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Friday, October 31, 2008

Farmhouse at Lot 3, Highland Farms

Our large cottage at Highland Farms is nearing completion. This 2000 sq ft cottage is actually a little larger since we created a walkout basement and then finished it off.

The owners of this house have really done a nice job keeping it real and the clean modern design is complimented throughout with detail. Such as a glossy black tile fireplace with white grout, large piece of glass instead of spindles, big darkly stained floors, big projection/media room in the basement, an office space with blood red carpet for the man of the house, the rest of the basement is carpeted with that material they use on playgrounds or pre-school - soft rubber/foam that snaps together. White porcelain doorknobs, antique doors, kickass deck with built in seats and beer holders.

And amazing, this house started with the Owners bringing me a vague outline from a book of cottage photos - from there, with only $6000 dedicated to architecture we have come a long way, nearly finished with this pretty cool home that we started in June.

Big wall of windows in the mid-morning sun.

This bad photo captures the fireplace, the stairwell that will have glass installed, and a 4 panel door stained jacobean with a high gloss finish.

Here is another bad picture in bad lighting of the salvaged door we found, coupled on the right with a sliding chalkboard door for that never-ending always expanding honey do list.

Now this deck really creams the coffee. Not only is it a nice size, but we designed it so the safety spindles guiderail was designed and built at seating, so no furniture necessary. One less honey do item - 'bring in the furniture, honey'. Not at this house. Great design, great execution, great craftsmanship.

Won't be long and this house we be finished. We are hoping to bring her in for a soft landing a little after thanksgiving.

Regardless of the depression, international currency crash, liquidity crisis, job losses and a host of overblown points of media interest, we plan on closing this house after thanksgiving, Cottage 9 in early December, Cottage 15 in early December, Cottage 14 in Early January, Cottage 13 in late January, and Farmhouse 10 in early February.
We just started clearing land for our next 3 homes that will come onto the market in early next year. A 1000 sq ft modern ranch on 5 acres with big views, a 800 sq ft cottage with a big stream on 5+ acres, and a very cool expanded cottage 8, with a pond view, loft space, 2 bedrooms.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Caught With My Pants Down

Since I don't want to taunt or mislead the ladies who may have taken the title of this blog literally and are heatedly scrolling down for the picture, let me put it out there that it's a figurative reference and no picture with my pants down exists in this post-

But what did happen was completely unexpected and turned this upstate Catskill region on its head over the last few days. We got snow - 5-7 inches of it, wet, heavy snow that pushed tree limbs onto electric lines, and covered a lot of Sullivan County in a very premature and unexpected ways -

An upstate winter is a state of mind, mostly, you got to be ready for it, mentally as well as in other ways such as having the shovels handy, snow plows dug out from the garage, winter wear pulled from the attic. Let's just say a big storm before the leaves of the trees are even fully shed is a problem in many ways.

I mean, it's been a rough few days of weather. Saturday it started raining, an it rained all day - the type of rain that prevents you from even taking your dog out for a walk - no respite, all day, into the night, not even a few minutes of break. Then Sunday was perfect - picture, pretty perfect. Then Monday the same type of rain - no break, all day rain. Then we go to sleep and wake up naturally when the electric goes out (ever notice that?) and I look out the window and see everything COVERED IN SNOW. And wake up a few hours later with no electric, schools canceled, the heat dropping in the house, and what will evolve into total chaos at the 5 construction sites we have open.

Here's pic of our house last night.And a pic out of my office door at the International Headquarters yesterday.

And then here is the apple tree on our small little property, the same one I walked by last night with my dog as I was leaving our unheated house, only to have 3 bears shimmy down and run off into the woods. Not cool - I appreciate a bear spotting as much as the next guy, but to surprise them and vice versa is not cool at all.
At 2pm, I decided to relocate Lisa and Lucas up to a friend's house at Chapin Estate until the electric came back on, which happened about 36 hrs later.
Here's me in front of my new truck, with the baby and the dog.

And sadly, the retirement of Old Yeller, a truck I bought when I first moved up here in 2001 from Dicks Auto Sales in Jeffersonville NY. I was the only sucker who would buy a rear wheel drive truck in 4x4 country, but hey, this truck owes me nothing - it has paid for itself over and over, and boy did we use it hard. Hauling stones, hauling lumber, hauling trash - she's a trooper and she's earned her reserved locker in the Catskill Farms Hall of Fame locker room, right beside the dedicated lockers of other Catskill Farms superstars such as Boogie whose now back in Poland with child and wife.
And then on this beautiful Sunday when Lisa and Lucas and I took a stroll down to Cottage 9 that we are selling in 5 weeks.

And I promise not turn this into a baby blog, here is a photo of me feeding the boy as we waited patiently for Mom's boobies to get up and operational. At 9 lbs, the boy can eat.

And a quick pic in Callicoon of the wine store, Callicoon Wine Merchant. Not a ton of liquer wine stores in the region - one in narrowsburg, white lake, jeffersonville and a few other here and there.

