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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Building a House

       When his wife's father gave them the parcel of land on the back side of the mountain, Tom was more than ready to move from the dingy house in town that they had rented since they'd gotten married six years earlier.  The location was almost perfect--a wooded lot with river frontage and a grandiose mountain view.  Now they needed the perfect house to put on the land.

         His long time friend Richard helped him dream the dream.  They studied the lay of the land to determine the best place to build.  In the evenings, the two friends and Tom's wife Myra pored over magazines and made sketches of what their ideal house would look like.  Soon they had the plans of exactly what they wanted.  What they didn't have was the money to pull it off.

          Building a house seemed like it was going to be an expensive proposition.  They would have to wait a year or two or even more while they set money aside to buy the materials and hire the craftsmen they would need to build their house.

          "Listen," Richard said, drumming a pencil on the kitchen table, "Let me be your contractor.  I can get this done so you can afford to do it now."

          "How so?" Tom said.

           "We've got our friends," Richard said with a wink.  He snatched up the house plans from the table.  "I'll be back here Wednesday evening."

           He rose and as he reached the door, he turned, "Never underestimate the power of friends.  We'll get 'er done."   He gave a thumbs up and went out the door.

           On Wednesday Richard was there with Jerry, a friend who built houses for a living.  Jerry checked out the building plot with a clipboard in hand and made notes.  He carefully contemplated what he was looking at and let Tom know that their friend Jim would be by the following evening.

          As promised, Jerry showed up the next evening in his pick up truck with Jim in tow.  The two of them busied themselves with tape measures and wooden stakes as they laid out the building site.  Richard took Tom aside and started making plans.  Myra's uncle would bring his backhoe the following day to prepare things for the crew of friends who would begin the work for that weekend.

         "There's just one thing I need from you for tomorrow," Richard said.  "You supply the beer and the food for the guys for the week-end and they'll take care of the rest.  You can pay for the materials later, but believe me, they're going to get you a good deal on all that."

           The next morning pick-up trucks filled with their friends and loaded with tools began arriving.  Tom headed into town to pick up two kegs and several cases of beer and enough food supplies to feed twenty hard working guys for the week-end.

            He returned to a bustle of trucks delivering building materials.  His friends were busy having a good sweaty time of jovial banter mixed with serious hard work.  By the end of the first day a foundation was in place along with sewer and water lines. 

             Some of the guys brought tents while others just planned to sleep in truck beds or on the ground in sleeping bags.  The kegs were tapped and the young men partied hearty into the night until weariness overtook them.

              By the end of that weekend the major work had been done with friends helping friends, each with their own special skills.  Jerry's crew led the carpentry work and got the framing done,  Billy pitched in with the roofing, Roger was the drywall expert, Larry wired the electrical, and Jack supplied the plumbing knowledge.  Anyone who didn't have a special trade followed the directions given by those who did.

             They finished up on Sunday afternoon.   Over the next few days the finishing like painting, flooring, and woodwork would complete the job.  The following weekend the guys would come back to help Tom and Myra move.   That Saturday night all of Tom and Richard's buddies would be over with wives and girlfriends for a housewarming party.

              Richard had been right.  It was amazing what friends could do when they put their minds and backs to it.  The entire experience had been like one of those Amish barn raisings, except with beer, blue jeans, and pick up trucks. Building a house with friends helping was a lot easier than trying to do it by oneself.

            When have friends come to the rescue for you?   Have you ever been involved in building a house?    

             Be sure to be here tomorrow for a special announcement.  In fact, be watching for announcements on several blogs.


  1. Lee, you know I was thinking about friends this morning. Some times people you think are your friends can really screw your life up but a real friend will come to your aid always. Yes I have a few real friends and I'm going to see one in a few days that I've not seen for about 5 years. I'm looking forward to spending time with him. My friends have come to my aid on many many occasions. He who has no friends must live a very lonely life. I consider you to be a friend by the way even though you live in a totally different culture on the other side of the world. Nice story. Geoff.

  2. The most special time that I could think of was when our furnace went out for good. It had been repaired several times and there was no hope left for it. It was just a broken down heap of scrap.
    We went without heat in this huge old house for two long winters. Oh we had plenty of electric space heaters, and had to close off a large part of the house but it was still, always bone chilling.
    By the third winter our church friends had rallied together and donated enough funds to buy a new furnace for this big old house. For that I will be forever grateful.
    I love your stories Arlee, they always keep me interested! Love Di ♥

  3. Tough times are when you discover who are true friends. And no, never been involved in building a house. Doubt anyone would want me to help, either!

  4. Jeez Alex, I'll help ya! I'm not very good at it but I can lug stuff around. We built our house but then my partner is a builder so...our next one might have to be like that though because really I am a writer which means impoverished and my man is a builder in a recession so just the same and we are old and have no savings because we were feckless. Heck, I think I just caught Alex's disease. Nah!

