Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leaky Pipes & Bare Walls

When I first moved to California four years ago, there were quite a few things that took me by surprise when it comes to housing and the way people live. I found it really strange that most houses didn't have basements and even fewer have a backyard. Most houses have bars or grates on the windows and they all have steel doors, even in the safer neighborhoods. I know I grew up in the midwest and this is coming from a girl who lived in an unlocked house with a huge backyard and a creepy basement, but I still don't understand a lot of the Californian-way.

But the one thing that is absolutely unbelievable to me is the idea of gardeners and handymen. My mother-in-law pays a gardener to basically do nothing at all. We don't really have a lawn and I take care of the flowers, etc., yet there is still a check under the doormat each month. Whenever a problem arises or she wants something done in the house, she goes to call her handyman even though she has two adult sons. The handyman has painted a few walls, changed the doorknobs, and replaced the bathroom faucets. Sadly, none of it was done very well.

I watched my parents do all the work that had to be done on their house themselves. Everyone I knew had a family member or a friend who was handy and could fix things. You didn't pay someone to do a job when you are completely capable of doing it yourself. $100 to change a doorknob! I don't think so! $200 to paint three small walls in the bathroom! No way!

So when the kitchen sink pipes began to leak, I cringed at the idea of paying someone to replace them. I checked out a few sites on the internet, browsed a plumbing do-it-yourself book, and asked the guys in the plumbing department if I was buying the right materials. A few hours later, it was done and I only spent $30. Plus there is the satisfaction of knowing I did the work and if there is a problem in the future, I could do it again.

To date I have finished a lot of odd jobs around the house. I am extremely proud of the ceiling fan I installed last weekend. ( I will say that I consulted someone in our electrical department because the wiring was crazy old and I was afraid to get shocked.) My mother-in-law is in awe each time I tell her about what I did, even though she usually mentions that we should have called the handyman to do it.

Maybe people just don't want to spend the time to fix the pipes, etc., but if my husband and I did that every single time, we would have working pipes and no money to pay the water bill.

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