Jun 19, 2013

Mr. C. D. Howard...

I first encountered Mr. C.D. Howard when, in 1978, I found myself in need of obtaining a general contractor’s license in Huntsville, Alabama.  Mr. Howard (Just call me “C.D.”) was a Huntsville native.  He was the slowest-talking southern gentleman I have ever encountered – one of those folks with whom you find yourself trying to pull the words out faster.  He was the head of the Huntsville Department of Inspection.
I asked Mr. Howard how I might go about getting a license and he advised me of the necessary steps.  But he also stressed to me the importance of working with his inspectors in the course of a building project.  I took that message to heart.  During the next few years as a licensed general contractor, I often called his office with questions about a specific regulation or requirement.  I practically memorized the Southern Building Code and never tried to put anything over on the inspectors.  As a result, Mr. Howard and I got along just fine.
The conversation which I remember most vividly took place in early 1979.  Margo and I had been talking about buying a lot and building our own home.  I had been studying solar home designs and had drawn up several ideas for a solar heated energy-efficient home.  I had heard that some localities prohibited contractors from building their own residences.  The conversation with Mr. Howard took place on one of my regular visits to his office and went something like this:
Me:  Mr. Howard, is it legal in Madison County for a contractor to build his own home?
C.D.: (very slowly) Mr. Mead, neither the city of Huntsville nor the county of Madison has any prohibition against a licensed general contractor building his own place of residence.  However, should you and Mrs. Mead elect to do so, I suggest that you include in the cost of the residence the cost of a divorce.
Enough said.  We never tried to build the house.
I recently learned that Mr. C.D. Howard is a member of the Huntsville-Madison County Builders Association Hall of Fame.  How appropriate.

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