Builder's Apprentice

( 6 )

Overview

In 1986, Andy Hoffman quit an engineering job, declined acceptances for graduate school at Harvard and Berkeley and accepted a carpenter's job in Nantucket. Unbeknownst to him, he had entered the world of high-end custom building. Within four years, he was supervising the construction of a 29,000 square-foot mansion on a 180-acre estate in Fairfield County Connecticut. This is a book about his personal and professional growth along that journey, from apprentice to builder through the tutelage of a seasoned and ...

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Overview

In 1986, Andy Hoffman quit an engineering job, declined acceptances for graduate school at Harvard and Berkeley and accepted a carpenter's job in Nantucket. Unbeknownst to him, he had entered the world of high-end custom building. Within four years, he was supervising the construction of a 29,000 square-foot mansion on a 180-acre estate in Fairfield County Connecticut. This is a book about his personal and professional growth along that journey, from apprentice to builder through the tutelage of a seasoned and hard-nosed builder. It describes how uniquely high-end homes are built for select clients, a glimpse into the lives of the blue-collar workers, architects, engineers and clients that come together to make these projects a reality. At its core, this is a coming-of-age story, a celebration of the pursuit of creative impulses and a story about defying the "rules" and finding a personal calling in life.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932399240
  • Publisher: Huron River Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2010
  • Pages: 335
  • Sales rank: 970,180
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 26, 2010

    A Worthy Read

    I have to admit I'm not a big fan of memoirs, and when I do read them they're usually about a major drama (war, great love affairs, alien invasions, etc.). So I was a bit resistant to reading Andy Hoffman's memoir, which was recommended to me, about what appeared to be a relatively short and minor period in his life as a builder.

    Thus I was as surprised as anyone when I started reading the book on a long flight and couldn't put it down until I'd finished it.

    What starts out as a young man quitting his desk job to don a tool a belt and head to Nantucket to build a house turns into an engaging tale of personal growth and the search for meaning in one's work. It offers some great insights into the slippery nature of trust, as well as what becoming a leader means and what it costs.

    What I found particularly interesting was the light it shines on the inner workings of the construction world and the peculiar characters who inhabit it, whose outward manifestations of restlessness represent something universal that everyone with a desk job can surely recognize.

    Deeper analysis aside, it's a good, engaging read with something to say that sticks with you long after you put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    An Inspirational read

    Making a choice to follow your passions is never easy. Turning down an acceptance from Harvard to pursue a blue-collar job is almost unheard of and yet Andy Hoffman convinces us that his choice isn't as foolhardy as it seems and that it is possible to act against conventional wisdom and succeed. Without being overly prescriptive, Andy takes the reader through his personal journey in this honest narrative of his apprenticeship as a builder.

    The book chronicles Andy's journey and creates a vivid account of the tribulations that he faces along the way. For avid builders and construction aspirants, the book is full of rich, absorbing details, a clear sign of a craftsman whose eye doesn't miss any details. For those who are unfamiliar with construction the jargon could mildly bewildering at times, causing the temptation to skip a few paragraphs, but the threads of the story are easy to follow and the emotional richness of the characters keeps you engaged. Any unfamiliarity with the building trade is quickly overcome with Andy's detailed accounts of the crew dynamics, building procedures and construction terminology. Before you know it, you start feeling like an insider - even part of the crew!

    The Builder's Apprentice should not to be dismissed by those uninterested in building. It offers a pillar of support to those trying to make an inspired choice in the face of opposition. Andy's relatively late decision in life to switch careers and start afresh is an uncommon story, one that is reflective of the pressures faced by many recent graduates today. Vaguely reminiscent of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, The Builder's Apprentice is a quick read that shares a life's choices and offers a rare insight into professional success.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2010

    Vocational Journey: revealing account of the high end homebuilding industry

    A college educated city boy turns down prestigious graduate school and ventures into the construction industry to spin saws and pound nails. He ends up learning a lot more than carpentry. This story includes two apprenticeships, one in the building trades and one in adulthood.

    Hoffman's love of woodworking and homebuilding comes through loud and clear. He describes vividly the process of turning raw materials into luxury homes, homes so vast and ornate that the workers building them could never even dream to live in them. But to anyone other than a construction devote, these projects form the backdrop to the real story.

    It is a story of people from different walks of life: a city slick protagonist, absurdly wealthy clients, workers and contractors who cuss, cheat, and expect to get fired, and a seasoned father figure who manages this confluence with charisma and means unspoken. Coming of age in this world, in Jack's world, means learning to lead where trust is scarce and control requires confrontation.

    The book is well written and conveys the rewards of following a passion over other people's judgment. It suggests that the little voice inside each of us points to more than we can immediately comprehend. In the end, the author completed graduate school and became a university professor. This adventure didn't kill his career, it colored it.

    I would recommend the book to anyone interested in learning how the high end homebuilding industry works. And for young souls considering their next steps, the narrative offers a degree comfort and a dose of courage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    Giving up Harvard to follow a dream...

    Enjoyed this book immensely... Few people pass up the status of a Harvard degree and access to social circles a 'professional' job provides, in order to follow one's heart to a career that is unknown... a career you believe is your true passion, but which is completely different from your parents' expected path for you. This is a well-written personal story that will inspire those looking to redefine their careers or take a big career changing risk...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    Well-crafted book

    I really liked this book! It was a well-written and sincere memoir, and an enjoyable page-turner. The theme of self-discovery and figuring out what to do with your life really hit home with me, as a graduate student pondering where to go from here. Plus I find memoirs to be really fun to read in general.

    The descriptions of the construction process are really informative; I feel like I've seriously learned a lot about carpentry and construction from reading it. Although the custom houses described in the book sound insanely large and excessive, I came to respect them for what they were, works of art in their own right. I would recommend the book to anyone, but especially to anyone interested working in the built environment.

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  • Posted March 31, 2010

    A Must-Read for All Who Ponder with an Inner-Calling, "What would it be like to build a home?"

    Reads like fiction, but is fact.
    Gentle, smooth, absorbing, honest, and inspirational.

    A must-read for budding teenagers & adults - young and old - whose pace slows down and eyes light up as they pass by construction sites, pondering with an inner-calling, "What would it be like to build a home?"

    Andy's writing style and choice of words are eloquent and often poetic, as his recollections of his past evoke an honest love for following his heart - and, in doing so, giving up all that he had created for himself - to combine hands, muscle and sweat with hammer and nail to become a carpenter.

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