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Mr Syr’s Home Improvement

Religion teacher Mr. Chris Symkowick-Rose is known for his eccentric personality. However, many do not know about the projects he undertakes at home. From building his own pool to remodeling his kitchen, he is a man of many constructive talents. The most impressive part? He does it with only the help of his supportive wife […]

Religion teacher Mr. Chris Symkowick-Rose is known for his eccentric personality. However, many do not know about the projects he undertakes at home. From building his own pool to remodeling his kitchen, he is a man of many constructive talents. The most impressive part? He does it with only the help of his supportive wife and kids.

He is often supported by his wife and kids, so it is no surprise that his daughter Helen Symkowick-Rose (’23) loves the amazingly convenient additions to the home.

“Now we have family hot tub nights and overall spend a lot more time outside, it is extremely enjoyable.”

Before the kids, Mr. Symkowick-Rose and his wife would effectively kick start his passion for home improvement in Denver.

“Ever since I owned my own property, which was when me and my wife lived in Denver, we bought a condo and I think our first test of marriage was installing a pergo floor,” he says.

This was the first home improvement project he would undertake, setting the tone for the future.

“When you live in a house for a while, you start to think ‘oh it’d be great if this door was over there’ or ‘what if we had a bigger kitchen?’ or ‘what if we had more light over here?'”

Other than his own will to improve his living space, he is inspired by his family business as well.

“My family runs an electrical contracting company, so I was around construction a lot as a kid and was always delivering materials or watching my dad work in the field,” he says.

Even though he took a different route and decided to become an educator, construction still remains in his blood.

Mr. Syr’s backyard playground, prior to rejuvenating the space

He takes most matters into his own hands, yet still contracts out concrete, plumbing, and some electrical works. However, he makes clear that he tries to use contractors sparingly, as he is no stranger to the tactics of most contractors. As a member of a family who owns an electrical contracting business he is well aware that contractors often up sell clients to make their money.

“I know the business, and I know what they are trying to do, so sometimes it is just frustrating, but I also understand that is how they do their business and have respect for that because that is how my family makes their money.”

Mr. Syr’s family room and kitchen before he transformed the entire space.

Aside from from self fulfillment, he also acknowledges that he has saved thousands of dollars doing his projects on his own.

“If I would have paid someone to do my kitchen it probably would have cost me $50,000-$75,000 dollars, and I did it for under $25,000.”

The real question is how challenging is it, even for someone with a construction background to undertake such massive projects?

“You just have to find a way to make it happen, sketch out some ideas and then come up with a plan.”

His spectacular kitchen and stunning family room after work was finished.

He acknowledges that not every project of his has been perfect or went smoothly throughout. He touches on when he built his deck and pool, which he says was the most challenging. Many do not ever imagine of building a pool in their lifetime, let alone a deck in their backyard.

“The most difficult part was that I was still trying to figure out the deck as I went — it sounds silly, but it really was a feat of engineering.”

Little did he know, he was yet to experience what he calls his “greatest challenge”.

“The pool is six stainless steel panels that sit atop a concrete pad. I marked it all out to the right dimensions, but my concrete guy put his forms on top of my lines, so I was three inches short, yet I thought it would be okay. Then I was toward the end of the project and I was filling up the pool with water, and I was about halfway through with that when I heard a noise and went over and looked and realized that the pool had blown out the concrete footings, and the water had bowed out the side of the pool. I thought I had just ruined the whole project.”

Like the handy man he is, he ran to the hardware store and bought a pump to pump the water out, and then bought 15 bags of concrete, which he mixed all by hand, and dug out new footings and poured the concrete himself.

“I really like that it gives me a sense of accomplishment,” he states. “In teaching, you do not get to see the end result directly. Sometimes students come back and tell you they appreciate what you did for them, but you never get to see it directly.”

“He works really hard on his projects,” Helen says. “They seem to put him in a better mood.”

Sometimes in life, you just have to pour the concrete yourself, and take matters into your own hands. You might even end up saving yourself a couple bucks and learn some valuable lessons along the way.

“I was able to fix it and that was huge,” the religion teacher exclaimed. “I should have done something sooner but once you start to get towards the end of a project you just get excited and want it to be completed!”

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