Interested in property maintenance as a career?

I wondered if any ex-serviceman was interested in a career in building maintenance? I read about charitable ventures up North where they offered practical training in house renovation in cooperation with local councils. There seems no reason why this scheme could not be developed to include college courses. The idea being to develop a person’s confidence and show an employer that he could do the work required without need for supervision. Ideally the project would be monitored by a service charity who would ensure the renovated property was available to rent for ex-serviceman. Here in Essex we have quite a few abandoned properties as developers prefer to build on large green field sites than deal with time consuming one offs.

For years I have watched the locally available building maintenance workers get older and older with few younger people coming into the building trade. Small businesses reject youngsters as either “they don’t want to work” or accepting their ambition is for university followed by desk jobs. So when the experienced person retires he has no one to takeover and an established customer base is lost.
It seems ex-servicemen can face problems both with housing and employment particularly if disabled.

To start this charitable venture off there are two empty properties available needing work in Ipswich. I envisaged ex-servicemen or a family occupy the properties rent free whilst doing them up on a flexible timescale and taking local college courses for those important paper certificates in specialist areas. Funds are available to cover costs of materials , tools and expenses only. When the properties are rented out, preferably to disabled ex-servicemen, hopefully the process could continue with other properties.

I did discuss this with local representatives of several national army charities who were not interested. Perhaps it does not have the glamour of raising £8million to build a rehabilitation centre or alternatively the charities thought it would be difficult to recruit ex-servicemen interested in building work. I would be reluctant to start up yet another army charity and hope one of the housing charities would want to be involved if there was any interest from ex-servicemen. Any comments appreciated particularly those pointing out the flaws!



There's a big one. By engaging the services of a handyman, you are ensuring that you are not engaging the services of a tradesman. Jack of all trades, master of none, as they say.

A major renovation will require the services of several trades and an overseer of some sort - or a foreman and you don't want a foreman on the job who's not fully trained in at least one building discipline - site foremen are usually joiners.

One job isn't enough to learn about building or renovation work from a practical point of view, so what you get is a house done up by a butcher for no gain to the squaddie involved in the project.

I worked as a handyman/small jobbing builder for a bit, but that was after a couple of years working for a general builder, and even then I stuck to the simple stuff. Concrete, blockwork and bits of plastering mostly, with a few repairs on guttering and the like.

Add -

Are these your properties and funds? If they are, then I'm not going to accuse you of freeloading it's a perfectly acceptable swap, digs for work. I'd just like to know.
Whilst doing up the property, the bloke isn't available for work and therefore isn't eligible for any form of benefit. When he has finished, presumably the property will be given to somebody else and he'll be homeless.

No money, no home and only part way through a course. It's not a great incentive to work.

You also don't mention anything about showing the worker how to do the job or even how to do it safely. He'll be a hazard to himself and others until he has finished his course AND had supervised practical experience. He could wind up dead and you could wind up in jail.

I doubt that it's even legal for somebody to live in a house that's the subject of a major doing-up (water quality, waste disposal, hygiene, fire safety and so on) unless it's their own (mortgaged, not rented) home.

Have you looked into insurance for this? Unsupervised, unskilled workers conducting work normally done by competent tradesmen.

What you're suggesting could be accomplished with the backing of a wealthy philanthropist but, frankly, there's little, if anything, for the ex-servicemen to gain that couldn't be done through a proper apprenticeship. And, financially, you'd be better off employing a reputable builder.
Thanks for the helpful comments. Yes, I own the properties and enjoyed learning to do the guttering, woodworm treatment, central heating, electrics, lime mortar repointing and a little painting. More painting needs doing but I am unable to continue as I am looking after a 102 year old relative! I did think it would help an ex-serviceman mentored by a charity to show an employer he had the skills and qualifications but clearly I have not thought it through.

One day I will be free to finish the work so it can, as I mentioned before, be rented out preferably to an ex-serviceman. I would be reluctant to employ normal tradesmen without being onsite to monitor the work. Then if I am there I might as well do it myself. It is not lack of funds, I just enjoy the work and regret I cannot encourage others to become equally enthusiastic.
There's the problem. As the owner, you can dabble in DIY to your heart's content (less gas). It's my understanding that you can mess about with the electrics with no knowledge of the subject* but as soon as you bring somebody else in, they've either got to be competent i.e. trained and experienced or under the close supervision of somebody who's competent - and has adequate insurance.

*though you'll hit problems if you try to sell or let the property.

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