Ep. 5_The Home Building & Buying Process with Jason Dodson
Intro: [00:00:04] Welcome Home, a podcast brought to you by John Houston Custom Homes. Join host Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor as they walk you through the exciting adventure of your home buying and building journey.
Whitney: [00:00:18] Hey, everybody. Whitney Pryor here, alongside my co-host, Chelsi Frazier. How are you doing today, Chelsea?
Chelsi: [00:00:25] I'm doing great, Whitney. Thank you. I'm super excited about our podcast today. We are talking to Jason Dodson. He's a regional vice president of sales and construction here at John Houston Custom Homes. And we're going to talk about the home-building process. Jason, how are you doing today?
Jason: [00:00:40] Hey, I'm doing good. Thanks for having me in today.
Whitney: [00:00:43] So give us a little background about yourself. What do you do? How long have you been in the home-building experience? What should people know about you
Jason: [00:00:51] So I've been with John Houston Custom Homes for about 15 years now. I've built homes with John since we were in a small little room in the back of our model home; the first model home that we had over in Harmony and Red Oak. Since then, I've moved through some different positions.
Jason: [00:01:07] Building Construction Manager, Director of Construction. I've been through our estimating purchasing department. I was our General Manager for the Custom Home Division. So I've been through lots of different facets of the custom home industry with John Houston Custom Homes. Currently i'm over our sales and construction. With that, I get the opportunity to work with our sales team and our construction team, both, so that we can serve our customers better.
Whitney: [00:01:33] That's a lot of different people you work with now. Little known fact is that Jason actually used to be a teacher. So he is excellent with communication. He is great to work with. He works with all of our sales and construction team. It's a lot of work coordinating all those people together, and Jason does does an excellent job at communicating with them. So your teacher skills have even come through, I think, as a manager over sales and construction.
Chelsi: [00:02:01] I agree, and I think that's the prime reason why we wanted to have Jason as a guest today, because he has literally done and seen it all in the construction and home building industry. So let's just jump right in. We want to tell our audience today about the home-building process, start to finish. So someone is interested in buying or building a new home. Where do you start? What do you see as the first steps?
Jason: [00:02:25] So we have throughout the area that we build in, model homes in Midlothian, Waxahachie, Mansfield, Burleson, Waco area. We've got several all throughout those areas. We've got a total of 18 model homes. Starting in a model home is a great place for people to go. Take a look, see what we can do. See what houses are available for them to build. They can walk through the model homes themselves. See the different options that are available. That gives them an idea of where to start and the decision of what house that they would like to build. Once they actually narrow that down, they're able to say, I want to build this plan on this lot. Then the fun begins.
Chelsi: [00:03:09] When I first started in the home-building industry, I had no idea what a spec home was. Can you talk a little bit about what is a spec and what's the difference between buying one and building a new home?
Jason: [00:03:19] So we see on the sale side of things that people usually have two different needs. Number one, they need a home quicker and they've sold their house that they're currently in and they need to move to a new one at a little bit faster pace. The spec homes or the inventory homes are the ones that are better suited for their needs because they can take a look at what is almost finished or available and on the ground right now. The advantage of a spec home is they can walk through it. It's finished or near finished. They can see the colors that are already in the house. They can see the options that have been chosen on the house. And they know the exact price of the home from the very beginning. So a spec home works very well for someone that is in that situation.
Jason: [00:04:07] Now, on the other hand, it may be that someone has a very particular need and they would like to do a build job. They want to get exactly the home that they are looking for. They're not in a hurry. They they do have specific needs, and in that case, they would go to the model home, they would see the lots that are available, and they would see the available plans that they can choose from. They pick those two things, and then we work with them to put that together into their perfect home that they're looking for.
Whitney: [00:04:39] So it sounds like a lot of people that are looking at a spec home are people that really can't visualize, sometimes. They want to see the finished product. They don't want to take any chances with trying to visualize and customize. And they really just want a home that's move-in ready where they can see it and know what they're getting for the price that they're paying.
Jason: [00:04:59] Yeah, that's correct. And I mean, a lot of times you see people that they have to be in a certain area for a school district or for their job, for instance, they won't be close to their job. In that case, we can get them in on the right timeline that they're looking for. It's quicker in the right area and they can see exactly what it is that that they're wanting to buy.
Whitney: [00:05:19] I know I get this question a lot when people call in. Can you address what the difference in pricing is between an inventory home and building a home from scratch?
Jason: [00:05:29] So I think the major difference is when you're looking at an inventory home, you're looking at the total price of the house. So that price includes all of the upgrades that are in the home, the structural options, the different levels of flooring, tile, all of the many options that you can put into it, and you're seeing that price totaled right there in front of you. Now, on a build, you actually get to set your price upfront. So you're looking at a base price for that house. Plus, you get to choose the options that you want to put in the home itself. So you can move an option in or out based on that budget. And I would say that's probably the main difference between the two.
Whitney: [00:06:10] So basically, you get to say, "Okay, I have a $350,000 budget. This home's base price is $300,000, and I'm willing to spend $20-30,000 on upgrades, and this is what I'm going to spend it on." You really get to kind of choose what what money you're spending on upgrades and how high or low of a price you want to go.
