Les Owens of LRO Residential | Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses | CandysDirt.com

Kid Cottage by Les Owens of LRO Residential, built for the 2016 Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses. This is his eighth year participating in the event.

Dallas homebuilder Les Owens of LRO Residential puts the same details into the children’s playhouses he builds for the Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses as he does the multimillion dollar custom homes he builds in the city’s most tony neighborhoods, like Preston Hollow, Bluffview, and Highland Park.

Want a playhouse with a copper roof? Wired for electrical? With real hardwood floors? Totally do-able. 

“We use the same materials in our playhouses as the big homes we build,” Owens said. “It allows us to be really detailed and maintain the same construction quality for a tiny house that we would for any house we build — we look forward to this every year.”

The 22nd annual Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses runs July 7 to 23 at NorthPark Center. The event features custom-designed and built playhouses available to win by raffle, with all proceeds benefiting the children served by Dallas CASA. As the group’s largest annual awareness event, Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses brings attention to the plight of the abused and neglected children served by the agency’s volunteer advocates.


Serenity, The Woodward Project, by Classic Urban Homes. Photo: Barrett Woodward Photography

“Serenity House” by Classic Urban Homes. They are one of the 2016 Best of Houzz winners. Photo: Barrett Woodward Photography

It’s no secret that North Texas is home to some seriously talented home construction and design pros. So when Houzz announced their 2016 award winners, it was no surprise to see Dallas-Fort Worth professionals making a huge splash.

The awards are based on an annual survey and analysis of more than 35 million monthly Houzz users, and are awarded in three categories: design, customer service, and photography. Design winners can boast photos of their work were among the most popular on the site.

Customer service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews received in 2015, as well as a firm’s interaction with the public on the site.  Both awards have stiff competition, with about 35 million active homebuilding, remodeling, and design professionals on the site.

We’ve rounded up ten 2016 Houzz winners for your viewing pleasure. Take some time to let your eyes delight in their work!


2016 homebuilding trends

“Barnitecture” is one of the big 2016 homebuilding trends, with elements like rough-hewn ceiling beams mixed with more contemporary elements. This home is by LRO Residential. Photo: Shoot2Sell Photography

The 2015 real estate market in Dallas-Fort Worth went down in the books as the best in three decades, and year-end housing construction numbers placed Dallas as one of the country’s top building markets.

North Texas is headquarters to some enormously talented (and busy!) builders. We’ve asked the best and brightest among them to tell us their predictions for 2016 homebuilding trends. They’ve also given us some gorgeous photos that illustrate how those trends are showing up in their work. You won’t want to miss this!


dallas rain

Dallas rain is causing major delays at homebuilding sites, like 5802 Anita St. in East Dallas, a JLD Custom Homes site. Photo: Joanna England

Thanks to nearly two months of non-stop rain, DFW homebuilders are experiencing major delays and expect months of playing catch-up even though it has stopped.

Based on weather forecasts, that break might finally be here!

More than 26 inches of rain have fallen at DFW International Airport so far this year, including a record-setting 3.3 inches a week ago Sunday. This is now the wettest May on the books.

“The rain has been a killer on schedules—we currently have three homes under construction and have taken them as far as we can go in the inside, and are now at a dead standstill until we can finish the driveways and walkways on the exterior, not to mention fence, sprinklers, and landscaping,” said Michael Turner, owner of Classic Urban Homes. “We are telling potential new clients we are six-to-eight months out from being to take on any additional work.”

dallas rain

“I always keep a pair of old mud shoes in the truck, these days, I’ve got two pairs,” said JLD Custom Homes President Jeff Dworkin. Photo: Joanna England

Other custom builders are in the same boat. Jeff Dworkin points to his house at 5802 Anita St. in East Dallas, pictured above.

