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Last updated: Sun. Dec. 08, 2013 - 01:26 am EDT

Fixers of failed fixes

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Ah, home ownership. There’s nothing like it.

It’s the American dream; the pursuit of happiness.

It’s you, your family, and the front door that doesn’t latch, no matter how hard you tug at it, as though you’re taking a resistant mule out for a stroll in the rain.

Or maybe it’s the kitchen faucet that steadily, rhythmically, relentlessly goes drip-drip-drip in the midst of a night’s slumber.

Or it could be the sagging boards in the center of the quaint front porch that, sure as there are the sun and taxes and political advertising, are going to cave when your portly uncle Harold makes his next dreaded visit.

Yes, as the needlepoint sign over the hearth says, “There’s no place like home.” But a subtext should also be the popular phrase from Saturday Night Live’s Rosanne Roseannadanna, “It’s always something.”

Be it one story or three, cottage or castle, there is the matter of keeping up with a house’s upkeep.

The chore to tighten, to smooth, to fix, to nail, to replace, repair and even remodel the residence has largely been left to the man of the house. Traditional? Yes. Gender stereotype? Absolutely.

But not all men and women possess a carpenter’s acumen, or a plumber’s patience, or an electrician’s guile.

However, what many have is the pride and self-assurance that they can fix any problem within the domain.

“We try to talk them through troubleshooting before I go there, but people think they’re weekend warriors and they really think they can do anything,” says Scott Chrisman, a plumber for 16 years who owns Great Scot Plumbing Co.

“Monday is always that day you dread. I’d probably say you get 10 calls on a Monday from people who said they messed up their pipes or whatever that they tried to fix.”

If Chrisman’s specialty is plumbing installation and repair, then Joe Pierce of Pierce Handyman Service is a Joe of all trades. To emphasize his skills, he recites his versatility like a grocery list: “Drywall repair, paint, siding, windows, doors, light plumbing, finished carpentry, countertops, cabinet work, we build decks, porches, sheds.”

And Pierce, like Chrisman, often completes jobs that others have erroneously begun.

“People start a project and they don’t know what they’re doing, and they get into a jam,” Pierce says. “Then they Google up a handyman service, and mine pops up.”

It’s not always the homeowner whose work needs revamping, says Nathan Eicher of E&E Quality Construction. He says one- or two-man operations are known to promise results at a cheap price, but they leave with poor results and an unsatisfied customer.

“I guess they didn’t know who they hired, or they had another crew they had in there that they got off of Craigslist that didn’t know what they were doing,” Eicher says.

Eicher and his workers were called upon to fix a siding project.

“Some of the siding was blown off,” he says. “It wasn’t nailed very good. Some of the siding was barely overlapped. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be. When the wind blows, it comes and goes, and you could see plywood behind it.”

Eicher says not everyone wants to attempt to side or roof a house. And while Chrisman has seen do-it-yourself plumbing attempts that need correcting, it’s Pierce who most often rides in like the cavalry to save the day.

“When you go meet the people, and you’re talking to the wife or the husband, it’s, ‘I can do this; I can do that,’ ” Pierce says. “You’re thinking, ‘If he can do it, why is she calling us?’ Or vice-versa. He’s the one who has said his wife’s tried, and she doesn’t have a clue. Now we’re in worse debt than we started.

“If somebody calls me and they have a project they want to do, and when I go meet with them and they explain to me what they want to do and can’t afford to have it done, I’ll take the time to explain how to do it and do it right. I kinda consult people, as well.”

Good idea, Chrisman says.

“YouTube is a bad thing for some people,” he says. “You watch it on YouTube, and it’s easy to do anything on YouTube. That’s because a professional is doing it. It doesn’t always work out the way YouTube shows it.”

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