I’ve been charged with the unenviable task of writing an about me section for my own website. There are probably certain people who can’t wait for the chance to do this sort of thing; and then there are others for who that task is stomach churning. I’m in the latter group, all the way. I admit, I’ve tried to pawn this off on numerous people but no takers, and my site-guru says I should do it myself anyway. I’m not big on braggadocio. I prefer the sawdust on the floor over the fancy granite, and I’d rather be the wallflower than the one under the lights, that’s for damn sure. Actions certainly speak louder than words…but I do love words…and written words last longer than spoken words, and I guess this is an important part of a website (I’ve been told…) so here goes, and please please please pardon the use of the letter “I”…it’s a real turn-off, but necessity:
I love to build things. I have always loved to build things, and that includes just about anything and everything - from foundation forms to motorcycles to even ikea cabinets, and my favorite clients to build things for are the ones with soul who want their home to tell their story. I can promise you this: if you are looking for just a run-of-the-mill house; if you are thinking “we just want this ….” and it includes a picture of a vanity from home depot; if you are not only uninterested in energy-efficiency but it is not one of your foremost priorities; if you are not a little funky and like to think outside the box…. Then I am likely not your builder, but I can certainly recommend you to friends who might be. We all get along here. There is a lot of business to be done and lots of money to be made in churning out the same or similar things over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, that’s not what we do. Every human on the planet is different, as should be your shelter.
I started in construction around the age of 14 or 15. It was my first job, and I’m still close friends with the guys I worked with then, some 23 years later now. We all loved it, it’s the identity of the town we grew up in, blue-collar and gritty, and it set the tone from there-on-out. In between undergraduate studying economics and finance, and then graduate school studying ESL and linguistics, I always had a foot in the building world whether it were painting homes, concrete work, framing, finish (admittedly, a little bit rough back then though…), roofing, siding, etc; the usual construction college gigs in between bartending most nights. I attempted to stay off job sites for a little while during the last year of graduate school and then about a year after too; taught at a few colleges; wrote an ESL learning book (that didn’t get published…but I have pictures to prove it!); and built a lot of furniture for various apartments. My roommates loved me. Caught myself staring a painted concrete wall inside my basement-office one afternoon, correcting papers and longing for the jobsite action, and that was that. Seed was planted.
I moved to the Cape in 2003, a place I’d been going to and subsequently loved all of my life. My grandparents lived in Cotuit, near the Kettler’s field, and I still go by their old home often on Putnam Ave. I wanted to surf and be a carpenter again, my only life goals; that was it. But HDB began very shortly thereafter. I worked with a huge company to start in Osterville; learned a ton from the old-timers with whom I was fortunate and lucky enough to work. I saw what perfect really meant (not the Worcester version, but the Osterville version), and learned the short distance further needed to get there. We were building to the very-elite of the ultra-elite, and there is no wiggle room. But I don’t have a lot of time for people buying homes with $15 million cash. That’s not me. So, while thankful for the opportunity, therein I learned a lot about what I didn’t want to do, and here we are today.
I’m a builder; designer; traveler; a photographer; an educator; a daily and lifetime learner. I have been around the world a few times and have no intention of ever stopping that. I think travel is one of the most important teaching lessons the world has to offer. Buy a ticket, go, learn, listen and then let that influence your life and your work. It’s not whether you can afford to, but rather whether we can all afford not to. There is a lot of amazing and good out in the world. Though I’ve traversed almost all of the globe at some point, my favorite geographic destinations and influences have been Kyoto, Japan; Kaikoura, New Zealand; Burleigh Heads and Byron Bay in Australia; Co. Dingle in Ireland; and all of Iceland (which may be my favorite, and only a hop-skip-jump from Boston. You should go. It’s easy.) I’ve also lived and/or spent extended amounts of time in Greece; Montreal; China; Costa Rica; California; Florida; Indonesia; Singapore; and have slow-traveled through all of Central America via chicken buses and rear-tailgates of old pick-up trucks (and also, one time, a very nice shuttle with a police escort.) However, the two places that hold my heart the most just happen to be two of the poorest countries in all of the world: Haiti and Nicaragua. You cannot visit either of these places and return the same person. I like that. Simplicity by necessity. We can learn a lot from the people in these two beautiful countries; though, we can also learn a lot from the people in every country, too.
