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Essays on Issues, Ideas and Reflections on the Times. Published now and
then. Opinions pro or con are welcome.

The "Do It Yourself" Impulse

North Miami Beach, FL The "Do It Yourself" Impulse
A.H. Schectman

As President of my Condominium I constantly have problems referred to me either by snitches or by an owner who appears at my door with a complaint that requires my immediate dropping anything that I am doing to deal with an unanticipated problem. One of the most dangerous is the Owner of an apartment who appeared at my door with a bunch of paraphernalia and a demand that I produce a key to open the locks on the roof of our building so he could go up there and fix a problem with his air-conditioning.  He also produced a threat.  He had tried to get our “Handyman” to open the roof.  This good man refused because he wanted permission granted by me to open the roof. The Owner asked me to reprimand the Handyman for not immediately acquiescing to his demand for the key to the roof so he could go about fixing the problem himself.

I protested I knew nothing about why the man refused to give up a key.  I had no problem with finding my key and going with the Owner to the access to the roof and give him the key to open the twin locks on the opening.  It turns out that my key did not work with those locks and the Owner produced a huge cutter and proposed to cut off the locks so he could go about repairing his unit on the roof.  He stated that if I did not do this he was prepared to take a hotel room for the night and give the bill to our Association.

This is a true statement of his approaching me with a problem.  He wanted me to come to hold the ladder (his wife was afraid to do so while he was cutting off the locks).  I told him that I could not climb the ladder, was against his going it alone. He does not have insurance for work of this kind nor does he have a Miami/Dade permit to do such work.  It turned out that I was to hold the ladder and he was able to cut off the locks.  The price of new locks would be less than the cost of a night at a hotel but my going along with this unilateral “do it yourself” activity had more to do with his being a nasty person who bulls ahead with whatever his complaint is and goes it alone not conferring with the Board of Directors as does most other complainants. He is, however, much more open about his problems than those owners who do it themselves in the dark of night and I know nothing about it until a problem of leaks in the roof or finding some debris up there that they did not bother to clean up after they completed their unlicensed and un permitted work.

I have always wanted to do things by myself.  I am of that generation of post World War II home owners who specialized in “doing it yourself” and I always got the greatest satisfaction of being able to do jobs that you ordinarily had to hire some specialist to do them for you.  This is a little different – I live in this 52 Unit Condominium and I did not want this Owner falling off the ladder or the roof.




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