Building a home is not hard at all. But for many, it can be overwhelming to think of getting it all structurally sound, then pulling it all together for a flawless, coordinated finish.
That’s one reason why we are so selective with our CandysDirt.com Preferred Home Builders: they are screened and curated, and on our site by invitation only. Most have been building homes for years, and these are the same people we would use if we ourselves were building a house. One of our favorites: Bella Custom Homes.
Kevin Bradshaw knows the difficulty of finding a good home builder. Fortunately, he found a great one: Tony Visconti of Bella Custom Homes, who is celebrating 25 years of custom build-to-suit homes this year.
Like most successful businessmen, Kevin is a discriminating client. The senior vice president of the western division of FM Global, a commercial property insurance company, Kevin has a background in engineering and knows a lot about home building from the beginning. We caught up with him to see how he decided on Bella to build his home in the McKinney community of Craig Ranch Estates:
CD: How did you find your lot?
KB: I got promoted three years ago, and we decided not to keep living in our current house. We bought an acre of land, a nice corner lot in the Estates of Craig Ranch. At the same time I was looking to join a golf club. It just so happened initial dues were waived when you bought a lot at Craig Ranch, so we were IN!
CD: How did you meet Tony?
KB: Through a Realtor friend, Brenda Kinsey with Sothebys, who my dad actually met online. She is great and became became a friend of the family, sort of our family Realtor. After we bought the lot, we asked her to find us some builders to interview. She got us interviews with four home builders.
CD: I love it, shows you the referral trail that occurs in 75% of transactions.
KB: We interviewed Tony, and loved him best.
CD: What did you love?
KB: Being an engineer, I liked his engineering approach to building a home. His mind is very much in line with the way my mind works, linear, super concerned about structure. Like I want to put in the right foundation with enough strong piers from the get go and he was all aboard.
CD: What else?
KB: I liked his approach and organization. He convinced me he has a little more sway with his sub contractors, which he does, because they have been with him for years. He has the same framer, and the same concrete guy, now for more than 12 years. He spreadsheets everything. He seemed to be the most organized of all the builders I interviewed. And his vice president, Stacy Brotemarkle, is a talented interior designer who helps put the whole process together, visualizing the plans from function to beautiful form.
CD: Of course I want to know who the others were!
KB: Sure you do! With one, the builder was also the architect. I’m not saying that was a bad thing, but I felt he was too pre-occupied with the architecture component for me. I felt one was going to take too much control of the project, and one was going to not take not enough.
Also Tony only uses 2 by 6’s to frame his homes, he uses Wolf and SubZero appliances, we just liked his incredibly high Bella standards.
KB: He likes get to know his clients a bit, then he recommends the architects to interview. First one he introduced us to was Lloyd Lumpkins. Great recommendation right from the start. I had 17 pages of hand written notes with my own diagrams, details going room by room by room of what I wanted in our house. Lloyd and Tony both read all 17 pages! We talked a lot about the importance of the house orientation on the lot — it’s a 6200 square foot home, so that was vital.
We told Lloyd we didn’t want a Mediterranean, but we wanted French Normandy and our own colors– grays, more of a New England feel.
CD: So did you get it?
KB: You bet we did!
CD: So when do you move in?
KB: Very exciting. Right now, we’re just finishing lighting and plumbing, now putting hardware in. The driveway and punch list are next, we are about six weeks from move in.
CD: The overall process of working with Tony?
KB: Very good! Excellent!
CD: Any complaints?
KB: This is not Bella specific, but I was a little surprised by how much I ended up wanting more in the process, choosing costlier items, as I got into the process. Tony is a well-organized, reputable builder well connected with subs. So one of the best things he does is give you feedback throughout the whole process. He is great at letting you know when you are asking for something outside the price range or function.
CD: Such as..
KB: Like a built in workshop in my garage. Did I really need it? No. He does also help you save money. He keeps you conscious of when you are asking for stuff outside the typical Bella budget.
CD: Any advice for people building a custom home?
KB: No matter what your contract is, save 10% in cash for all the stuff you will want to put in the house, things you will discover in the process.
There is nothing I like better than interviewing homeowners who love their home builders! This year, Bella Custom Homes celebrates its Golden Anniversary in home building, 25 years! Just think of all the happy homeowners over the years who are so glad they chose Bella.