Basketball is a team sport. And so is homebuilding — usually. But when Pat Dixon, the strength and conditioning coach for the St. John's University men's and women's basketball teams, needed to rebuild his home after Hurricane Sandy ruined it, he worked alone. And where his one-story brick bungalow once stood, Dixon now has a two-story, four-bedroom, two-bath house.
Dixon registered with the city of Long Beach, New York, as a contractor, reports The New York Times, but decided the insurance cost of hiring help would break his budget ("What Hurricane Sandy Destroyed, a Man Rebuilds by Hand," by Corey Kilgannon). So on his own, Dixon started by tearing down the ruined bungalow. "I personally watched him," Scott Kemins, the building commissioner for the City of Long Beach, told the Times. "He took his old house down piece by piece with his bare hands; every time I drove by, another part was down."
"He relied on outside help only for tasks for which the city required a licensed contractor, primarily the foundation, electrical wiring and plumbing," the Times reports. "Other than that, he did the rest himself, he said — 'every board, every nail' — including putting up the frame of the house and erecting the roof, which is 35 feet off the ground. He put in wooden staircases, insulation, doors and windows, Sheetrock and a security system. He is finishing the plastering and painting."
Says Dixon: ""It was the defining moment of my life — getting punched hard in the face and choosing to get back up and fight. You're faced with a massive problem, and you can either stick your head in the sand or grab a hammer and get started."