vertical blinds it would keep the slats from drooping. (tired to blame THAT on the mild earthquake we'd had in April).

It took my brother, also one not famously into handy stuff to actually get up on a ladder (huh, who would have thought of that) and realize a bracket had slipped.

He fixed it!

And Tawny....I DO need some tile work in my bathroom. Can you fly on out?

See ya'll later

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Congrats on the GRJ Anna! Give him a hammer and put him to work.
Everyone here knows me as Hrdwrkdmom but I do have another name, MizMacgyver so named because I may not be able to fix it professionally but I can jack-leg anything. I wouldn't attempt to roof my house but I can fix plumbing, lay floors, do sheetrock and that kind of thing. I was named by a friend of mine who had taken me out for dinner, when we came out her car was dead. Way before cell phones so we were pretty much dead in the water. This was also a time when cars still had carbeurators(sp), I told her to pop the hood and I took off my shoe and smacked her carbeurator, knocked the float loose and off we went, I have been MizMacgyver to her ever since.

Tiffany Chalmers said...

My husband is a fix stuff kinda guy.

I think that was one of my prerequisites when I was 'husband hunting'

I've nearly always lived in flats like Anna, we haven't bought a house yet, they are tres expensive in Toronto. So we are saving, and all that jazz. But we are lucky, we can get a fixer upper (not a horrible fixerupper) but something to help us get a bigger house since my hubby's such a handy kind of guy. I just need to poke him once in a while to stop him from putting things off (he's a virgo) I'll do it tomorrow usually means next month :)

Tiffany Chalmers said...


You nabbed it by like minutes, I waited until like eight minutes after midnight when I decided sleep was in order!

Dianna Love said...

What a fun post, Joan.
Anna - I love the bird's Aussie accent.

I can actually do quite a few things, because in the household where I grew up gender didn't matter when it came to loading bricks, fixing things, cleaning or cooking (5 kids - two of the younger ones were boys).

I used to do my own auto repairs (grew up around mechanics)before I met my husband (and car engines got so complicated!) and have installed things like a whole house fan in the first home I owned when I was alone.

However, I am defeated by wallpaper and any decorating. My husband is extremely handy from auto to home, but he's often stumped on the computer.

In my business, I fabricate huge electronic structures for companies, but when it comes to actually touching a blub or wires at home - no way. If my husband didn't handle that I'd hire an electrician in a minute.

I did try to wire something once - that whole house fan I installed on a Saturday, because I'm also patience-challenged and didn't want to wait until Monday to get an electrician. I blew out the power on our street. "g"

And I'm with Trish - can't wait to see Australia.

Deb Marlowe said...

Congrats, Anna! Have a good time with the chook!

Oh, Joanie T, I feel your pain. I can cook a mean streak, but don't give me a hammer. My dh,now, is another story. Lovely man with awesome handyman skills. He can fix most anything, tile, put down a wood floor, fix anything with an engine. I'm really good at carrying the wood and handing him tools. :-)

What's really great is that he can teach the kids his skills. And they love to 'help'

Christie Kelley said...

JT, I married the handiest of handy men. If he doesn't know how to do it, he'll figure it out. The home remodel was only the second time he's hired someone to do some of the work for him. The first time was some electrical work in the last house.

As far as me...let's see. I now know how to mud a wall, sand, paint, put up tile, put up stone, put up kitchen cabinets, lay hardwood floors and probably more. But the thing is, I don't want to do it any more. I'm tired of remodeling. I want my weekends back.

Trish, I know how you feel with the half-a%% work of a previous owner. Thank goodness all of his work is now gone!

Christie Kelley said...

And I forgot to add that I'm off to sand and paint my linen closet today. Only two bathrooms left!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Kudos, La Campbell! Put the Chook to work on those pesky home repairs! He needs the exercise after all those tim tams!

Hugh Jackman. SIGH !! In a low riding tool belt. SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Can't wait to see Australia!

