Patrick Harris is a dab hand at home DIY. But the Auckland man steers clear of house cleaning duties, instead opting to pay someone to come in once a fortnight to tidy up.  "It's a bit of a luxury," Harris said.

If things need repairing around the house Harris will give it a go. He recently replaced some weather boards on his house and strengthened the foundations. It saved him a small fortune.

Patrick Harris says the skills of some young people who come in are "non-existent". He attempted to replace the guttering but the job proved too difficult so he paid someone to fix it. "It was something a bit too specialised for me."

When his vacuum cleaner stopped working he found a video on Youtube showing how to pull the machine apart and replace the motor. "I was certainly motivated to do it." But when it turned out a new motor would cost a few hundred dollars he decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one.

Harris' roll-up-your-sleeves and do it yourself attitude is typical of men his age. Harris said his generation grew up tinkering in their dad's sheds, mucking around with tools, timber and machinery.

It's this upbringing that helped people his age develop hands-on skills that will serve them well in retirement. If the lawn mower breaks - they fix it. If the house needs a paint - they pick up a paint brush.

AMP managing director Blair Vernon said as the cost of labour increased DIY skills would become increasingly valuable in retirement. Those who did not have the skills to do things themselves and needed to pay for services would fare worst in retirement, he said.

Younger New Zealanders were falling behind when it came to learning practical skills, he said. Not only that, they were paying for services which did not require much skills such as cleaning and lawn mowing.

"If you don't acquire those skills then you are exposed to purchasing those services and they're quite expensive," Vernon said. There was nothing wrong with that when you're young and could afford it, he said. But when those people hit retirement there was a good chance they would need to alter their lifestyle and cut out luxury expenses. While that sounded easy in principle, changing was no easy feat, he said. "That feels like a radical altering of your lifestyle."

He recommended people made changes early on. Not only that but they needed to get a handle on what their money was going towards. "It's really surprising how many people aren't broadly across the amount of money they're spending."

Acquiring DIY skills is easier said than done. Traditionally, skills were handed down from father to son, but younger people lacking that parental guidance wanting to build up theirs can do courses, workshops at their local hardware stores, tap into the wisdom of Youtube videos, or join a DIY club.

Harris is a trustee of the Auckland Central Community Shed (ACCS) - a non-profit community facility where people can pay an annual fee to use tools and pick up skills from some of the more experienced members.

But its primary role was a place for people to socialise and make friends, Harris said. Many of the young people who joined lacked even the most basic skills, he said. "They pretty much need hands on teaching."

Younger people maybe lacked the skills of older generations because they were more focused on technology and computers rather than "mucking around with bits of wood and making go carts", Harris said. Those who did come into the ACCS to learn new skills were doing it to create rather than save money, he said. "It's just the joy of making something."

Source: Stuff