And a shot of Zach giving me a ride on his harley - he brought it up to store in my warehouse in Eldred for the winter. I can't believe how much weight I have gained since February - this picture really sums it all up - I remember thinking how this person or that person has 'really put on the poundage' but anyone would have a hard time keeping up with achievement. True, it does coincide with quitting smoking the same day Lisa found out she was pregnant, as well as all the temptation surrounding all the ice cream around the house during the long months of pregnancy, as well as the daily lunches of huge cheeseburgers and fries at Hanks and Sue's in Yulan - so it was not all for naught, and hopefully now that some things are straightened out, I can get my focus on my mid-section.
Here's me swinging me and my friend, my gut, onto my friend's harley. He lives in the city, and brought the bike up here to store it in my bus garage.

Dinner with my friend Amy (she's single, gentlemen), and Deborah and Pete and Gabby at a local Korean restaurant- Deborah and Pete own a restuarant in Narrowsburg named 15 Main - an oasis of fine dining in a pretty bleak Sullivan County dining landscape. With his fresh and changing menu, Pete brought some pretty sophisticated chef talent to this area where he grew up, returning after 20 years to work his magic locally. http://www.restaurant15main.com/ - well worth the trip from anywhere in the region.

And a wintery pic of Cottage 14 coming along, with the siding being applied.
Well, that's it for now. Another day, another couple dollars, and a few more gray hairs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Night and thoughts about Debt

What to write about? What to write?

How about a quote I heard the other day - "Character has repaid more loans than collateral ever will."

I like that line - because I know from experience how easy it would have been over the past few years just to walk away from some of the debts I accrued while learning the ropes - definitely some of those debts had no investment value, and were just wrong decisions or experiments that then needed to be paid off - slowing down the progress, threatening the viability of the good decisions, making the day to day effort that much harder.

But I guess it's like the runner or exerciser who refuses to stop and take a breath, because by not giving in to the idea of stopping, then the idea eventually goes away, and you are a better runner. Or in a case like mine, by paying the bills, even when it kind of painful and half the time not even fully earned by the half-assed contractors I've had to use over the years, for some reason I always felt the need and found a way to repay my obligations, that were, in the end, byproducts of decisions I made -

That's the funny thing about a credit score or credit history - it's accurate - there are two types of people - those who over the years figured out a way to pay for things they bought, or those at some point, had priorities that trumped a previous debt committment.

It's all especially relevant now that banks that overlooked that old adage - that 'character has repaid much more money than collateral ever will' - are relearning it, and the banks and lenders who never forgot it, like our local bank I use The First National Bank of Jeffersonville, look especially prescient - just a few short years ago they looked stodgy and lost in the past. The old rabbit and hare story - and this little rural bank has survived 2 world wars, a depression and dozen or so business cycles. Now that's a good story. They loaned me my first real estate dollar, and has grown with me every step of the way - sometimes me pushing them to help me more, and sometimes them pushing me to bite off a little more.

Me, - I never thought I would be borrowing and repaying hundreds of thousands of dollars a month - but I have never lost my respect for debt both as a potential friend and a potential enemy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Preliminary Pics of New Masterpieces

It's been a beautiful, quintessential and glorious Catskills autumn for many reasons - the birth of my son, the weather has been out of this world, and all of future homeowners are more convinced than ever that they need an escape from that crazy world out there. Call me crazy, but we are building 6 or 7 houses at the moment, and a true test of putting my money where my mouth is - we are starting 3 new cottages in November - spec homes, ready for the spring (spec homes mean without a preordained owner).

I am starting to smell the woodstoves burning in the morning and evening.

Some Pics -

Albert's farm on the hill. 10 acres, barn, house, stone walls, and now we are designing a garage for the cars and lawnmowers.
And here is Cottage 15 - 1100 sq ft, 2 bedrooms, living room, fireplace, 2 full baths, and this great wrap-around porch. Really coming together now that the porch has taken shape. Big ass bleacher steps out front for drinking the forties.
Side view on a Saturday morning -
Other side view - This color, which shall remain secret - is perfect for this cottage - where simplicity reigns, and modesty and subtlety rule the day.
And Cottage 9, with the exterior paintined a soft beigey color, which is set off by the main cedar tone roof, and what will be a rustic red metal porch roof.
The floors just got stained, and the interiors will be mostly finished by the end of the month. Stained window trim, stained doors, stained crown mouldings and an old school brick fireplace in this here beauty.
Bedroom, with the cathedral dormer wood stained, in contrast to the painted walls and ceilings.
Exterior stone steps, salvaged and found on the property.
And the 100 yr old stone wall complimenting and softening all this newness.
All in all, this land and house combo is probably the steal of a lifetime, because it is frickin perfect. I probably could sell it 14 times by Christmas.

All for now. Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

9.2 lbs, 22 inches long - 10-11-08

Lucas Richard Petersheim has arrived.

Bare assed and happy, his big feet didn't even fit onto the footprint certification (you know what they say about big feet!).
Right after birth...

From the baby room to Lisa's 'suite'. His first road trip.
Crazy Ruby in the baby thing.

