Retirement. Most remodelers are too busy running jobs to even think about it. Or they love their work so much that they can't imagine a time when work might be replaced by leisure activities. Either way, your body may not allow you to work forever. The smart thing to do is to plan for a life after remodeling. The sooner you start planning to retire, the sooner you will have the option. And it's never too early or too late to begin.

Physical Fitness As much as remodelers are concerned with securing jobs, meeting payroll, and wowing customers, they should be equally concerned with their personal outlook. Remodeling is a labor-intensive business. For owners who are physically active in their companies (and many are), physical health is critical to the health of the business. But time and the aging process can be cruel to even the most skilled contractors.

Today, you may say that you can't afford to stop working. But some day you may not have a choice. Will you be able to do everything you do now when you're 65? What if you got hurt or seriously ill and were physically unable to work?

Old Thinking Regardless of your age, my advice is to think old.

In a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 84% of workers said they were confident that they would have enough money to cover basic expenses in retirement, but less than one-third said they had actually tried to calculate how much they would need.

Here's one way to think about it: Let's say your career as a business owner began at age 30 and you hope to retire by age 65. If you're 47 today, you're at the halfway point in your remodeling career. Have you saved up at least half of what you need to retire?

Many of you don't even know what that “golden number” is. How, then, can you ever expect to get there?

Professional Help The best way to start is to hire a financial planner. When customers need a remodeling job done right, they hire a professional remodeler. Similarly, when remodelers want to plan for retirement, they should hire a financial planner.

One of the first things I did when I began my remodeling business was plan for my retirement (and the eventual selling of my business) with a financial planner. She wanted to know what kind of lifestyle I wanted to have when I retired. We ran the numbers, and she told me that I needed about $1 million based on the dollar-value of the 1990s economy to get there. With that goal in mind, I set to work.

A report from a financial advisor may cost some money. But it's better to pay a few hundred dollars today and find out what you need to retire than to find yourself retired without a dime to spare. Hiring that consultant was one of the smartest investments I ever made.

Selling Your Future Retirement is about more than 401(k)s and savings accounts. If you think you're too old to begin creating that nest egg, just take a good look at your business. You may already have the beginnings of that nest egg by creating something of enduring value.

If you don't believe you'll be able to sell your business, there are other ways to use it to create long-term financial security. The important thing is to start thinking about the alternatives now. You can work for your business for the rest of your life, or you can create a business that works for you.

—Shawn McCadden, CR, CLC, recently sold his Arlington, Mass.-based employee-managed design/build remodeling business. In his second career, he is director of education for DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen by Worldwide. Send e-mail to