- I’m Honest
- I’m Experienced
- I Care about people and their well-being
- I’m Passionate about things being done correctly
- I Believe folks shouldn’t spend more than absolutely necessary for anything
- I know that there are far too many who don’t share my Passion, possess my experience or beliefs and who aren’t as honest or Caring as I
For much of my youth, I was known as “the kids who takes everything apart” and could most often be found at home or in a scrap yard, disassembling things to figure out how they worked, how to fix them or how to improve upon them. Unlike many others, I rarely had spare parts left over after reassembly.
I am a “Multipotentialite/Polymath” a.k.a. a Renaissance man.
I’m the creative and energetic youngster with Attention Deficit Disorder, raised “below the tracks” by a single mother, who learned values and how to earn an honest living through the school of hard knocks and always doing more with less.
I’m the teenager who struggled in a school system not favourable to my learning style (save for mechanics, body shop, wood-shop and technical drawing) who, after graduation studied at technical schools where I excelled in the fields of welding and cellular communications. After failing to find satisfying employ in those industries I worked countless other jobs trying to discover my true passion and “raison d’être”, gaining immeasurable experience in a plethora of disciplines including management and manufacturing.
I’m the young man who was (in time) united with and (for a number of years) worked along side his father (a professional in the residential & commercial security field), and who on job sites would thoroughly question every trades-person encountered as to the how’s and why’s of their vocation. My thirst for learning trades now in full swing.
I’m the 30 year old entrepreneur who as a teenager would; charge $0.25/bag for taking neighbours’ garbage to the curb, manage several paper routes, deliver groceries, collect discarded bicycle parts and up-cycle them into complete units for re-sale. Later in life starting a business as a handyman and eventually a general contractor, which further honed my skills and increased my experience fifty-fold. In that time, I also discovered that nothing is impossible, and that we can do anything we focus on and apply ourselves to.
Now, a mindful & exacting middle-aged man trained to see the big picture as well as each of the individual parts, I continue to follow my passion but have traded my tool belt for a laptop and a mobile phone. As a consultant, I utilize my 35+ years of knowledge to aid homeowners and future homeowners in avoiding the unnecessary costs, aggravation, lost sleep, stressed relationships and injury that are often part of the building & renovation process.
My mother decorated and re-decorated every 6 months with paint, wallpaper, draperies, upholstery, art and the like. I was always there by her side, helping out and learning; and due to the nature of my various employ, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with many professional decorators and designers over the years.
My knowledge & skill-set, combined with numerous discussions with (and mentoring by) architects, draftsmen, engineers and craftsmen (in almost every aspect of the design/build industry from around the world), afford me the ability to consult on topics others can’t, giving me a “leg-up” over the average contractor or builder.
I fix things, I always have and I always will.
Although I shut down my previous business as “the fixer” so I could pursue a tropical semi-retirement (some details about that below), I am still a fixer, only now I use forethought and prevention instead of problem solving and patchwork repairs.
I’ve had to sell myself over and over again, and I’ve always based those sales on honesty, meticulousness, perseverance and the attitude that “I always win”.
I fully understand sales, supply chain, project coordination and management. I also know the materials, products, suppliers, methodologies and technology, as well as the intrinsic trades and professions and have become a master at understanding and integrating people and they’re living spaces.
With each job, relationship and life situation I have gathered more knowledge and experience, changing my mindset and honing my skills so that I may continue daily to grow and be mindful about improving myself and my surroundings.
However, I’m not the only person/thing that changes…
Everyone lives distinct lifestyles which are in constant flux. Varying geographic locations and differing budgets in conjunction with a variety of arrangements for every individuals’ requirements means that every home not only could be but also should be different.
My broad background in building and renovation, attentiveness to detail, quest for ergonomically correct homes and passion for client satisfaction combined with my Cognitive Dwelling Assessment System (CDAS), make my job of consultant a no-brainer.
Through the years and roles I’ve played I’ve helped thousands of middle and upper class clients for a reasonable fee, hundreds of elderly and less fortunate at a lesser rate, and as a volunteer firefighter I help total strangers for free.
I do what I do because I enjoy it and it’s challenges, regardless of who, what, where, when, how or how much, and I routinely go to the mat for everyone, without exception.
Positions I’ve held through personal and corporate employ: Builder, Contractor, Decorator, Designer, Handyman, Inspector, Marketer, Mentor, Project Planner/Coordinator/Manager, Salesperson, Supervisor, Technician, Trainer, and CEO among numerous others.
