Dream job: designing custom homes

The housing construction in Radisson near Samantha Escobar's Hope Place home in Lysander has long fascinated the C.W. Baker High School senior.

Escobar, 17, wants to become an architect, specifically designing and building houses. One day, she plans to own her own home building company.

Escobar plans to design houses tailor-made to each homeowner's preference. Like the contractors in Radisson, one of the largest state-developed housing communities in New York, she wants to build her houses from start to finish.

Her houses will have multiple bedrooms and floors, at least two bathrooms and an office.

"I would have a garage, a workout room (and) a basement," she added.

It's different from the one-story home her family shares. Escobar's parents are Ralph and Sheila Escobar. Her mother owns The Northern Door Trading Post, an American Indian crafts store, in Nedrow.

Her interest

"I always liked to do things with my hands," Escobar said of her desire to build. "When I was younger, my friends and I would always build forts out of wood that we found."

Her goal is build homes from start to finish without relying on the expertise of outside contractors.

Her preparation

Escobar plans to study architecture at Onondaga Community College this fall.

She already has taken a variety of technology courses in which she has designed a solar-powered car, made a dulcimer, created a floor plan for a home complete with intricate details about light fixtures and then built a model.

Escobar, who has jobs at Pizza Hut and Syracuse Homes, would like to work with a roofing company this summer to learn about that trade.

Her future

Escobar said she's not worried about how men will perceive her in the business.

"I used to be scared in tech classes because it's all guys, but I got over it because that's what I want to do," she said.

She'll be one of few women in the business.

There were about 652,800 women-owned construction businesses in the United States, according to 2004 U.S. Census Bureau statistics. That's only 6 percent of all U.S. women-owned businesses. Women own nearly half of the nation's privately held businesses.

Escobar's not sure where she would base her business, but it probably wouldn't be in the Syracuse area, she said.

Escobar said family is important to her and she may scale back her duties to just design work when she has young children. She would return to her full business of building houses later.

What it takes

According to builder

Kathy Kotz:

College education in construction and business.

Internships and other employment to build experience and knowledge.

Money to build the homes and the business.

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