000_0010I first learned how to work on houses from a local real-estate developer friend.  She hired me on her crew for a 2-year-long full gut rehab and brand new construction combo project on Fort Hill from 2003-2005.  It was like a boot-camp crash course on building, demystifying whats inside a wall and learning some basic building code.  I started on this job as a laborer, learning how to “demo with finesse”, hauling barrels of debris out to a dumpster, cleaning up after the carpenters and being the job site gopher (go for coffee and lumber runs for the crew).  I eventually learned to confidently read a tape measure and work with table saws, chop saws and nail guns.  I learned how to do a little bit of everything from floor patching, insulating, sheet-rocking, plastering, painting and landscaping.  I got a great deal of experience with interior painting and learned the true meaning of what a “high end” paint job is.  I also build some extensive skateboard ramps around this time and got real comfortable with a drill and jigsaw while dusting off some geometry skills I learned as a kid in school that seemed pointless.

When the Fort Hill project ended, I put an add on craigslist advertising myself as “HandyTam”and got my first client who was an extremely handy home owner of a beautiful 5-story brownstone townhouse in Back Bay/Copley Square.  He hired me to repair a small section of wall and then continued to keep me busy with a plethora of house projects for years working from the roof to the sub-basement, in most every room, each of the 6 bathrooms and most every nook and cranny of the house.  He taught me many useful skills in restoring the historical integrity of his 1866 townhouse.  I welcomed the preservation of original details in his home like the 100+ year-old toilet that required regular maintenance.  He also guided me through some modern and contemporary house projects such as installing recessed lighting and building platforms and boxes to hold central air units.

Over the years I have had many different kinds of clients for whom I’ve done everything from large landscaping projects and big paint jobs of entire interiors of condos and homes to quick visits for small jobs like hanging a shelf, pictures, putting furnitures together or mowing a lawn.  Most of what I know I have learned from my clients and fellow handy folk.

Norman Priebatsch

My first client, Norman Priebatsch, in his workshop on the 5th floor of his Back Bay Brownstone. His life was cut short in a tragic hiking accident atop New Hampshire’s Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mount Washington at age 67 on April 1st, 2012. He was a wonderful teacher and he trusted me not only with his car, credit card and home, but he also put his trust and in me to complete any task he threw my way, giving me the self confidence to take risks and learn new things with lots of positive and constructive feedback and patience along the way.