I mentioned something about a neighbor one day and a friend said, “But I didn’t think you had any neighbors.” In the country, if you live on the same road, you are a neighbor, even if you live five miles away. If you get sick, they’ll visit you in the hospital. If you die, they’ll bring a casserole to your family. If you get arrested, they’ll tell everybody who doesn’t know already. They’ll plow your garden, fix your car, and sit on your porch. If you’re lucky, they’ll even build you a house.

I’d heard of Steve-the-Builder before. I’ve heard of everybody in this whole town because Georgia knows everybody and has brought them all a pie. Half the time, I drive her there so she can take them the pie, so she thinks I know them all, too, but I am easily distracted and I don’t take in everything she tells me. Which leads to her coming over to the farmhouse (without knocking, of course) and saying things like, “That man we’ve been waiting on just hasn’t died yet.” Then I stand there, all bewildered, trying to figure out whether to say, “What man?” or commisserate on the time it’s taking him to keel over when everyone is ready with their casseroles.

Steve-the-Builder lives about a mile up the road on a big farm owned by his father-in-law, Lonnie. Lonnie cuts our hay meadow behind this old farmhouse every spring and fall, which is all I knew about Lonnie and family until recently. Lonnie has a lot of cows and horses. I think he’s cool because he has cows and horses. It’s a typical West Virginia multi-generational family farm, meaning everybody lives there: Lonnie, Steve-the-Builder and his wife–Lonnie’s daughter Londa, and their two grown sons.

Londa has two teacup poodles. She is cute as a poodle, too, and she does a perfect parody of the “Maury” show. You haven’t lived unless you’ve heard her say, “I know he is my baby’s daddy!” She also understands my outhouse obsession and she takes me to see outhouses.

They are all longtime friends of my cousins, but because I am easily distracted, it took me a while to figure out that Steve-the-Builder would be the perfect person to build our new farmhouse. Who else would drive through three creeks to get to our farm but someone who lives out here, too? He drives the two miles to our new farm from his farm every day, working from dawn to dusk, building it from the ground up with no help but from his own family. He is a full-service operation all by himself and he won’t let anyone work for him but family–unless he is building your house, then he will let your teenage son work for him, too, and teach him all about construction. I think he will have his own cartoon soon, Steve-the-Builder, like Bob-the-Builder. Or maybe something more MacGuyverish. I think if you were stranded with him on a deserted island and you gave him a toothpick and some wire, he could build a plane and fly you out. I think he can do anything. No matter what I ask him to do, he says the same thing: “That ain’t no problem.”

He’ll build your house as if he was building it for himself.

He’ll work on your car when it breaks down, and he’ll take you to the store and buy your daughter M&Ms. If you accidentally, stupidly, get your car stuck, he’ll pull it out. And if you’ve really screwed up, he’ll get his brother to tow it away. (Let’s just not even talk about this whole debacle.) He makes really nice Christmas presents, too. (A signpost for our new farm.)

And if you’re really extra lucky, he’ll become a lifetime friend. And let you come over and pet his horses and cows and hold his teacup poodle.

And that’s getting a house built in the country. It’s different here–beautiful, in so many unexpected layers.

As I’ve heard Steve-the-Builder say many times, standing in front of our house surrounded by the woods and hills, “If people just came out here, they’d never want to leave.”

I know I don’t.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on January 16, 2008  

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22 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 1-16

    You are so lucky to have Steve-The-Builder. He’s doing a wonderful job and we all are anticipating the unveiling of your new home.

    I enjoyed the photo montage. It’s really comng together.

    Have a good day.

  2. 1-16

    Gosh, Suzanne, could it get any better? This just sounds too story book to be true, but I know it is. Thanks so much for sharing this . . .

  3. 1-16

    I can’t wait for the full photo coverage of the moving day!

  4. 1-16

    Don’t you love people like that? That’s why I love living where I do and don’t mind driving an hour to work every day. My coworkers don’t understand why I don’t talk Mike into living a little closer to where I work, but I’m so in love with my “neighbors” (meaning, the entire town of Spencer, mainly) that I could never leave.

    The house looks great! I need to hire Steve to put in new windows!!!

  5. 1-16

    Would Steve-the-Builder like to visit Kingston, Ontario? Lovely small city, very historic.

    And I already have the compound mitre saw, laser jigsaw, table saw, circular saw, small hand sander, and cordless drill. I just need someone who can use them all without fear of cutting off a digit or two! :lol:

    How marvelous to have such wonderful neighbours/friends.


  6. 1-16

    Maybe he could come through Connecticut when he’s finished in Ontario…

  7. 1-16

    It’s so hard to find really good construction guys. Every time I move I miss my plumber, electritian, and carpenter the most.

    Hmmm…. It might help if I stopped buying old houses.

  8. 1-16

    You are so lucky to know Steve, as a builder and as a friend. He’s building you a house that will last for 100 years or more. It’s beautiful.

  9. 1-16

    Tell Steve he needs to visit London!! That or I need to move near to you… or in with you?? *hopeful look*

  10. 1-16

    I live with a Steve-The-Builder only his name is George and he’s my dad. Steve couldn’t have put it any better about living in a small rural town! I know how the people who live here feel the same way.

    I love all of the pictures! :purr:

  11. 1-16

    I always wanted to live on a farm or in the country but since I grew up in the suburbs and married someone that never lived that way either…I love animals and growing things and friendly people…hate shopping and noise lol.
    It’s too bad more people don’t live the way you are describing…I think the world would be a better place!

  12. 1-16

    :smile: You are fortunate to have such a person running around your neighborhood that wears so many hats –
    Builder – friend – neighbor-

    Count your blessings!

  13. 1-16

    Am looking forward to Steve-the-Builder finishing your house, so we can have a grand tour.

  14. 1-16

    I think I may be in love with Steve-the-Builder. (Don’t tell Londa!) :)

  15. 1-16

    After reading your blog the last 2 weeks, I am ready to move to your neck of the woods. Steve can build me a house too! I only need one that’s about 700-900 sq.ft. though! I would love to live where everyone is like family!! It sounds so NICE!!

  16. 1-16

    The photos are fantastic! And isn’t it great to have a neighbor that is also a friend? *g* And he’s right.

  17. 1-16

    Aren’t neighbor’s great? Even the one’s who aren’t right next door. Until recentlt, my closest neighbor was about a 1/2 mile away. Now my son lives right behind me. I never minded that no one lived close. You are lucky to have Steve-the-builder/ friend/ neighbor and his family in your life. I know you are going to have peace of mind just knowing every thing is done right. Looks as if moving day isn’t that far away. Looking forward to a lot of pictures and a tour. I just looked out my door and everything is covered with beautiful white stuff. :weather: A winter wonderland. Have a great night and :hug: to all.

  18. 1-17

    Steve sounds just like my husband–who I have to say was addicted to MacGuyver! I just have to mention that something sounds neat and he is all over it. My children were raised thinking I wore sheetrock dust as powder.

    Great blog–I really enjoy it!

  19. 4-23

    Wow, I love a man who can “do it all” like he does. So talented. Tell Steve the Builder, that when I get fed up ENOUGH, with my husband’s dating life, I am going to move there and have lifelong friends. LOL He can build me a house.

  20. 4-23

    P.S. – but it would have to be a “sissy” house, cause I am not rugged enough, to be Faye out there. LOL

  21. 12-1

    Do you use the bottom part of your house, or is it just storage? I only see pix from the upper porch, but you have a lot of space down there.

    Steve sounds like a great guy to have in your corner!

  22. 12-1

    The bottom floor is part storage but also a den for the kids, a bathroom, and two bedrooms.

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