Home Owner's Inside Info

     Abe Martin once said, "The fellow that owns his own home is always just coming out of a hardware store."  Although many years have passed since the old Brown County  philosopher made this observation, it is still true.  These days, however,  the homeowner is frequenting more than just the hardware store.  He can be found at gardening stores, lawn mower shops, equipment rental places, paint stores, carpet centers, fence dealers, and chiropractic offices.  Sometimes he just stays home and waits.  Doctors may not make house calls anymore, but plenty of others do: electricians, plumbers, locksmiths, roofers, painters, furnace men, and tree surgeons.

       With mortgage rates at such low rates these days, it seems that more and more people are being introduced to the joys of home ownership.  The new houses are larger than ever, with four and five bedrooms and almost as many baths.  They have solariums and Jacuzzis and huge garages.  It's interesting to note, however,  that most new models come without a workbench.  It is a curious oversight.  No home can be successfully managed without a central work station.  Be it plywood or custom stainless steel,  the construction of a good solid workbench in the corner of the garage is the first challenge facing the new home buyer.   This will become the board of education that will lead to a Ph.D. in Domestic Domain Engineering.

     There is a lot to know about maintaining a house.  There are books, of course.  Reader's Digest has sold millions of do-it-yourself manuals, and Time/Life has a whole series of texts which cover everything from adhesives to heat pumps to zoning regulations.  But there is just so much that is gained from the printed page.  The bulk of a homeowner's expertise must be learned from trial-and-error and the guy next door.  If  the neighbor has been on the home front very long, he has already graduated from the school of hard knocks, which is to stay that he has replaced roof shingles, battled termites, and chased squirrels out of the attic.

     If you have just purchased your first home, you will soon become intimately acquainted with a whole new world of items heretofore only glanced at in newspaper inserts or Sears catalogs.   Screw drivers, pliers, hammers, and wrenches go without mention.  But there are also such marvels as  routers, sanders, grinders, chisels, files, clamps, and drills of all sizes.  Those are enough to get you started.    

     Think one nail is pretty much like another?  After a few jobs around the house, you'll discover the finishing nail, the casing nail, the spiral nail, the duplex head nail, the annular ring nail, and the deluxe square-shank concrete nail.   Actually,  nails come under the broad category of "fasteners."  Here you'll find screws in the flathead, roundhead, dome head, and the well-known Phillips variety.  You'll also discover cup hooks, screw hooks, eye and ring hooks, bolts, washers, and nuts.  Nuts are a species all their own.  Common breeds include hex, jam, square, wing, castle, lock, cap, and knurled.  

     To successfully serve as your own landlord, you should take a deep interest in things you never even thought of before, much less cared about.    You must become an authority on hinges, window screens, ceramic tile, decks, insulation, carpets, concrete, drainage, and doorbells.  

     This time of year adds a whole new dimension to home ownership.  It is commonly called "yard work."  Necessary tools include lawn mowers, weed eaters, edgers, mulchers, rakes, shovels, hoes, hedge trimmers, loppers, snippers, and stacks of plastic bags.   

     To maintain your citizenship in the neighborhood, you are required keep your yard reasonably green and adequately manicured.  Fertilizer, mulch, seed, and water should  be mixed in just the right amount and applied at precisely the correct time.  Just when the turf is looking good, an infestation of grubs will probably make a mess of your masterpiece.  If they don't do it, a mole will.  Moles will can plow your yard into oblivion.  And don't bother to read the reference books about how to get rid of moles.  Nobody knows.  

     It is true that there's no place like home to keep a person busy.   From the crack in the sidewalk out front to the hole in the fence out back and the squeaky floors in between, there's always something to do.  If the faucets are not leaking and the dandelions are under control, the chances are that the gutters need cleaning or there's a crack in the bedroom wall.  As Edgar Guest said, "It takes a heap of livin' in a house to make it home."  He forgot to mention a caulk gun, paint roller, crosscut saw, pipe wrench, and lots of duct tape.