Most of that employ has been predominantly in the fields of; Residential and Commercial Audiovisual and Control Systems, Electronic and Hardware Security (Intrusion prevention, Closed Circuit TV, Access Control, Integrated Systems and Locksmith Services), Connectivity and Communications (Cellular, Telecom/Fiber-optic Internet/Network, Cable & Satellite TV), Sustainability (solar/wind/water power generation, solar air/water heating, water purification/storage), Building Construction (design, foundation, framing, interior & exterior envelope, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing, etc), Renovations and Inspections.
My interests include agri/aqua culture, architecture, organic farming, mechanics, metal-work, psychology, physiology, science and technology, space, sustainability and anything to do with residential living spaces and landscapes.
I’ve had plenty of opportunity to live in, work in, study and embrace many different cultures and geographical areas and I look forward to many more of such experiences.
I understand that although there is a myriad of people in the Building and Renovation Industry, there aren’t enough who possess the combination of knowledge, experience, insight and ability to advise even “the average joe”, without speaking of the adventurous “do-it-yourself’ers” or those with grand or diverse/peculiar projects in mind.
I know a great deal about a great many things, particularly about building and renovations.
And, as a firefighter I regularly undergo Security & Vulnerable Sector Checks so you can rest assured that it is completely safe to have me in your home/office and around your family.
…and THAT is why ABC!
If you want something special, individual/different but haven’t a clue where to start, contact me.
My Tropical Experience and subsequent career change
In early 2014 I shut down my “fixer” business and moved to an Off-Grid vacation home in Belize, Central America which belongs to a friend from high school. The original plan wasn’t to relocate there but to consult, plan, install and set-up the burglar alarm and security camera systems.
I followed the build through photos and email to ensure that the requirements for my part of the project was in order. After months of planning and discussions leading up to the trip, he mentioned that he was having difficulty finding a caretaker for the place. Someone he could trust who was capable of not only dealing with the daily property maintenance and vacationers’ needs, but who was savvy enough to operate and maintain all the high-tech systems the house contained. They comprised of a 14,000 gallon water collection, storage, filtration and purification system, solar and wind power generation, power storage and DC/AC inverter system, intrusion alarm and remote viewing cameras, solar pool filtration and circulation system, as well as the wireless audio, internet and distribution systems. Any locals were definitely not up to the task.
I had always dreamed of living in the tropics, and here was the opportunity staring me in the face, the perfect match!
Needless to say, It didn’t take long for me to make the decision to tell him I’d take the job and started my research for what would become both an incredible experience and an awakening to say the very least. I then notified my clients, closed up shop, sold everything I owned and prepared for the biggest trip of my life – the drive to Belize. With my girlfriend and our 100lb Doberman in tow, we traveled from Ontario, through the U.S.A, Mexico and into Central America in my friend’s old, poorly maintained car. Yes, we had car troubles, stayed in some pretty sketchy places and experienced a few close-calls and scary situations, but we made it nonetheless – 10 days and many hard-earned miles later!
It became quickly evident that living and working in a developing, tropical country was extremely different from what I was used to in Canada and required a great deal of consideration and planning – not to mention a completely different attitude toward life, different cultures and the planet as a whole.
The home was designed by a Canadian, and built by local builders – me being the only exception.
Although the plans were made well in advance, I was brought on site late in the project’s time-line as the security equipment was expensive, not replaceable locally, and sensitive to damage from construction mishaps (and like everything else – prone to theft). Soon after my arrival I discovered that the project was behind schedule, and that much of its afflictions were due to insufficient collaboration/communication between the owners, designer, and the builder/contractor(s). Both minor, and major details had been ill-conceived and/or omitted altogether due to lack of knowledge and research by the parties involved.
To this day I am unaware if the designer had ever physically been to the build site or understood the challenges of the climate there. The sun, heat, salty ocean air and precipitation during the rainy season are huge factors that seemed overlooked in many parts of the design, and it was quite apparent that a firm grasp of the owners’ lifestyle was quite different than the locals.
I contacted the owners (who had fair knowledge of my background) to inform them of the deficiencies and was immediately entrusted to oversee the project to its completion. It was a daunting task but with determination and perseverance the goal was met. That said, due to poor planning at the outset, earlier cost overruns, material loss and weather delays, the final product would end up taking a few more years to reach the owners ultimate pinnacle of perfection.
I have to date, conversed at length with more than 40 North Americans who have built in Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, and Trinidad/Tobago who recounted horror stories about their build/renovation projects. I visited dozens of homes during my time in Belize and was quite surprised at the poor designs and lack of foresight in the builds. From my personal calculations, 75% had presumed that their designer/builder (both Local and North American) would know and take care of everything, but most had failed miserably.
