Monday, October 5, 2009

Home Maintenance

In the interests of full disclosure, let me start this post by stating the facts: I am not handy. I am completely and utterly not handy. In fact, when I start projects, I often end up making things worse by spawning the need for new projects to really get the job done right. So, I'm not so good at projects around the house and I'm reluctant to start up the ones that I have the skills for because I know the project will become much, much bigger before it's completed.

My lack of handiness is a bit surprising when considering my upbringing. My father is perhaps the handiest person on the planet (well, he was into his mid-70s, when he finally had to break down and hire a handyman). He lived in and maintained for 25 years the house Skip and I now live in, he built the house my parents retired to and he general contracted a Habitat for Humanity house after he retired. I spent many, many weekends as a kid helping him out. He was a hard worker who kept his kids busy as helpers. Unfortunately, I think I missed out on some key learning opportunities when I figured out in my teens that by sleeping in I could avoid getting drafted into helping out on Saturdays.

As a result of all this lack of handiness, our house maintenance has been a bit neglected during the 20 years we've lived here. We've been able to hire folks to handle the big jobs that couldn't be left undone ... new roof, staining the outside, painting the inside. But the smaller stuff has gone largely unaddressed. For instance, the silverware drawer in the kitchen has been screwed up for too many years to mention.

Over the last year, we've developed some troubling problems that are all associated with water ... water getting into the house in a couple of different places. I have been struggling with how best to handle completion of the projects to correct these problems. I had a brainstorm one weekend day whilst visiting my parents. My brother was there too, and he was talking about his project to rebuild the deck at his house. I realized he was capable of the kind of work that needed doing and he's got some time and could use some money as he's out of work right now, having been laid off some months back.

He started in on his first project last week. He's doing a great job. And, he grew up here so he knows this house as well as I do. He's got my dad as a sounding board. They're having a great old time talking masonite and galvanized nails. This is a pretty unique house (you don't find too many redwood houses of modern design in New England), and I'm glad that my brother is able to glean so much info about it from my dad while he's still around and of sound mind. If we'd hired a handyman or carpenter to do this work, I can't believe it would get the same level of care and attention to detail combined with respect for the structure that we get with my brother on the job.

The work my brother is doing is at the front entry. Today, we hired a mason to rebuild the front walk that leads up to the entry. We've taken down a bunch of the yews at the front of the house, in part to make way for my brother's work and in part because they were quite overgrown and in need of replacement. I see other work we can do that builds on these first two projects. Work that will definitely improve the look of the front yard. Suddenly, home maintenance feels like a good thing, instead of the burden it's always felt like before. Yay!


Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,
Your home maintenance sounds good, have fun with it.
Hope to see pics when it is all done.

Anonymous said...

Set aside a few weekend chores for us when we come down.

I know how the maintenance issues have been weighing on you, glad you have found a solution. One less thing to be cranky about.


Patrick@Caregivingly Yours said...

Help like that is so much more than maintenance it's 'company'!!

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

zoomdoggies said...

What a great situation! You've got work that needs to be done, your brother can do the work and needs a job, and you can take advantage of your dad's expertise. How cool is that! Clever you!

Cranky said...

Herrad - some snaps on today's post. Thanks for the idea!

L - don't worry, there's projects enough to share! (Of course, there's the gazebo roof removal.)

Patrick - you're so right about the company aspect. My brother and I don't typically see a lot of each other. It's great to get a chance to visit with him.

Zoom - I wish I could claim to have a great plan here that I put together. It just happened.