Jason: [00:06:32] Correct, so with your build, you set your budget and then you basically back into it from there. So if your budget is set at 350 and the base price of your house is at 300, you've got $50,000 dollars left in your budget for you to be able to put that money towards what's most important to you. And that may be flooring. That might be a pergola in the back. That may be an outdoor kitchen. The possibilities are endless, but it allows you to choose those yourself for what's important to you.
Whitney: [00:07:00] So speaking of endless possibilities, tell us a little bit more about the Design Studio process.
Jason: [00:07:07] So the Design Center for John Houston Custom Homes is one-of-a-kind. In Ellis County and in our areas that we build in here on the south side of Dallas, there is not another design center that matches it, and in my opinion, in the Metroplex area. There's not another design center that matches it. We went above and beyond to make sure that we could serve our customers the best by building this design center. We've got a state of the art 6,000 square foot design center. Customers can set up an appointment with a designer. They can go in and they have all of the choices for their flooring, which includes tile, wood floors, carpet. Everything that goes into that home is there at their fingertips for them to touch, see, put them out, bump the tile up against the carpet or the wood flooring that you're considering so that you can look at all of it together to make sure it all blends and goes with the look that you're looking for.
Whitney: [00:08:06] 6,000 square feet of design selections are a ton of selections. I don't think other builders in this area even offer that much as far as selections go, so that's really awesome that we provide that to our customers. It's not even something that we have to do. We just want our customers to feel like they are getting the home of their dreams and that comes with all of the selections that they get to choose.
Chelsi: [00:08:30] Yes, when you're building a house, you're making a significant investment. You're spending a lot of money and a lot of people, like me, we need to visualize it and see what all of this looks like together. So part of what we do to help showcase our design studio is having monthly open houses that people can come in and take a look at all the selections. We also have buyer browses that are our home buyers can come in and take a look around before their full day appointment when they're actually finalizing all those selections.
Whitney: [00:09:03] Once a homeowner makes their design studio selections, what happens after that? I know that the construction process kind of starts to take hold after the design studio appointment. So can you kind of explain what a homeowner will go through after they make their design selections?
Jason: [00:09:20] So the next step after the design center appointment would be the pre-construction meeting. So at that point, we have plans for the customer to sit down with their builder and their selections completed. The builder sits down, goes over it with them, the placement of the house on the lot. They go over the details of the plan itself. They talk through all of the questions that the customer has on their home. The builder exchanges his contact information with them so that they can be in constant contact, if need be, for any questions that the customer may have. And then at that point, construction is to begin shortly after that. Once construction begins on the house, you're going to see dirt work moving on the lot. We've gotten permits from the appropriate city or municipality and you start to see the foundation beginning to come together. The framing begins to happen once the house is dried in, the mechanicals are put in the house, and then we have a pre-sheet rock meeting. So at the pre-sheet rock meeting, the customer and the builder walk the home and they talk about any details from the pre-construction meeting, about the plans, anything on the house that the customer may have questions about before we proceed and put sheet rock on the home. Once you put sheet rock in the house, at that point, it becomes a whole lot more difficult to change things because you've covered everything up. So that's the importance of the pre-sheet rock meeting during the construction process.
Whitney: [00:10:51] So the builder and the salesperson are in constant contact with the homeowner, right?
Jason: [00:10:55] Correct, we actually have weekly meetings set up with the builders, the salesperson and the homeowner. So they're going to give them a call on a certain day of the week. Both the salespeople and the builders, depending on their schedules, are going to call each of their customers and spend a few minutes talking to them about where the house is at. "Here's what's going on in it. Do you have any questions that we can answer about the house?" So for a customer getting that call each week, it allows them to feel comfortable, knowing that they're going to get their questions answered as we build their home.
Whitney: [00:11:28] Great. So the next step is obviously the big day, right? It's closing day. What happens during that closing process, before closing and after closing with the construction of the home and handing off of the keys. What does that look like?
Jason: [00:11:45] So as we near the end of the construction of the home, we have an important day for construction, which is the sign off date. Now, the sign off date is done immediately after orientation of the home. And basically what we do is we walk through the home, and we look at things like "here is how to use your new thermostat. Here's how to use your new sprinkler system." We show all of the details of the home, how to use the the appliances in the home, answer any questions for the homeowner that they may have regarding the home, like how to change your air filters. All the important things that sometimes get overlooked after the customer gets into the house. They may stop and think, I don't know how to do that. We do our best to cover those. We have a certain agenda that we cover so that we can we can try to answer that. So one of the other important things about the orientation meeting is we actually go over the warranty for the customer and how that works. At John Houston Homes, we have one of the best warranty policies I feel like you can have. So we'll show you how to enter a warranty ticket into our portal. From there, that warranty ticket goes to a warranty person. The builder actually carries the warranty for the first year, so you'll have someone that you're already familiar with, working on your home, building your home, he'll actually help you through the warranty process. And if you have something arise, you enter that warranty ticket and that builder is going to give you a call, meet you, and then he will take care of that warranty for you.
