A lot of emotions come with building a new home for the first time, and can be both exciting and scary when you don't know what to expect. Today we hear from Justin and Andrea Lathrop who have not only built once with John Houston Homes, but 4 times! Listen in as these experienced homeowners share all about their home building journey and offer a wealth of knowledge to all who are thinking about beginning the building process.
S2 Ep7_We've Bought a New JH Home FOUR Times! (Justin & Andrea Lathrop).mp3
Intro: [00:00:03] Welcome Home, a podcast brought to you by John Houston Homes. Join hosts, Chelsi Frazier and Whitney Pryor, as they walk you through the exciting adventure of your home buying and building journey.
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:18] Hey guys, thank you for joining us on this episode of the Welcome Home Podcast. I'm Whitney and I have Chelsi here with me. Hey Chelsi!
Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:27] Hello!
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:27] How are you doing?
Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:27] I'm great, how are you today?
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:30] Loving this warm weather!
Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:31] Yes, it's starting to feel like Spring time and we are getting into Summer.
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:35] Yes, the rain has kind of stopped. We can finally go outside. We've got those long days and go on walks and runs. It's great, I love this time of year.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:46] This is my favorite.
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:48] We've got some great guests with us today. I'm really excited to hear their story, their 4 stories, because they've built with us that many times.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:00:56] Four times, yes!
Whitney Pryor: [00:00:58] Why don't you go ahead and introduce us to our guests today.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:01:01] Today we're talking to Andrea and Justin Lathrop. I'm really excited to talk with them because they've built four times with John Houston Homes and there's so many dimensions to their story. We've got a lot to talk about from where they started with John Houston Homes, the journey along the way and how it's come full circle. Welcome to the show, Andrea and Justin.
Justin Lathrop: [00:01:23] Thank you.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:01:24] Thank you, good to be here.
Justin Lathrop: [00:01:25] We're excited to be with you guys!
Chelsi Frazier: [00:01:27] We wanted to start with you telling us a little bit about yourself and your family.
Justin Lathrop: [00:01:31] Sure! Andrea and I moved to Texas 19 years ago. We have 2 children, McKenna, who is 16, and Parker, who turns 13 next at the end of this week. We are excited about 2 teenagers, that's a new season in life. Andrea, do you want to add anything to the family dynamic there?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:01:56] Yeah, we've been married 21 years and love living in Texas. We will get to that in our story, but we actually returned to Texas this past year.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:02:07] You got here as fast as you could, right?
Justin Lathrop: [00:02:09] Yes.
Whitney Pryor: [00:02:10] Are you guys the ones that brought the snowstorm with you?
Justin Lathrop: [00:02:13] Honestly, we moved from Florida and when that snowstorm hit, we thought, what have we done?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:02:19] Yes.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:02:21] Were are we?
Justin Lathrop: [00:02:21] It's over, it is a distant memory now. Let's pretend like it didn't happen.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:02:25] That's fine with me! What are your hobbies or interests? What do you do as a family on the weekends?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:02:30] We love sports. A good weekend for us is something outside, ideally with the kids, tennis, volleyball, that sort of thing. I love to be outside in general, gardening and working with plants. I'm not the best at it, but I am determined to get better at it. I like to read. Justin listens to books.
Justin Lathrop: [00:02:55] I like to listen to books. I like people to read to me, which is I think just as good if not better. I have a new hobby. Actually, my hobbies are kind of COVID hobbies. They came in this season. One of those is woodworking. Before last year, I was the guy who hired someone to hang pictures in my house. I didn't want to hammer nails into the wall, so that's been a new adventure. Also, pickleball, which is kind of a new sport, kind of tennis meets ping pong. I am also advocating that in your new neighborhoods, that you put pickleball courts in.
Whitney Pryor: [00:03:32] My family plays pickleball. I am actually heading into our family reunion this weekend that we do every Easter. We're already starting the smack talk with pickleball. I don't even know if you can do that with pickleball.
Justin Lathrop: [00:03:46] You can! Let me know where that's at and I might stop by.
Whitney Pryor: [00:03:48] I love it. People are like, what is it?
Chelsi Frazier: [00:03:53] That's what I say, what is it?
Whitney Pryor: [00:03:55] Giant ping pong or little tennis?
Justin Lathrop: [00:03:57] It's really more giant ping pong than little tennis, but it's a combination.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:04:01] That sounds really fun! You're currently in your fourth John Houston home, but your journey started 6 years ago. How did you first meet John Houston?
