Almost 25 years ago to the day — in October of 1982 — I finally graduated from Newbie Remodeler U and began building my first start-to-finish new house for a paying customer (even if it was my sister). Reliable job-site information was hard to come by in those days, so when one of my fellow workmen pulled out a dog-eared newspaper called New England Builder, I couldn't subscribe fast enough. It was the first publication I'd ever seen that had real information for builders about what did and didn't work, written and distributed by people who were actually doing it.

What does my subscribing to NEB in 1982 have to do with you being a "connected contractor" in 2007? Ironically, quite a lot. In 1982, Mike Reitz, the original publisher of NEB/JLC, was a contractor in rural Vermont who was having the same kinds of problems finding information that I was having in rural Pennsylvania. There was no...

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