Lazy, crazy or sensible

rgpsJuly 23, 2014

So hard to decide which to be.

I'm having a hard time feeling okay and talking my husband into letting others do the work that needs to be done as we complete the rebuilding of our 42 year old homemade house. Old habits and ancestral patterns die hard. The facts are we are 60, we are rich and we are 95% retired. We live VERY simply because we chose to. Small homes, ancient cars, pathetic wardrobes. I want to watch other people tear down my chimney and build a new roof over the deck and stain and varnish my baseboards. I want to read and watercolor and beat candy crush level 382 and not feel guilty.

Is it too much to expect me to give up this guilt as an 8 th generation american with homesteading ancestors. Will I even enjoy a new fireplace if I didn't build it? I can't wear sweaters I didn't knit or sleep under quilts I didn't make. If I can do something I have this ethic that says I should do it. I can't make a car so I feel no guilt about letting the Japanese make me one. I won't cut off a chickens head so I'll allow myself to buy a plucked fryer.

Am I crazy? Am I lazy?


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Hmm, in your shoes, I would write that check in a heartbeat, but I don't have a very well-developed guilt gene. In fact, I love to watch other people work!

It certainly isn't lazy to hire things done around the house. But you wonder if you will be able to enjoy the end result, if you don't do it yourself.

I suggest a small test - hire someone to do a small job, and see how you feel about it. If that goes OK, hire someone to do the fireplace.

And here's a tip for the guilt - instead of bemoaning the fact that you didn't do it yourself, pat yourself on the back for stimulating the economy, and providing work for a nice young contractor with a family to feed.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Why not a balance? Do the fun/interesting parts (whatever that means to you) and have others do what you don't enjoy.

I am not sure I get what's stopping you/ Guilt? or DH? If it's guilt, I think you have already identified good reasons to do differently than you have in the past. If it's DH, let him do it...

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:44PM
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robo (z6a)

If you can afford it, no shame in paying someone else to do it.

I am not rich but have little debt. When I went back to school (full time on top of working full time) I cancelled cable, cancelled the land line and got a cleaner. Best move I ever made. I felt major guilt as I COULD do everything she does (floors, bathroom, kitchen). But I just don't WANT to, and I love spending my money on her. I'd rather have her than ten beautiful purses, a spa day, or maybe even more than a vacation to the South of France. She lifts so much guilt and obligation off my shoulders and lets me enjoy a beautiful home. Yes indeed, having a cleaner is the best.

In your case, if you can afford to hire someone and you don't want to do it, well, that's exactly what discretionary income is for. To hire people to do that which we can't or don't want to do.

* PS my mom and aunt, both retired, both really not rich, have also both hired housecleaners and they are loving it! They get to enjoy a real retirement and spend their time on what they love.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:49PM
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There are people out there who really need the work. Go right ahead!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:53PM
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does this help? Think of it this way, if you hire someone else to do the work you are helping someone else feed their family.

Plus, if you are anything like me, you probably won't obcess over every flaw when you sit back to enjoy the finished projects. I still see one over chaulked seam in a piece of crown moulding we put up 15 years ago...


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Think of it like this: If I cook, you do the dishes.

So, if I built it, you tear it down.

You're also contributing to the economy and someone else's livelihood by hiring people to do it. There's no down side. Just don't sit on the sofa eating bon-bons while they're doing it. That would be in poor taste.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:57PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

lets see... 42 year old house.. lets just say you built it at age 20 ... so you are 60 something plus ...

if you fall off the roof ... blow out a lumbar disc .. smash a foot with a brick ...... will you feel guilty.. for ruining the rest of your rich life.. its not worth it..

write the check.. get over it.. its not worth the risk at this point in life ...


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:05PM
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I'm having the same guilt feelings over the backsplash in my kitchen. Here is how I am rationalizing it.

I can install the backsplash. BUT, dh installed the last backsplash and while it was ok, I could definitely tell it was done by an amateur, especially in places he didn't quite know how to handle. So I am going to have someone else do this because I want it to look professional and wonderful like the rest of my kitchen. (Ok, maybe not wonderful). Dh & I can do a professional job on a lot of things. A tile backsplash is just not one of them.

It's like when I eat in a restaurant. I usually order stuff I can't make, or is too time consuming or hard to make. I am not going to spend $8 on a tuna sandwich when I can make a better one here for $2. I could try to make chocolate eclairs here, but it would never be as good as Rush Patisserie and I would be disappointed after so much effort, no matter the savings.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:06PM
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When I was 40, I'd do it myself. Now that I'm over 60, I just can't/won't anymore. There comes a time....

