What makes a home plan “Parade Worthy”?
Our local Home Builder’s Association (JCBIA) hosts a Parade of Homes once a year where area builders showcase their style, product, and hard work during three open house weekends. In Johnston County, we host the Parade of Homes in the spring, usually in April. The Parade gives prospective buyers the opportunity to see a lot of quality homes within a weekend or two. The Parade has also become a favorite to local residents who just like walking through new homes to get new ideas and see the latest home trends.
I personally enjoy manning our Parade home because I love talking with prospective buyers to gain an understanding of their family’s wants and needs. After years of manning our Parade homes, we actually have a good following of people that come to visit because ” they like our work and want to see what we came up with this year”. This is quite a compliment and we always appreciate their feedback.
Although the Parade last only three weekends, as a builder, we have to start planning at least 9 months in advance. A lot of time and effort goes into picking just the right plan that is going to showcase our style and personality as a builder. As we are going through this year’s Countdown to the Parade, I thought I would take you along for the adventure.
Let’s start from the beginning with what actually makes a home “Parade Worthy” from a builder’s point of view. There are several factors we (Neil and I) usually look for when deciding to build any “spec” home. A spec home is any home we build from scratch that isn’t pre-sold or under contract. The biggest pro to building a spec is that I get to choose ALL the selections myself (within budget of course). Things usually go faster when we are making all the decisions ourselves. The downside is the fear of making a decision that doesn’t go over as well as we would have liked (that’s a story for another day). Thankfully, the latter has been rare and our business plan consists mostly of Custom Built pre-sold homes. Once our Parade home sells it usually translates into more pre-sales that keep us busy for months afterward. So from a marketing perspective, other than our web presence, the Parade is one of our best marketing platforms.
Step 1: Find the right plan for the lot. Being a builder, both Neil and I are always looking for plans. What I have discovered is that no matter how many plans there are out there, there is rarely a “perfect” plan. Usually we can find a good plan that with some tweeking can work out to be a great plan. When building any spec home the plan should reflect the needs of the buyers (who are we building the home for? ex. Families with 3+ kids or empty nesters, etc.), the market (what is currently selling in our area and what is the need), and the land (does the lot have a great view, sloped lot, proximity to neighbors, etc). This year, our lot is in a great location in a new section of Portofino subdivision that highlights the beauty of the land and its unique equestrian neighborhood. We want a plan that highlights the larger lot size and scenic views. Visually, it is in a prominent location as you drive up the street so we want a home with “wow” curb appeal. Since this lot is flat, we would not build a basement foundation.
Step 2: Determine the price and size of the home. Due to the lot prices in this section of the neighborhood, from a builder perspective, we like for the home price to in appropriate relation to the lot cost. Therefore, based on historical data, the home needs to be at least 3200 heated square feet. The larger we go, we start creeping into the “riskier” price range for a spec, so ideally the plan needs to be between 3200-3500 s.f.
Step 3: Plan features. There are several factors I look for when looking at plans. My top four priorities are (1)Overall curb appeal of the home, (2)Kitchen size and layout, (3) Master suite layout, (4)overall flow and layout of the home. In today’s market, we will only build a spec home with a downstairs Master. A great kitchen is a must because so many families consider the kitchen to be the heart and focal point of the home. Curb appeal is hugely important because no matter how great the inside of the home is, you’ve got to get people to walk through the doors first. Once a plan meets these criteria, I start looking at little details within the home that I can turn into unique design features that really stand out from the average home on the market. Here’s examples from this past year’s Parade home. See more.
Now that we’ve narrowed down the plan to the appropriate size and plan features, I start looking at homes I’ve been saving in my “favorites” binder. It didn’t take long for me to come up with a handful of plans that I have liked and bring them to Neil for his opinion. He usually shoots down several pretty quickly because Neil sees plans from a “cost to build” eye first, where I see plans from an “I want that” eye first. Together, we make a pretty good team that, so far, has successfully kept us in business for over 15 years. 🙂
This year the plan options quickly came down to two:
You’ll have to tune into next week’s post to see which plan we chose. I will take you step by step how we “tweeked” the actual plan that we will start digging the footing on Monday! So, the adventure begins! Hope you will join me as I document step by step the planning, designing, and building of this “Parade Worthy”home.
Which plan would you chose??