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My Experience

I was raised on a farm where paying to have anything done was unthinkable. You either learned to do it or learned to do without it.

I had built barns and sheds and done plumbing and electrical.

My wife and I had bought and remodeled some houses. We helped with my sister-in-law and her husband's. That was a major remodel; moving walls, plumbing and electrical.

We bought and remodeled 8 fourplexes in an area that was declining but convenient to jobs and shopping. There were several others on that street. Five years later, when we sold, the rents were double and the properties had appreciated 80%. Not just ours but every one on the street. We took a chance and proved that investing in improvements would pay off. Three years later now, some of the out of town landlords are letting maintenance slip and they are on the way down again.

My Crew

In many Internet conversations, I have suggested that every builder should have a helper. One that is either smart enough to keep you from making mistakes or dumb enough to accept the blame. I was fortunate enough to have the former. And he bought lunch every other time also!

This treatise is as much about a relationship as building a house. I'm an old graybeard, almost sixty, weigh about 240. My fifteen year old neighbor was my only help. He tipped the scales at 120. I did the grunt work; he provided the agility.

He is my adopted nephew. He adopted me. I sold his parents some land when he was two years old. He has hung out with me on most weekends all of his life.

We built swings, tree houses, barns and fences. We built his Mom a three horse trailer with dressing room when he was ten. We have rebuilt farm equipment, lawn mowers and engines. We built a fireworks stand he has operated since he was thirteen.

We started the house in October of 2000. Weekends and summers over a two year period, he worked 150 days and I worked 210. During this period, he ran the fireworks stand twice a year. He was the drum major of the school band. He contracted and built a 600 sq ft photography studio for one of his teachers; from the ground up. Foundation to roof including electrical and finish out. He graduated from high school the month he turned seventeen, with a semester of college credit. He is now attends UT Austin.

It was particularly gratifying that his tool belt was one of the things he took when he went off to college.

I'm as proud of this kid as I am of the house. Did I mention he lets me borrow his motorcycle?