My Dad was the king of all handymen. He could repair anything from jet airplanes to a leaky toilet. When I first moved out on my own he came down from time to time to fix things and he showed me how to fix it myself next time.

After the DH died I discovered that paying someone else to fix something is EXPENSIVE!! And as none of the repairmen looked like the one you posted I wasn't motivated to call them.

I can change my own oil, tires and spark plugs. I can rewire just about anything. I can install a phone jack. I can build a dog run. I can install doorknobs and hang doors.

I am sending the final payment in on this trailer today!! And the plumbing has been going south the last six months. Therefore I am learning to do A LOT of my own plumbing repairs.

Now, both of my brothers have worked every sort of construction job known to man in their youth. They can hang siding, paint, roof, frame a house, pour a foundation, you name it. Getting them to come down and actually DO those things is something else entirely!

And I am a big proponent of googling home repairs or finding a book. I am woman. I can read!

Anna Sugden said...

LOL Joanie - your post is spot on!

I can do most decorating and small fix-it jobs. Hubby can do slightly bigger fix-its. But, most of the time, we get a 'man who can' in. Electrics and plumbing are no-brainers - especially after living in houses after they've been DIY'ed!

These days, even painting and tiling etc we get someone in - just haven't got the time!

Claudia Dain said...

I really lucked out. I married Mr. Wonderful. He can do it all. Cars, carpentry, mechanical engineering, drywall, electrical, plumbing, landscaping, window and door installation. The only thing I won't let him do is roofing. Falling off the roof is not going to be an option.

Of course, the downside to being married to Mr. Wonderful is that the garage is a disaster area with no room for a car, his hands are usually stained with car grease, and he tracks crud all through the house.

But I'm not complaining (much). I've gotten so used to having him be able to do anything for 1/10 the price, and do it quickly, that I know I've been spoiled.

It's okay. I can live with being spoiled.

Buffie said...

Joan, I am so with you on this one. I can do a few small jobs around the house -- use a hammer and a scredriver, but not much else. And it is sad to say, but the hubby is just as bad. I guess as a kid he never watched his dad repair things or do much of anything around the house -- he was too busy working. So when you put the two of us together, it is just something awful. Whenever we need something done, I have to call my sister's husband. That man could literally build his own house from start to finish. He has done so many jobs for us it is unreal. But I feel guilty about asking him to do things because I know how busy he is. I think I am going to have our boys shadow their uncle so that my future dauther-in-laws (ones who I am just going to love and they will love me!) won't be in the same boat as me.

flchen1 said...

Eeek! Joan, my husband and I are not handy people. We can manage a few basics, but if it's more involved than changing lightbulbs or crookedly hanging some frames, we've got to pull out the telephone. We have some extremely handy friends who we call in a pinch, or we happily pay professionals to fix whatever has gone wrong. *sigh*

Congrats on the GR, Anna! Is he hard at work?

Keira Soleore said...

Aha, Fo. After weeks of dedication, you've finally snagged him. Persistence does pay off, doesn't it?!?!

Joanie, I had a huge belly laugh (huge laugh, not belly, well, er, ahem) when I read your title.

When I was graduate school, once when my dad visited my apartment, he was horrified to find that in a house of engineers there was nary a screwdriver to be found.

Since then, my reputation has improved. In my household, I'm the fixer of toys, books, anything small, pesky. I don't do it joyfully or intuitively. Simple doggedness is how the task gets done.

Ever since we bought our house (eons ago), I've wished I could return to an apartment with a maintenance staff on hand.

Keira Soleore said...

Oh and my favorite tool? Sticky tape!!!!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, guys, loving the handyman stories. The rooster is too. Sadly, I haven't been able to shift him from the couch where he's got a beer and some Tim Tams. Lazy sod!

Louisa, congrats on the final payment going off! That's a big moment in a girl's life when she owns her house!

Hey, and did you people know that the brilliant Tiffany (who tries to snatch roosters from me but isn't fast enough - bwahahahaha!) has just picked up a major agent? Yes, Helen Breitweiser has recognized our fabulous Tiff's fabulous talent! Yay, you!!!!

