April 14, 2012: Not-so-easy Home Repairs!

Help me out here.  I’m about to embark on a bunch of home repairs and – well, where to start?  Seriously.  Where to start?  I’m the last person who should be doing home repairs.  I mean, I wouldn’t know the difference between a Philips Screw and, well, the other ones.  On the rare visits to Home Depot, I’m about as comfortable as a vampire in a church.  When it comes to being a handyman, I can only be trusted as far as changing the light bulbs – and even then only under very strict supervision.  My ex was in town the other week and I was listing the things that needed to get done around the house: replacing the light fixture in the upstairs bathroom, flushing the water heater, replacing the blinds.  “You’re also going to want to recaulk this,”she said, pointing to the area around the downstairs sink.  “Un… huh….yeah….”I said, perhaps not too convincingly because she immediately added: “I did it.  You can do it.”  But she didn’t sound all that confident.

Sure, I suppose I can caulk with the best of them, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true: I really can’t be trusted with home repairs.  Hell, I probably shouldn’t even be trusted to hie someone to do home repairs on my behalf.  So, okay, I hire an electrician to replace the light fixture and engage the services of a crack water heater flusher to flush the water heater, but who the hell do I hire to replace the chipped plastic runner at the bottom of the front door?  A front door plastic runner specialist?  And what do I do about replacing the blinds?  Do door to door blind salesmen actually exist or are they just the stuff of jokes like alcoholic gorillas, heavyset mothers, and the close-knit friendships between rabbis, priests, and leprechauns?  Do I really have to feign interest while the guy who just fixed my central vac runs me through my motor issues?  Isn’t there someone I can hire to do that?  In other words, someone I can hire to hire someone to do the job?

I’m sure there is and I’m sure I can.  I just don’t know where to find them.  What should I be googling?  Home Fixer Grand Master? Overseer of Home Repairs? Maintenance Elves Inc.?

You could really help me out by suggesting someone.  Or better yet, swinging by and replacing that front door runner.

38 thoughts on “April 14, 2012: Not-so-easy Home Repairs!

  1. You missed your window, Joe – you should have hired Fondy while she was in town.

    An alternative would be to get all your old tv/foodie buddies together – Carl, Ivon, Lawren, Rob, etc. – tell them it’s movie night or some such thing, and when they walk through the door just start handing out the tools. I’m sure there’s got to be at least one in the bunch with enough testosterone to figure out how to flush a water heater. (BTW, Mr. Das does our water heater every year, and he just caulked a friend’s shower, and he has replaced light fixtures and ceiling fans in our house. And I’m an expert blind hanger. So, if you’re willing to pay for the gas to drive to Vancouver, and put us up for a week or two, we’d gladly help out! 🙂 )


  2. Hi Joe

    What you are looking for is a General Contractor. Take the time to find a good one of those and the rest of the repairs take care of themselves. And Mike Holmes, of Holmes on Homes, is probably too busy to help.


  3. Joe, a problem with hiring home repair men is that sometimes they can be shady fellows. You need to find someone with a good reputation, someone who won’t be casing your place while fixing that door threshold (“Ah! There’s a coin jar on the kitchen counter… that’ll pay for my weed for the week!”). Hubby suggested googling some home repair services, but – honestly – I wouldn’t. Too many questionable sorts advertise on Craig’s List and similar services. Even in our little community here scammers are all over the place, so I can only imagine what it’s like in a large city. My suggestion would be to ask some of your in-town friends who they use, and trust. Also, make sure whoever you hire is licensed, and insured.

    As far as hiring someone to hire the repair men – well, that’s what a personal assistant is for. May I suggest hiring Ashleigh for the job? 😉


  4. If you want to send a plane ticket my way, I’d be happy to help, Joe. No? Well, then I’ll make some suggestions instead.

    A good handyman is what you need. They can probably change your light fixture and take care of the caulk and that pesky door runner. I’m not sure what you mean by “door runner” – do you mean the plastic or rubber strip at the bottom of the door or the runner on the floor that is there to protect the floor or carpet?

    For the water heater you should call a plumber or heating service – both will usually tale care of flushing your water heater.

    For the blinds, you need someone who does window treatments. I use Eddie Z’s Blinds and Draperies. That’s really their name. They are very good, but I don’t think they will drive to Vancouver. A nice person from whatever company you decide on will come to your house, show you samples and measure the window. Then a week or two later, someone else will come and install them.

    How do you locate said professionals? I’m glad you asked.

    Have you tried a local phone book or don’t they have them any more in Canada? That’s where I often start.

    As an alternate, you go to Google and type in your location and the service you want: Vancouver window treatments or Vancouver window blinds (that’s so you don’t end up with a duck blind ;)) and then check online reviews.

    How well do you know your neighbors? Ask them who they call when they need a handyman or a plumber. Or check with your former co-workers.

    Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Good luck, Joe!