Justin Lathrop: [00:04:11] John, we've known him really since we moved to Texas. He was a member at the church that Andrea and I moved here for when we came on staff. We were on staff as pastors at the church. He was an active member and involved in leadership on the board, so we just became friends. Through that time, Andrea was working at the church and was ready for something new. John was just about ready to start the company. It's really funny now, looking back on it, because I actually talked to John about it. We were about to have our first child and it was a way to kind of slow down. It was something which really doesn't make any sense when you think about it now, because nothing slowed down in that job when she transitioned from the Church Pastoral World into starting at John Houston Homes. That's how it all started and that would be right around 17 years ago.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:05:10] Yeah, John had started his second home. I was kind of his first hire outside of subcontractors and trades, so that was really, really awesome. It was really fun to be in on that part of the story of this company.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:05:30] Yes, you can tell us more stories about John in the early days later offline if you want.
Justin Lathrop: [00:05:35] Yes, they're all good, though.
Whitney Pryor: [00:05:36] I'm assuming you had to be a "Jack of all Trades" as being the first hire. You were the starts department, purchasing, all of it.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:05:44] Yep, I paid the bills, met with the customers, found the lots and worked with the subs. I loved the variety of it because it's like a startup. Being so close to hearing John's heart and his vision, kind of makes it easy to run towards the fulfillment of that. It was exciting.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:06:05] Are you still friends with anyone you made when you first started working? Do you have relationships that you've kept over the years?
Justin Lathrop: [00:06:12] Sure, our sales guy has sold all 4 of our homes or at least the last 3 homes.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:06:16] We're very close with them and we're very close with John and Tracy, still. We built a house next door on purpose with the CFO of this company. Many of the early hires in those days, I just have nothing but love and great respect for.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:06:36] Not many people would want to work with someone all day and then also go home and be their neighbor, so that's saying a lot for sure. Okay, you decided to build a home for the first time. Where did you build first?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:06:50] We built in Oak Leaf. It's funny to think about because we really wanted a a 1-level home with no stairs.
Justin Lathrop: [00:07:03] Right, we just had our first baby. I was kind of like safety patrol. The guy that goes to check in the middle of the night to make sure your baby's still breathing type stuff, so one level was a big deal to us, that was one of the things we looked at. Also, having a guest room. Andrea loves, well we both love entertaining, but having people stay the night when they come in town was important. We have lots of family to visit and her friends that visit, so those were some of the main things, as well as, a few others.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:07:31] We hosted a lot of events with the church. We were working with the young adults at the time, so having that extra game room space was really important to us. I was thinking about our conversation and I was so determined to have a formal dining room. We will make that formal dining room fit. Then every time we had a large group of people over, I would always try to coax everyone into the formal dining room.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:07:56] No one would go?
Justin Lathrop: [00:07:57] No, no one wants to go.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:07:57] Please come over here and sit here. They ended up just hanging out at that kitchen, breakfast nook space and the living area, so that is something we ended up changing the next go around.
Justin Lathrop: [00:08:09] It's our last formal dining room.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:08:10] I know, I was tired of being frustrated with people not doing what I wanted them to do in that space.
Whitney Pryor: [00:08:16] It sounds like formal dining was one of the changes you made on the second go around. Were there any others that you discovered on that first building process where you were like, "you know, we're going to change this on the next one?"
Justin Lathrop: [00:08:28] I think for me after a few years in, for the next house with with John, having one floor was big the first time. The second time was having the second floor so we can get the kids out of the way. We really need them to go upstairs and be quiet! I think that would be a change in our next house. We did a second floor. I know the neighborhood was a big deal. We'd built on a acre of land and we were spread out and no sidewalks. When we moved into the next house with John, it was definitely one of his first communities where there was a pool for the community, there were sidewalks and parks. That was a big selling point for us.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:09:15] Yeah, I think we learned early on that we're still young enough. This is before his woodworking days. We weren't going to be able to manage this land that we had. As our kids got older, we actually wanted a fence. We wanted a small fenced yard. We loved the Harmony Community in Red Oak because it had those green spaces for families. I'm like," but that's not ours to tend. It's ours to enjoy!" I think that's what made sense. Also, no less than 5 or 6 of our dear friends we're also moving into that neighborhood or had already moved in. That was really a significant factor for us.