The web-site guru-guy says I need to use this space to tell you why you should hire us. Well, I’m not sure if you should or shouldn’t; that’s up to you. But if I had to blow my own horn, this is what I think that I (and consequently those working with me and for me and ultimately working for you) are good at:
Listening. I want to hear your story, your families story, and make your home reflect that. Whether that means picking up on little micro-pieces of conversations during the initial design process (a wood species you happen to like) and then a year later incorporating that into the project somehow (an inlaid detail in a stair railing, for instance); or if that means listening to what you really don’t like about certain things too (just as important actually). Those little pieces are what make a house into a home, and there is a difference. I love to listen, and I love passionate people, and people are usually passionate about their homes and what they’d like their home to be - if you’re not, we probably wouldn’t work well together. If you’re just looking to remodel and flip, with no passion, no story, then don’t hire us. If you want stones from your favorite beach made into furniture; if you have a favorite artist you wish could be worked into the home somehow; if you used to build yourself and have a favorite material you once loved to use; if you collect antiques and would love them to be incorporated in a way you can’t imagine yet… We want to hear about it, and we want to make it come to life in your space. We can, and chances are we’ve done something along the lines somewhere in the past; and if we haven’t, we’ll open the school books.
Honesty. Ask our past clients, go visit their homes, see and listen to what they say. Our cards are on the table, at all times, open book, every aspect. Life is too short for bs, in any way. You want a good project, and I want you to have a good project, and I want to share conversations for years after we finish. I’ll be honest with you, and I ask that you be honest with me. I have walked away from clients when I’ve felt that wasn’t a mutual agreement; I have also made the mistake of continuing with clients when there was an underlying feeling of dishonesty and have learned to not let that happen ever again. Honesty is crucial, from client and builder, and it must be from start to finish and then years after, too.
Integrity. There’s a reason I am at your job site on Sunday mornings, with coffee, by myself, cleaning up, getting ready for the next week, thinking, ruminating, planning. This is your home, your space, your land, your project, your money, your life. That’s more important to me than I can describe. You are asking me to build a shelter for your family. It’s not just a place; it’s your life reflected in wood, plaster, concrete, tile, lighting, layout, efficiency, durability, and all the other thousands of little details that go into making a home. I don’t want to just build a house. It’s your home, not similar to the one we built last year for those other clients, or the one before that, or the one before that. Go see our past projects, and see the owner’s personalities reflected in the work. That’s a family home. That’s what’s most important to me, and I keep that promise, to make that for you once that promise is made. There will be lots of paperwork involved, of course, but ultimately it comes down to doing something because I told you I would, and I will.
Creativity. I work with a creative bunch, a group of guys who also surf, skate, paint, build cars, play music, make movies, write, etc, etc. But I also work with the best guys. There are few better, that I promise; and we all strive to keep getting more and more perfect with every day. There is no finish line with us. There is no point where we would ever say “I’ve figured it all out”. These are the people I surround myself with, and these are the people who will consequently be making your home with me. And they’re good people. If you have even the faintest hint of an idea, we can make it happen. There are a lot of good carpenters out there; lots of people who have done something once, know how to do it, and that’s how it gets done - anyone can do that, you can too; but try to get something different, something that has to be thought out, dreamt up, imagined, and then created by hand for the first time and you’ll see the difference. I have built with concrete, wood, mud, bamboo, tin, steel, adobe, clay, ceramics, and more. We are not static beings, and neither is the process nor the materials of building. Too often, the goal of a builder is to get to a point where they can just do one thing, one material, one style, stick to it, make the weekdays easy and get to the weekend and into that new boat; that’s not my goal and I hope it’s not your’s either.
We’re making your home, not just building a house.