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Norb’s Corner: Skilled Trades are Days Gone By

If you ask me: The Doors.

No I don’t mean the musical group that arrived on the scene in 1967, with the late Jim Morrison (Singer), Ray Manzarek (Keyboardist), John Densmore (Drummer), and Robby Krieger (Guitarist).

I’m talking about my front and back doors. My house was built in 1919 and now a century later they swell and warp according to the weather. Kind of like my ankles. Due to the doors’ age, they don’t latch and when they do it takes a man and a small boy to open them. I fear that someday I am going to rip the doorknob right off the door.

In the winter, they leak so badly that the breeze coming in will blow out a candle. They do kinda sorta latch but a strong gust will blow the back door open allowing the cold winter air to enter our home. This is a problem, particularly after we have gone to bed.

After many years I finally decided to deal with this problem. I decided to replace both doors with a non-warping, non-swelling fiberglass door and new self-storing storm doors. Due to the age of the house, the fact that our doors aren’t a standard height and that they have custom made door frames, I also needed some mill work done to match the look of all the rest of the door frames in the house.

We had a handyman that was working on this problem and when he left he said he would be back “next week”. Three months later he had never called or showed up so I called a place that I saw advertised on TV and a salesman came right down. He brought catalogs and took dimensions. He ran the numbers and came up with a price of ten thousand dollars. Ten thousand dollars! I want to replace doors on my house, not on a bank vault.

I then called the contractor that recently added a first floor master suite to our house and he came over. He did an excellent job on this and in fact everyone we have shown it to said it looks like it has been there forever. We were extremely pleased with what he had done. We discussed my project, he took measurements and said he would get back to us shortly. A few weeks later, after I had sent him a few texts, he sent me a price. Considerably lower than 10K. Again a few weeks passed. I sent him a few more texts and he finally responded with a few links for doors available at a local big box building supply store. Then he responded saying he could lower the price. A few more texts later and he finally sent me a text saying he would have to see if this was a stock item or if “Big Box” had to order them. Since then he seems to have disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Tired of waiting, I called several other people that were listed on Angie’s list, in the phone book or on the internet. None of them responded.

I have noticed a problem with getting a contractor to come out to my home on more than one occasion. The first incident that comes to mind was when I wanted to have a new roof put on my front porch. I called several roofing contractors and left a message what I wanted. Only a couple of them phoned me back and only one actually came to my house to look at the job. I guess it was just too small of a job to be bothered with.

The next thing that needed repair was my back porch steps. Again, I called several people and only one came over. He did send one of his workers over to “repair” the steps but every step was at a different height from the others. I don’t think he knew what a level was for either. They were like steps in a fun house. Four steps and four different height risers. I called the contractor and he sent the same guy back again. He “rebuilt” my steps, grumbling and throwing things the whole time. This time the steps were level because he installed shims to solve that problem. The first time I used the steps, I almost killed myself. The railing wasn’t parallel to the steps and the riser at the top step was 3 ½” while at the bottom step it was 9”. One more call to the contractor and this time he came out himself. He got the steps pretty good but it still looks like a botch job. Not the type of job I would have done.

According to reliable sources, young people believe there is a better future working with computers than working with their hands.

According to reliable sources, young people believe there is a better future working with computers than working with their hands. You can have a promising career in skilled trades depending on your skills and location. On-site labor is one thing that cannot be outsourced.

Young people need to know that, historically, there is a high demand and a great future potential including the opportunity to own and operate your own business that comes with a career in the skilled trades. I made pretty good money when I was younger working on other people’s houses and now that I need help, I can’t find it.

Norb is a writer from Lockport. He can be reached at

Lead image: ronnieb

Written by Norbert Rug

Norbert Rug

Norb is an independent journalist and blogger from Lockport. His work has been published in over 50 periodicals and websites including the Buffalo News, Lockport Union Sun and Journal, Niagara Falls Gazette, the East Niagara Post, The Lockport Star, The North Tonawanda Extra, the Niagara Reporter, and Artvoice. His work has been published on Press Reader, Good Cookery, the National association for Home Care and Hospice, and Konitono. , in over 7 countries and has been translated in at least 5 languages.

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