Duane Norland

Journeyman carpenter, Licensed Contractor, Home Improvement

I have been a carpenter for over 30 years and still get fired up when I strap on my belt.

I have seen a lot of mistakes over the years and they all boil down to a lack of knowledge. I am here to share that knowledge.

Check out all of my Udemy courses to find the one that pertains to your new project.

I live in central Alberta, Canada with my beautiful wife and our 2 sons. I have been a carpenter for over 30 years and have done everything imaginable from building entire houses from the ground up to doing all types of renovations.

With all of the DIY information available today on the internet, far too many people are taking it upon themselves to do their own home improvements. Although there are a lot of small projects that could be satisfactorily completed after simply watching a Youtube video, there are far more that require expertise and knowledge in order to do the job properly and safely.

Even small projects can cause serious and expensive consequences if a single factor is overlooked. I have witnessed major mistakes over the years that ended up costing more money to repair than the original project would have cost if done properly by a professional. The home owners thought that they were going to save some money by tackling these jobs themselves, but they ended up spending way more to have their mistakes fixed.

Don't fall into this trap. Always know exactly how to complete a job before attempting any home improvement project, no matter how small or how easy it seems.

I was bitten by the carpenter bug early in life

My father left my family when I was only 8 years old. As I grew and tried to build things as young boys do, I found it difficult. I was definitely lacking some basic skills that normally get passed down by your father. I couldn't help wondering about the possibilities that would be available if I had that knowledge.

Luckily, my dad's older brother Marvin was the head of the carpenters' union in Sarnia, Ontario. I joined when I was 18 and began the apprenticeship program. My first job was with a company called RKR Construction in London, Ontario. We were building a 48 unit apartment complex. At first I was completely overwhelmed. There were about 20 carpenters on site and at any given time, there were 5-10 separate projects all going on at once. I still remember my first day. I showed up with a hammer, a square, a tape measure and a pencil. I didn't even have a tool belt.

Due to my lack of experience, I was given mostly labour jobs at first. As time went on and I started learning things though, I was given more and more responsibility and really grew to love carpentry.

RKR went on to other projects, mostly building houses. The process was basically always the same. Build the foundation, put on the first floor, build the walls, build the roof, and finally install the windows and doors. That was all we did. We left the rest to individual specialists. We got good and we got fast. A crew of 4 could put up a house in a month. As time went on, I found a higher paying job with Robert Syndvic Contracting back in Sarnia. I worked with him until the end of my journeyman training, also taking on small projects on my own (garages, sheds, fences, minor renovations).

When I was 26 I moved to High Prairie, Alberta and started my own company. Since then, my career has taken off. We handle residential construction, mostly building new houses. We also handle garages, decks, roof repairs, siding, renovations of all types, fences and even the odd tool shed and ice fishing hut. Over the years I have also picked up quite a bit of knowledge about wiring, plumbing and heating.

My main skills involve framing, shingling, siding, drywall and drywall mudding. It's been over 30 years since I first joined the carpenters' union and got my first real taste of what was to become my lifelong journey. I haven't regretted it for a minute.

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