Whitney: [00:13:15] That sounds like a great thing to have as a new homeowner going into your home, knowing that any issues that happen are going to be addressed by the person that built your home.
Chelsi: [00:13:26] Ok, so the home is built and closing day is here. What are the important things to know and anticipate for this day?
Jason: [00:13:32] So as far as closing locations, that's a question that we get a lot. We have several locations depending on where you're wanting to close at for you to be able to choose from. So we have a location in Red Oak, we have a location in Burleson, we have a location in Waco, and we also have the possibility of being able to do remote closings. So with those remote closers, they will actually come to your place of business, they'll come to your work, and that helps out a lot for folks that are on a tight schedule. This is actually one of the ways that through the times of the coronavirus, we've been able to accommodate our customers by using and utilizing those remote closers.
Chelsi: [00:14:17] So when do I get the keys to my new home?
Jason: [00:14:19] So that's probably one of the most important questions that customers like to ask. The keys will be given to the customer once we receive the funding for their home. One of the common misconceptions is that when you go to closing, you automatically get the keys at the closing. And the truth is that once the funding actually happens, that's when the keys are given. And many different scenarios and different things can affect those keys being being given out, but it's usually very quick.
Whitney: [00:14:45] So a lot of times that's somewhere between like, what, two, four, six hours after closing? Just depending on when they close. Right. So it's important for people, for homeowners to know that so that they're not scheduling their movers right away as soon as they sign the documents.
Jason: [00:15:02] Correct, and if getting your keys quick are important to you, one of the ways that you can actually speed up that process is by using Trinity Oaks Mortgage. Utilizing them as a sister company allows us to have a little bit more control over how those things work, how the funds are dispersed, and most of the time with them it allows us to be able to hand over those keys a lot quicker.
Chelsi: [00:15:26] That's great. A question that we commonly get from people looking to buy a home or build a home is how long does it take to build a house?
Jason: [00:15:34] There's a couple of factors that affect that. The first one would be after you sign your contract, it's going to take approximately 60 days for us to get plans, engineering, energy inspections, interim loans, and permits from the city to be able to build your house. So during that time, you don't see a whole lot of stuff going on on your lot, but there's a lot of stuff going on in the background happening. Once we get those permits, and we get that construction loan on the house, then it's off to the races. So at that point, the factor that affects us the most is the size of the house and the complexity of the house. So the smaller houses we typically see about five months on the build time on those, and the larger houses, we'll see about seven months on those. And then anywhere in between, depending on on those factors itself, but that's the typical timeline.
Whitney: [00:16:27] When does mortgage financing come into play with the whole home-building process? Do you have to be pre-qualified at the beginning? When do they start working on the mortgage paperwork? Can you answer that question?
Jason: [00:16:43] So one of the great things about John Houston Custom Homes and about John Houston, himself, is we've always tried to make things really simple for people to buy a house. One of the things that we saw as we got to build more and more houses was people would come in and one of the roadblocks was financing, being able to find somebody to help them with their lending needs. So with that, John decided to to put a mortgage company together. Now, that mortgage company, Trinity Oaks Mortgage, by us having that sister company, what that opens up for customers as they walk into our model homes, they find the plan that they like, they find the lot that they like, we're able to help them go to that next step in getting that lending, that financing that they need and making it very simple for them. Trinity Oaks, they have a team of loan officers over there that are on-call waiting to help people out and to serve them.
Chelsi: [00:17:41] Jason, you've been with John Houston since the beginning for over 15 years. What would you say truly sets this builder apart from anyone else out there that you've seen?
Jason: [00:17:52] From the very beginning, working for John, there was always a distinct difference of working for this company from any other company. That difference was we really cared about people. We cared about living life with each other. We had a mission that was so different than any other company that I even knew of. And that mission was reaching people for Christ and giving to the Kingdom. And I don't think you'll find in our industry a lot of home building companies that have that as their mission statement. And for me personally, and I think for the majority of our customers, knowing that and feeling that as you're going through our building process, I think it makes it a very special company to work for and a very special home builder to do business with.
Whitney: [00:18:40] I can't agree with you more. The thing about the home building is that it's a people business. Your home is not built by a robot or a machine. There are so many people involved with building your home, and it is so important not to miss out on having a great relationship with your builder, your salesperson, the team that is building the home that you're going to live in and create so many memories around. The people aspect is everything and I think we're one of the only builders that really places a high, high importance on building those relationships with you, because we're going to spend eight, nine months together through this process. It's a big part of your life and we want to make sure that it's an experience you'll remember for the better.
Chelsi: [00:19:28] Jason, thank you once again for being a guest on the podcast and sharing all this information with us. We really appreciate you being here.
Jason: [00:19:34] Thank you so much for having me.
Whitney: [00:19:36] Be sure to click the description for episode notes and links to more information about our building process. For more information about John Houston Custom Homes, check out our website at johnhoustoncustomhomes.com. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even LinkedIn. And for any other questions or comments, call us at 866-646-6008, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome home!