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Singing the home (non)improvement blues

The following is a public service announcement for fellow non-do-it-yourselfers.

No doubt, countless jobs have been affected during the past year of strangeness — restaurants and the entertainment industry to name a couple. But construction and home improvement-related industries are definitely not among them.

Sales at big-box home-improvement stores are through the roof (more on roofs later). A friend who works at one told me they recently celebrated a record day.

Now is not the time for a sane person to try to hire subcontractors or handypersons to fix issues that amount to small potatoes in their eyes. Yet I persist.

My 121-year-old home sweet home, known as Aunt Sophie, whispered in my ear recently about several neglected areas including the bathroom floor, a roof that wants moss removed, and deck steps need repair. The old gal is also long past due for a new paint job. Despite hours of phone and email time in search of professionals and waiting weeks for their response, nothing is accomplished or even scheduled. This might be funny, except I’m not laughing. Last week I wanted to be an Irish step dancer. This week I wish I were Rosie the Riveter.

Looking back, how naïve I was. Merrily, I drove to No Frills Flooring and met with Carson, who showed me some swell ceramic tiles. I could envision my old, sad, stained (with henna color) vinyl floor replaced with beautiful new tiles. I chose a deep gray with bluish hint to coordinate with the hall tiles. Carson handed me a list of candidates, and I began calling workmen (they were all men).

I should have sensed something sinister when I counted 42 names on the list, though only half laid tile. Some did not return my call. Others I spoke with told me with a modicum of remorse they were too busy. Five have been here. I think it was this year that they came, but no quotes yet, except one who named a figure that I feel should cover the cost of all above-mentioned projects.

After coming to, I wondered if he thought I meant reroofing the whole thing. Tile man wasn’t too busy, but it would be a couple of months. The total did not include a plumber to reset the toilet, which I would relinquish for three days. Three days for a small and only bathroom. This would necessitate renting a portable john. Seriously? An outhouse would bring into clarity the stories Dad told about growing up as a farm kid in Nebraska when they had to hike outside through disorienting blizzards and use Sears catalogs. I dreaded it.

So, what I envisioned (sheer fantasy) and what the job entails are worlds and wallets apart, and that’s IF anyone deigns to do the job. I’m no longer excited. The answer may lie in throw rugs and dark lighting.

Meanwhile, DIY types are “getting the job done,” for sure. My friend Lynn’s handy son has been busy with major fix-ups at his family’s house.

I don’t have the guts to begin calling house painters. I could make a full-time job of tracking down people to do the work, if it only paid. I never should have let these projects pile up because now skilled workers are worth their truck’s weight in 24K gold. Their value blooms with spring posies. Plans are on the rise for sprucing up the pad and entertaining guests again. In case you’ve forgotten, guests are friends you invite to come inside your home and have dinner and good conversation. You will probably hug them.

Meanwhile, it’s been so long since I hired anyone, I’m out of touch where labor costs are concerned. Oh well, who needs retirement funds. Nobody really retires anymore, do they?

Reach freelance writer Peggy Dover at pcdover@hotmail.com.