The decision to build a custom home is typically made when other options seem unavailable. Specifically, if families could find their dream home, on their dream lot, that no one has ever lived in, designed and decorated to their tastes, then custom builders would not exist. What keeps us in business is that these conditions rarely exist, if ever. One or more pieces are missing. Some families have dreamed of building and designing their new home from scratch, while others build from scratch because what they want does not exist. In any event, building a new home from blueprints involves entering into a relationship with an individual craftsman for one to two years, or more. By the time someone has achieved enough to afford a new custom home they have been around the block a few times. They know what they like, who they like and have formed opinions about many things. The same can be said for custom home builders. The path to success in our industry does not begin with designing and building high end custom homes for successful people. This is typically achieved in the later half or third of a home builders career. By that time most of us have been involved in many homes with various personality types. In short, at this stage of their lives adults on each side of the building agreement know what they like, expect and hope to obtain.
When comparing custom home builders most will tell you that they build with good quality, on time, in budget and listen to the customer. IF this were true, what would be left for a new home client to use as a comparison? The answer is The Process. How you get from here is what I want, to here are the keys is important. How well is that journey organized, planned and executed? Who will you be dealing with at the various stages? After almost 40 years of building new homes for families I can say that we have tried successfully and sometimes less than successfully to execute a smooth process. Today, we know what works, what doesn’t and why. Most senior builders ( 25 years plus in the business ) have figured it out.
Part of the process is the personality match. I am a high energy, fast moving, results oriented professional. This type “A” ( I’ve been told ) is not a match for everyone. Some clients like to enjoy the journey and take a slower pace through the building process. Lucky for us we are Zbranek & Holt, and not just Zbranek Custom Homes. Tony Holt is the perfect gentleman and can operate at any ones pace. Smart builders ( and business owners ) have someone on the team that has a different, yet complimentary personality. Interestingly, the same can be said for couples. More often than not, one side of our married clients will identify with my pace while the other prefers to work with Tony. Lucky for us we have two. When dealing with a sole proprietor builder the personality match upfront is critical. Remember, this is a one to two year relationship. Together we will assemble a home outside, with hundreds of parts, using an independent labor pool, on an imperfect piece of land for our building in various weather conditions. Things will happen, and we need to like each other when they do.
The bottom line is that clients often call previous clients to see how their experience was with a builder. This is a good idea and can help weed out marginal craftsmen. However, how you get along with someone that you are writing checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to, for over a year, should also be considered. Tony and I view each of our clients as five new homes. That is, we hope that they will like their home, the process and us enough to tell 4 of their friends to hire our team. This attitude solves many issues that arise along the way. Building a new home should be fun, not something you would never do again.
Inductee, Austin Home Builders Hall of Fame
Two Time National Master Builder of the Year
Past President of the San Antonio and Austin Homebuilders Association
Two Term Chairman of the Board of the Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce