Early in my relationship with Sue, before we were married, she decided she wanted a deck on the house she had purchased recently. I said I’d be glad to help her build it — afterall, wasn’t this what guys were supposed to do for their girlfriends?
I didn’t really know how to build a deck, but I had grown up with a father who had built many things around the house and wasn’t afraid to tackle most projects. I figured it couldn’t be that hard, plus Sue was friendly with Mike, an actual carpenter who was willing to provide free advice.
The night before launching into the project, I called Mike to ask about how best to build the framework for the deck — specifically attaching the main beam to the posts. “That’s easy,” he said. “Just cut a dado in the post at the right height and fit the joist in there.”
Great, I thought, a tool I don’t have (we were working with a pretty tight budget).
“I don’t have a dado-cutter,” I told Mike. “Can I borrow yours?”
There was a longish pause as Mike considered this. He’d known Sue a long and and clearly he though she’d latched onto a dimwit.
“Huh?” he asked perplexed and somewhat impatiently. “You use a Skillsaw.”
“What’s a Skillsaw?” I asked.
Another longish pause as I had confirmed his early diagnosis and then Mike started to slowly describe a Skillsaw… “It’s a power tool… it’s got a round blade, a handle…”
“Oh, I know that that is!” I said, much to Mike’s relief. (My father bought all his tools at Sears. I had no idea that “Skillsaw” had been come the Kleenex of the circular saw world).
The deck turned out OK (after several revisions) and was followed by three additions, a shed and residing, among other projects. We ended up hiring Mike for the heavy stuff – building the shell – and we would finish the interiors. Along the way I learned a bit about framing, sheetrocking, finish carpentry, flooring, plumbing and wiring.
We eventually sold that first house and bought a smallish split level a few miles out of town. We liked the neighborhood, but not the house, but by then we knew we’d make it into something we did like. And we did, adding a 12 x 36 foot addition to the rear of the house and making other improvements.
Then the real estate boom hit and we figured what better way to put our passion to use but to invest in real estate? In the space of a little over a year, we bought two apartment buildings and a lakefront cottage (“camp” in Maine terms). All required a certain degree of rehabbing.
And finally, at the height of the real estate boom, we bought our latest project, the Wentworth Street house. It is to date our most ambitious project and Its tale is really the centerpiece of this site.