Tell us about your company. I am the only employee. Everything I do is pretty much subcontracted. This is my 13th year in business. I build mostly in Greene and Christian counties. I build custom and speculative homes.
What kind of homes do you build? Since we started, we’ve built anywhere from entry level homes to homes for close to $3 million. In the last five years, most everything I’ve been building has been upper-end, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t build starter homes. Starter homes are probably right at $100,000, though when I started, I built homes that were even less than that. Upper-level would probably be $350,000 and up.
What kind of volume do you handle? I’ve built about 100 homes since I started in 1997. The most I’ve ever built in a year, I think, is 16. In a normal year, it’s probably six or seven. I used to, when people built a custom home with me, I would only do one at a time. I did that as a service, but I think I lost a lot of business. Now, I’m not going to take on a bunch, but I’ll definitely do more than one at a time. In 2009, I built about eight homes, and $490,000, I think, was the least expensive house I did.
Besides being the contact point for your clients, what’s your role? I am on every job site that I have going every day, checking on all the work that’s being done, and doing some of the work myself. In all of the trades now that are in the house, there are very few things that I don’t know how to do. But some of the stuff, it just doesn’t make sense for me to do it, so I subcontract it. … If somebody builds cabinets all day long, every day, they’re going to do a better job than I am at building cabinets.
Is it easy to find subcontractors in the current market? It’s getting tougher now. Lots of the people I subcontract with have worked for me for years. But in the smaller trades, it is getting harder, because some of those guys have gone out of business or they don’t have the number of people working for them that they used to, so their availability time is just a little slower.
Where do you get home designs, and what makes your houses different? I usually start with a sketch myself, and then all of my plans are actually drawn by Dale Peer of Dale Peer Home Designs. I’ve used her for about 12 years. Sometimes people bring me plans that are already done, or (they) have ideas. I’ll have them bring me pictures or partial floor plans of stuff they like, and we’ll rework them. I usually spend the most per square footage in the kitchens and master bathrooms.
How many years have you participated in the Parade of Homes? This is my fourth year. Obelisk Homes is going to furnish (my Parade home), and this will be the first time that I’ve had a furnished house on the Parade that is for sale. I’ve had furnished homes that were sold. But I think that’s important as far as people getting an idea what the space is and how things fit and function.
What are some challenges with being a home builder right now? For a while, materials prices were great, and I think that was good for people who wanted to build when the market was bad. But now, I think materials prices are back where they were, or even higher. It’s tough, because people are seeing so many foreclosures that I think there’s a skew on the value of the homes and what it costs to build.
That’s a challenge because sometimes people can buy a foreclosure for a percentage of what it costs to build a new home. As those leave the market, I think things will be stronger and people will get their property values back.
Have you done any developing? I’ve bought land to develop, and we’ve looked into doing it, but I haven’t done any subdivisions yet. When I first started the company, I planned on it, but it just hasn’t gone that direction. [[In-content Ad]]
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.