  5. @das: I would never pick on you! You’re lucky – you have your own personal handyman! And you’re right, Joe should have asked Fondy who she would use.

  6. My brother isn’t very handy either, despite the fact that our dad was *very* handy around the house. You remind me quite a lot of my brother, aside from the lack of handyman skills, since you are the same age, liked the same shows, and read the same books, growing up. Since he’s not that useful when it comes to household repairs, he usually hires someone… sorry, no one that I can recommend, since he lives in T.O.

    My husband used to be devoid of handyman skills, but he’s learned a few things over the years, like caulking (as Fondy said, really not that difficult) as well as painting and putting together furniture. If my husband can do it, so can you.

    BTW, I just read yesterday’s post tonight, and noticed a ring on Akemi’s ring finger (you know the one). Is there something you’re not telling us?? 🙂

  7. You sound like my Jewish cousins, Joe. 🙂 Hire a “handyman”! I keep threatening to rent out Mr. Deni as one, maybe I should…

  8. @ Sparrowhawk – Awww. I was hoping you WERE picking on me. 🙁 It makes me feel loved. 😀


  9. @ DP – Remember, this is the guy who made macarons look like blue doggy poopies. 😉


  10. Joe you sound like me . . . a helpless girl. In that picture above you certainly look like a sexy repairman, so just do it! And it’s not a “Philips Screw”. It’s a Phillips Screwdriver. Call a plumber to service your water heater. My ceiling fan in my bedroom went out this morning. I plan to go to Home Depot or Lowes and get another one and I will see if they will install it too. At Home Depot or Lowes (or any nice department store) you can also get your new blinds. Leave it to the professionals and let them come out to your house and measure, you pick what you want from a book, and they come back later and install.

    One last suggestion. At my work, there are lots of electricians, painters, etc who love to moonlight for extra money. Do you know anybody from your Stargate crew that could use some extra money? I’m sure they would work for you and you could trust them because you know them.

  11. When hiring a General Contractor, be sure to verify their license is valid and up-to-date.

    -Get everything in writing.
    -Only pay for the work when the entire job is done.
    -Google the contractor’s name just to be sure nothing weird comes up.

  12. @Joe:

    As everyone said, find a good handy man. Maybe try Angie’s list:


    Must be a spring-cleaning/home fix-up kind of Saturday 😉 I’ve spent the whole day measuring, cutting, and hanging cement-board for a bathroom remodel. Next up is joint taping, water-proofing, and then tiling.

    BTW, you should consider yourself lucky that you’re “handy”; I was “slave labor” for my dad (a realtor/home-builder) for when he needed help on projects. It was essentially on the job training for being a Handyman. Even though I’m an Electronics Engineer now, I still end up doing ALL the projects around the house (including the current bathroom remodel). By not knowing these things, you’ll have a lot more free time on your hands by paying others to do it for you. 🙂

    The upside to the day is that my smoked picnic butt and smoked chicken turned out great. Nice way to finish a chore-packed Saturday.

  13. In my town we have a service called Handyman Connection which I call when I need something done. I give them a list, they give me a price for the list. very reasonable. You can get books that have pictures and good directions that can explain the basic repair skills and tools you need. Also youtube have all kinds of videos for basic fix it jobs. Home Depot here have a list of repair men that they will recommend for jobs. When we brought our blinds from Home Depot, they gave us 2 names, we called and hired one of them to put the blinds up. They want to do a good job cause I will call Home Deport and report any bad work and no more recommendations. Most window treatment places will have someone that will install. When we had our furnace replaced, the company offers a service that someone will come twice a year and look over the system, and also drain the water heater and fix any leaks or clogs in the plumbing. Of course I jumjped right on that. they came in November for the first visit, and I was very pleased.

    I would ask Rob or Paul. surely they have needed home repairs or home repair services. or maybe ask their wives. Wives have to take care of home repairs when we have husbands who work 20 hours a day with busy jobs.

    Recently I came across a fabulous magazine ” The Family Handyman”. It has great pictures, instructions and tips for home repairs and projects. I have gotten 2 issues and I’m hooked. Have not repaired anything, but I am learning all about it. LOL

  14. I can do many home repairs, and I love going to Home Depot. My suggestion is you ask friends for handyman referrals. They cost a hell of a lot less than getting specialists for each area which rarely needs a specialist. Some things a handyman may not be able to do (here if you aren’t a licenses electrician, you can’t be PAID to do electrical). I grew up learning how to rewire simple appliances, do basic repairs. But I have to be honest, I’d rather hire someone and be done with it, so if it isn’t a simple task, I wait til I have 3 to 5 things and call the handyman to do them all.

  15. In your list of projects in the go, you should consider a new reality show, “Fixing Joe’s House”, which follows you around each week attempting home repairs. Hey, it would have to be better than most of them on TV.

    Seriously, I believe you can do it. Just do some research on the Internet (there are tons of resources including videos). I’ve done everything from plumbing to installing dishwashers to laying down bathroom ceramic floor with in floor heating. Just do some research and then jump in. It will be a learning experience!!

