From Caring…to Repairing

My wife keeps reminding me that February is Valentine’s Day. A month for chocolate, and, you know, showing love and care for others.

Which got me thinking about why I started this business as a handyman. I mean, lots of guys are handy around the house…why quit your job and start a business doing this? Let me explain…

I’m a caregiver. 

For the last two years, my wife, Amy and I commuted between Denver, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin in order to care for Amy’s aging mother and disabled brother. In January 2016, my mother-in-law lost her battle to cancer, leaving us as full-time caregivers for Amy’s brother, Chris.

Chris is 40-years old and has Down syndrome. His photo is on my About Us page. Chris lives with us in our Madison home, and we take care of all his daily living and socialization needs.  He is a pure joy to be around, but, let’s be honest, being a caregiver for an adult who has the cognitive capacity of a three-year old is a task that many cannot comprehend.

This post from The Caregiver Space has some funny images that really sum up for me what it feels like to be a caregiver. (I can especially relate to that monkey on the computer).

While we are rewarded each and every day, we are also challenged to find time for ourselves, to find balance in our lives and our marriage, and to discover peace with the many sacrifices we made to become caregivers.

So this leads me to – why did I start my handyman business then?  Two reasons:

First, when Amy’s dad passed away in 2011, her mom’s home quickly declined into a state of disrepair and deferred maintenance. Then, when my mother-in-law transitioned into a wheelchair, we discovered that many adaptations were needed to keep her living independently and safely.  Unfortunately, what we experienced was extreme difficulty finding anyone we could trust who could provide handyman services in a timely and consistent manner.

Madison’s average single-family home value are currently at historic highs.

Why was this happening? Well, have you noticed the apartment and construction boom in Madison? This means contractors are extremely busy. No one would respond to our calls, and the ones who did had month-long wait-lists.  They just didn’t have time for small jobs when the big construction and home remodeling jobs were taking their time.

Does this sound familiar?

Well, hang on cause this trend is not changing. According to Angie’s List, record remodeling is expected throughout 2017, meaning Madison area contractors and home remodeling pros will remain swamped with bigger projects.

When my mother-in-law passed away in January 2016, Amy and I moved permanently back to Madison and became primary guardians and caregivers for Chris. Needless to say, we found out quickly that the two of us working traditional 9-5 jobs wasn’t going to cut it.  When you are a caregiver, there are so many needs, so many tasks and responsibilities, that finding the time to address the maintenance needs of a home is an overwhelming task. Something has to give.

So that brings me to my second reason for opening my business. Being in the handyman business allows me the flexibility to remain a caregiver for Chris, in order to keep him living safely in his childhood home, all while helping others in my community retain the independent living they so desire.

Steve with his wife, Amy, brother-in-law, Chris, and nephew, Casey cheering on the Badgers!

If this is where you are in your life, let 4 Lakes Handyman help! 

I know… I’ve been there, and I am still there.