Overseeing a major rehab/reno is a lot of work, too. That will keep you busy and involved.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:07PM
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Oh come ON. You could make a car if you really really tried! What's the MATTER with you???

If you have such a strong work/guilt ethic, I'm gonna guess you and DH labored mightliy for your bounty. Now it's time to enjoy it.

Hire a worker. Hire ten. Make them some lemonade and enjoy your new role as Lady Bountiful.

There's no shame in it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:11PM
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I understand. Let me throw in another factor, which marti8a alluded to. I'm a perfectionist, so I'm not willing to pay for crappy work or work that I could do better.

I make a conscious decision to splurge on things that are worthwhile to me, e.g. travel, certain hobbies, restaurants (although I, too, usually only order things that I can't easily do myself).

Give yourself permission to enjoy being able to hire out work that you don't find satisfaction in in doing yourself.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:26PM
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Oh you all make me feel so good. I just came in from helping DH erect the 20 foot scaffolding to demolish the chimney and man was it scary up there. My legs aren't as sturdy as they once were and my balance is iffy and I just don't think I'd do too well if I slipped. How could I ever get to level 383 if I broke my arm. Ken you are so right. And my inconsiderate children are not reproducing so who am I saving the money for?

Damn the torpedos, lets spend money.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:28PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Woohoo! I was going to give you the same argument Ken did. Stick to doing jobs at ground level-but even then, only if you want to do those!

Good luck on those levels. ;)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:36PM
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Holly- Kay

Amen RGPS! My children are procreating nicely so I love spending money on the grands and also love buying for my children so I can see them enjoy the fruits of my labor from this side of the grave.

I gave up on painting and doing heavy work years ago, we pay younger stronger people to do it. I pay a cleaning lady to keep my house clean. I still work hard at my business and taking care of the holding companies for our other businesses but I can tell you that is getting old and I am ready to retire soon, hopefully in the next two years. When I do I shall happily play candy crush to my hearts content (level 265, I'm a slacker), read, and take art lessons. I will antique shop as often as I want to without feeling a single lick of remorse or guilt.

BTW, I am 60 and have already fallen head over tin cups down our stairs so ladders are a no no for me!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:55PM
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I'm sitting here, surfing the net, and listening to crew build things.

I do the things I CAN do and ENJOY doing ... painting walls, for example.

Look at it this way - we're stimulating the local economy FAR MORE than just shopping at the farmer's market would.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:07PM
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A big vote for "sensible" ..... do it .... hire folks and improve the local economy .....

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:13PM
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We are in your situation and 4 years ago we gutted our 1972 built (OK we didn't build it and we're not much into the DIY stuff) and had someone else do all the work. We even moved out for the 6 month job.

We tend to do without things rather than spend the money and we can easily afford to spend it. I don't know what pushed us over the edge but I think it was the fact that we are only going to be alive for another 30 years (we are 61) and we wanted to do something for ourselves. Once we started spending the money there was no stopping us. My DH blew the entire lighting budget on 3 pendant lights for the peninsula.

I have always done the decorating and the painting but I even hired an interior decorator to chose all those things for me. Best and most fun money I have ever spent.

Now if only I could feel comfortable hiring a cleaning lady.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:01PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

That's the beauty of retiring after having worked hard all of our lives and being comfortable...we have the choice of how we spend our time and our money. Yes I can plant trees and plants and mulch, but we had landscapers do our house. It would've taken us forever and we'd have lived with that mess a long time. They come in with 4 strong guys and a bob cat and a dump truck and get it done in a couple of days...we get to enjoy it the whole rest of the time. Our contribution? We wrote the check and worked long and hard to have the ability to do so. No guilt here!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:22PM
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Your work now is to find the best craftsman to do the job for you. And trust me, that is going to be some hard work. They are out there, but they aren't going to fall into your lap. I've found that when I get someone who really knows their craft and loves what they do, they love to share with me how they are doing the job and I enjoy that interaction as much as anything. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn't mean you can't be involved - you just don't have to balance on the top of 3 story scaffolding (unless you want to, of course).

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:22PM
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Look at it this way - if you do the work yourself and can afford to hire it out you should feel guilty for denying someone the opportunity to earn some money who really needs the work!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:10AM
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daisy, I couldn't agree more! Finding these gems is hard work, and contrary to what some may say, a high price doesn't guarantee high standards.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 9:52AM
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I don't do house remodeling but I garden. Last year I said "my digging and raking days are over" as I pay the price with muscle soreness. DH was supposed to rake the moss out of the lawn this spring, although we could well afford to have someone else take care of it. He was "getting around to it", and after waiting several days, I went and raked. I have been suffering with a sore arm ever since, which has curtailed my ability to play Candy Crush (level 402).

