This story originally appeared in the Sept. 1 issue of the Community Voice. For your subscription, call 270-384-9454
Danielle Estes says July 24, 2017, was the day everything changed for her family.
Her husband, Jason, a master builder, was working on a site by himself trying to finish a project before the client arrived. He had been doing this kind of thing for years and closing out some final details on his own was nothing new.
On this day, however, the multiple projects and long hours had taken a physical toll on Jason, and he fell from the top of a ladder onto the concrete pad below, hitting his back and head first. He somehow got to his phone and messaged his wife, who was a few minutes away at home. Doctors later told Jason he was lucky to be alive.
“I figured Jason was going to live, but since he kept repeating himself on the ride to the hospital, I wasn’t sure what kind of life he would have, if I would have the same husband, or if I would be taking care of him for the rest of his life,” Danielle said. “I am so thankful he recovered and is okay. He still suffers from the damage the fall caused to his head and neck, but he’s here and has accomplished so much.”
Around that same time, Danielle and Jason were looking at wedding venues for their daughter and that gave Danielle an idea…What if we build a venue on our property? Jason could do the work him- self, with the family’s help. It could be a business for the family, and something that could be passed on to the children.
The result is the new Lakeview Barn and Lodge on Pikes Ridge Rd.
“When this idea came up, I definitely saw it as a wonderful opportunity for him to stop working by himself, as a job leading to an end, and as a good retirement plan,” Danielle said. “We’re getting older and how much longer can we expect this much work from our bodies?”
The days were long. Jason would cut the timber himself at the sawmill on the property. Then, Danielle and the children – Autumn, Bridget and Jason, Jr. – would move the planks from the mill to the location. The project became a family effort, including everything from clearing the land, getting the trees to the sawmill, building the facility, and landscaping the area. Everything was done together.
“I told him I don’t want him going out anymore where he doesn’t have help,” Danielle said. “When our daughter came up with the idea of building the lodge, I thought this is a great idea. We can help him and watch out for him.”
Jason did what he does best and went to work . He got the logistics of what Danielle and his girls wanted built and then he and Jason Jr. started building the facility piece by piece.
“There was never a doubt we could do this. I knew I could do it,” Jason said. “We always believe if you want to do something, then you do it the right way. We started dropping the posts in for the shed on one side and then we started building the bathrooms on the other side first.
“We poured the pads, about 130 yards of concrete. We set all the I beams and put them in one at a time. We weld- ed all the brackets. We were very careful about everything we bought because it had to make sense, it had to be able to pay us back. We also tried to save some money by helping the contractors when they were here.”
Danielle and Jason said the hardest part of the whole project was the things you don’t see. They had to have numerous inspections on the facility and passing was required before progress could continue. And the cost of the project, at times, gave them some serious frustrations.
“We didn’t know from one minute to the next if we were going to be able to keep going or if we were going to have to be able to sell,” Danielle said. “It was always at the last second when something would come through. That was so stressful because while he is doing this, he is not out there working to bring in money to pay the bills. There were many times we wanted to give up and forget about it.”
With a “few things” he would still like to complete on the lodge, Jason and Danielle said they’ve already had offers nearing $1 million to sell the property.
Danielle said possibly the best thing to come out of this massive project is their relationship and how much closer they became. Often, working with your spouse can be precarious.
“I knew with the stress level he would be overwhelmed, so I know there was a good reason for any frustrations. I would never hold that against him,” Danielle said. “There was nothing we could do but help each other through it all. We still kiss each other every day and pat each other on the butt. I think doing this actually helped us get to know each other better.”
By Scott Wilson