"I coulda been a Constructor!"
I've always loved to build things, since I was big enough to swing a hammer. In the booming 1980s, I was building houses. I was gonna be a Builder! I'd learned the ropes, paid my dues, frozen my ass off framing and doing siding in the worst of New York's winter weather. Building houses is exciting. You start with boards and nails and stuff, and end up with something that people LIVE IN. Yeah, it's kind of amazing.
On the site in Rochester where I really learned how to build complicated townhouses, the super was a personable guy named Roman O'Krepky (yup, that's his name). His brother wanted to build his own home, and Roman asked me to contract for much of the work. That was my first "house," start to finish. Shortly after that, I built a house for the Commercial Sales honcho at Chase-Pitkin -- my best friend from way back.
Later I pitched in for a very good friend and former business partner when he built his first home. We'd started (and I finished) a new home for his cousin before that, after a catastrophic fire. My team, grown to four skilled craftsmen by the 90s, put up a tricky Cape Cod for Chase-Pitkin's kitchen sales manager -- much of the work was done in a series of snowstorms.
In between, part-time and with tons of help from friends and relatives (thank you, Pete!), I built a stately Victorian three-story "farmhouse" for myself. My kids still live there.
So why am I not building homes today? Because home-building can be scary. Big credit lines, critical bank deadlines, heavy payrolls. Unless you can afford to cut-in a cul-de-sac ($250K minimum), building homes one at-a-time is tricky business. Today I remodel residential kitchens and baths for local customers. I do most of the work myself, with help as needed. Though it'll never make me rich, it's good honest work that pays the bills. And I love doing it!
When I'm not busy working I love to go camping with my family in our 80's-era Shasta camper. I always take a good book, too, in case it rains. What else makes me smile? The NFL, playing golf, great music (mostly Country these days), thunderstorms, bicycling with my kids, and puttering around in my garden. Oh yeah, and making new friends, like you!