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Cast of the 'cast

Residential Designer
"Perfesser Nuhaus"

Robert Platt

It pretty much sucks writing about yourself.  Your supposed to write in the third person and talk up why you are whatever you want people to think you are.  It usually comes off sorta disingenuous.  I say “sorta” because the word ($2 word for horse crap) generally means not candid or sincere but also means that you know less about a situation than you do.  So, these bios may seem sorta disingenuous in that they really want to lead people to think you know more.  They also tend to lead people to believe that your life has been a series of brilliant decisions and chronic success.  It’s a real dilemma!  Truth is, I really do know a lot about all the stuff we will discuss.  I love this stuff.  However, this body of knowledge came with a trail of many good decisions and some real stinkers.  To the point, as I love to recount, “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut!”  Ya’ see, I’ve been in construction a very long time.  Heck, I should know something or I damn sure haven’t been payin’ attention!  Trust me when I say, “I’ve paid attention.”  For me, this would suffice as my bio.  Convention says, not so much.  So, here we go…

First, I want to segue for a moment to the podcast.  (Like that? ‘Segue’ I mean? Just sounds smart doesn’t it?)  This podcast is pretty much born out of all that stuff in the first paragraph.  It’s like this, I’ve been in construction for 39 years professionally.  No, not because I couldn’t do anything else.  I was just bitten by the bug early and never recovered.  The building industry is about the greatest place to work in the world.  That is if you can overlook that it’s Godawful hot, everything is heavy, you have to drive all over hell’s ½ acre to get to work, the pay frequently sucks and some other stuff.  At the end of the day, you build stuff!  Damn, who doesn’t like that?  Not only that, unless you live naked in the woods, it touches virtually everybody in one way or another.  Now, I haven’t seen it all but I’ve seen way more than the average bear.  It never fails to fascinate me.  How could it?  It changes too fast to sit down!  So, after 39 years, I’m doing what I love every day with people I respect.  So, why this podcast?  Because there’s a world of stuff you should know, or be aware of, and nobody is taking the time to tell you.  It isn’t for lack of wanting to know on your part!  Holy cow, this industry has more groupies than an Asian boy band.  Man, you guys have built whole TV and cable networks!  The problem is, they aren’t giving you what you really need.  If you own a home, you need to know how to maintain it, expand it, service it and protect it.  You need the tools to make informed decisions and protect your investment without a lot of fluff.  It just so happens; I know a bunch of that stuff and I know even more people that know all the stuff I don’t.  Tada!  The Nuhaus Project.  This is the best way I figured out to bank a life’s worth of experience and let other folks make use of it.  Made sense to me….and at least 4 other people.  That’s why we’re doing this.  Because it matters.  Now, if you want to know more, read the blogs.  They will tell you more stuff about me than you may care to know.  They will also give you a lot more detail about the ‘why’ of the Nuhaus Project.  That being said…

I was born the son of a builder.  He did other stuff but that was woven throughout all of it.  His dad was a builder and his uncles were builders.  Seein’ a pattern here?  At twelve he had me roofing.  I wanted too, really.  It was a lot like white washing a fence though.  I think I was suckered.  From there I followed a path of technical education in architecture and engineering design drafting for six years.  This culminated in a full-boat scholarship to the University of Florida College of Architecture which I promptly set ablaze and sank like the Titanic.  I do a lot of work on multifamily fire restoration now.  Maybe there’s a connection?  The upside, and the downside, is that I was among the best at what I did.  I’m even better now.  That skill level kept me comfortably employed and I rarely looked for work.  It also made me complacent and I never completed my degree.  I was having way too much fun and was never bored, much.  These events lead me on a remarkable trail of projects that span continents and a myriad of technologies and applications.  I’ve worked on major cutting-edge modular prefab projects in the Middle East and prefabricated panelized housing in South Africa.

 I’ve seen trends, fads and occasional brilliance.  Mostly, at this later time in my career, I see how the complexities of construction impact everyday people.  I frequently say that there are 2 kinds of people; those that own a home and those that want to.  I think we can significantly help both of them.  I really hope you agree.  But if you want to know a lot more about me, you’ll have to listen to the show.  If I spill all of that junk now, the show will be a snooze.  Can’t have that now can I?

So, why this podcast?

Because there’s a world of stuff you should know, or be aware of, and nobody is taking the time to tell you. 

