Young and clue­less about home re­pairs

The Washington Times Weekly - - Page Two -

CHICAGO (AP) — The staff at his neigh­bor­hood hard­ware store can spot John Carter from a dis­tance.

He is the slightly be­fud­dled guy who of­ten comes in declar­ing, “I have no idea what I’m do­ing. Can you at least get me through tonight?”

The 26-year-old Chicagoan, who has been slowly re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the con­do­minium he bought last year, is part of a gen­er­a­tion of young home­own­ers who ad­mit they of­ten have no clue how to han­dle home projects.

For them, shop class was op­tional. It also was more com­mon for their par­ents to hire con­trac­tors, leav­ing fewer op­por­tu­ni­ties for them to learn ba­sic re­pair skills.

With low in­ter­est rates al­low­ing more young adults to buy prop­erty in re­cent years, many in­ex­pe­ri­enced home­own­ers are des­per­ate for ad­vice when the fur­nace goes out, the roof leaks or when a home project that seemed doable goes ter­ri­bly wrong.

Con­trac­tors say it’s not un­usual for them to get fran­tic calls from young do-it-your­selfers who get in over their heads.

Some­times, the mis­takes are silly.

Michel Hanet, who owns In­te­rior Door Re­place­ment Co. in Scotts­dale, Ariz., has ar­rived at homes to find doors hung up­side down. He has also dis­cov­ered more than one slid­ing pocket door that won’t open be­cause some­one nailed a pic­ture on the wall and into the door.

“The younger gen­er­a­tion are more likely the ones that are get­ting into trou­ble,” Mr. Hanet said. “The baby boomers have the money to do it, so they just call and say ‘I don’t like my doors; just come and re­place them.’ ”

Kirsten Pel­licer, the 30-year-old vice pres­i­dent of Ace hard­ware stores in Long­mont and Boul­der, Colo., sees many young cus­tomers want­ing to tackle projects on their own, of­ten to save money.

“We rarely get re­quests for ‘Do you know a good handy­man?’ from the younger set,” she said.

For Mr. Carter, the young Chicagoan, it’s all about be­ing brave enough to try — and some­times fail.

With the help of a buddy who has re­hab­bing ex­pe­ri­ence, he has put in hard­wood floors, knocked out a wall and com­pletely re­mod­eled his condo kitchen.

In­creas­ingly, hard­ware pro­fes­sion­als and oth­ers are ad­dress­ing the need for know-how.

Some com­mu­nity col­leges and stores such as Lowe’s and Home De­pot of­fer classes in projects from chang­ing a faucet to til­ing and putting in a dim­mer switch.

“It gives them some ex­po­sure, so if they­want to do it on their own, they have a start­ing point,” said Peter Marx, a re­mod­el­ing con­trac­tor who teaches home re­pair at North Seat­tle Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

Oth­ers find help on­line, in­clud­ing at the Ace site, where Lou Man­fre­dini — the Chicago hard­ware store owner — an­swers ques­tions.

Home-cen­tered television net­works, in­clud­ing HGTV, are also in vogue. HGTV ex­ec­u­tives say shows such as “De­sign on a Dime” and “What’sYour Sign? De­sign” — a show that builds on the un­likely com­bi­na­tion of astrology and home dec­o­rat­ing — have helped boost its re­cent rat­ings among young adults.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Help me: John Carter, 26, of Chicago, nearly flooded his kitchen when he for­got to seal off the re­frig­er­a­tor’s wa­ter line dur­ing in­stal­la­tion.

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