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Doing your own home repairs and renovations? Power to you

I walk in the shadow of greatness. I grovel in humiliation. I am in awe of a man and his wife with the courage of a thousand lions. I have met my new heroes and know I am unworthy of even a cruel sneer in return.

Perhaps you may have read a piece a few days ago by my colleague, St. Petersburg Times reporter David DeCamp, who detailed how he and his wife, Jennifer, undertook home repairs and renovations by doing much of the work by themselves.

The DeCamps removed kitchen cabinets, painted, installed a kitchen back- splash, replaced a dishwasher and for the piece de resistance even updated and changed electrical switches.

Did they save money by doing many of their home improvements? You betcha. On the other hand, they also knew what they were doing, whereas I have followed a lifetime mantra that argues any job worth doing right, is worth hiring someone else to do for me.

There is a strange and mystical place not far from my house. It is a curious building, filled with bizarre and weird things, which I believe in your world are called "tools." This odd land is known as Home Depot. Why people go there and what they do with these crazy implements once they leave is beyond me.

It's not that I haven't tried the odd home improvement project. But that was long ago and far away. As that great and wise philosopher Dirty Harry once opined, a man has got to know his limitations.

From literal painful experience, what I have learned is that a hammer, or a saw, or pliers in my hands are really weapons of mass delusion. A ladder for me is nothing more than a staircase to the emergency room.

Or put another way, there are only two tools I can claim any proficiency in handling: a checkbook and a corkscrew.

Many years ago when I first moved to Chicago, I tried to remodel an attic into an office. I had visions of Henry Higgins' library in My Fair Lady. What I wound up with was something more closely resembling Roman ruins made of drywall.

It is with no small amount of confidence that I can claim every attempt at repair, renovation and/or remodeling I have ever undertaken has resulted in either complete disaster, stitches, heavy drinking and eventually the call to the handyman I should have made in the first place.

But for sheer unrestrained confidence, I was astonished that the DeCamps had successfully changed electrical switches without turning the domicile into something out of The Green Mile.

When I even think about changing a lightbulb, the first thought that comes to my mind is: last rites. I would rather perform an appendectomy on myself with a spatula before tackling any task involving wires.

I break out in a cold sweat at the thought of even touching a switch on the breaker box. This may seem unreasonable to you. But when you have spent a lifetime as the poster child for Murphy's Law, you would get a little nervous, too, merely turning on the garbage disposal.

A few months back, our longtime handyman, a wonderful chap who always did fabulous work at a fair price and didn't laugh at me for being unable to hang a picture, retired.

I don't think Robert Falcon Scott felt this alone freezing to death at the South Pole. Now when something goes wrong, I take no shame in asking myself, what would the DeCamps do?

But I snap out of it and look for the corkscrew instead.

Doing your own home repairs and renovations? Power to you 12/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 10, 2011 3:31am]

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