Luxury homebuilder Mark Molthan struggles for words when it comes to describing the current state of the industry.
“It’s weird, almost surreal,” Molthan says. “On the job site, everything seems normal. Everyone’s working. But then you leave, you turn on the news, and suddenly you’re in this anxiety-fueled environment.”
Along with having his crews operating full force, technology has allowed the Platinum Series Homes team to seamlessly work remote.
“We’ve been set up for this for a long time. Every plan, every document, can be accessed anytime, from anywhere,” says Molthan. Even supply chains for existing builds haven’t been affected. “In one respect, it’s been business as usual. But on the other hand, I’m able to walk down the middle of Preston Road during the day. In 21 years, I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Admittedly, there are challenges ahead, including getting new orders filled. With showrooms operating by appointment only, clients in the selection or design phase will inevitably feel the impact. Classic Urban Homes founder Mike Turner admits to seeing some skittishness. “Some of my suppliers are concerned about product coming from overseas, like tile and lighting and plumbing fixtures. It’s going to be interesting for some time.”
Yet, despite the uncertainty, he’s grateful that Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins deemed residential construction as Essential Critical Infrastructure. With four houses underway, Turner’s crews are as busy as ever.
“You know construction is alive and well when there aren’t many cars on the road,” Turner says, “but you’re still seeing a lot of trucks.”
For now, securing permits also seems to be circumventing the fray (albeit newly-implemented CDC protocol at the Oak Cliff Municipal Center).
“If you do go down there, everyone is spread out and practicing social distancing,” says Turner. As for inspections, additional questions arise. “If this thing continues, we may have to look for other options, like using Facetime or third-party inspectors.”
It’s a tribute to both veteran builders that they’re finding an upside during this unsettling (not to mention, uncharted) new normal. For Turner, a past Dallas Builders Association president, it’s being part of an industrywide effort to preserve as much normalcy as possible. “Social media has been a valuable tool in getting the word out on a daily basis. It’s letting people know what they can and can’t do—and for now, they can keep on working.”
And for Molthan? “It’s hearing that clients are grateful to be spending their Shelter-in-Place in one of our properties. They may have to stay home, but there are lots of amenities.”