Nursing Houses to Good Health

Josh dreams of playing in the shop full time. Of crafting furniture and coming up with new designs from better countertops to better energy collection. He's inspired by "functional art that is incorporated into daily living. Seems like the peak, the apex of beauty and craftsmanship". Until money allows him to "create what I want to create", he's a nurse at a hospital for dementia patients two days a week and flipping houses the rest.

nurse and carpenter

How did you get into your craft?

legos for construction"Legos. It all starts from Legos. From there I got a hammer when I was 5, and a bag of nails. I’m really grateful to my parents for starting me out with that because I think a lot of guys don’t get that. Just a hammer and nails. I’d find scrap wood and build things to sit on. I grew up on conference centers, my dad was the director of different conference centers, the Philippines at first and then California. So on these conference centers I had a huge shop at my disposal. I had everything but a table saw, my dad didn’t let me use the table saw. Chop saw, router, drill press, band saw. Just no table saw, because he’d seen enough thumbs disappear. So I just got to touch everything. I think by getting to touch everything, it took away the fear. Wood isn’t definite - if I make a bad cut it isn’t the end of the day. I could experiment. The freedom through that time, through having stuff at my disposal, I was able to grow in knowledge of materials and tools available."

"Houses was looking for monetary independence and looking to work with my hands. Houses kinda combined all of that. When I do houses, I only do one a year. It’s a creative outlet for me. Picking materials, picking colors. I also like finding and acquiring different materials for good deals. So finding that solid oak, because I want it to be solid oak, but also to find it for a good deal. I love to shop around and assemble materials all together. There are a lot of property guys around here who just do it for money. Their goal is to be a millionaire by thirty and retire. As nice as that sounds, that’d be cool, but that’s not my drive, not what pushes me. I enjoy picking the colors myself, finding the materials myself, getting my hands on it myself. Certain things I don’t enjoy... first I did all my painting, now I don’t do my painting, I just pick colors and paint. Still do a lot of plumbing, electrical, cabinets. There’s got to be some countertop material and a way to do countertops in a beautiful, functional, sustainable longterm way that I don’t think we’ve found yet, so that excites me."

What is your favorite part of the work day?

laying floors"Favorite part of the work day is the end product. I like to imagine something in my head and then see it all come together. and I like knowing materials. So when I look at something to know that that paint isn’t just paint, to know it was scraped down and done well. For some reason I like to know that in fifty years it’s still going to look like I made it look right there in front of me. When I look around and don’t see that, I get strong emotional reactions. My wife is tired of hearing about that. Like when I see someone building something in a way I would not do it, I feel a strong angry emotion. Choices of materials, choosing cheap or bad materials.... good materials can be put together less than perfectly but can still last a long time and look beautiful."

What would you say to a young person who wants to do what you do?

"Find a way to get your hands on stuff. You’ve got to start touching stuff, you’ve got to start playing with it. Start cheap with a hammer and nails, then move onto a thirty dollar drill. Pull wood out of dumpsters, that’s how I got started, so I always had a collection of wood. Pound out old nails to straighten them out. Money-wise, it’s available to kids, it doesn’t take a ton. You’ve got to start touching it. Then you’ll know about different things. There are certain things you can try to learn about, but until you touch it and mess up once or twice, you won’t know what they’re talking about."

fix a house

Sign up for our newsletter