Residential & Interior Designer

Aaron Michelle Platt-Baker

In case you’re wonderin’, this is the Perfesser speakin’ (or writing as it were).  I pretty much doctored the bios of everybody to some degree or another because you need to know how they got snared into this project.  Aaron is a very different case because she’s my daughter.  Pretty proud of that and, no, I did NOT want another boy!  Already had a son and he made my hair white.  At least that’s what I tell people (not true).  In fact, I named her Aaron for a reason.  I like the guy.  He had some seriously cool qualities and I figured, a girl can be like that!  Hence, I named her Aaron.  I like to think I was ahead of my time regarding gender neutrality, but she thought much to the contrary for a long time.  Let’s say it gave her a balanced view of me.  Part loving father and part ass.  Pretty accurate.  At any rate, she grew into the name and who knew? She’s a lot like him….Aaron I mean.  Very cool young woman.  She now says she’s the son I always wanted; much to the chagrin of her brother.  The fact is, she’s frighteningly like me.  Part loving daughter and part ass.  It works.  At any rate, now that we have that out of the way, we have worked together for about 4 years now in the design practice.  We get along great.  Not like oil and water at all.  More like whiskey and coffee.  It’s an Irish-Catholic thing. 

Fortunately, Aaron is all girl….with a heavy dose of, let’s say, healthy attitude.  I say healthy because she thrives in what has been a man’s world.  I like it.  I never worry about her.  She holds her own just fine.  She is my secret weapon against arrogant egotistic macho-builder types.  As an attractive young woman, she’s disarming….which allows her to get close enough to snot-slap them with undeniable confidence.  It’s very entertaining to watch.  In the end, they either respect her or fear her.  Either is good.  And they say architecture isn’t exciting.  If you watch, or listen to the podcast, you’ll notice I call her by a lot of names.  Usually Ralph.  It’s a Simpson’s reference (Ralphie).  We laugh a lot because construction is hard.  It’s easy to get cranky, so we don’t.  She’s been in or around construction for most of her life.  It’s nice to have a daughter that asks for a new circular saw for Christmas.  Makes pickin’ gifts out a crap-load easier.  (She does have a strange fascination with flamingos too; makes a good backup)  You have no idea how hard it is to find a quality pink leather tool belt.  She’s tough but always stylish.  Coming over to the dark side (residential design) has been a process.  I liken it to the story of Jonah.  You can run but you damn sure better swim faster than the fish.  She didn’t…swim faster I mean.

So, after years of working on job sites in the summer and building railings, insulating walls, yada, yada, yada; she completed her BFA in Interior Design in 2009 from the Art Institute of Atlanta.  She would not give residential design a 2nd thought.  Hell, there wasn’t a 1st thought.  She was destined for the commercial world.  Post-graduation, she explored several facets of the industry, including residential and commercial hard surface specification, plumbing fixture selection, and furnishing applications (yawn).  (Just kidding, actually killer experience but NOT residential design.)  As a hard surface specialist, Aaron Michelle educated architects and designers on the fundamentals of proper material selection for various design applications.  Very cool experience I might add.  After a few truly condescending comments toward her from architects in her classes, she found her voice!  Like that was hard.  She’s had it ever since.  Works for me.  After 4 years or so of this stuff, she wanted more.  (And they say prayer doesn’t work! Hah!)   it was her determination to move ahead with her career and pursue her Master’s degree in Architecture.  (It’s almost diabolical!  Can’t you feel the pull to the dark side?)  Acoustics had a heavy influence in her studies at Southern Polytechnic State University where she completed the program as the inaugural student.  In conjunction with pursuing her Graduate Degree she sharpened  her commercial interior design skills at Coyle-Thompson-Jones.

Although Tricia Jones was a great mentor, I had to play the “dad “card.  Catholic guilt, whatever.  I’m not proud.  Suffice to say that once she came into the design den of darkness (residential design) she found her place, both in the industry and with me.  Ralph is my right arm, my associate and my kid.  She is an excellent designer, interior designer, a consummate professional and a mommy to Moose (Walter).  Moose is our youngest intern at 3 years old.  (Starting the Grandpa influence thing early)  Just remember, whatever you do, don’t call her an interior decorator.  Seriously, it’s just ugly.  I’m just sayin’.

Aaron thrives in what has been a man’s world.

  I like it.  I never worry about her.  She holds her own just fine.  She is my secret weapon against arrogant egotistic macho-builder types. 

Interior Designer

Lacie' Cowins

Okay, let’s open the door with pronouncing his name right.  It’s pronounced ‘low-say’.  Now the guy is 6’-6”+ and gets a little agitated when people call him ‘Lacie’.  He’s also a reservist in the U.S. Army, and has been in the military for some 33 years.  In fact, he started in the Navy and then went to the Army.  I don’t have clue why.  Coulda’ been the salt air.  Hell on your skin ya’ know?  I mean, look at the guy’s photo.  If he hadn’t gone into the Army, he might look all wrinkly and stuff.  Then we would just have a box that says, “photo pending”.  Instead, we have this stylish looking guy to grace our website.  Makes sense to me. 

