Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
My dad told me it’s best to do your home maintenance yourself because then you can appreciate your investment of time and energy over and over again, delighting in your product.
It’s what we believe when we can’t hire somebody.
My husband and I have painted our wooden wrap-around deck—or at least the railings—more than a dozen times over the years. The effort is brutal—even with a professional level sprayer which takes as long for an amateur to prep and clean up as to spray the deck. (The nozzle invariably clogs at the worst possible time.) I told myself we were preserving our wood. It didn’t work. Our railings warped until the screws ensuring they stayed secure pulled apart and let the spindles sway in the wind. When you live rurally, you have little choice of which workers you can hire…if any. Skilled, dedicated crafts people go where the most lucrative jobs are. The gentleman we hired to replace the railings used inferior kiln-dried pine—theoretically to protect us from exorbitant expense. The railings that looked like they were tipsy from the get-go didn’t last intact very long. My husband and I gave up and bought manufactured wood for our third set of deck steps after redwood 2 X 12’s failed. Mountain weather and UVs eat organic materials.
Hardware companies in the cities aren’t interested in sending anyone out very far for a simple job. It’s not cost-effective. “Free delivery” or “discount installation” are merely empty catch phrases past 50 miles. The conversation generally goes like this: “You live where?…No, we don’t service that area.” When we lived outside Denver, we were in the golden circle where we could find help because there was competition. Not here. Small remote towns get no respect. A family member ordered a huge, expensive refrigerator to be delivered from a nationally renowned box store for a high cost, and it was dropped off at the end of her driveway.
Perhaps if we were still gainfully employed, my husband and I would invest in manufactured decking as a replacement or maybe an innovative design that could use concrete or cables. We’re retired. At this point, a home loan looks like a stupid risk that won’t have time to pay off. And so we go outside and paint…and paint…and paint. When we finally decide to relinquish our beautiful pastoral setting, we’ll be forced to replace all sorts of parts in our house that we’ve patched.
My dad was right, of course. When my husband and I complete a job, we feel young and powerful and proud and so tired we never want to do manual labor again. But the house looks great, and we didn’t resort to using guilt to get our kids to take time off from their busy lives to drive here to back us up. And we haven’t leaned on friends. We have a neighbor who only cut back on his labors after he broke into his nineties. He’s worked hard and long with broken bones and torn ligaments and disease and insists he’s still here because he keeps busy. He’s probably right. And so my husband and I keep going even though we will never be known for our home repair skills. More nails. More paint. More fuel for the tractor and chain saw. It beats staring at a nursing home wall, I suppose.