They say that time flies. I think that’s a fib. I don’t think it’s true when you live across the street from a nightmare. It now had become a ‘daymare’.
I work split shifts and am home at least six hours a day during the daylight hours. I work in my woodshop during that time. I like having my garage door open. I leave it open so I can see what’s going on across the street and around the neighborhood.
My workshop has become the neighborhood center point. We came to live in this neighborhood almost 4 years ago now. We originally moved up here for one reason. It was all we could afford. We moved during the peak of the housing market. We had put in five offers in one week. We lost out on every offer we made. The last house for which we made an offer went for thirteen thousand five hundred dollars over asking price. I gave up and headed for an area on the fringe of a notorious high-crime area.
We wanted to find a place we could do some remodeling and gain some sweat-equity. We also wanted to get our feet wet, so to speak, in the home remodeling business.
We almost drowned.
We soon found out that just because my best buddy TJ from college had a degree in finance and I had a background as a heavy equipment operator, it didn’t make us real estate barons.
We were both new to the big city after graduating from a small rural college. We were not only going to make are mark on the real estate market, but the simple fact was we needed a place to live.
Our lease on our apartment had expired. We both had hated it and wanted to pool our money to buy a duplex so we could pursue our dream of owning real estate. We also were aware that affordable housing soon wouldn’t be available at the rate it was appreciating. The simple fact also was we left college with a lot of liberal ideas and a ton of debt.
We had already done a couple side jobs like painting, fixing up old fences, small repairs and a lot of cosmic work. We thought we were on our way to giving Donald Trump a run for his development empire.
Oh to be young and dumb again.
We had, in our defense, spent a year redoing our house with what limited tools and experience we had – we felt we did pretty well. All the feedback we got was positive.
We spent about eighteen grand remodeling our existing home. Not bad for a couple of rookies. It wasn’t so much what we did, it was what it had done for us. It lit the fire of woodworking and a desire to do more.
Every chance we got we took a class from the local Home Depot or lumberyard. I read everything I could get my hands on. I watched every home improvement show known to man.
Move over Norm Abrams.
Not so fast.
We soon found it’s much easier to watch it on TV. It certainly took less time when they did it than it seemed to take us. I also noticed we had another problem they never seemed to have; enough money to do the job the way I wanted.
Over a four year period, we slowly began to gain valuable experience. We even had business cards printed – with our names – and an impressive title like Construction Foreman. Even though I was the only employee and it was a side job for us.
It’s amazing how many people will hire you when you are honest and will work for almost nothing. The problem is it’s hard to live off homemade pies and trading out your labor. Never the less, it gave us valuable experience and confidence for us to take our next steps to becoming real estate barons.
Like I said – oh to be young again.
The big thing beside experience that we gained, is that we had slowly added to our impressive tool inventory. Oh we had tools. Most of which we had no clue how to use or couldn’t use. But, we just new some day we would need those tools and would be happy we had them.
Yea right – we soon found out those days never seemed to come. And when they did, we never were able to find that tool we knew we bought and now needed.
Our big break came when a buddy who had attended college with us, landed a branch banker job near where we lived. He had been watching the progress we had made on the house we lived in. He asked us to help him find a home in this area. It would be near his work and we could make some money on the side.
Besides he had also given up trying to find a home in the area he wanted to live. He simply couldn’t afford it either. A win, win for everyone.
It actually worked. We found a house for him. We did the design, planning, coordinating with the city for the building permits and inspections. We learned a lot and got our feet wet as remodel experts.
We even made money.
That is if you don’t count your labor.
Oh to be young again.
Most important we learned a lot. We also discovered something. You make a neighborhood what you want it. If you start to clean it up and stay with it and encourage others, even pitching in to help them – even if it’s just cosmetic, the rewards are beyond ones expectations.
That however is another whole story and another blog.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two of our faithful partners.
Their background wasn’t in construction but rather public relations. That is one of the most valuable assets you can have on your way to becoming a real estate baron.
Meet Spike Lee (the Bull) and Sammy or Sam for short are Basset Hounds. They are our official shop hounds. They are with us at ever job and right under our feet in our shop. They gave us our ‘in’ to the neighborhood.
We walked them every night and over time people became accustom to seeing us and slowly came out to pet them and we would always introduce ourselves and make conversation. Soon we had made several friends from the neighborhood.
This became something that money couldn’t buy. In time we found out how valuable those shop hounds and our daily walks were. In short they turned out to be something we never could imagine that was to become.
We soon found out; priceless!
(Protected by copy write, all rights reserved ,D.Jerzak 2-23-2007)