Regardless, the point is, Sgt. Cowins has cranky down to a science.  So, for God’s sake, get his name right.  It’s just healthy.  Now Lacie’ is the newest member to the paid staff.  Other guys get paid, just not by us.  He comes here and works on purpose.  I don’t get it but, it does explain why the guy stayed in the military for 33 years.  Again, kinda’ makes sense if you think about it.  We’re just happy with anybody that works here and doesn’t run out screaming after 3 weeks.  He’s one of us.  To his absolute credit, the guys has a lovely family.  His wife is a saint (He’s still here) and his son is a great young man (an almost certain credit to his wife but I guess he deserves SOME credit).

Although Lacie’ has achieved a BFA in Interior Design from the Art Institute, his heart lies in residential design.  Frankly, his nature was to wander a bit for years.  He has developed a multitude of skills in as many fields.  The guy is remarkably well rounded.  In our practice of the craft, the nuts and bolts of design are essential to quality aesthetics.  Basically, pretty pictures don’t make a design work.  One must recognize that people have to assemble these strokes of genius.  As a hands-on carpenter and artist, Lacie’ gets it.  He’s an asset to the team and an integral part of our culture.  He also makes this podcast stuff work for the most part.  When you don’t see him on camera or in the audio, he’s pushing the buttons and being creative on that side.  Fortunately, he knows a whole lot more about this stuff than we do.  I probably shouldn’t say that.  Now he’ll want a raise and a better studio.  Crap, he’s probably gonna’ make me sound like Daffy Duck now.  Sometimes this job sucks.

Lacie’s an asset to the team and an integral part of our culture. 

He also makes this podcast stuff work for the most part.  When you don’t see him on camera or in the audio, he’s pushing the buttons and being creative on that side. 

Landscape Architect

Kathryn Barnett

Truth Be known, we had a real nice bio set up for Kathryn.  It went something like this, “She’s really, really smart, went to great schools, knows a lot about Landscape Architecture, been doing this stuff a long time, blah, blah, blah.  Boring!  True but, whatever.  What really matters is that she is from Florida!…..and she lived in Jacksonville (Nuhaus’ hometown) and she still answers our calls!  

Really, considering caller ID, this is a very big deal.  Kathryn fits in just fine.  At least she laughs at our stuff and we’ve never had to bail her out of jail….as far as you know.  These are all very good points.  You should seriously listen to her.

In reality, all that stuff is true (except the jail thing; she probably wouldn’t call us about that).  She did in fact go to the University of Florida (GO GATORS! Had to say that) where she received her Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture in 1994.  Subsequently, she went to Jacksonville (another excellent decision) and worked a while before relocating up here to GA.  A born traveler, you can just sense it. She and her husband decided to move up to Atlanta in 1996.  Coincidentally, that’s when Perfesser Nuhaus moved up here from Jax as well.  Seriously, nothin’ creepy, just coincidence.  I mean, no stalking or anything like that.  We like to think it was a portent of the future (okay that’s maybe a little creepy).  She attained her GA Landscape Architect’s License in 1997 and she’s been practicing here ever since.  She did manage to build a family somewhere in there, but the details are still a little sketchy.  We’ve seen pictures.  Very nice family by the way.  You think she’d introduce them to us or something, but NOOO!  It could be done in a public place!  Some stuff about corrupting their young minds, blah, blah, blah.  It’ll happen.

Well now ya’ know she’s smart.  Der.  What’s more important is that she’s very experienced.  Kathryn has enjoyed a nicely rounded career with applications of her craft from large-scale Master Planning projects to detailed hardscape and landscape designs.  Her clients have ranged from Multifamily & Commercial Developers to colleges and municipalities to single-family homeowners.  She has been privileged to work with a number of very gifted and talented people, like herself, to include Landscape Architects, Architects, Planners and engineers.  All of that mess lead her to launch her own design practice, Terramore Studios, in 2018.  That’s really where we came in.  Not the stalking thing but actually needing her services.  We were referred to her by Joan, another Landscape Architect whom we respect very much.  She was experiencing a change in career path and said that Kathryn would be her best recommendation to help with what we needed.   Our biggest fear was behaving like normal people until we could get her under contract for that project.  A tall order once you get to know us.  Turns out, she’s just like us!  Who knew!? 

