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Home Maintenance and Aging - What happens when I can't be the Handyman?
Old 02-02-2021, 12:38 PM   #1
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Home Maintenance and Aging - What happens when I can't be the Handyman?

We're retired, in our early 60s, in a recently purchased suburban single family home where I'm doing the maintenance, inside and outside. This is just as I have done for the past 30+ years, on several different houses.

I have the strong feeling that, when I can no longer do it myself, I'd prefer to move to a rental or condo where I don't have to. I have hired out yard work in the past when it has interfered with travel (work or personal), and would do it again. That would be an exception I'm comfortable with.

But I think I'd be very frustrated by having to hire out most repair work, rather than the small fraction that I can't do (HVAC, major plumbing and electrical). This is probably colored by an HVAC job that went on for about a year, and ended with us hiring another contractor to straighten up after the first. Having to hire someone for everything from painting to window screens just seems like asking for frustration.

So it feels like living here has a fairly clear end date, probably not past 75. But we have several neighbors who are roughly that age, and are not doing their own work. They seem to manage fine.

Am I overreacting? How have others managed this transition from DIY to depending on others?
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:56 PM   #2
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I feel like it could go bad either way.

I've heard people talk about wanting to move to a townhouse or condo so they wouldn't have to do yard work, while ignoring that their monthly dues will cost way more than hiring a lawn service. I guess they just can't stomach paying for something they could do themselves, and by moving they can't take that choice out of their hands.

Seems likewise for other maintenance and repair work. I'd think that if you are knowledgeable about most of these things, you could monitor the work and have a good idea if they're doing it right, or are charging you fairly. But it can be a pain to find a good repair person, and then you have to wait at home for them to come. But if you're in a condo or renting, what can you do if they just won't come? As the homeowner you can call someone else, but as a renter you are at the mercy of the building superintendent.

I'm just a little bit younger than you, and this kind of thought crosses my mind now and then. I don't think hiring out this kind of work will be the kicker. It's more likely that something health related makes it better for me to move to a one level place, and closer to family or medical services. Or maybe I can no longer drive, or can't prepare meals for myself, which might make living in a senior living community a much better option.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:59 PM   #3
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I will happily pay for someone else to do the job. Since we have lived here, we have upgraded a number of items:
Added Plantation Shutters
Replaced carpet with hardwood floors
Replace pine 2X6 decking with Trex
Replaced Microwave, dishwasher, oven with upgraded appliances
Replaced tile countertops with granite including new sink.
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:02 PM   #4
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We were in the same boat. Always did a lot of work around the house. Renovated three homes.

The last, prior to retirement was very large and needed a reno. $200K could disappear into a home that we no longer wanted.

Downsized to a one level duplex in a small HOA area. No gardening, no snow removal. I do not intend on doing anything except perhaps paint a room. Great for post retirement travel....lock and leave.

I have been slowly giving away all those tools to others. Things like electric ceramic tile saws, hedge clippers. You know the stuff. I no longer need it, simple do not want to know. We will hire someone as needed.
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:11 PM   #5
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I feel like it could go bad either way.

I've heard people talk about wanting to move to a townhouse or condo so they wouldn't have to do yard work, while ignoring that their monthly dues will cost way more than hiring a lawn service. I guess they just can't stomach paying for something they could do themselves, and by moving they can't take that choice out of their hands.

Seems likewise for other maintenance and repair work. I'd think that if you are knowledgeable about most of these things, you could monitor the work and have a good idea if they're doing it right, or are charging you fairly. But it can be a pain to find a good repair person, and then you have to wait at home for them to come. But if you're in a condo or renting, what can you do if they just won't come? As the homeowner you can call someone else, but as a renter you are at the mercy of the building superintendent.

I'm just a little bit younger than you, and this kind of thought crosses my mind now and then. I don't think hiring out this kind of work will be the kicker. It's more likely that something health related makes it better for me to move to a one level place, and closer to family or medical services. Or maybe I can no longer drive, or can't prepare meals for myself, which might make living in a senior living community a much better option.
HOA dues here cover all outside maintenance, not just mowing the grass.

For example it's 25+ feet from the gutter to the ground on the rear of my townhome.

Would you really want to get up on a ladder 2x/year to clean them out,
or up on the roof to fix a leak, or DIY replace the concrete sidewalk?

I'm happy to work on the inside of my home, but would never do the above all of which have been done for my unit.

Plus amenities like our pool.
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:28 PM   #6
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HOA dues here cover all outside maintenance, not just mowing the grass.
Yes, I understand that. It's valid to point out the other maintenance but what I never hear is a cost comparison to hiring all of that stuff out for your own house vs. paying for it thru HOA dues, if the main issue is to avoid doing that maintenance yourself.

