Before he was a successful comedian, radio/TV personality, and best-selling author, Adam Carolla dug ditches for a living. After graduating high school with a 1.75 GPA and dropping out of community college, he needed work. He was 18 and on his own, which meant sweeping construction sites, doing earthquake rehab, cleaning carpets, teaching boxing, and instructing traffic school. Hollywood was just down the road, but he didn't dream of stardom.
Carolla, who has just released President Me: The America That's in My Head, a pseudo-political treatise about engineering a less annoying society, took almost as long getting his construction career off the ground as rising to national stardom. He began as a day laborer picking up garbage, sweeping scraps, and stacking dry wall for $7-an-hour. His greatest achievement at the time was saving up $1,100 to buy a used Mazda pickup truck that had barstools where the bench seat had been and an 8-ball for a gearshift knob. He agreed to use it on a work site in exchange for a dollar-an-hour raise.
Carolla continued to work as a manual laborer until a gig hosting Loveline made him a household name in Los Angeles and, subsequently, nationwide. He got famous – The Adam Carolla Show set the Guinness world-record as the most-downloaded podcast of all time and his books In 50 Years We'll All Be Chicks and Not Taco Bell Material became best sellers – but he still enjoyed working with his hands. "I'm a good comedian," he says, "but I'm a great carpenter."
Carolla, who now hosts Catch a Contractor on Spike, gave Men's Journal some guidance on what men can do around the house to make sure they don't have to hire a contractor in the first place.
Keep Water Out
The world may be covered in the stuff, but water is the natural enemy of permanent structures, your home included. It is only a matter of time before drips lead to severe and expensive water damage. "Once water is getting in, it's hard to stop it from the inside out," Carolla says. "Normally it's about going outside, excavating, getting water to run away from the basement."
Ineffective downspouts are often the source of water problems. Securing the access cover may be the easy solution, but sometimes the spout is not heading in the right direction. "Go find your downspouts and make sure the downspout turns the corner when it hits the ground and kicks it out six feet," say Carolla. This ensures the water is directed far enough away from the basement. Carolla says that any other water seepage into the house can likely be plugged up with "50 cents worth of caulk."
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