Whitney Pryor: [00:10:02] The 1-acre properties are huge draw for people. Some people end up living there and with your families changing as your kids get into sports, you just don't have as much time to manage that yard. You're like, "you know what, we don't need all of this right now. Maybe in the future, but right now our kids are busy, we've got stuff to do and it's just too much to to manage that."
Andrea Lathrop: [00:10:25] We're back to that now. We had about 7 years in that home and neighborhood. We have all the pictures of the kids at different holidays. We have so many memories at that pool, meeting up with people and meeting new neighbors, not just our friends. It was just a really sweet season there.
Whitney Pryor: [00:10:48] Would you say that community pool, playgrounds and things like that helped you guys meet more of your neighbors and have more relationships?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:10:58] Absolutely.
Justin Lathrop: [00:10:59] It really was. I think it was a big reason why we moved in the first place. After being in it, it's definitely the thing we loved most about it. The ability to meet up with friends at the pool, the parks, especially that age of our kids, that's all we did every day. We would meet at the park, the pool or go on a walk. I am very, very grateful for that season.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:11:25] It's idyllic. Can we borrow a cup of milk?
Chelsi Frazier: [00:11:28] Oh, I love it and a pool that you don't have to maintain either!
Justin Lathrop: [00:11:32] Very nice, yeah! Now our goal is just to have friends with pools.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:11:36] Oh same!
Justin Lathrop: [00:11:36] That's our main thing.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:11:39] Our new strategy.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:11:40] You obviously loved the quality of your homes to have built 2 so far, and we know you did this two more time. What was it that caused you to continue using John Houston Homes? Did you ever consider another builder or walk other builders, houses or model just for comparison sake?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:11:57] I probably did in the early years, but always came away more appreciative of what John was trying to do and how he was trying to build homes. I think we just knew too much of this story. It's like when you get up close to leaders, people and managers, you see that the more you know them, the more you respect them. I'm sure there are other options out there. We just never really considered them because it's like we knew the heart too much. We knew the integrity. No one is perfect and building is not a perfect process, but we were just too connected to the the heart and the vision behind the company. I think the heart for the community too and for families. We just didn't really do a lot of shopping around.
Justin Lathrop: [00:12:51] Yeah, definitely. I mean, of course the quality is there. We had such insight into how they were built with Andrea's first job there, but it was really I think the people and the more we get to know as the company keeps growing. Every person you meet that's involved with this company cares about who you are as a person and as a customer. You don't get this feeling like you're some sort of answer to their bottom line. You feel like man this a, I mean not to be too cliché, but a family. I think it's really rare to find that with the size of this company. It was one thing when there was 3 or 4 of them. At parties we all knew friends and family. Even with the size it is now, you still meet people for the first time and just know that they care about who you are and your story beyond just your house.
Whitney Pryor: [00:13:46] After you built your second home, what was it that encouraged you to go on to the third one?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:13:52] We wanted space again. Oh, my goodness, it's like make up our minds people!
Justin Lathrop: [00:13:57] We had a good run there. I mean for some maybe that's short, but 6 or 7 years, that was a long, long time. I can't say we're at the place like we're going to build our dream home now, but we are definitely at a place were we want to build some specific things to what we're looking for now. I think a little bit more space. We don't want to go to an acre, but we did want some more space now, a wooded area and that sort of stuff.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:14:26] The kids had those bigger toys, what are they? Hot Wheels?
Justin Lathrop: [00:14:32] Four Wheelers, not Hot Wheels.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:14:32] Now, what was great, this contained kind of small yard that we could kind of manage, we thought, maybe we've outgrown this a little bit. Also, this is the house that we built next door to some of our dear friends and we shopped with them for a year. We were not in a hurry. I think our big criteria was that I wanted big trees, so we just waited and waited. We ended up in a Ovilla Park Neighborhood. It was just a really great house. It was wonderful.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:15:12] What were some of your favorite things about the house floorplan wise or location?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:15:17] Yeah, I had a fireplace off the kitchen, which I called a "Keeping Room". I think that is English.
Justin Lathrop: [00:15:24] I think she made that up.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:15:24] It sounds fancy.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:15:28] I'm a kitchen person. In all 4 of our homes, I loved the quality of the cabinets, the granite, the finishes, the fixtures and all that we've had at each house, The kitchen is just a big deal to me. I think the kitchen was really pretty with the white windows. That's probably what I miss the most.
