That’s me in front of the 3000-square foot modern lake house I designed and (mostly) built from 2004–20012. By “mostly” I mean that it was not quite finished when a loss of financing, an ill-timed tornado, and legal problems with local government brought my dream crashing down.
But build it I did, every last stick and nail, with the help of one other guy named Fred. My lower back issues and years-long ibuprofen habit testify to it.
Before I built this house, I knew next to nothing about construction. I had not built so much as a bird house before.
What motivated me to take on such a herculean task?
I believed that I could.
Simple as that.
I had the money for materials, but not for outside labor. I calculated that I would save big doing it all myself, allowing me to build twice as big as I had originally planned.
For a year before I broke ground, I bought every book on building I could get my hands on. Site planning, concrete foundations, framing, sheathing, insulating, electrical, plumbing and more.
It took four months for me to draw the plans, the old-fashioned way, in pencil on paper with rulers and a T-square. To my delight and astonishment, the local building board approved my renderings on the first go-around.
The only outside contractor I paid was my excavator. He dug the foundations where I built 2-foot by 1-foot footer forms — commercial size — because I was concerned by how close to the water I was building and how high the water table was. On top of that I constructed 10-inch by 3-foot wall forms with insulated rigid foam panels. I wanted something that would last 100 years with no problems.
That tower you see in the picture? That’s 40-feet from top to bottom and the box on top is a 12x12x12-foot observatory that lookes out over the lake.
So, was I filled with hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance, conceit and pride) or was I simply confident in my ability to do something I’d never done before?
Honestly? A good bit of the former but a lot of the latter.
Ultimately, a freak tornado tore the roof off my dream house and drenching rains flooded both floors. I was forced to sell.
But would I do it all again?
In a heartbeat.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t learn a whole helluva lot about what I will do differently next time.
But a little lunacy can go a long way. It helps you stand out from the crowd. And to quote one of my heroes, Richard Branson, when asked if he wanted to proceed with a new business concept that had just been hashed out on a napkin, “Screw it! Why not?”
As it always is in life, nobody cares what you do unless it directly affects or benefits them, so take care of yourself first, act on your dreams. Make them real.
There’s no time like the present for doing so.
Get the full-monty run-down on how to hack the world to your benefit in my cynical but highly rewarding book, Nobody Cares: The Ultimate & Only Self Help Book You Will Ever Need, available now on Amazon (link.)
If you don’t win, I don’t win.