Q. How did you get started in the custom home building industry? When did you start WP?
I started WP in 2017. I was working locally for MI homes as their vice president of land. I’d had a dream of running my own homebuilding and development company, and I had a couple of opportunities come up, so I decided to do it. I stayed on with MI and I got them set up to achieve what they wanted while I was developing my first project, which was Heitmeyer Reserve on Kenwood Road. We’ve been in business right at five years. It’s been a lot of fun.
As far as being in the homebuilding industry, I started working on houses and painting on a paint crew when I was 13. Also, when I was a teenager my father used to buy homes, flip them and do construction, and I was his laborer. From an early age, I spent my summer days and weekends helping my father work on his projects.
My first job out of college, working for a homebuilder in Lexington, was selling options. I wanted to learn the business, and I took whatever job was available. I said, “I’ll do whatever you want me to do.” I worked for that company — Ball Homes — for seven years. My goal was to learn and be the best at what I did, and in 2017, I got to go out on my own and start my own company.
Q. Are you getting more requests for dedicated spaces to separate customers’ work and home lives?
Yes, we are. We spend a lot of time with our customers, looking at how they live. It’s a little different for each family. Often both parents are working from home full-time, and they are looking for more than one study. It used to be that customers wanted a study right off the entry; everybody had that. Now, a lot of people want to put a study in the rear of the home or somewhere else because it’s a working study that is very busy. With Zoom calls to set up, they’re often looking for separate spaces where both parents can work at home and not disrupt each other, and they want their kids to have separate spaces.
Also, regarding their home lives, some people want to bring the outside in, and some really enjoy outdoor living — that’s a consistent trend.
Q. Typically, does a buyer come to you with plans in hand, or do you help them figure out a design that best fits their lifestyle?
We’re fortunate that when most of our customers come to us they have a good idea of what they want. We have a sit-down meeting with the customer and an architect before designing a plan. About 70% of the time, we end up designing a plan from scratch. We walk through the customer’s ideas and how they live and then work with a designer to complete a plan that meets our customer’s needs. For the other 30%, we take an existing plan we may have already built and tweak it to the new customer’s liking. But the majority of our designs are true custom, from scratch, with an architect, creating a house based on a customer’s desires. We’re directly involved throughout the entire process.
Q. Does WP have a dedicated design center?
We have three design coordinators to assist customers. A designer attends every selection meeting. Most of those meetings are not held in-house. We do exterior selections such as stone and bricks in-house because we have samples. However, we go to our vendors for flooring, cabinet and countertop needs. A WP employee is at all meetings that customers attend outside the office. It helps coordinate the customer’s desired look and feel of the house, and also helps significantly reduce any miscommunication that might occur regarding their selections and expectations and our execution in the field.
Q. Do you try to get everything buttoned down before you start construction?
No, we don’t. I believe that is a fairly unrealistic expectation in today’s world. Lead times make that harder. When a customer comes in for their initial meeting, we present them with a schedule for building their home, and we break it down into phases.
We do our best to adjust those schedules, particularly with the lead times in today’s environment. For example, if window delivery is pushed out, we’ll put them later in the process and move other things forward. We spend a lot of time trying to get it as accurate as possible for each customer so that their selections do not hamper the delivery of their home. Schedules are evolving and are also adjusted based on what time of year we are starting construction.
Q. What is your favorite part of the process?
There are multiple things that I like. I love situating a house on a lot, creating that feel from the street, whether it’s a single-family house or a group of houses along a streetscape. I love walking into a finished house with the customer for the first time. I love to see their reaction.
It’s also rewarding to be in the background when a customer shows their parents their new home. The pride they take in the house they’ve created for themselves is extremely important to me. I love watching their enjoyment, knowing we were part of delivering that to a customer.
For me, it’s more of a love of what I do. I wake up running; I’m excited to get into what I have planned for each day. I haven’t lost any enthusiasm since I started in this business when I was 22 years old. If anything, it has grown.