Some people know from a very young age what they want to do when they grow up, while others spend most of their lives searching for the right career.
Hillsboro native Andrew Must falls in between those scenarios. Although he never dreamed of being a contractor, he always enjoyed building and creating.
“I think I naturally like it a lot,” Must said. “My parents [Bob and Ginger Must] built our house, so I was around that all the time and thought it was cool. But when I was in high school, I didn’t think I would go into construction. It just kind of happened naturally.”
During his summer breaks from college, Must did construction and small jobs until he returned to Pocahontas County full-time in 2008.
“I just started taking small jobs,” he said. “I like design. I think building energy efficient homes and buildings is really important. I didn’t know if it would be what I’d pursue for a career. I’ve been doing it for little over ten years, and I officially started Seven Rivers Design Build LLC in 2011.”
Once the business became official, Must and his crew quickly picked up jobs here and there – either renovations or new builds – in Pocahontas and surrounding counties.
“I don’t think we specialize in anything particularly,” Must said. “An area like this – you can specialize – but it’s not a gigantic economy, so being a little more broad is advantageous, I think. We’re general contractors and prefer to take on the whole project and be responsible for all components of it.”
One of the most well-known jobs by Seven Rivers is the McGlaughlin House – the oldest existing house in Pocahontas County which was discovered in Marlinton in 2007. The log cabin was purchased by the Pocahontas County Landmarks Commission and Seven Rivers was contracted to restore the home.
“We’ve renovated quite a few log cabins,” Must said. “That’s an interesting process. It’s an old construction method that was born out of necessity where people just had an axe and they were basically in the woods.”
The restoration of the McGlaughlin House was even more poignant for Must, who is a descendant of Squire Hugh McGlaughlin who built the house circa 1850.
Seven Rivers Design Build LLC has gained momentum through the years, and Must said he and his 12 employees have had a steady flow of projects.
“We currently have jobs in Summers County, Greenbrier County and Pocahontas County happening right now,” he said. “We move around a lot. Sometimes, guys won’t be on one project for as long as we like them to be because we have to shift them around. It’s rare that all the projects we have going at one time are on the same stage, so they sort of stagger, and we’re able to use the strengths of our personnel where it makes sense.”
The project in Pocahontas County is the Discovery Junction beside the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton. Must said he was drawn to the project because it’s in his home county, and it seemed like an intriguing job.
“It’s here,” he said. “It’s in Pocahontas County and it looked like an interesting project and a good opportunity. We like the timber framing aspect – the post and beam aspect.”
The Discovery Junction committee, which includes Joe Smith, Lauren Bennett, Kristen Doss and Katie Workman, used community input and help from West Virginia University students to draw up the plans for the space and Seven Rivers was contracted to create that vision.
“A lot of the work we did up to a few weeks back was kind of behind the scenes,” Must said of the project. “There wasn’t a whole lot to show. There’s a ton of stuff underground over there. A lot of utility work, electrical, plumbing and a pretty significant drainage system that went in, so all that stuff is done and covered up. That was time consuming.
“So now, we’re actually above ground level, putting up the timber frame, and it’s starting to look like something,” he continued. “I’ve been pretty happy with the progress.”
Last week, the crew installed the trusses of the stage area at the Discovery Junction, giving a clearer idea of what the space will look like when finished.
Whether it’s a new project, restoration job or even a community space like Discovery Junction, Must said he is focused on energy efficiency and using natural materials as much as possible.
As for the future, Must said he is always thinking about ways to expand on what Seven Rivers Design Build LLC offers.
“I’m always thinking about expanding,” he said. “It’s how my brain works. I’m really interested in getting into some degree of pre-fab – being able to partially build a house in the shop and then being able to build a house from the ground up in a much shorter timeline.”
Must’s goal is to have a streamlined design process and create five or six plans for customers to consider as a starter and then customize the color scheme and finishes.
“We would build it in a controlled shop or factory setting and be able to implement it quick on the site,” he said. “A lot of people think pre-fab or manufactured housing is low quality. In this country that’s just kind of the stigma that’s around it.
“I don’t want to build crazy expensive buildings, but I think that you can do manufactured housing or pre-fab in a way that builds really quality buildings that are energy efficient, using quality materials, and it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive,” he continued.
“That’s what I’m trying to work toward in the next few years.”
For more information on Seven Rivers Design Build LLC or to contact Must, visit www.sevenriversdb.com or call 304-520-5076.