A 15 Year Transition

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I have found myself in the position of gaining an extra 20 or 30 hours per week that I need to fill with something.  Before I started taking courses, using up the majority of my spare time, I played a lot of video games and watched a lot of television.  I still like video games and I would still watch a lot of television, but I don’t have the appetite for these things that I previously did.  For the next few months, I have found something to fill up my time.

My wife and I bought our house over 3 years ago.  When we first moved in, we essentially made the place livable, but not much more.  We hadn’t even hung one picture on the wall until this May, let alone make any significant changes.  Part of the reason that this has happened is that my wife and I are terribly unmotivated homeowners.  Part of the reason we live in a condo townhouse is that we don’t want to cut grass or shovel snow, or look after the exterior portion of our house.  The other reason why we haven’t made any significant improvements is that we don’t really look at our house as a home.

Even though we plan on living here for at least another 5 years – this isn’t our “end” home, the place we are looking forward to living in we reach retirement age.  Neither of us has been particularly attached to this place, which has also inhibited our desire to make it look “pretty” – we see it as our transition home.  I have decided to change my view on our house and get my hands a little dirty over the next few months.

I would like to learn some basic carpentry and handyman skills, and figure there’s no better way to do that then to build some stuff on my own.  Over the next few months, I’ll be building a few (basic) things, like a deck, closet organizers and some large storage shelves.  The benefit of building this stuff myself is that the cost is limited to some relatively inexpensive tools (which I will be able to use in the future) and material costs, while making our house a little more livable at the same time.

Most of my projects will increase storage area in our small(ish) house, which has been lacking an area to store the stuff that we probably don’t need, but can’t seem to throw away.  The added benefit is that I will increase my miniscule handyman skills, which will assist me in future projects.

What kind of projects have you done around your house?  Have they been a mess, or did they turn out well?  Would you do it again, or hire it out?

7 thoughts on “A 15 Year Transition”

  1. Our current residence isn’t our “end” home either. That will be a cottage that I build myself on my island property. I have no problem admitting I don’t possess the skills to build it yet… but I have successfully cobbled together a nice deck, some outbuildings – a great way to develop carpentry skills. Plumbing and wiring will likely require dedicated professionals. 🙂

  2. Projects I’ve done: build a shed, enclose a car port, repair & refinish hardwood floor, move load-bearing interior wall, paint, insulate & finish interior of 1500 sq ft workshop, rewire lights/plugs, reroute plumbing, remove carpeting & lay pergo flooring in 1200 sq ft, replace sinks & faucets in 3 bathrooms, finish 800 sq ft room including flooring, fix leaking bathroom plumbing, replace interior trim, lay brick walkway, pour concrete driveway & steps.

    Things I’ve hired out: replacement of windows, siding, gutters, furnace, & roof, upgrade of electrical service, install of woodstoves, erection of steel building and foundation.

  3. I’ve done too many things to list here. The biggest thing I was involved in was gutting and rebuilding a master bathroom. (It started as replacing the cracked and broken tiles with a tub surround, until we found damage to the floor around the tub).
    My advice? Make sure you have the right tools for the job, and start with small, easier projects as your skills develop.
    Oh, and things are rarely as easy as they look on TV.

  4. A great place to learn skills properly and at a low cost is available through many community groups and continued education offerings. I myself offer a number of part-time six week courses to homowners in basic areas like tile setting, deck/fence construction, drywalling and so on. In fact, many training institutions will do a large project around your home if you are able to allow access for student training in your home. I always encourage homeowners to seriously consider a professional, licensed, insured, and bonded contractor for things such as HVAC, electical, plumbing, concrete work, and any type of structural changes to your home. Not only will they apply for the proper permits to get the job done, which makes sure your home insurance remains valid, but they will also save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. Sure, you could become a certfied plumber or electrician, but for that matter, I don’t attempt my own dentistry for the same reason, these aren’t skills I will use every day. The same holds true for professional contractors, they have the proper tools, education, and certification and do the same job often for many decades. That would be the person I wanted working on my home.

  5. Is the author of this retarded article joking?
    What a lazy ass and in the same piece talks about how
    becoming a master DIY!!!

  6. Dave, this is where it starts. STOP NOW!!! There are two types of people in this world, those who can do, and those who can’t, whatever the reason. And I gotta tell you, the ones that can’t are the lucky ones. Sure, their stuff costs more, and they don’t have fancy custom things, unless their rich. But they have more time, and they don’t get broken like those that can do things.

    If you haven’t guessed, I am a doer. And because I can, I do!

    It started with a tv stand, or a closet organizer, and it grew. At 42, I have now built my own house, hiring out the wiring, well drilling and septic only. Next time I will do the wiring myself. That’s right, because I can, I will. I am in the process of gutting and remodeling a boat, because I can, further developing skills in fiberglass, epoxy, boaty type stuff, and diesel mechanics.

    And; in case you haven’t figured it out, I have no time to do the things I really enjoy, like traveling, reading, bike riding. And; everything aches, back, knees, head….

    This doesn’t include all the favors that my friends always need. Like the roof I just put on a buddies cottage.

    So, my advice, learn a little if you like, but don’t let it get out of hand. I would love to add more, but I have to go and take a shower to get the drywall dust out of my hair. Cheers.

  7. @ John the Contractor: There are a few electrical jobs that I am leaving to a licensed electrician (a new outlet, wiring some lighting) and if I needed any plumbing done I would hire a professional as well. Thank you for your advice provided.

    @ bill needle: …..I talked about gaining some “basic carpentry and handyman skills”. For the past 8 years, the vast majority of my time was spent specializing in accounting. I have no vision of being a “master handyman”, I’m building a deck and some shelves.

    @ Rob : I have a feeling I may learn the hard way. I’m curious by nature and have too much free time now. It would be nice if you could transfer your knowledge/wisdom over to me a-la the Matrix.

    Thanks for the advice though, I will try to keep it to a little, and not let it get out of hand.

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