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 10:28AM
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I'm so glad the others convinced you that it's "okay" to hire out work. Hubby and I are on either side of sixty and have been DIYers our whole married life, getting more so in the last twelve years, building and working on finishing this home. Even there, there are things we choose to no longer do ourselves. Such as siding, shingles and gutters. In other words, we don't do anything involving heights.
Hiring work done is similar to "picking your battles", so to speak. There are some things that are just not worth tackling because of the "fallout" that could happen.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:29AM
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My FIL grew up on a farm in Nebraska. He built his house in 1944 and did everything himself. He was approaching 80 when he decided he needed to go in the crawl space. I don't know how long he was stuck in there before they found him. Oh, he lived! I just reread that and saw it was ambiguous.

My MIL was often in a fretful state about his antics. So you'd think she'd learn about getting help for things beyond her capabilities. DH went to visit and found her on top of a ladder, with one end in the creek, deadheading her rhodies.

This post was edited by may_flowers on Thu, Jul 24, 14 at 11:40

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Holly- Kay

May sounds like you are the CC Queen. I cannot beat this wretched level!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:40AM
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Holly, try the Tips websites. They have helped me on a few levels.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Holly- Kay

Thanks May! I will do that tonight, hopefully it helps.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:38PM
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I'm 71, and still like to 'tempt' my capacities, but anytime I need to climb a ladder I call my son/SIL~my kids would have a fit if I called a handyman since they'are 'ready and willing' most weekends. There *are* times that I wouldn't ' ask for their help, and what you're describing, would definitely be in one of those times! Money is a means to an end, but shouldn't become what could possibly become a life threatening experience.

Do yoursefl(and DH)a favor and book a European river cruiser, safari, or any place you've only dreamed of visiting(second honeymoon?)while the work is being done, but leave *explicit* directions, and ask to be sent a selfie' of the completed work daily. Since you've 'paid your dues', it's time to start enjoying the finer things in life. You may find you can get used to it!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Oh my can I relate to this one! Last year when our roof desperately needed to be pressure cleaned I hired out the job...and thought about how I had climbed onto that *#&$^ blistering hot, slippery roof and done it myself 15 years ago, cursing the entire time and desperately afraid of falling off. No hesitation this time on hiring a great crew that not only did the roof but the exterior of the house, the porch ceiling and our separate garage. I did not begrudge writing that check one bit.

I've also forbidden my husband from trimming our oak trees, the ones he planted as tiny seedlings when we moved in and which now provide glorious soaring shade for the entire house and yard. As the years past he kept climbing higher and higher and higher, fell once and ended up in the ER and finally listened when I told him I would not be changing his adult diaper or wheeling him to the window if he ended up paralyzed, nor would I visit the cemetary because I'd still be so mad at him for being so dumb.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 2:23PM
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Don't feel bad about hiring out some jobs at all. Now that I am older I find I can't work in my gardens like I once did so I hire it out. I still love to do some of it, just not ALL of it. A little dirt therapy and I'm good; a lot of it and I'm sore, tired and cranky. Find some good crafts and trades people, read a book or something while they are working, check on the progress now and then, write the check and enjoy the results!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:22PM
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There are some things only the most handy or most skilled should do at any age.

If you are 60, you hope you have reached a point where you can pay others to do things.

If you can say "we are rich," you don't need to wait until you are 60.

You hit this one on all three points.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 5:36PM
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When it comes to DIY, I back off if there are building codes that must be met. I can paint, I can prep walls, I can use power tools.

But a chimney? If there's a mistake in building the chimney, the house could burn down. Even my cousin, the general contractor, who built his own house hired a mason to do the fireplace and chimney. And an electrician to do the wiring. And a plumber to do the plumbing. Because, in his words, he wanted it "done right the first time."

Sometimes getting in a pro is the best way to go.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Ah yes the chimney. I built the damn chimney 42 years ago when I was 18. The house has not burned down but due to my lack of skill as a mason the whole fireplace became the pack rat, sqirrel hostel whose needed demolition is now the bane of my existence. Well one of 2 banes actually, the other being CC level 382.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:42PM
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You should volunteer someplace instead. There are plenty of places in need of your wisdom and services. My friend makes little hats for preemies at the local hospital and lap rugs for the vets at the VA hospital.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:49PM
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Great ideas Zachey.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:48PM
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Can you believe this. I. Mean. Really. My husband just had the nerve to suggest if I just spent as much time on demolition as I did bit-hing on the internets and playing dumb CC the job would be done. The gall of some people.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 3:52PM
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