Three years ago, the owner of Brother’s Pizza was looking for a house with everything.
Howie Powell was 31, had never owned a home, and figured his quest may take awhile. Then on one of his early forays, he stepped inside a house in the Tylerdale section of Washington, a working-class section of Washington, that had been flipped by a buddy, Lew Golubosky.
The search was over instantly.
“I walked in where the carpet met (the floor), looked around, saw Lew in the kitchen, and said, ‘It’s mine.’ It was, literally, one-stop shopping.”
This was Powell’s vision of a house with everything and more – sparkling, spacious, chic, with an opulent spiral staircase, an eclectic mix of woods and paint colors, a Minneapolis-sized bathroom, recessed lighting . . .
Following his joyous shoutout, he turned to Golubosky’s wife, Leslie, the listing agent from Century 21 Frontier Realty, to begin the purchasing process. Powell moved into the Wellington Avenue home that April, the one his contractor calls “my work of art.”
And the one in which he outdid Picasso.
Powell’s future home was in a condemned state when Golubosky purchased it for $9,000 in 2007. He painstakingly tore out, then rebuilt the place over the better part of a year. His wife wasn’t able to sell it immediately, but eventually did to a very satisfied client.
The sales price: $182,000.
It is a work of art, but it’s not Golubosky’s only work. For nearly three decades, he has been doing minor upgrades, major renovations and outright flips of houses in Washington County.
The owner of Lewis Golubosky Contracting has turned a teenage passion into a satisfying vocation, one in which he is in demand – especially on Wellington, where he also resides. He said a few friends help with certain projects, but that his company is basically “a one-man operation.”
“This is my passion. If I have a hammer in my hand, I’m happy. I’d rather dig a ditch than do nothing,” said Golubosky, 48, a stocky man with a shaved head and three jobs. He also has been a Frito-Lay salesman for 29 years, in the Wheeling-Steubenvile area, and assists Leslie with her company, Lewis’ Dusting Angels, which cleans houses and businesses.
Leslie, in turn, is a valuable asset to his house-flipping endeavors. “She finds them and I buy and build them,” her husband said.
These days, he flips over flipping: Golubosky has bought, renovated and sold 13 houses, all in the city. Four of his flips are on his street, where his roots run deep.
Golubosky grew up on Wellington Avenue, next door to his current home and a few houses down from Powell. He said he lived on nearby Duncan Avenue for 16 years, “but I had to move back. I missed it. Tylerdale is where I’m from.”
Not only has he flipped four houses on Wellington, he has worked on five others. Five of those nine are strung together, three with decorative front walls erected by Golubosky.
This remodeling enhances the neighborhood and the city’s tax rolls.
“Lew is the overseer of our street,” Powell said.
Golubosky’s enthusiasm for this vocation goes back to his ninth-grade wood shop class at Washington High School, from which he graduated in 1983. Allan Quackenbush was the instructor and Golubosky quickly embraced the curriculum.
“Guy Montecalvo and Allan Quackenbush have been my mentors,” said Goluboski, an offensive guard on the varsity football team Montecalvo coached.
Quackenbush did remodeling and construction work outside of school back then and had Golubosky work with him for a few summers. Their first project together was the law offices of Washington attorney Jim McCune.
Contacted in Florida, where he lives part of the year, Quackenbush remembered the teenage Golubosky as being “like a sponge. He couldn’t absorb enough knowledge. It would be wonderful if teachers could reach all of the students the way I did with him.”
Pupil and pedagogue still speak to one another often.
“Lew tells me all the time that if were not for me, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing,” said Quackenbush, 67, who also has a home in Taylorstown. “He’s very conscientious. He works hard and does the right things. You hear so many stories about contractors today. It’s a joy that there are some who are interested in doing the job correctly.”
Powell can attest to that.
“Being a restaurant worker, I don’t have time to do upgrades myself,” said Powell, who also has a second job. He owns Howard Powell Jr. Trucking in Meadow Lands.
“Lew restored this house top to bottom. There are so many things he did, and it’s breathtaking. All I’ve had to do is sit on the couch and smile.
“He said this is the 40th-some house he’s remodeled, and this is the one he shows off.”
Golubosky is proud to do so. This, after all, is his work of art.
“One Realtor said there was no way anyone could sell a house for $180,000 here,” he said. “I made up my mind to do that here.”