May 16, 2013

My history as a Contractor (and personal observations on my journey)

My personal journey to becoming a contractor is unique in that I have been on many sides of construction and design, and feel that such a diverse immersion has given me a usefully enriched persecutive through which I can direct and produce a personalized custom home "creation."  Perhaps my brother saw this quality in me when he helped me choose a name for my company.

Early years - My parents moved quite a bit while I was growing up - averaging one house a year from 4th to 11th grade.  What could have been a social nightmare to some kids I feel was actually beneficial to my current housebuilding career. We worked on and off as a family to fix up and decorate homes to increase their value.  If I had few friends in the new area, I  spent my time looking at design magazines and dreamed of what could be. We were not intentional flippers, but the process was similar.  We always intended to build for ourselves, so we weren't tempted with "the quick flip" and the poor craftsmanship it could bear.  But we did uncover some crazy "handyman/homeowner" work!

I really liked the new project feel - and energy - of a house that needed work.  I will never forget looking through countless home magazines during those early years, making my own mental notes as to the merit of the decoration and layout features presented.   There was of course my mom's favorite, and, to a young boy with an interest in custom homes, the holy grail  - Architectural Digest.  A window into the lives and playgrounds of the rich and famous - decorated by the talented gays (and a few straights) of their field.  

With the metrosexual era defining itself (basically an excuse for straights to adopt some of the superior practices of gays), I am no longer concerned about seeming "gay".  You either are or aren't!  I never should have worried about it, but as a young man I was unfortunately a bit homophobic - something today that I actually am ashamed for feeling - I guess it may have been an overreaction for displaying what some people considered to be gay tendencies with my enormous interest in decor and design.  Fortunately I have grown and matured to become a GLBT supporter 100%, as it should to be.  We learn to be greater people by daring to accept the differences that make us all so diversely unique and simultaneously alike.

So yes, I started young as a design aspirant and critic.  And never stopped.  At restaurants and hotels, to this day I will be found undoubtedly craning my neck up and around, absorbing the decor and flow of the structure, hoping to get a few good ideas and note a few things to avoid.  It's not going to stop, so I have to accept it.  I just hope my close circle understands. 

My twenties - Not able to decide on a major at the University, I decided to go west and "easily" find fame and fortune in Los Angeles, right? Like many midwest transplants, I thought of being a musician, or acting in movies, but in retrospect I never considered the actual lifestyle of pursuing that adventure until I got here, and I wasn't really a fan of nightclubs, slumming on pocket change and live performing, so I would say it was a fun idea and great excuse to come out west.  I did enjoy doing little music projects, but that type of success has many strings attached.  To those who do try it seriously, it think with any outcome it is a great experience - which is a success in itself - and LA is an exciting and diverse place to be young and discover yourself, with all the hustle and glitz to keep you on your toes.  I lived in a weekly apartment on Hollywood Blvd. for six months or so at 21 years old to achieve the full effect.

 Upon arrival, I did various odd jobs like messengering (great way to learn the city) until beginning on a framing crew.  From there, I took up finish carpentry, since I had practice from performing small and varied detail-oriented finish jobs for my slightly critical yet loving German mother.

Finish work came easily to me with my trained eye for detail, and I was promoted to crew lead at a young age.

When one company I worked for had some administrative difficulty and disbanded, I had abandoned jobs on my hands and people that needed my help to finish.  They turned to me so I took on the role of finishing those jobs as an unlicensed contractor ( I think the statute of limitations has passed).

I continued to work for other contractors to finish up my licensing requirements and applied for a B license - general contractor - in 1992.

My thirties - I worked quite a bit on custom home projects, remodeled some recording spaces, and did some commercial electrical work for various electrical contractors.

When I turned 40, I was living in Seattle, working as a GC/EC on custom homes, and building various commercial projects.

Many jobs (and years) later I find myself back in Southern California.  I have learned so much from my journey about jobs and design and quality of work, and I hope to share it with great customers - like you.