They say everyone has to start somewhere. Some of us had such humble beginnings we don’t like to think or talk about them, but it's important to know that anyone can do this.
I was raised on a farm, so simple construction projects were often the way of life for us. I learned to mix concrete by hand, form foundations with boards and sweat and tears, and to work hard at an early age.
But the idea to build my first house began as an idealistic conversation between myself and a handful of university buddies. Finally, two of us decided to take the plunge and design and build a house to be sold. How naïve we were!
I remember drafting the plans myself, ( rather crudely by today’s standards), and applying for a mortgage at age twenty at the local bank. It was a small town, things were done more casually back then, but in no time I was financed and on my way.
The build went fairly well for a while, we hired a contractor to install the basement, and we framed the house ourselves with hand tools. (no air tools in those days). We built our own windows!
I took evening courses on wiring and plumbing and tried my hand at both. When we got to the drywall phase, we subcontracted that part but we didn’t understand the difference between a good job and a bad job…..and we got a bad one.
A whole winter was spent re-sanding and re-painting after the whole house had been finished before it was really ready to put on the market.
And I bit my fingernails to the quick hoping and praying it would sell! I had everything on the line, credit cards maxed, the whole bit!
That house and lot sold, for the unheard of price of $21,000. The same person who bought it back then lives in it to this day.
I barely broke even on my first project, but it was a lifetime of learning and experience I gained, and lessons from that first build kept me out of trouble hundreds of times since then.