XXL Construction Built 'Quality' Homes For Over Two Decades Collectively

Not long after arriving in Roberts Creek back in '76 my neighbor invited me to a poker game down the road a piece. That night i met what would become a great group of lifelong friends. A number of them worked together in a loosely woven group that changed sizes and members depending on the job requirements. They called themselves Thunder Painting and over the next couple years i watched and marveled at how perfectly their collective functioned. During that two years, like many new arrivals on 'the coast', i worked at the local pulp mill, but every second was spent scheming a way to escape.

Many things in Roberts Creek back then were grow-your-own including building your own home. Everybody helped everybody from time to time 'cause we were all in the same boat. We bought a bit of land with a cabin on it and in the off hours, with a lotta help from my friends and family, created the home pictured above. It turned into my escape hatch when a fellow pulp mill employee said he'd hire me to help him build a house for his family. It took me minutes to quit the pulp mill and XXL Construction was born.

From one owner-builder to the next, to the next on and on it went. Different projects, different sizes and shapes, different people involved in each project. But as time went on, like a snowball rolling downhill, certain parts, certain ideas stuck together. One sticky idea and a number of the people on the different projects came from the Thunder Painting gestalt was that everyone earned the same amount of money, that no one ever would make a dime off another person's labour. Another was to never markup the cost of materials, another was to, in every possible case, have the owners working/sweating with us side by side, being part of the decision making process moment by moment. Others included re-using materials whenever possible in every renovation and buying used materials and fixtures whenever we could.

In this way we built home after home for family after family in Roberts Creek and beyond for well over 20 years until we all got old and the world around us changed. Some of the old gang has gone on to the happy hunting grounds already, some still work in the building trades, at least one has retired to a life of beer drinking and garden tending. Looking back now it's easy to see that the central values of the collective's evolving membership was what guaranteed we'd have pride in the affordable quality of the homes we built and life long friends in our community.