If a community has amenities you want that's a different factor. But if I don't like going to pools, the cost to maintain one with HOA dues is an extra I'd rather not be paying.
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Old 02-02-2021, 01:51 PM   #7
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We're retired, in our early 60s, in a recently purchased suburban single family home where I'm doing the maintenance, inside and outside. This is just as I have done for the past 30+ years, on several different houses.

I have the strong feeling that, when I can no longer do it myself, I'd prefer to move to a rental or condo where I don't have to. I have hired out yard work in the past when it has interfered with travel (work or personal), and would do it again. That would be an exception I'm comfortable with.

But I think I'd be very frustrated by having to hire out most repair work, rather than the small fraction that I can't do (HVAC, major plumbing and electrical). This is probably colored by an HVAC job that went on for about a year, and ended with us hiring another contractor to straighten up after the first. Having to hire someone for everything from painting to window screens just seems like asking for frustration.

So it feels like living here has a fairly clear end date, probably not past 75. But we have several neighbors who are roughly that age, and are not doing their own work. They seem to manage fine.

Am I overreacting? How have others managed this transition from DIY to depending on others?
I'm 61 and in the same mindset. I designed and built our house and do just about everything on it still.
I hate to think of the point that someday I won't be able to. We do not want to move and I only hope to go out of here feet first horizontally.
I don't like the work most contractor do even if you can get them to show up.
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Old 02-02-2021, 02:12 PM   #8
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Having to hire someone for everything from painting to window screens just seems like asking for frustration.

So it feels like living here has a fairly clear end date, probably not past 75. But we have several neighbors who are roughly that age, and are not doing their own work. They seem to manage fine.

Am I overreacting? How have others managed this transition from DIY to depending on others?
Well, as a FIREd guy in my early 50s who isn't nearly as capable at handyman work as you, I think you're unnecessarily worried about this. Everyone, to some degree, has to rely on others to do maintenance/repair work, and everyone will eventually rely more and more on others for this as they age. My dad (now in his mid-80s) was extremely handy and could do virtually ANY maintenance, repair, and home improvement work until several years ago. Now he can't do that kind of stuff anymore, so he relies on me and hired contractors for virtually everything. Yet he still lives in the same single-family house and still owns and maintains a small vacation home.

Personally, I'm fine with paying other people to do maintenance/repair/upgrade work that I'm not capable of handling around my house. It's part of my FIRE budget. We can't all be skilled DIY'ers, so doing what we canóat whatever ageóand hiring out the rest is a standard part of life. Just make sure you anticipate it and budget for it... and try not to overthink it.
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Old 02-02-2021, 02:42 PM   #9
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I was the kind who always did all my own maintenance and repair work, partly because I enjoyed it and partly because I felt it was wasteful to hire someone to do what I was capable of.

But we lived in a home that sat in over two acres of woods, and the cleanup in spring and fall was a bear. We also had a long driveway, about a fifth of a mile, and during heavy snow periods it was difficult at times. As I got into my late 60s, I decided I had just had enough.

Since retiring, travel had become an important part of our lives, and moving into a condo that we could just lock and leave any time was a serious draw. So when I happened to see a place that met all our criteria I snapped it up. We've been here nearly six years now and we love it.

Yes, the monthly HOA fee is probably about twice what I spent on all the maintenance at the house, but that's OK with us. It's not about the money; it's about the convenience.
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Old 02-02-2021, 02:57 PM   #10
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Having just reached age 75, and living in our dream home on acreage, I am now facing some of the same questions. My wife was the gardener and lived for gardening and keeping up the landscaping, but now that she is gone, this place is at times starting to feel overwhelming. It is our dream home, designed by us and built to our specs, and I really like the neighborhood and environs. But I am seriously thinking of downsizing.

As to ongoing maintenance, I am thinking of something closer in to town with small yard, and minimal yard work, Maybe a back yard taken up by patio, low maintenance shrubs, rather than lawn and annual flower beds needing weeding. And something that has been either recently rehabbed updated inside, or something close to new with any maintenance way down the road.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:55 PM   #11
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That sounds like a good idea. Before DW and I were married, we each lived in 1800 sq ft two story houses.
We bought a 1400 sq ft manufactured home in a +55 MHP, and are very happy with the decision. Minimal outside work except for a small amount of gardening, and drip irrigation makes life easy.
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Old 02-02-2021, 04:25 PM   #12
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At age 54, I bought my first house, on a 0.7-acre lot. I had previously lived in condos all my adult life. Where we live, there's no green waste pickup, and the thought of maintaining 20+ palm and other trees, a yard, a pool, and a house, were overwhelming. I decided to hire a yard service, and they trim the trees, mow the lawn, do weed control, etc. I also hired a pool service, and while I could easily maintain the pool, I'm finding that I'm not wanting to, in my imminent early retirement. I still do almost everything else, from electrical to painting, to plumbing, to installations.