  16. When is Fondy coming back? 😉 If it’s down to a vote, I say “Hire Someone”. Like Das said, get someone with a good reputation. I’m sure that when you ask your friends, they can come up with some names. Think of it as “Stimulating the Economy”.

  17. Greetings from Strawberry Central, wow they are IN in Tennessee.

    ask some of your restaurateurs their choice for fix-its, successful food service industries are notorious for squeezing the most blood out of a turnip. Now-if it’s rewiring/plumbing a room, you would prob do well to go pro, otherwise ask.com was invaluable to me when I worked at a hardware store. Shoot, if you buy some parts at a store (smaller is better-big boxers tend to be wastelands when advice is sought) ask them how to do it, it’s their job!
    Hiring family or friends-yeah right! They are usually most apt to use that phillips screwdriver on thee or raid the cookie jar.
    If it isn’t rocket science, don’t overthink the whole thing. Some grandpa that likes to tinker isn’t a bad thing.

    @Das, LOL, yeah if I showed up at a friend’s for movie night and was handed a hammer…guess where that first strike would be? Geez Louise. hen again you do get what you pay for, if you’re lucky!

  18. sounds like you need a great handyman. Not sure how it is in Canada, but at least here any decent handyman could swap out a light fixture (no electrician needed).

  19. Wow. Deja-vu. I just paid the plumber to unclog my drains from washer machine and kitchen sink, which both backed up into each other. No doubt there was an added cost because it is Sunday morning.

    The smell motivated me to quick action – grab the Yellow Book, flip to Plumber section and start dialing. The company offered a $10.00 off coupon. Am currently running clean cycle for the washer to rid basement of the stink.

    As for you Joe, I’ve often used the free http://www.servicemagic.com/ to find local handymen or repair services. They screen for credentials for you. And you can leave comments and ratings for the businesses for others to gauge their merits. Perhaps there is similar in Canada?

    I manage easy stuff like fixture/bulb changing, replacing sink traps, assembling kitty condos, caulking/painting by myself. But heavy work I leave to the pros.

    Best of luck!

  20. @Joe
    Check with some of your restaurateur pals, successful food service industries are usually superthrifty.
    ask.com is VERY handy, so are store clerks, sometimes you have to hunt hard for one in the big box stores.
    Small projects it sounds like, no need to task a brain surgeon for a small cut.

    pulling the old movie night/home project switch-a-roo, yeah that is soo tricksey…

    general advice – you usually get what you pay for, and friends and family are more apt to use that screwdriver on you than Mr. Greenjeans.


  21. After you pick Akemi up from her daily English learning lessons, drop her off at a home repair do-it-yourself class. Before you know it, she will be building that additional room on your house you’ve always wanted and taking care of all the around the house repairs too. And you can trust her. Problem solved.

  22. You actually can get decent work done through Home Depot or Rona. Might be a bit more expensive, but they do reasonable work, and you know they are reputable companies. Sears also does that kind of thing.

  23. While any “handyman” probably COULD replace a light fixture, they’re not allowed to. Anybody hired to do any electrical work legally must be an electrician. And if a handyman is willing to put himself out on a limb by doing work he is not legally allowed to do then he wouldn’t be a by the book, scrupulous guy.

    We electricians go through a lot of work and schooling to learn our trade, and don’t appreciate people saying “oh anybody can do that.”

  24. All I know is that you need a Phillips head screwdriver for a Phillips screw. 😀 Sassy Dad is another one who could hop a plane and help you out. He was probably born knowing how to fix things. He knew how to fix Das’ reading lamp, long-distance, anyway. He’s also regularly on-call at my brother’s house. 🙂

    Hey, it’s not a book, but this fall Disney’s launching a cable TV show from a dog’s POV. It’s called “Dog With a Blog” and written by “Frasier” producer Michael Kaplan. Really liked his incorporation of Moose, the JRT in that show.



  25. Home Depot and other places have excellent thick hard-cover books. Some have many various trades in one book, have good details and also pictures/illustrations. One of my books (a 1st or 2nd edition):


    Another option is YouTube and search for the type of repair you are interested in doing yourself. Some YouTube posters have made well detailed vids.

    Depot even has their own channel with videos:

  26. Look at the message boards of the local super markets and/or Home Depot for “Handy Man”. Come up with a list of things you need done, you can usally get one for under $100US a day. Also, ask some of the neighbors if they know any handy men, who they use, etc. They handle everything from cleaning out gutters, washing windows, regrouting your bathroom tiles or minor plumbing and electric.

  27. Joe,
    Just left B.C. 3 weeks ago Visiting friends could have done all those minor home repairs piece of cake. All it would have cost was Dinner at “Fat Dragon”.

  28. LOL! Hey Joe, haven’t checked in in a while. I feel your pain on the home repairs and I love that photo! Haha!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.