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Friday, July 30, 2010

A Typical Friday

You know, we are just sitting around minding our own business and winding down a busy week when two movie stars clients pop in to say hello. They walked over from Crawford Road with their dog, Ollie. David was an early customer -snapping up Cottage 6 - and turned Gavin and Albert onto us as well.

But topping that was the purchase of our new 3500 Dumptruck/plow truck with the Catskill Farms insignia, shadowed by the 5-Bay barn we built last year.

Don't know if we can ride this wave of good luck forever, but we definitely used to deflationary pressures of the Great Recession to position ourselves for the next uptick, and it should keep the 'competition' in the distance.

As always, we made a lot of progress last week - working our behinds off on several fronts. Cottage 29, Cottage 28, Ranch III, Mitchell Farmhouse, shop alterations, Barn III and starting clearing and driveway installation on a few new building lots.

Here's some shots of the 960 sq ft living large cottage 29. It has 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths and nearly 8 acres. It's a money shot away from both Barryville and Eldred, about 1:45 from the Upper West Side. It's currently for sale, listed at $270,000.

Pretty cool getaway, with some neat flow and openness.

My nephew Josh was up for the week, testing the waters of this thing called work. He's 15 and off to the left of the pic below.

Gary and Nikki, the future owners of Barn III, are coming up to check out the serious progress at Barn III. Cedar shake siding turns this Barn into something pretty fancy - add on the screened-in back porch and the dog run we plan and building and whoa, ride 'em cowboy.

Spray foam insulation, and big open spaces. Like I've mentioned before, our homes are the greenest out there - I would pit their performance side by side with any home being built out there. Gentlemen, start your engines.

Our organic-based soy spray foam is standard in our homes and ranks us among the few builders who consider such upgrades standard.

The sheetrock phase has begun.

Barn III has two bedrooms and a full bath downstairs, and a bath and awesomely huge upstairs loft space.

Cottage 28 is all wrapped up. We started this home on April 5, finished it up mostly by mid-July, which is my finger counting is working this morning, that adds up to 3 months. Since Denzil and Carolyn are 'in the business' in NYC, they were pretty complimentary about our speed, thoroughness, communication, and administration.

As Mr. Mitchell, whose been building in Washington DC for a few decades, said a few weeks back - development, design & construction really is a 'communication business'.

Frankly, I love this house. It's the perfect little house on the perfect piece of land. Great Color. Great lines.

1300 sq ft of highbrow modesty.

And Ranch III is rocking the house - just about turning that corner to the home stretch. I haven't been able to get many super great shots because it has been moving so fast, but after next week and the stained concrete project (yes, you heard that right) - it's picture perfect ready.

And our DIY TV project has wrapped up and will be Airing on August 19 - it's a 2 hr special covering the entire renovation.

Super hot house. I'd live there in a second.

And the Mitchell farmhouse on 20 acres - big by our standard measurements, but about standard for America's sq ft yardstick. We are flying on this one -

I think why we do ok over the last 2 years is because the proof, as they way, is in the puddin'. And the puddin' is being mixed and made on a daily basis, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

A lot of things get in our way - but nothing stops us, or for that matter, nothing really even slows us down.

Barn Fest at the Ramsey Farm in Lew Beach tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Bit of leisurely fun by the pond we just built and eagerly waiting to fill up.

At the moment, it's a bit muddy since it's been raining a lot lately, after really not raining much at all. I have competing priorities - no rain for less problems on the construction sites, and more rain so the grass and pond fare better.

Lucas loves the mud.

And he loves rocks - lifting rocks, throwing rocks, dropping rocks.

My bro came up with his 4 kids and new dog, which is a mix between a black lab and one of those long stretching dogs - dashhound or something. Funny looking byu

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Luxton Lake Jazz Fest (Outside Narrowsburg)

Since we have built some homes high above the old Luxton Lake, thought some homeowners may wish to know about the yearly jazz fest that a few locals put on each year, to benefit both the memory and the hope of the lost lake. Looks like this Saturday, 5-9pm, with live music, open mic (Richard, are you listening?) and lots of fun people.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Great NY Times Blog Post

I have always been a voracious reader of business news as far back as I can remember, - in fact I credit the NY Times Business page with most of my broad, real life understanding of micro-business operations - I used to just suck that section up while working my 6am-11am parking lot attendant shift at Shadyside Hospital while attending the University of Pittsburgh from 1988-1992.

Under the Business Section, there is a sub-section called Small Business, and it's composed of a bunch of blogs by entrepreneurs. One of them is "You're the Boss."

One guy is blogging as he is preparing to open a restaurant, and he just wrote a great thread "How to Make 100 Enemies List" - it was just such a familiar narrative to me, where every push has a pull, every tough decision leaves many disappointed non-chosen ones, and every action has many more opinions than I ever imagined.


And then to have the wherewithal and audacity to actually succeed, - now, that's when you see the real haters.

Anyway, these little online communities of persons battling the same or similar wars as us is definitely a great way to keep it all in perspective. Most of the hurdles are so inane that sometimes I think the most successful business people are those that survive and maneuver around nonsense successfully. Anyone can be brilliant, but to suffer fools endlessly in order to grab the big picture, now that's something to see.

Actually, after 7 years of building a business in a economically depressed region, I forget that my tolerance for 'eating shit', 'turning the other cheek', 'letting bygones be bygones', 'getting shafted' and 'forgiving and forgetting' is far more advanced than most mere mortals.

and that's not meant to be an unhumble statement - it's a business necessity up here, not any less important than cash flow management, employee relations, and quality-control.

In an area with a shallow talent/labor pool, you get a lot of chances to be disappointed, and not letting that cloud your decisions (however difficult) is the secret to country success.

You build your team with what you have - not what you wish for. And you keep improving incrementally and gradually. Any grander ambition is doomed to failure.

And you collect your unexpected enemies like so many notches in a belt, feathers in a cap, or etches in a the tree bark.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


For frequent followers of this blog, they remember the needless pain and suffering regarding this Farmhouse.

Now it turns out this is the first resale of a Catskill Farms home that has been resold.

Amazingly, after the worst housing pricing decline in the history of the US with the exception of the Great Depression, this house appraised for more than the owners purchased it for 2 years ago. that's a pretty significant statistic, because while the new owner didn't pay the full appraisal price, the fact remains that this home held it's value with all sort of macro-economic odds against it.

And then my friend Dean went to reappraise his house that he bought in February 2009 (remember when the world was ending) and once again the appraisal landed above what he paid for it.

Now, I'm not saying that means selling things in this environment is easy, but it does mean that our homeowners retain many advantages over the average American underwater homeowner - good appraisals mean the ability to refinance into lower rates, good appraisals mean the ability to sell when you need to, good appraisals are what it is all about, and with the extreme conservatism of the appraisal industry these days, getting a deal done - be a house sale or a refinancing - means our homes are passing some pretty serious stress tests.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blather On....

So we finished up the DIY Blog Cabin show with a flourish. It will air on a day to be announced shortly...

And we started roughing in the plumbing and heating at Nikki and Gary's Barn III...

And hosted the local building inspectors for our Certificate of Occupancy inspection at Cottage 28...

...where Tito the master painter was in the house doing his last minute touchups...

And the septic, and siding and sheetrock and front galley walkway at Ranch III...

And Curtis and Bryan working on the staircase as Cottage 29.

...And Ranch II basement buildout underway.

Loads of construction to blather on about, fer sure.