Justin Lathrop: [00:15:57] Also, the sun room. Having a kind of Four Seasons room, especially with how beautiful the backyard was, the trees and everything. We loved that room. A fun story around that, we of course, end up leaving that house only because we moved and changed jobs. We moved to Florida, which will lead us to our fourth house and a little bit. Just recently, my twin sister bought that house that we were in, so it's back in the family. We sold it when we left 6 years ago. Right when we got back, in fact, the day we moved into our fourth John Houston Home, we got the news that the people that bought our house were moving. It's not like we were going to buy it back or anything, but it was just funny that it happened that same day. A few months later, my twin sister moved in, so it's back in the family
Chelsi Frazier: [00:16:46] It was meant to be.
Justin Lathrop: [00:16:48] Yeah!
Chelsi Frazier: [00:16:48] That is so neat! Then you can go over and enjoy all the things you loved about it, very cool!
Whitney Pryor: [00:16:55] Going through the building process, do you have any fun stories about any of the sales managers? Did you guys use the same salesperson each time?
Justin Lathrop: [00:17:05] Yeah, the best! Rob Poole has been our sales manager each time and honestly, he's just so good. Andrea does a whole lot more with it. I don't know if it's because she has more opinions on it or not, but she does a lot more than I do with it. He just has the perfect balance of understanding your preference and the things that you're trying to accomplish, but also speaking into what the appropriate thing to do here or the standard or whatever you're able to accomplish. I love watching him. The way he interacted with Andrea and gave his ideas. When you needed to go stronger, he went stronger and when you want to go softer and just kind of floated out there, he di. He really is a master at that whole process. I don't even think him as a salesperson. I think of him more as a home consultant around how things should look, where they should be and how they should flow. He just the best.
Whitney Pryor: [00:18:08] We have a special place for Rob in our hearts, too. He's just so calm. If knew how much he managed, you wouldn't even see it in his face. You walk up to him and he's just calm, cool and collected, smile on his face, wants to get to know you. Meanwhile, he's building homes for so many different families and remembers every single one of them.
Justin Lathrop: [00:18:32] I don't know how he does it. I'm 100% sure I couldn't do what he does for 2 people at the same time.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:18:37] Same!
Justin Lathrop: [00:18:40] Somehow, he's always in a good mood and always has time for you. Every time we stop by, we're like, "we know you don't have time." He says, "of course I have time for you."
Whitney Pryor: [00:18:46] Yes!
Justin Lathrop: [00:18:46] We know you don't, but we'll just receive that and take it. He's great!
Whitney Pryor: [00:18:51] That makes him great at what he does. He definitely has a heart for it.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:18:55] Okay, now finally, home number 4. You guys moved to Florida for work. Coming back was the reason for home number 4, is that correct?
Justin Lathrop: [00:19:05] Yeah, so that's why we left home 3 and we were gone for 5 years in West Palm Beach, Florida. Of course, it was a process of deciding and figuring out that we were going to actually come back. The very first call, when that even crossed our mind that we might come back, was to John Houston Homes to see what was available. We hadn't been back in this area. We've been around, but not the neighborhoods. What are you building in? That was a big part of us deciding to come back was knowing that there was a place that we'd want to come back to and build. That was it. It's been a good journey. We've been here now 9 months and have been in our home 6 month, almost. I'm making up numbers here but something like that.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:19:50] Close enough! Is this it or is this never say never? Is this your forever home?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:19:57] Oh my goodness, it doesn't seem like that would be a realistic thing to say given everything we've shared, but this is in our minds, at least while the kids are in the home. We moved a couple of doors down from some of our dear friends again, so that helps to kind of stay put. We're just really happy with it. I can't imagine what we would need to do differently.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:20:27] It's just very soon.
Justin Lathrop: [00:20:28] It is, but there would be no reason for us to move or build again. I always like the people that build a much bigger house once their kids leave. I think that's always funny! We never had a pool, but we're going to put on in now that you guys are gone.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:20:46] The kids are like, "why are you doing this?"
