As we have adjusted over this past year to a new way of life, with vastly more of us working from our homes, home office remodeling trends have leapt to keep pace. Experts suggest putting more of your remodeling dollars toward sprucing up the home office. Bob Orner has been building in Taos for nearly half a century. His company, Up Front Constructions, recently completed a two-year job building out the top two floors of the Blake Hotel in the Taos Ski Valley. He spoke with us about doing business during the pandemic, sources of inspiration and how the long quarantine has brought the home office remodel to the forefront.

“I moved to Taos, from Montana, when I was 20 (44 years ago), not knowing anyone, just looking for adventure. I had headed out to Montana from New Jersey when I was 15, to live on a ranch with my dad, step-mom and six siblings, and finished up high school there. During that time I fell in love with woodworking and started making furniture. I later built a log spec house there with my older brother, which sold right away. That was not easy because every time we picked up a heavy log to put in place on the wall we would start laughing and have to put it back down, then try again. Our sense of humor damn near killed us. I then set off for Taos on my motorbike, all starry-eyed, with 50 bucks in my back pocket. My first stop, as I rolled into town, was the gas station, where I landed my first job pumping gas. Soon after that, I met a contractor and joined his crew. We worked together for the next eight years before I started Up Front Construction out of necessity, as work had dried up. It was funny, my boss always used to say, ‘Don’t ever become a contractor, it sucks!’ He was pretty convincing for a while, until I landed my first job and realized that I loved running construction jobs — and still do!

“Currently we focus on building custom homes, additions and renovations out of adobe, frame and pumice. I really enjoy the old, authentic adobe look, with wavy walls and lots of artistic character, like viga ends that protrude from exterior walls at different lengths and angles. My favorite places to visit for inspiration are the Fechin House, the Mabel Dodge Luhan House and the old Victor Higgins home, to name just a few.

“I really appreciate all my talented, dependable, local employees, whose expertise and integrity create the foundation of everything we do. My supervisors Richard Hoyle and Gary Apodaca have worked for me for about 30 years, and my other supervisor, Brian Trujillo, has been with me for 22 years — all three of them are invaluable to my business, and to my clients. I am blessed to have had their support and loyalty over all these years.

“Since the pandemic began, many people have had to transition to working from home, so home offices (with good internet connections) have become a necessity, and I don’t see that need going away in the future. If you do not currently have a home office, consider it a worthwhile home improvement investment that will increase the value of your home. And of course, visitors have realized that their home offices can be anywhere — including beautiful Taos. Many are now moving here and the construction industry is booming. My crew and I have all been breathing a sigh of relief (with masks on, of course) and have kept busy. I feel very thankful everyday to live in Taos, and that my employees and clients and I have stayed healthy.”

Bob Orner, Principal

Upfront Construction Co., Inc.

267 State Rd. 240

Taos, NM  87571


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