“It Ain’t the House You Grew Up In”

After a diverse pre-teen upbringing with my Dad, at age 13 I began junior high school in Florida in 1972. The state had a very progressive and well-designed technical drafting program starting in the 7th grade. So, I signed up. My daily instructor for the next 6 years was a delightful curmudgeon named Dick Jones. Much to his chagrin, I loved that guy. A real asshole that honestly cared about the craft and teaching. Dick single-handedly taught me the craft of delineation. How to communicate complex ideas in graphic form. He was an excellent teacher and I, in all humility, was an excellent student. Alright, the humility part is BS. Now, upon my graduation in 1977, Dad had serious ideas about my future. They all involved the law and being a lawyer. The problem is that Mom and Dad also taught me about morals and ethics. Perhaps an unintentional flaw in Dad’s aspirations for me and Stetson Law School. Please know that I don’t currently find fault with Lawyers in general.  It’s just that I couldn’t get my 18-year-old head around being one. Frankly, still can’t. However, I damn sure could see my future in building. Needless to say, this caused my dad some level of constipation. At least that was the look on his face when I said definitively, NO to law school. He gave me great encouragement and expressed that, although I would probably “starve to death”, he supported my decision. Very Dad. That wasn’t our last discussion, but we’ll talk about that at another time as well.

From there, I enjoyed a very unconventional and meandering career path. It’s been a hoot but you wouldn’t believe half of it.  Sometimes, nit sure I do.  What I will say at this point is that I had the pleasure and the gift of working with some of the finest architects in North Florida for several years. Wonderful, creative people that understood the critical need for mentorship and encouragement for the next generation in our field. At the behest of my last real mentor, and whom I regard as the most influential, Mr. George Bull, Jr., I struck out on my own as an independent Residential Designer. I haven’t looked back for 38 years. I ultimately became a licensed Building Contractor in Florida as well. Honestly, because I was tired of builders not building as I had designed. In the early 80’s I was one of the pioneers in the “Design-Build” model for residential construction in Florida and the implementation of an emerging new tool, CAD.

So, now you know a little about me and how I got to this place regarding my vocation. By now you’re probably trying to remember where we started.  What you may be wondering is what the hell this has to do with you? It basically has to do with why you should pay attention.  I’ve had some wonderful successes and a myriad of mistakes.  I’ve watched our industry evolve for effectively 4 decades.  What I can say with absolute confidence, it certainly isn’t the house “I” grew up in.  Virtually everything is better; believe it or not.  Conversely, the system is extremely byzantine.  What I mean to say is a real mess of a maze without a road map.  We’re going to discuss why (yes it matters), and how to navigate what others may call a crap-storm.  Frankly, I agree with them.

As we move ahead together, there are those that will simply look for things to discredit in my perspective while others are genuinely interested in what’s being discussed. My wife falls into category “B”. She’s interested in everything. A soup can label is a novella on nutrition. The upside is that she is interesting to talk with about anything. It’s one of the many aspects of an incredible 27 years together. Conversely, there are those that will simply disagree with my knowledge or experience.  It’s a pleasure to have their perspective as well; at least if they have thoughtful counterpoints. It’s good to be challenged. We all err on occasion, or simply fail to make our case. I never wish to intentionally mislead anyone or leave you with an incomplete picture. If I have, I need to know. Unfortunately, at times there is also what I like to refer to as the “cranial suppository”. It has to do with their head and….well…you know.  Snarky idiots that just like to disrupt any intelligent dialogue for their own amusement. They can be most entertaining as well. Rest assured, at some point, we’ll be entertained together.  You see, I feel there are people in the world who are not aware they are social suppositories.  It’s just their nature.  It is no less than a public service to make them aware.  It’s how we grow, right?