DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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13 June 2013

Maintaining your home over the years

Thanks to everyone who commented on the workshops. I'm sorry, but Melbourne is too far for us to come. I no longer fly and the drive to Melbourne would take us four days there and back. I'm still looking into it in various towns and I'll let you know where we'll be soon.

- - - ♥ - - - 

Every so often Hanno and I look at our home to see if there are changes we need to make. I was 50 when we moved here so most of the changes then were to accommodate our family and make our home a productive workspace. Now 15 years have passed by and while we've kept up a maintenance program to keep our home functioning and productive, now it's time to think about our ages and prepare for the future.


We both want to live here for as long as possible. We do not want to go into an aged persons' facility or live with our family (as much as we love them), we want to continue to work here at home, safely, and we hope to die here - Hanno in the garden and me at the computer, writing one last book. (The unfinished masterpiece.) To do that we need to stay healthy, make sure there are no safety hazards and do only what we can do now, not what we could do 10 years ago. We're not quite at the safety rails in the shower stage but with Hanno turning 73 this year, I'm guessing it won't be too long. We both have brief periods of dizziness occasionally.

We've decided we have to do something about our front and back verandahs. In the past, the front verandah was for morning teas and pot plants, and the back verandah was for the pets and garden equipment. We both want a more secure screen door on the front of the house - a steel one that can remain open in the hot months while still giving some protection from who knows what. While we were looking into that, Hanno noticed there are some cracks appearing in the front door, so we've decided to replace that too.


Before we do anything, we'll have to rainproof both front and back verandah roofs. We get torrential downpours here and often have water leaking through the roof, both front and back. So the roofs needs fixing and that creates a problem because Hanno can't climb up on there anymore. Yesterday we had a local handyman come around to give us a quote to have some of this work done. We'll probably have him do the roof work and hang the new doors, the other work we can do together.


We've decided that now we no longer have dogs, we want to make the back verandah much more comfortable with some outdoor furniture and maybe a cane lounge. We'll buy all that secondhand. We did get a quote to have the floors tiled but it would have cost a few thousand dollars and we didn't see the value in that. Painted concrete will be fine. We can add a bit of sand to the paint to make it non-slip. When it's finished we'll have an alternative to the kitchen table for people to sit and chat.

This is a big change for us. Having to rely on others to do work we normally would have done ourselves doesn't quite feel right yet but it will enable us to get on with the work we can do. We've always we proudly self-reliant but I guess we all reach a stage when we have to leave some things behind and not feel too much regret. I'm looking forward to the changes and hope we can successfully create an area that's aesthetically pleasing while remaining productive and functional.

How are you managing the stages in your life at home? Are you undergoing the age changes we're starting now, are you modifying for small children or are you still at the regular maintenance stage?

I just found that Kate at Purple Pear Organics blogged about maintenance and repairs this past Monday. Check out her blog as well.



37 comments:

  1. We just bought our first house (in overpriced Auckland, NZ) so we are at the stage of catching up on the repairs and maintenance that have been neglected by a landlord over the years! It is difficult because there is so much we cannot do ourselves (most electrical work, plumbing, drainlaying, roofing, building work etc) that our funds are draining fast. Perhaps we should have become tradies not professionals! We just try to investigate all our options and shop around for quotes. I can't wait for the 'regular maintenance stage'! Nicola.

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  2. Morning Rhonda, chilly one in sydney this morning!
    We are slowly making changes to our (first) home, while saving like mad to get our next home in an older, safer part of our area, so mainly changes to suit the next owners...we did the sandy paint in the courtyard, and yes, it does grip well. We sandbagged the exterior (sort of like DIY rendering). Next is paint the interior...PS i found a recipe online for a laundry liquid...works well, but what do you think, too chemically? http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/03/super-concentrated-no-grate-liquid-laundry-detergent.html
    Lauren H

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    1. You're right Lauren, lots of chemicals in that Dawn. Washing up liquid isn't soap, it's detergent. You could always use liquid castile soap but it would be fairly expensive. I have a bottle of the Dr Bronner citrus castile soap and it cost $20 for a litre. If you use half a cup for each batch, that's $2.50 for the soap in each batch. It would make a good liquid using the soap.

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    2. That's what i thought too Rhonda. I have some Melrose Castile, so i might substitute that instead and see how we go :)

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  3. When we built our home over 5 years ago we took into account that like you, we'd be living here a long time. We incorporated passive solar features to keep living expenses down in the future and designed doorway widths to be easier with a walker or wheelchair if necessary. We also kept older age in mind when deciding whether to grade the land and add steps to the front door. Although we love that look, we decided against it so entry is easier with more limited mobility.