I plan to hire out some improvements including the installation of a walk-in, curbless shower, and some landscaping. Future really big tasks that will also have to be hired out include re-roofing, and refinishing a fiberglass pool. I'm hoping that once we get the place the way we like it (prior to age 60), future maintenance will be minimal for the next decade or so.
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Old 02-02-2021, 04:26 PM   #13
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This is a good topic and kind of fits with another topic on stairs we recently discussed. I'm kind of shy about putting in my $0.02 for fear of being insulted and called drunk again.

But here goes the sober thoughts... DW and I need to plan for this. I absolutely love doing my own work, but I see myself being limited as the years go by. I'm currently thinking we should shoot for a big change at 75 (about 15 years from now), at which time we'll move. This would also cover the issue with stairs. Could something happen before that? Sure. It could happen tomorrow, but I can't plan for everything.

So, rough plan:
- Now: start de-cluttering. Don't fill up the house any more. Actually, start emptying it.
- Next 3 years: consider any remodeling on the home that I can participate in, and we can enjoy for at least a decade
- Next 5 to 7 years: do my own maintenance as usual
- 7 to 15 years out: hire-out everything
- Beyond 15 years: move to stair-less place or CCRC
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Old 02-02-2021, 05:31 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by RunningBum

I've heard people talk about wanting to move to a townhouse or condo so they wouldn't have to do yard work, while ignoring that their monthly dues will cost way more than hiring a lawn service. I guess they just can't stomach paying for something they could do themselves, and by moving they can't take that choice out of their hands.

Seems likewise for other maintenance and repair work. I'd think that if you are knowledgeable about most of these things, you could monitor the work and have a good idea if they're doing it right, or are charging you fairly. But it can be a pain to find a good repair person, and then you have to wait at home for them to come. But if you're in a condo or renting, what can you do if they just won't come? As the homeowner you can call someone else, but as a renter you are at the mercy of the building superintendent.
.

The dues pay for far more than lawn service. My dues include fire insurance on the structure, earthquake insurance, water, trash pickup, painting, gutter cleaning , driveway repairs, and recently some additional landscape work to prevent flooding.

Yes, you can do to yourself for less in oneís own house. I recently patched a ceiling that was damaged by a water leak. But, I needed a plumber to fix the leak. It was in a rather tight place. I would have been cussing up a storm for hours trying to fix it. The pro took 45 minutes and it hasnít leaked since.
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Old 02-02-2021, 06:14 PM   #15
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But we lived in a home that sat in over two acres of woods, and the cleanup in spring and fall was a bear. We also had a long driveway, about a fifth of a mile, and during heavy snow periods it was difficult at times. As I got into my late 60s, I decided I had just had enough.

Since retiring, travel had become an important part of our lives, and moving into a condo that we could just lock and leave any time was a serious draw.
Our current house is about as good as it gets, a flat 1/3 acre, single-story, not too many trees. I do see the value of being able to lock the door and leave, and think that a lower-maintenance place to live could become tempting before I'm actually unable to do the work.
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Old 02-02-2021, 06:18 PM   #16
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So, rough plan:
- Now: start de-cluttering. Don't fill up the house any more. Actually, start emptying it.
- Next 3 years: consider any remodeling on the home that I can participate in, and we can enjoy for at least a decade
- Next 5 to 7 years: do my own maintenance as usual
- 7 to 15 years out: hire-out everything
- Beyond 15 years: move to stair-less place or CCRC
My immediate plan is not to acquire a bunch of new tools. Definitely mindful of not filling up the house.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:09 PM   #17
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when you can no longer do the work or, like me, don't want to do the work you do as Blanche DuBois did...depend on the kindness of others. or more correctly you hire it out.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:31 PM   #18
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We have used a handyman for many years to do things around the house that we either can’t do or don’t want to do. I’m more than happy to pay for those services as it frees up our time to spend on things we enjoy more. I doubt we spend more than $1,000 per year on handyman services so it seems like a relatively small expense to be concerned with.

My bigger concern is not being able to manage my money as I get older, so I’ll be thinking about how to outsource that job at some point down the road too.
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:41 PM   #19
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So, rough plan:
- Now: start de-cluttering. Don't fill up the house any more. Actually, start emptying it.
That is exactly what I was telling myself as to my current house. Whether I hire maintenance and yard work out and stay, or whether I sell out and move.

Need to start emptying it!

I was just contemplating our many shelves, closets, cupboards the DW had managed to fill with Teapot collections, three different (or was it four) different sets of china, Christmas or other decorating nick-nacks. And just generally "stuff". Hard to find someone to hire for that kind of "maintenance"!
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:47 PM   #20
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...My bigger concern is not being able to manage my money as I get older, so Iíll be thinking about how to outsource that job at some point down the road too.
that's my concern about my wife if i go first. she shows no interest. i guess i need to stick around forever.
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