Justin Lathrop: [00:20:48] We got 6 years left here for the last ones out of the house. We're very confident that we're in this one now through that time.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:20:59] This home was a unique experience. We talked a little bit before because you guys did a big portion of it while you're in Florida, if not all of it. Will you tell us a little bit about that?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:21:09] I would say we did all of the decision making in Florida and not just Florida, it was COVID, Florida. I remember it being locked down. I couldn't have gone and sat at a coffee shop to have my design meeting if I wanted to. It was home and the kids were doing school. We we're trying to make all these decisions about our home. I just remember the young lady on the other side of the screen, just being so patient. Listening to me, I was thinking I'm tired of hearing myself talk. She just never gave me any reason to think that she was tired of me. She gave me some options and helped me think through my questions. We had asked if we could get as much decided and help me make decisions. I really appreciated that process because it's really overwhelming between Pinterest and HDTV. You can go down a black hole and feel like I'll never land on something. For me, I like lots of different styles, so then it becomes difficult. If I choose this, then I can't go in this direction with it, so that process was kind of a bit difficult for me. I just felt very coached and served. It was enough choices to feel like I could go in the direction I wanted to from a design standpoint, but not so many choices that it was crushing, overwhelming or paralyzing. I don't know if that makes sense, but I just appreciated the balance there in the number of choices we had.
Justin Lathrop: [00:23:01] You guys have this beautiful design center, which we never got to use. Did you get a tour of it through Zoom or Facetime while we were in Florida?
Andrea Lathrop: [00:23:11] Yes.
Justin Lathrop: [00:23:11] They were talking us through every decision.
Whitney Pryor: [00:23:17] Wow, so you guys didn't get to come in in person. It was all done virtually?
Justin Lathrop: [00:23:21] Yes, it was all done virtually. Ideally, you would be able to go to the design studio, that's why you have it, but they were just so great at accommodating the cross-country move type thing.
Whitney Pryor: [00:23:35] If only we could mail every sample to you guys to look through, that would be awesome!
Andrea Lathrop: [00:23:39] Can you overnight that to me, then I'll get back to you.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:23:44] I can so relate to what you're saying, though, because I think sometimes too many options is hindering.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:23:52] Right.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:23:52] It is nice having somebody that listens to you and knows that this is the balance you need.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:23:57] Right.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:23:59] Some people may show me all the options and then I'll be able to know what I want. It's very much a listening and relationship building, I think, even from the design process.
Whitney Pryor: [00:24:10] Is there anything that you missed while you're in Florida that you're like, "oh, they just do it right in Texas", as far as home architecture or even just the environment?
Chelsi Frazier: [00:24:20] Whataburger.
Whitney Pryor: [00:24:21] Yeah, Whataburger!
Andrea Lathrop: [00:24:22] Tacos!
Justin Lathrop: [00:24:24] On the architecture side, it would definitely be more around the space. In Florida, everything is scrunched together. If we have anything in Texas, we have land, although that seems to be getting less and less here, but not having your house on top of each other is one of the things. Also, having brick because brick is not on all homes.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:24:50] Right, I would say fireplaces. Even though we found a very rare home in Florida with a fireplace, it's really not necessary there.
Justin Lathrop: [00:24:58] No, she would make us turn the air on cold and then we would put a fire on.
Speaker5: [00:25:02] Absolutely!
Chelsi Frazier: [00:25:03] I love it!
Whitney Pryor: [00:25:04] It's the ambience.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:25:04] Absolutely, especially during Christmas time. This can be part of my Christmas gift, the electric bill we will get a couple of weeks later. Having a fireplace again and actually having a need for it. Again, maybe Northerners would say it's not a need, but I just appreciate that.
Justin Lathrop: [00:25:24] Not a need so many days in a row.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:25:25] Right, you definitely use it.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:25:28] We have and I just appreciate that about Texas.
Justin Lathrop: [00:25:34] Yeah.
Chelsi Frazier: [00:25:34] Andrea and Justin, thank you both so, so much for coming in and talking with us today. We've heard so many great things about you, so getting to meet you in person and really hearing your story from you was very special. I really, really appreciated hearing from your hearts today, so thank you both so much for coming.
Whitney Pryor: [00:25:51] Yes, thank you so much.
Justin Lathrop: [00:25:53] You're welcome, we love being here with you guys.
Andrea Lathrop: [00:25:55] Our pleasure, thank you.
Whitney Pryor: [00:25:56] Thank you again for listening in to the Welcome Home Podcast today. If you have any questions about our communities or homes or just have general questions about the product we build or our story, feel free to visit us at www.jhoustonhomes.com. You can give us a call at 866.644.3457 or email us at email@example.com. Thanks again for listening in to the Welcome Home Podcast.
Whitney Pryor and Chelsi Frazier: [00:26:27] Welcome Home.