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

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  4. Hi Rhonda - funny you should be writing about this just now. I've just posted on my blog that my (88) has come to live with DH and me, meaning big changes for us all. We're looking at some Mum-friendly alterations to our little 2 bed semi in Worcester, UK, which will hopefully come in handy for us as we get older. It's good to plan, and not be scared by what the future might hold. Take care, and love from across the globe xx

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  5. We are both 50 something and able to do what needs to be done. I do not like my husband up on our 2 story roof anymore though and we have too much property. We are only about 14 months from paying off our mortgage and then we need to start thinking long term. We do not have a bedroom downstairs, nor a shower. Some of our 5 children are really resistant to us selling the family home but to live here forever is not feasible. I can see us starting to hire some of the neighbor kids for help with the property in the near future. Twenty years ago when we bought this house and were 30 somethings we could not even imagine what it would be like to have an empty nest and have to take of all of this ourselves.

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  6. Your house looks great Rhonda, but still there are little things that need to be done. Otherwise they add up to become one huge problem. Currently we are preparing for a second baby. However this baby will hopefully be a 'natural and zero waste baby' unlike her sister. That means cloth diapers, baths using homemade soap ( none of those chemical cocktails that are supposed to be 'gentle' on baby's skin), breast feeding (hopefully I never have to open another can of formula ever again in my life), homemade beeswax nappy rash cream, second hand clothes or hand me downs if its girl, and homemade baby food in my blender ( I just make huge batches and stock them in small packs in my freezer

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  7. Hi Rhonda,

    My almost 90 year old mother died in April and her death has caused me to think about my own mortality. My husband and I literally built our home, from felling the trees and hewing the logs to splitting the shingles for our roof. It was very, very labor intensive and so satisfying, but was done when we younger...just before turning 50. Now that Jimmie is almost 70 and I will be 68 my next birthday, we are realizing that while our minds are still very willing to tackle the same kinds of tasks we performed back then, our bodies are telling us that we must take it more slowly and more safely nowadays. We are in the process of moving an old house on our property (built in 1890) and attaching it to our log house. We don't actually need the four more rooms moving the house will afford us, but the old house will allow us to have our bedroom downstairs, plus a full bathroom. I am a firm believer in working hard for as long as one is able, but I also believe that there comes a time when the more dangerous or strenuous chores are best left to the younger folks. We will handle the plumbing, electrical and siding on the old house, but we will leave the new roof to the young bucks! That being said, it still is a hard pill to swallow that we can't (or shouldn't) do everything the way we used to. My mantra now is to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Doing everything possible to stay healthy is the most important thing we can do to stave off the effects of old age. I like sitting in a rocking chair from time to time, but I know that I don't want to sit in that rocking chair being sick or in pain.

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  8. We're still somewhat at the beginning stages here. This little toddler of ours keeps growing at such a rapid rate we're always finding something else in the house we have to barricade or renovate to accommodate her! We chose a very small house when we bought this place thinking we could also retire here in the city, close to everything, with very little maintenance to worry about. We'll see how that plan unfolds! ;)

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  9. Oh Rhonda you must have been listening at our door!
    We need the outside of our house painted and with all the rain we have had lately we need to have our roof checked.
    My husband is not able to do any more repairs or maintenance (emphysema) so we will be looking for handymen and paying.
    Need to think when you are younger to put aside for a maintenance program.

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  10. Rhonda,

    There's self-reliance, and then there's stubborn foolishness in not recognizing one's own limitations. You'll both be much more independent for much longer when you graciously let others do what you cannot. Besides, it provides those 'others' a chance to earn a living, and give back to two people who have given quite a bit in their 60+ years here on earth. Take good care of yourselves--we all hope you do indeed live out your dream.

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  11. Rebecca in TassieJune 13, 2013 8:28 am

    Hello Rhonda,
    Mmmm - this is an interesting topic today, and one that I've been thinking on for some time. My husband and I are in our early 40s, and we have 8 children ranging in ages from 2 years to 17 years. I feel somewhat 'in-between' - we have a large family to care for, and yet I am also mindful of the years ahead. Our current home is ideal for our ageing years in so many ways, but the thing is we're not there yet … It is starting to feel a bit tight with so many of us sharing one bathroom … It is a balance trying to focus on the 'now', while still being mindful of the years ahead. I don't want to focus completely on 'now' at the expense of our ageing years, and I don't want to focus on those years at the expense of 'now'. Does that make sense?
    Rebecca.

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    1. It makes perfect sense to me, Rebecca. When we moved here we had two teenagers and one bathroom. We added another bathroom and have never regretted that. Now that bathroom serves us well for visitors and we all have some privacy.

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    2. Rebecca in TassieJune 13, 2013 3:43 pm

      Thank you so much for replying, Rhonda. One of our dreams is to add another bathroom to our home - we priced it, and unfortunately it's beyond our means. My dear husband works part time due to ongoing depression/anxiety, and I stay home with our precious ones. The only way we could have another bathroom is if we sold our home and found a 2 bathroom home within our price range (which may not be as suitable as our current home for we get older). Hence the dilemma!
      We are mindful though that we have SO much to be thankful for, so we just do our best with what we have, and try to look after it well.
      Have a lovely week!

