The Joys of Home Ownership, (or How I Discovered I’m Not Joe Handyman), Pt. 1

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Photo credit: Eniko Polgar || License: CCO

Photo credit: Eniko Polgar || License: CCO

There’s nothing like owning your own home.

That’s what everybody told me, at least.

And I have to admit, when Laurel and I bought our first little house on Pecan St., I thought it was perfect.

Older, 1950s-era pier-and-beam. Hardwood floors. Quiet little neighborhood. Pecan tree in the back yard. Burgundy shutters.

I suppose you might even have called it a young couple’s dream house.

But when we moved from our apartment across town into our dream house, I forgot about one thing. When anything broke at our apartment, we had this special word that solved every (or most) problems: maintenance. All we had to do was call the office and someone would be dispatched to fix what wasn’t working. It was like magic.

It wasn’t particularly long after we moved into our dream home that I discovered the brutal reality. Our house didn’t come with a maintenance man. If something broke, I had to fix it (or pay somebody else to do it).  And, given that our house at that time was around 40 years old, the chances were pretty good that I was eventually going to have to fix something.

But I never imagined it would happen so soon.

Or so dramatically.

It was our first winter in the house. We spent Christmas with my parents down in Baytown, Texas, and when we pulled into our driveway I noticed a trickle of water running from the house, down the driveway, and into the street.

That’s interesting, I thought. Doesn’t look like it rained while we were gone.

We unloaded our suitcases and carried them into the house.

When we stepped inside the door, it felt like we’d entered a steam bath. It was not only humid, it was hot.

Laurel and I looked at each other. It was one of those moments in a marriage where words are not necessary.

We walked around the house and couldn’t find any water leaks. And we almost breathed a sigh of relief–until we looked down.

“Why are the floorboards warped?”

Have you ever felt an unnamed dread hang over you like a cloud of doom?

Yeah. That’s how I felt.

Because in that moment I had a good idea of where that little trickle in our driveway was coming from. Our house had a pier and beam foundation, but the outside perimeter was solid concrete. And all of our water pipes ran underneath the floorboards. And if there was a leak, there was nowhere for the water to go.

I went to one of the two scuttle holes that gave us access to the area under the floor. When I lifted the hatch I discovered that we now had a two-foot-deep, swimming pool underneath our house.

I checked the scuttle hole in our bedroom closet, which was near the water heater.

You could see the steam rising up from the floor.

We not only had a two-foot-deep swimming pool under our house.

We had a two-foot-deep heated swimming pool under our house.

But that’s okay. I was a homeowner now, and I would show the world that I was up to the task. I was going to meet this challenge.

One problem.

I am not remotely handy.

Problem is, I didn’t know that yet.

As a matter of fact, I considered myself to be Joe Handyman.

TO BE CONTINUED… (on Wednesday)





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