As a kid, I specifically remember my mother telling me, “don’t marry a carpenter”. Her reasoning was quite simple, and true. Together with your carpenter husband you will dream of the home you will build for yourselves, but everyday when dear hubby gets home from work building someone else’s home, the last thing he wants to do is do more building.

Your projects will always be last on the list.

I didn’t marry a carpenter, but I did marry a skill collector. With his many skills he has found himself work pretty much everywhere we go. But just as my mom had warned me all those years ago, our projects seem to stay on the to-do list for much too long.

I don’t blame him. After a hard days work, he comes home to crash and relax.


It’s happened twice now, where we get everything fixed up and pretty, just to turn around and sell it!

When I was pregnant with our first daughter, Arias, Eben went into nesting mode and renovated our entire house in Canada. When he was done the place looked stellar. But our plan wasn’t to live in a house in Canada, it was to go sailing the Caribbean. We rented the house out for a couple of years, until we realized that that house was not our forever home, so we sold.

When we are days away from moving off of our sailboat, many of the projects that we had on the back burner are getting done. Eben was working until the very last minute to make sure that we are passing on a fully functional and kitted out boat.


With the completion of every one of those boat projects we heard ourselves saying, “wow I wish we would’ve done that sooner”. The upgrades Eben was doing were making the boat that much better.

For example:

  • For years he has wanted to take down our bimini and make a window in it. This saves us having to jump in and out of our seats our entire time sailing to check on the sails. Now, from our spot at the helm, we can look up and see how the wind is hitting our sails and if anything needs to be adjusted.

  • Last year we got ourselves a wicked 65lbs Mantus anchor. We got it for hurricane season, but also for that extra security/weight of knowing that when we drop anchor our boat is not going anywhere. Eben has been manually dropping and raising that thing, by hand with pure muscle power! We have had a Quick Aleph windlass for the same amount of time as the anchor, which Eben installed in the deck, but hadn’t ran power to yet. Now that project is done, and dropping and raising that beast of an anchor is done by the push of a switch. 
  • We don’t have a watermaker, which means we fill our tanks at whichever port we pull into. We have never had any issues with our water, but you never really know the quality of it unless you test it on a regular basis. Which we don’t. On our last trip to Canada we got ourselves two Viqua UV Water filters, one for the Canadian property and one for the boat. Last week Eben got around to installing it. We can actually taste the difference in the drinking water.


  • Rain on a boat, not a problem. Rain getting into a boat, big problem. A couple of weeks ago we had three solid days of rain, which caused us to realize just how bad the leak in the forward hatch was. Right above the girls bed! As I type this Eben is on deck resealing it. Leak is now fixed, no more yet bed.


Obviously we are no pros at this! We have gone through two homes and repeated the same pattern of “fixing and leaving” both times. How can we change this so that we don’t do it on our next home project? Is there a way for us to prioritize our own projects so that we can be living in our place and enjoying the fruits of Eben’s labour?

I don’t know!?

My brother-sister-in-law find themselves in quite the same pattern. Eben’s brother Jair is very much like Eben; extremely resourceful, handy, and always busy working on something. They are also in the process of building themselves a home, an “earthship”, on the Canadian property.

After living in several work-as-you-go homes, my very smart sister-in-law Mel decided, “we’re not moving into this new home until it is 90% complete”. Hopefully, this way most of the projects will be done. This would save them from moving into a half completed house, getting comfortable, and having their projects move from “pressing” to “back burner”. 

We may have to take a card from their playbook!


We left our boat last week, and we still aren’t sure where we will land. We have a few options that we are going to check out, and still some ideas floating in our heads. All of these ideas, including the Canadian property, we are building from the ground up. So will we repeat this pattern of “back-burner building” or will we try a new way of doing things?

In Canada we have a trailer that we can live in until we feel like our house is ready for us to move into…but we are also racing the weather. The trailer isn’t winterized, so we will either be ready to move into it when the cold comes, or we will move elsewhere.

Moving elsewhere would entail something similar, since we no longer have a secondary home (no more boat to fall back on) we can rely on. Once again we would have to find an alternate home until our home would be established.


Have you found yourself in this situation before? Did you rent until your place was ready? Did you move in and work really hard at getting the projects around you done in a timely manner? Or did you get things to a liveable point and put the extra projects on the back burner?

I didn’t marry a carpenter. I have lived in two “work-as-you-go” homes. And I must say, even if it takes a little while for our to-do list to get done, the work he does is so impressive.