Many builders, contractors/subcontractors failed their clients miserably (IMO). Some charging 50% to over 100% more than the original agreed price (however most ranged from 40-75% more), and the finished products left much to be desired. Some homeowners “lost their shirts” altogether due to overages and lack of immediate financing (or time) to complete the work, leaving Mother Nature to wreak havoc on the existing unfinished structures (not to mention the health and relationship issues related to the ill-fated projects).
As for my dream of living in the tropics, it came to an end due to several things; the owners lack of funds for marketing due to the unforeseen build expenses and delays and therefore a lack of renters, my lack of an income (due to the previous reason), and a lack of residency. Because the house wasn’t completed for quite some time, I had no way to keep groceries, cook, do laundry, or connect with the outside world (except to travel to any of several resorts for these things – and pay tourist prices), so it didn’t take long to burn through the funds I had amassed for the trip. Oh well, another time…
Q: Are there projects that go smoothly, with no grief?
A: Yes, but honestly, it’s a rarity, those are few and far between.
I has personally witnessed numerous unfinished projects sitting on vacant lots with “For Sale” signs, concrete structures crumbling due to the salty air rusting/corroding the inner steel skeleton (due to unprotected, porous cement) and untreated wooden structures collapsing from rot and termite infestation. Regardless of the fact that local labor is cheap and that there are plenty of raw materials available, the process of tearing down and re-building (or selling the property with a partially completed, decaying structure) can be quite expensive, not to mention time consuming.
Nowadays there are more and more North American and European builders available in the area and the locals builders are changing their game. Things are looking up, but many builders still aren’t up to snuff on issues with tropical building customs/techniques, materials and technologies, and many projects still suffer from “Island time”. If you’ve ever been to the Caribbean you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Some homeowners have even had to deal with lengthy land title disputes because numerous real-estate firms/people claimed title to the same property that had lain dormant for years. Without a doubt, the governments in many developing countries seem to have difficulty keeping accurate records of property ownership.
The onus is definitely on the owners to do their own extensive research and get seriously on-board, and/or outsource the work to experienced, competent professionals who can do this in their sleep.
I know I can help anyone looking to do this on their own or even those who just want to make sure their project will not fail – and that it will turn out to be everything they dreamed it would be.
My View on Sustainability
I’m now a huge proponent of sustainable living, an Eco-friendly, low carbon footprint lifestyle and every year I do more to reduce my negative impact on the this planet, the source of everything that life here needs for survival.
My years in the North American Construction Industry has made me realize that North Americans (typically) are very wasteful.
Far too often I have gutted portions of peoples’ home that were (more often than not) in perfectly good condition/working order, just because they didn’t like the style/color/age of something or because they wanted to “keep up with the Jones’s”. Load, after load of perfectly good materials destroyed and taken to landfill.
Sure, occasionally some of it was recycled but not nearly often enough. Energy and resources are wasted at an incredible rate, like driving a big, gas guzzling vehicle instead of taking a 2 minute walk to the store, lighting up entire homes (inside and out) when there is nobody there, and clearing natural flora and fauna on properties (which require next to no maintenance/water) to put in grass, which requires incredible amounts of maintenance and water. Not to mention destroying the natural habitat of much needed insects and wildlife. It’s sad, and it’s not sustainable.
Having visited and lived in a few developing countries, I have seen how poor North American habits are rubbing off on their cultures, and how the beautiful, vibrant and natural lands are quickly being raped, pillaged & polluted.
“We travel to tropical locations to enjoy the climate, breathe the clean air and stand in awe of the natural beauty, yet we are quick to demand that the native peoples adapt to our wants and needs so that we may be comfortable during our stay. Unfortunately, that destroys the nature and local culture in the process, along with their way of life and the sustainable habits which have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Our technology rarely makes better lives, more often than not it pollutes, expends resources, decimates species and lengthens our lifespans so that we can overpopulate and continue the circle of destruction at an exponential rate”.
My decision to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle and to guide/assist others to follow suit stems from wanting humanity to survive in a healthy and natural way. It is also a necessary step in returning to a more simple, less stressed and healthier life. To help offset our carbon footprints and promote sustainability, my wife and I have purchased a farm on prime agricultural land in south-eastern Ontario. We had 2400 coniferous trees planted as part of Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Project, to help balance climate change and reestablish homes for birds and other displaced critters. Beekeeping and organic, Aquaponic farming are also in our future.
Do good for yourself and generations to come, build (if not live) sustainable, it will slow the process of destruction to the planet that (if we continue with our poor current trends) will eventually bring an end to humanity as we know it.
This following article is SO incredibly worth the 3 minutes it will take to read. It covers merely a single aspect of the journey on which you are about to embark, but is both insightful and poignant.