From Selling Houses to Building Them: Realtor to Take On New Home Projects

Krystal Gillespie.

Even with an established, successful career, college can propel people even further forward.

Krystal Gillespie is one such person. A full-time Realtor for three years, Gillespie has also made her living flipping houses remodeling and repurposing them for four years.

I’ve done probably 15-plus houses I’ve worked on myself, Gillespie said.

While her career was already stable and successful, and she remains busy, Gillespie wanted to be able to do more.

So, I decided to do the carpentry program, she explained. I’d like to get into new construction versus remodeling.

She likes remodeling, but has a goal of being a home builder at the end of the carpentry program.

It’s not the typical path for those in the program, according to carpentry instructor Steve Carlson.

Most of my students are 17 to 19 years old and just graduated from high school, Carlson said. I also get a few older students returning from the military.

His class sizes range between 15 to 25 students, and of that group, only about two or three are women.

At this point, my students do not have careers, but are committed to working within the construction industry, and simply want to gather skills necessary to enter the trades with some level of confidence, he explained further. Students learn to work with the tools, scaffolding, plan reading, and estimating. Upon graduation, students typically take jobs as entry level carpenters.

Gillespie is banking on learning as much as possible during her time in the program, and already feels like she’s learned a lot after a month of classes.

With remodeling, it’s like you’re fixing other people’s problems, she said. You?re fixing houses that have deferred maintenance for the last 100 years, or at least the last 10 to 40 years depending on the house. With new construction it’s a lot more exact measurements and making sure everything is within an eighth of an inch or a sixteenth of an inch. Learning about framing, which I’ve never had to deal with before.

It’s a lot more of a controlled process?versus remodeling.

Steve Carlson is really great because he teaches everybody how to think like a carpenter. He tells everybody to think ahead of what the next steps are going to be. What is that going to be affecting and how will you tie that overall into the bigger picture of the project? Before, I didn’t think like a carpenter; I thought of things more from an aesthetic point of view.

Gillespie’s plan is to pursue a community concept of building. She describes her dream as a community with smaller lot sizes with smaller houses, something akin to an 800-square-foot house.

Rainbow story would be at the end of all this when I graduate in May, to have all my ducks in a row in order to move forward and take my general contractors licensing test, and start building shortly after that. I know a lot of hurdles have to be jumped to get to that point, she laughed.

Gillespie is taking what she already knows and combining it with what she learns in the carpentry program to reach her dream.

I could carry on, and I still will, after this, 100 percent be a real estate agent. I’m a house nerd through and through? I started this class, and I think that it really has helped me understand houses a bit more. Whether it’s the foundation, or the roof line, or the truss system, or a load bearing wall versus a non-load bearing wall.

All of those things will just even more so help set me apart from other real estate agents in the future. But then, if I could further my career and income by becoming a builder on top of that, why not?

Find out more about the carpentry program here.

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