It’s evident (I hope) that we kid around a lot.  This is tedious, complicated work and humor is our sanity.  Kathryn is a consummate professional that certainly reflects the best of the Nuhaus Project and its mission; to educate the homeowner.  She is talented, experienced, funny and most serious about what we do.  Enjoy the podcast.  When Kathryn is on, she’s saying something you really need to know.  Laughter is just how we sneak these pearls of wisdom into your brain.  Did I mention she has some really cool ink?

Kathryn is talented, experienced, funny and most serious about what we do.

Kathryn is a consummate professional that certainly reflects the best of the Nuhaus Project and its mission

Professional Builder

Chris Branscum

Chris sent us some great stuff to help you get to know him.  He put a lot of thought and time into it….so we chunked it.  Never let a builder start talking about themselves.  I mean, damn, you never hear the end.  (Did I mention I was a builder?).  The thing that struck me most in his valiant effort was the hidden bond to Nuhaus (Me!).  He started by letting you know that his road to a profession in the construction industry began after he was ejected from college in his first semester.  It warmed my heart that somebody else got wanged by a rake with their first step into the garden!  That’s right, we bonded on the flights to our respective futures that were soon academic dirt landings that we frequently gaze back and ponder.  Or not.  Statistically, this may be the most common launch point for a career in building construction.  We now return to our previous broadcast….

It seems that in 1999, at age 15, brother Branscum was ripped from Paradise (Long Beach, CA) and thrust into the hot deep South of GA.  (Trying to make this dramatic. I think they just drove.  Probably the speed-limit.)  I say ‘ripped’ because no one in their right mind leaves CA voluntarily to come here and barbeque walking across the street!  Fortunately, his age saves the reputation of his mental health and we can blame his parents.  In truth, he loves this place.  The South I mean.  It does kinda’ bite you.  So fast-forward a few years and we get back to the great exit from academia.  On the way out, he tripped and fell head-long into a career.  Turns out, barring the requisite high school summer jobs on jobsites, he had before him the opportunity to build his craft and make it his own.  He did exactly that.  He stepped with both feet in 2003 when the market was solid.  This was a brilliant time to build experience if you showed talent, which he obviously did.

Ultimately, he built a solid reputation as a Kitchen Installer.  Trust me, a tough job to master and be quick to be profitable.  Another bond he shares with Nuhaus (me!).  He built a notable roster of happy builders from John Weiland to Pulte Homes, Horton and Beazer Homes.  It seems he wanted to do more than install kitchens though.  A lot more.  He began working in a number of promising builder programs under some corporate “Giants of the South”.  Everything was coming up roses until 2007….that sucked!  To avoid a career setback, he diverted his attention to multifamily construction.  This move carried him through the depths of 2007 – 2009 as a traveling project manager.  As the economy eased, he expanded his scope and slid into commercial from 2010 to 2012.  This series of successful decisions served greatly to give him the extensive and diverse background in property recovery and repurposing that is at the corner of this podcast.   This is how Chris has become a true asset to this panel and a great resource for answers to your project questions. 

All of that stuff really sounds like this guy is driven and self-motivated, right?  Well, he is but there are deeper secrets to his growth that overshadow a few good decisions.  He met a terrific woman and got married!  Tada!  Explains everything.  You know, “behind every great (whatever) is a great woman.”  Another bond we share.  Not his wife!  Just that our paths really took shape once we got adult supervision.  Keep in mind that any spouse that doesn’t kill their construction employed sweetie is bordering on sainthood.  Not being dead at the hands of your partner is always a strong positive….and testimony!  In the end, Chris has enjoyed broad exposure to a very diverse project portfolio.  Like Nuhaus, he has traveled extensively practicing his craft and has seen first-hand the highs and lows of this incredible industry.  Among our builder-clients, Chris rose to the level of a favored client but moreover, our friend.  Chris is a builder.  A true builder that sees this industry, good and bad, and has an ethic to improve it.  As a builder, he maintains an appropriate and healthy designer/builder relationship.  Over the last 4 years, we have come to recognize Chris as a missing element in our mission; the voice of the builder.  Since the other candidates wouldn’t take our calls, Chris is our guy!   Chris will routinely broadcast with us to present a seasoned builder’s viewpoint on methods, technologies and actual projects under construction.  Perhaps it is fate that allows some of us to experience an accelerated path to our goal.  We’re pretty happy his path worked for us too.  We trust his word without question.  We’re pretty sure you will too.

Chris maintains an appropriate and healthy designer/builder relationship.

  Over the last 3 years, we have come to recognize Chris as a missing element in our mission; the voice of the builder.