David Prescott’s dad worked part time as a carpenter. Prescott, production manager for the New Haven Public Schools in Connecticut, worked alongside his father on projects. After finishing his biggest project—building a house from scratch—Prescott now spends his free time working on projects around his new house.
David Prescott, New Haven Public Schools“Not only did I general contract when I built my old house, I did a lot of the work myself. I’ve been into carpentry since high school. My father was a carpenter part time so I always did stuff with him. Any time he would do projects like paneling or building furniture or putting up fences, I would help.
In the house that I built from scratch, I installed all the hardwood floors and finished them off. I installed all the Pergo floors upstairs and all the interior doors. I did all the ceramic work in the kitchen and bathrooms. I painted every room in the house. I installed all the kitchen cabinets and the crown molding and I built an island in the middle. I installed a central vacuum system. I finished off a bonus room that we had above the three-car garage. It was 500 square feet. I put in a mahogany deck in the front and installed railing on that. I had to reframe some things that the carpenter did wrong. I installed the siding above the first-floor windows and then I didn’t do anymore because I just had too much to do. I general contracted the whole thing so I hired a lot of people to do things like that. I hired the cement, electrical and plumbing people. Even after we moved in I was still doing things like the trim and the molding. We planned out our whole kitchen, and I had to put everything together. There were like 50 cabinets. It was like a giant puzzle. It took about a year from digging the hole in the ground to the time we moved into the house.
That was the biggest carpentry project I’ve undertaken. I recently moved out of that house and I bought another house and I’m doing projects here. I did some stonework on the sidewalks. I’m redoing the kitchen and taking out a spiral staircase and putting in a regular staircase in a spare bedroom. I found a barn in the neighborhood that had collapsed, and the owner let me take some of the old wood. My father refinished it in his workshop. I took the old posts and the boards and made some shelving.
I wouldn’t build another house from scratch again. I would rather buy a house that is livable and then do what you want to add on and renovate it.
I took some basic woodworking in high school, but a lot of the tips I learned from my father. We don’t work on many projects together anymore because I work. Right now I do all the work for myself. In the past I’ve done side jobs for other people.
I don’t do plumbing. I have messed up plumbing jobs. There is always a leak. My sister wanted to put a vanity in her house, and I told her I would put the sink in. I overtightened it and I stripped all the pipes so she had to go and get another one. I couldn’t do it, so I got someone else to do it. I quit plumbing after that.
I’m working on several jobs right now. It depends on how much money I’ve got at the time. I plan ahead and buy stuff so when I don’t have money I catch up on those projects. I have a sidewalk that’s halfway done. It’s a chain reaction. I have a spiral staircase in the middle of my kitchen that goes to the basement. I can’t finish my kitchen until I move the staircase. In the winter I can’t do that. It’s all about timing. When you’re building a house you have to put the bathtub in when they are framing the house. My plumber wouldn’t work unless the roof was finished because he said he doesn’t get wet.
I like the older look in houses. In my kitchen I used some of the old wood from the barn to use for shelving and I have an old milk crate. I like to recycle and do things myself.”