Cheryl Brooks said...

Home repairs? I have this dreamy bunch of construction guys who I hire now and then, but mostly it's the DH--or ME! I'm pretty good at most things, but sometimes I balk just because I think he should do it! Sexist of me, isn't it?

Keira Soleore said...

In news...

Tiffany Chalmers has the awesomesauce aka AN AGENT!!!! Congratulations, Tiff.

Our travel plans changed off a sudden (no, nothing alarming). Will be off to our annual trip to the end of the earth in less than 10 days. Eeek. See y'all in the new year!

Beth said...

I have an extremely handy husband but he also insists on showing me how to fix things so I can do some basics.

That said, I do love to attempt to do repairs (as long as they're not electrical) and I love working in my husband's wood shop *g*

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Anna!

Virginia said...

I have a husband here, but if something needs to be fixed it is me that has to fix it because he want. I have always been a fixer. We had to do things like that when I was growing up, so I still do it today. I use to work in a factory where you had to fix things, like changing bearings and other things. I had my own roll-away toolbox, so I had to fix things. It was part of the job.

Buffie said...

Congrats to Tiffany!!!!!! Way to go girl!

Joan said...

This was also a time when cars still had carbeurators

Ok, who else did not know that cars no longer had carbeurators?

Is that what fuel injectors replaced?

See, I don't know that much about cars either. Went a couple of weeks ago to get a simple oil change and was told my serpentine belt was cracked.

I said "Excuse me, but that seems a bit personal".

A $40 oil change went to over $175.


Joan said...


Woohoo!!!! Congrats on the agent landing! Did you have to wrestle her very much, LOL?

Joan said...

Oh, dianna...I bet your neighbors just loved you.

"Honey, the lights are out"

"Must be that Love girl fixing something again."

I'm too chicken to even light my gas furnace though it SEEMS easy and I've been shown a dozen times...

Bwak Bwak

Joan said...

You know Deb a hammer CAN be used in cooking.

Ever make Swiss Steak? Got to pound that round steak flat.

Hmmmm...I'm starting to see a connection.

Joan said...

Ah Christie, I knew you'd have a great handy man...well..handy.

So, when you're done with your bathrooms, could ya'll come down to KY and start on my kitchen floor?

Joan said...

I'm with you Louisa about waiting for Hugh and "Australia" to premiere.

Since I'm fair certain I will be a "Thanksgiving orphan" again this year, I just might go see that.

And congrats on your final payment!!!

I make my final one on my car this month!!!

Course, then I just KNOW some other "belt" will start to crack, droop, split or slither..

Joan said...

Anna S.

Yeah, it's great to have people you can call in, but darn...I wish they didn't cost so much!

I almost want to learn how to do things so I can quit the stress of the DDJ and make boo coo bucks like they do.

Where'd I put that pink hammer?

Joan said...

Ah, Claudia, I envy you your spoiled state.

That's the way my one BFF is (she has one of the busy with his own life handy husbands). She marvels at my "abilities" and bemoans the fact that she doesn't think she could do anything.

Do? Me? Not much, I tell ya...I do change the lightbulbs and take out the garbage.

Of course this is the same BFF who helped me with landscaping this year (she LOVES gardening) and then fainted when I told her I didn't own a watering hose.

Joan said...


My brother is the same way. What he does know he did pick up from watching Daddy but....Daddy could only do some things.

Either that or bro is playing possum about his abilities. He did work as a maintainence man for a short period outside high school.


Excuse me while I call the little sneak..

Joan said...

Sticky tape?!!!!

LOL, Keira....better than duct tape I bet!

Tiffany Chalmers said...

AH, here I am checking in on the handymen/women and I see more congrats. You gals are awesome!

No wrestling involved. I'm a big wuss... :) Make love not war kinda gal... and I'm really big on the making love bit :)

Joan said...

Ah, Tiffany, me love....

We are all about encouragement and mutual "rah rahing" here in the Lair!

Go BB's!!!1