telephone nook with perforated panel in colonial revival home
Photo: Tria Giovan
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Efficiency at Work

Time to line up a few subcontractors.

"There's skill-set hard and manual-labor hard, and I have learned to live with my ability,” says Jim of his sweat-equity calculations. Insulation, plumbing, and other tricky infrastructure? No, thanks. But he will take on projects that involve a ladder, even if halfway up it he may wonder why. "The cupola was probably the hardest job we tackled, in terms of skill and endurance,” he says, referring to the day he and son Drew scrambled onto the garage roof, erected scaffolding so that they wouldn't have to work at an angle, struggled to cut through two layers of roofing, installed plywood sheathing to create a flat, stable surface, and then hauled the cupola into place.

Shown: The old front-hall telephone nook, with a perforated metal panel to screen the ringer, retains its role as a conversation piece.
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