  5. It does make me think of an old fashioned barn raising, when communities helped each member. Nice story.

  6. What a sweet story! Amish barn-raising with beer...hee, hee.

  7. one great friend once came to my rescue when some crazy person attacked me at my site in a very immature way, and this friend (whom you may know personally, since you see him often in the mirror) came by and kicked him out with just a few righteous words.
    I appreciate such things deeply.

  8. When we moved here in February of 05, friends from our church, Living Water Community Church of Vancouver, WA, rented the truck and moved everything for us. What a rescue!

    No, I have not been part of building a house. You would rather that I BBQed for the gang. I can't drive a straight nail, swing a hammer - I am not mechanically or contructionally inclined.

  9. Hi Lee .. absolutely not!! But I love the story and of people coming to together to help .. people helping others is what it's all about. Can help with the food and buy the beer .. the rest I'd probably better leave for others! Cheers Hilary

  10. Geoff -- Amen to having friends! It's amazing how we can have cyberfriendships on the other side of the globe and it's like talking to your next door neighbor. Having a good friend is the result of good investing.

    Diana -- Thanks! You can often count on fellow church members to help pull one another out of a bad fix when help is needed. Wouldn't one expect it though from fellow Christians?

    Alex -- You and I can help eat the food and drink the beer and give the workers moral support.

    Jan -- A builder has connections with fellow tradespeople and they can get things together well. I'm like you--I listen and tote and do the little things that need to be done.

    Liza -- Too bad there isn't more of that old-fashioned neighborly spirit of helping.

    Jess -- That was really the punchline of the story. I had to work it in somehow--without it I would not have probably bothered writing the story.

    Dezmond -- Aw shucks, Dez, 'tweren't much. You would have done the same for any of us and you have.

    Gregg-- I've always managed to have a friend or more helping me move when I had to (which fortunately has not been too often). Moving can be a chore that requires help. I'm like you with handiwork. When I was younger I worked for a while framing houses with a friend. I just carried stuff and felt pretty useless for the most part, but I did manage to hammer a few nails straight.

    Hilary -- You and me both. I'm good at running errands.

  11. Years ago, a tornado destroyed a good portion of the farmm my inlaws live on. That night, we called all our church friends, and on Sunday, the next day, the entire church showed up with saws and food and cleared that place in a day. Their actions made my in-laws start attending church.:)

  12. It's amazing what people can accomplish when they come together. I've had friends pitch in to help me go overseas for a bit to work in an orphanage. I couldn't have managed that trip alone!

    When I was little, my parents helped a friend with a house building. I was too young to help with the building, but she let us draw on the frame work with permanant markers :D

  13. When we bought our house we only had a weekend to move, and I was 5 months pregnant! A great group of friends helped us paint and move in time for work and real life to pick up again on Monday. It was amazing.

    I've had a ton of fun looking around your blog! I'm a new follower looking forward to April!

    ~Carla @

  14. I've not been involved in building a house but I've helped a few friends with renovations -- painting walls and such.

    Looking forward to the announcement... exciting.

  15. I grew up on a farm and though we never helped anyone build a house, this kind of thing wasn't uncommon. I remember one neighbor(in farm country that means someone ten miles away) was hurt in a farm accident. The farm families took turns going to his farm and helping his family milk cows and get the crops in.

  16. I've never been involved in building a house, but I do have friends I could call on if needed. I know without a doubt they would be there immediately and I would be there for any of them.

  17. You know that was my previous field, architecture? I have to say I'm the one always coming to help and yes I have friends who would but I really prefer to be the one doing the helping :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

    PS Great story Lee!

  18. Terri -- Hope they didn't just start back to church because they felt obligated to the people who helped them.

    Jen-- Sometimes it's difficult to do everything entirely on our own. Help is a good thing, even if it's only moral support.

    Carla -- Friends can especially helpful when we need to get things done quickly. So glad you stopped in.

    Lynda -- Communal activities can be a great time for socializing and bonding.

    Susan -- The helping hands of friends can be literal life savers.

    Helen -- That's also when you find out who your real friends are. It's good to know you have friends you can call on.

    Jules-- Sometimes I feel a little self-concious asking for help and would rather be the giver, but friendship is all about give and take isn't it?

  19. I worked with several general contractors in the past. They tried to make a handyman out of me, but this just isn't my long suit. That's why we hired someone to enclose our loft. Me, I'm a writer and glad I finally found my niche!

  20. Stephen -- I have had a few stints in construction as well and also realized it was not my calling. I almost always hire someone to do things around my house. I would probably cause more work by trying to fix something.

  21. Lee, your story reminded me of "barn raising," which is awesome to see happen. There's also an organization Christmas in April, which does rehab for elderly and disabled, and it too shows what can be done through caring and collaboration.


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