And with his official Catskill Farms onesy.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Houses We Build

The Cottage at Highland Farms. Big Windows.
Double barn doors in the office.
Very cool black tile with white for the fireplace.

Since I am going to be out of commission for a few days or so while we bring a little baby boy into this cruel and confused world, I thought I'd do a post so you all don't forget about me.

I love this house - Cottage 7 - and the more it sits there aging gracefully, the better it looks to me. Grass growing in, red door, leaves falling on the walkways and drives.

And here is Cottage 15, now that we slapped on the green tone ('thicket') paint. On the inside we are just finishing the sheetrock.

And here's the roof installation of Cottage 13. That will be finished today. Dean the owner plans a trip for this weekend to check it out.
And a nice autumn picture of Bella Drive. Amazingly, this project was only getting started last year, and now the four houses are complete, and the owners moved in.And Cottage 9, the next house on the schedule to close. Hopefully by Thanksgiving. Painting inside and out, and the floor staining begins next week.
Cottage 14 is moving right along, with the blue roof, windows in, electric and plumbing done and the insulation starting today.

Interior is lofty and open.This cathedral space is the kitchen, which should make for some heavenly dinners.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I say baloney.

I say that the finanical panic and crash has very little to do with real life. I say all the headlines, media, gov't officials and the like scaring the bejesus out of us are mostly wrong, and all us normal people not dealing in commerical paper, financial ponzi schemes, get rich schemes, and short term bonus' for longterm disaster schemes are actually not too bad off. This past week I borrowed a bunch of money from my bank to continue building the 6 homes we have in contract, looked into buying a new truck ($7500 off sticker, with incentives) and received a credit line increase from Bank of America. Banks are lending, don't be fooled. Just the rules have changed - you got be qualified, you got to have good credit, and a steady job doesn't hurt.

What I haven't seen is a denial of credit, a reduction of my line of credit, non-existent auto loans, etc... Forbes has an article out stating more bank to consumer lending occurred in Sept '08 than Sept '07. So what gives - the statistics don't even show we are in a recession.

We definitely live in the era of hysteria and catastrophe. It's what sells, it's the new 'sex' (playing off the old adage that sex sells). Hysteria and catastrophe is the quickest way to the bank for many industries.

So what does this mean to me, and my customers - I'm smart, and they are smart, and with our team of good attorneys, good banks, houses full of value, adequate comps, and well-qualified homeowners - I only have one thing to say to all the end of worlders -

Eat my shorts. Life goes on.

And if you got the dough, its a great time to buy something, or build something, because all the cocky salespeople and customer service reps are working harder than ever to make sure your process and purchase is satisfactory, and to anyone who has consumed or purchased anything over the past 24 months, it's a great change.

The world has righted itself -

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Early Morning In October

It's October and last night Lisa and turned on the heat for the first time this year - in fact, it's the first the heating system has been turned on, period, since it's a new system. And boy were we warm. The house heated up quick, and most impressively, stayed warm without the boiler circling back on every 5 minutes. That's impressive for a 140 yr old lady with single pane windows. We done good.

Our construction show is ongoing, all the time, and today - Saturday - is no exception. Roofs, painting, siding, trim carpentry, porch building. I actually had to reprogram the default setting on my construction software so it included Saturday's without asking - since for the most part, we are always working on the weekends.

Charcoal black roof going on at Farmhouse #10. Black trim, white siding, black roof will really set this house apart. Everyone loves this design. It's truly quintessential and a big hit.

As I mentioned and posted previously, we are building a barn with this house. And for those dedicated followers, it will be clear this barn did not exist 4 days ago. It's going to be completely conditioned - electric, heat, etc...- and will serve as a little music studio. it's also going to be green as can be - with radiant heat, solar panels, sun-heated hot water and heat water, maybe some engineered flooring, etc...

Barn and House.
House with big back porch and walkout basement.

House and barn glaring in the morning sun. Those twisty black walnut trees are unusual and pretty cool.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Construction and Great Design

Cottage 9 Interior painting - Thank you Tito.

Cottage 15 Septic installation - Thank you Pete and Casey.

Porches being built at Farmhouse 10 - Thanks Greg and Dave.

The barn at Albert's house going up quick - Thanks Mike and crew.

And the roof at Cottage 14. Thanks Edwin for this Biscayne Blue beauty.

But mostly, thanks Gavin, Emily, Gayle, Albert, Dean, Jeanne, Deb, Nick and Albert for presently building with us.

Although I guess if I am doing shout-outs, I might as well cover them all from the beginning - thanks phil, karla, Angie, Richard, Stan, Leslie, Andy, michael, dukhui, paul, frank, ellen, nancy, itzak, andrew, robin, sasha, tracy, kevin, julia, katrina, crystal, hugh, jasmine, tammy, cheri, matt, chris, david, mauricio, christine, gavin, emily, pablo, anna, leah, rob, jeanne, deb, charles, suzanne, steve, luba, sarah, dennis, shannah, erik, julia and husband, benoist, monte, todd and tracy.

I'm sure this good intentional gratitude will bite me in the ass cause I forgot someone - but it was a good college try, i think.