Live Free or DIY

Ah, Sunday DIY, that great British tradition, and here I am doing it in America. No big deal, right? Wrong!

Back in England my DIY exploits mostly involved fighting with plasterboard, normally installing shelves, curtain rails, or pictures. The idea of a project that didn’t involve a putty knife probably meant Laura and I were doing something in the garden…

Fast-forward a year or three, and here I am playing with 110 volts of interior lighting, fitting switches and wall sockets, and troubleshooting phone jacks. I’ve replaced candelabras, rigged temporary measures to contain roof leaks, stripped and rehung doors, drilled, sanded, and enjoyed myself far to much with a paint roller… Is the change me, or the location?

I think location has a lot to answer for. The very nature of British homes makes them small, hard, and on the whole very precise to work on. 220 volts of electricity means you don’t feel like experimenting too much (I’ve gone flying with my hair on end before, and do not recommend it!). Even if you know what you are doing, which I will be the first to admit I don’t, locations like Homebase and B&Q seem to focus more on the repaint/repair approach made popular by shows such as Changing Rooms.

Here, I have choices like Lowes and Home Depot (occaisionally pronounced “home de poe” to give it airs and graces) which encourage me to not just repaint, but remodel, reshape and rebuild. “You want a door, how about a wall to go with it?” is more en-vogue, as can be seen in shows like Extreme Makeover:Home Edition.

So today, just to kill a few hours and give me a sense of satisfaction, I rewired a couple of light switches, and replaced the telephone outlet in the studio, and rechecked the wiring on the thermostat I’d installed last week. A nice easy day, compared to the kitchen remodeling, and en-suite redesigning which are the ongoing large projects. Back in England I’d have just looked up the contractors phone numbers and stood back and watched, but here in the US of A, well you’ve just got to get the wallboard dust under your nails somehow.


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