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    3. You do have a lot to be thankful for, Rebecca. I really admire your attitude of acceptance. Being satisfied with what we have is often very difficult for people and you've not only accepted it but you've done it with grace. I grew up in a home with not much money, I shared a room with my sister, we didn't have a phone or a car and yet I never felt poor - mainly because of my mother. You're a wonderful role model. Thank you.

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  12. My job is providing a library Outreach service to elderly or disabled people unable to come to the library.
    Our volunteers visit over 500 people mainly in their 80s and 90s, many still living in their original homes.
    The most successful have very tidy well maintained houses which are safe to live in and so not a worry to them.
    We have one couple who've just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, in their 90s who still cook, bowl, look after their home well and are avid readers!

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    1. I hope that will be us, librarygirl.

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  13. Great reading at 5am this morning when my 2 year old was up! We bought our house as the classic "renovators delight". It had had virtually nothing done to it since it was built in the late 40's apart from a manual hot water unit in the bathroom and the copper had been removed. We upgraded the kitchen and would have loved to make use of the old wood stove but the condition was too poor and the repairs too expensive. The house hadn't been lived in for many years and there was paint peeling off the ceilings and walls. We had our first child before we moved in and I was back at work. After the birth of our second the renovations no longer seemed to bother me so much and I haven't returned to work, instead following your blog and book to help us save money. There will be many, many years for me to work part time at least and earn money when the children are in school. For now, I'll make do sleeping on a fold-out couch in the living room and using an old buffet to store my clothes!

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  14. Rhonda, our old house needs painting and a lot of maintenance to be done which I would happily pay a handyman to do within the limits of our budget but hubby wants to do it himself. I think that sometimes it is hard for a man to realise that he can't do in his sixties what he could do in his twenties. Thinking ahead and planning for the future is very wise and I can see that you and Hanno are working together at this stage in your life.

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  15. Rhonda re the screen door you are getting, Hanno probably knows about this, but when we extended we were advised to get "marine"-something on the screen doors. Not marine-ply, I think it was the screen itself, apparently it's much harder to cut through -- I'll check it with Tony.

    We have the handrails in Mum's part of the house though she doesn't use them. When we built on we built on on one level rather than going up, there didn't seem much point in going up when we were all getting older.

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  16. Hi Rhonda

    We were about 50 when we bought this place but one of our considerations was that at least some access was on or close to ground-level. It would require some modification but be done relatively easily.

    We recently paid someone to wash the back wall (high-set) of the house as I am not keen on G doing it from the scaffold. He lent the scaffold to an acquaintance last year and the person fell and suffered quite significant long-term injuries - the scaffold was being used inappropriately but nevertheless it is a reminder of how easily accidents happen.

    Since you and Hanno have many skills, have you considered bartering? Even a portion of the cost of the tradesmen may be possible. Do you have extra eggs to 'sell' to them each week? Dishcloths? A prepared meal once a week might be possible for a time-poor family? As well as reducing your financial outlay it could open possibilities to share the concept of simple living.

    The other option is for Hanno to 'work' (at ground level) as an offsider to the tradesman thus reducing the labour costs of the job.

    Good on you both for recognising the difference between self-reliance and being stubborn.

    Best wishes.

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  17. We are in the same boat. Just finished our new Ikea kitchen ourselves (to be more functional and cater for the growing grandchildren ) changed the bath /shower to a separate walk in shower and separate bath .Mentally we are prepared to move to upstairs bedroom and leave downstairs for guests .I have two large vegetable gardens one in level front yard so if going downstairs to the back gets too hard I can still garden. We are early 60's and still quite a few good years yet but it's a good idea to prepare while you can. When my 80 and still84 parents were here I took note of what they found the most difficult .We have lived here now for 34 years and the house has changed especially since the years 5 children left home and visit with partners and grandchildren. More outdoor eating and sitting areas and more open planned inside.

    Chris from Coffs Harbour

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  18. We just had our courtyard paved. It's something that we 'could' have done ourselves, but we got it done by someone else and I'm so glad that we did. There's more space for the kids to run around, and I still have a garden bed for a kitchen garden.

    I know that independence and self-reliance are supposed to be the hall-marks of simple living, but I would argue that inter-dependence is the foundation of a strong community, which is much more important than self-reliance. Help and be helped is truly sustainable living for the entire duration of our lifetime. Just my thoughts.

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    1. Self-reliance and interdependence aren't mutually exclusive, Melissa. I've written many posts on building strong communities and the importance of local business. It's all woven together.

