Best Practices, Columnists, Operations, V9I6

In the Beginning

Burkholder Buildings had its humble beginnings on the sloping driveway of our rented property. 

My wife and I had recently moved from my homeland in the state of Vermont to her roots in northeastern British Columbia. I was now a schoolteacher at our small church school. 

The transition from farm work outside to deskwork in a classroom was not seamless. 

After a winter in the classroom and a day with books, I was anxious to do something with my hands, preferably in the fresh air. 

David, my neighbor across the road, was building sheds. No cookie cutter buildings for him! Every shed was different, and he didn’t necessarily have a pattern when he started. 

Greenhouses, horse barns, storage sheds—some of his buildings were made to order. Others not. 

The road between us was well-traveled, and he kept the heads of the drivers turning to see what was new in his driveway. It seemed like a good thing was going on over there. 

And, since David had other projects as well, he encouraged me to build sheds. So, I laid out plans for a shed of my own. 

As mentioned earlier, the driveway was on a slope. Not a hill, exactly, but definitely not flat. 

Additional factor: This was mid-March in the north country. The landscape was snow piles and ice, with mud beginning to compete with the ice on sunny afternoons. No concrete here. 

Not exactly a shed builder’s dream.

I managed to lay out the floor, 12 feet by 16 feet, and level it. But first, a confession. 

My experience in framing was pretty minimal. I had worked part-time in a shed shop in Vermont but mainly on the finishing end of things. 

This weakness was exposed when I was ready to sheet the floor. The corners of my floor were square, but the sides were not straight. Aww, no! My joists were securely nailed to the skids. How would I ever fix this one? 

Now my neighbor David has other strengths, besides originality in shed building. No matter what his project, he would drop it in a moment to help a friend in distress. 

Almost before my phone was back in my pocket, he was on the scene with his sledgehammer. Thump a little here, pound a little there, and behold! Everything was lined up again, and we could proceed.

The rest of the shed went more smoothly. It was ready for paint before the ice on the driveway had melted. 

“Paint it red,” David advised, so I used a bright fire-engine shade, and the heads of the passersby began turning in my direction. 

In April it was trimmed, shingled, and finished. David hauled it to the empty lot in the nearby city of Fort St. John where he displayed his buildings. Just in time! A few days later, we were buried under a late-spring snowfall of two feet.

And the shed sold! The new owners wanted to use it for chickens, so we actually brought it back home to the driveway so I could insulate it and turn it into a premium chicken coop. 

Burkholder Buildings had begun!

I am thankful for how God has blessed this venture. Today, we build sheds in a heated shop, with a concrete floor. Saws are set up where we want them; lumber is stacked in order along the walls. 

We have hot running water and tools and supplies are easily accessible. We would groan at the inconveniences I endured on that first shed.

But we could not have gotten here without starting there. 

Never be ashamed of a small beginning. Start where you are, work hard, and grow with your opportunities.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Current Issue

June/July 2024