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  19. My husband and I have just become "empty" nesters and are facing the same adjustments that are facing you and Hanno. Our son has done most of the physical work over the past two years as my husband was injured in a fall with subsequent surgery and can no longer do much physical work and I retired from work due to health issues...so I'm not capable of much either. One thing our son had been doing for the past two years was all of our grocery shopping. While he is more than willing to shop for us even though he is out of the house, I prefer not to rely on him to meet too many of our needs. He is just starting out in his own life and some day soon may have his own family and responsibilities. Our local grocery store offers online shopping with delivery. Of course, there is a fee, so it is not something I will do weekly, or even monthly...but if I have them deliver a large order every couple of months, particularly when they have case sales, it does not work out to being overly costly. One difficult chore handled.

    We are trying to purge through our home and make it less cluttered and easier to get around in and easier to maintain. We will probably have to rely on hiring someone to clean the house on an every other week or monthly basis, but again if our home is not filled with knick-knacks, etc. it will mean less time and less money for cleaning. This is a work in process.

    We have begun doing the "big" work on our home that will be more difficult to afford once my husband retires and we are on a smaller income. Last year we replaced our HVAC system. This year we replaced our roof. Next year we will replace our siding. Another work in process.

    I know there are a lot more things we have to address...but at least we are making a start!

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  20. We too bought our home thinking thinking this is where we would like to end our days. We bought in a set of 10 units and even though we have body corporate fees the complex is small enough that we can get involved to keep the fees as low as possible. I like the community feel we have and most of us have a little veggie garden and can often be found sharing our excess with the neighbors. Your back verandah looks like a lovely place to hang out.

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  21. Definitely changing as we go, due to age and other life changes. 2 years ago our 6" raised beds were cut down in area and adapted to make 3 x 1m square x 3/4m high. Can't grow as much but can still grow and weed without it killing my back. The front garden had weed fabric laid a few years ago and gravel. Still gets weeds but not too many. Steps into house getting mended, house maintenance getting up to date so less to call people in for. Its a minefield isn't it?

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  22. You could also stain your concrete patio instead of painting. Stained concrete is very pretty in my opinion (it comes in lots of colors) and you would not have to worry about adding sand or it ever peeling. It holds up to foot traffic much better than paint. Oh, I really enjoy your blog and look forward to new posts even though I don't think I've ever commented before.

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  23. The absolute number one thing to try and avoid in late life is falling. Falls are so devasting in so many ways so work on your balance (there are lots of ideas on the internet) and see the doctor if your dizziness becomes a problem.

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  24. We're in our late 40s (me)/early 50s (DH), so are still "maintaining" and improving, but we've been thinking about the aging-comfortably-at-home issue as my mom just turned 80. She desperately wants to stay in her little house and maintain her independence, but it's missing some amenities, such as a downstairs shower, that would help her. She's stubborn about making changes, but we're trying to figure out a way that her little downstairs bath could be expanded. Alas, far beyond our capacities to do ourselves (it would involve knocking out walls and doing a lot of plumbing, but we'll be making inquiries.

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  25. I very much like coming to see your site. I like the way you communicate your love of keeping up with your home and life. The bread article was quite good too.

    I have your site posted on my site as well. Hoping that you will gain even more readers. ;)

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  26. Funny we just had this conversation at our house several nights ago. I'm mid sixties, he;s older, and my laundry and sewing room are down basement. I have Fibromyliga, and stairs are rapidly getting harder for me. Cost of moving laundry upstairs, WOW. And we need toreplace the tub with a shower. OH, and then there are the out side steps, two sets, and a huge yard to maintain - lots to think about. Funny how the property you see as perfect at 50 can be a nightmare at 70!

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  27. Really enjoyed this post Rhonda. Thank you.

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  28. I moved info my childhood home and one of the things I had to do was install a wheelchair ramp for my mother, who occassionally needed it and shower rails. So while I'm still in my 40s and able to care for my home, I'm also adapting our home to suit my mother. That said, I have too much yard and already need help to maintain it, in terms of someone to do a lot of the heavy lifting. I am adapting the garden to grow a lot of fruit and herbs and to add perennial vegetables, so that when I grow older, it will continue to feed me without it being too much hard work.

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  29. Hi Rhonda, I love reading your posts, they remind me to look to the future...in a good way. Taking care of now what will make life easier later on. I'm 42 and my husband is 47. We have two daughters, ages 12 and 10. In the next few months we will be purchasing our first home. I know we aren't young, but we plan to be aggressive in paying off our mortgage. Having the ability to do anything I want to our place will be new for us, and I plan on referring back to your advice over and over! No need to get the gorgeous tile on the patio, painted concrete will be fine, (and look nice too!). It will help if I stay away from home magazines too. =) Thank you.

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    1. Congratulations on your new home, Melinda. It's a great plan to pay off the mortage fast - we paid ours off in eight years without too much angst.

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