“We’ve finished the inside, but the yard is a mud pit!,” said Dworkin, who is President of JLD Custom Homes and Past President of the Dallas Builders Association. “We can’t get fence in, irrigation, or landscape. It’s hard to make it look pretty when your ‘drive-up’ is just dirt. We have also been trying to get another one started at 5731 Vickery Blvd.—got the permit a week ago, but we are just stuck in the mud for now.”

Homebuilders are able to get work done up to a certain point inside new houses, but the risk of tracking in mud onto new carpets or hardwoods means even that part of the process is delayed. And every part of completing the homes’ exterior is delayed. A Prosper developer tells me one of his largest volume builders is 90 days delayed, the longest delay in the history of the company.

“We can sell homes, design homes, and permit homes while it’s raining—we just can’t start them. We have five queued up and all in the holding pattern until the weather breaks,” Turner said. “No sense in selling a new home and then not being able to start for six months without telling clients upfront. For the most part, people are willing to wait, as builders are all in the same boat.”


The spec house at 6115 Desco Dr. will look similar to this. Photo courtesy Shoot2Sell.

The spec house at 6115 Desco Dr. will look similar to this, also built by LRO Residential Development.

Spec homes are a sign of strong builder and bank confidence in a market, as they are created without any specific buyer in mind, just the belief that one will be interested once it is completed. The higher the price tag, the higher the stakes.

In our inventory-parched market, homebuilder Les Owens, President of LRO Residential Development, has that confidence in the Dallas market, even at multi-million-dollar levels. He’s starting two spec houses this month, one in Preston Hollow for $3.15 million, and another in Devonshire for $2.2 million.

Both houses are available for customization, but Owens is breaking ground now and says he will complete them in late summer/early fall this year.

As we reported earlier this month, luxury home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth skyrocketed in 2014—those with prices of $1 million and up grew 15 percent year-over-year, the second highest sales volume in Texas (bested only by Houston).

Luxury home sales in DFW represented 1.2 percent of the market, and top-performing luxury brands are seeing more multi million-dollar sales in areas that have strong resale value and high existing demand.

“Established neighborhoods and homes of significance in coveted areas such as Highland Park, Preston Hollow, Greenway Parks, and The Volk Estates are desperately pursued, and the quality of the design continues to be a driving factor,” said Caroline Summers, a Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent. Jump to read about the houses and see photos!


Photo courtesy Greico Modern Homes

Photo courtesy Greico Modern Homes

The homebuilding market in DFW is super hot, and with a new year comes new trends. Candy already mentioned the emergence of the skullery, but there’s more!

We’ve asked the best and brightest North Texas homebuilders to look into their crystal balls and make predictions about homebuilding trends for 2015. They’ve also given us some sublime photos that illustrate those trends in action in their own work. You won’t want to miss this—jump to read the whole story!



IHOTW 4341-Taos

If Bluffview is good enough for Yu Darvish, well, then it’s good enough for a whole lot of contemporary-loving peeps! That’s why the wonderful builders at LRO Residential Custom Builders chose Bluffview and a treed, woodsy half acre lot at 4341 Taos to build a pristine model of contemporary amazement. Really, it’s one of the few contemporary spec homes on the market in this area. Just completed,  this four-to- five bedroom, four full plus powder bath home has what every buyer craves: both a master & guest suite on the first floor.

In fact, if you provided a list of what today’s buyer wants in a home, 4341 Taos is like the check-off list:


Les Owens

Interestingly enough, it’s not only move-in-ready homes that are flying off the market at unprecedented prices, but builders are hitting even more hurdles in this insanely hot North Texas market.

We asked Les Owens of LRO Residential, a CandysDirt.com Approved Builder, just what are buyers looking for, and what should they look out for? As it turns out, one of the biggest hurdles buyers who want to build will find is the place all home start: dirt.

“We are finding dirt at reasonable levels off the open market, but we are seeing all types of buyers — investors, end users, Realtors, first-time would-be builders — all competing for lots, and most are not experienced enough to know what they are doing and have driven land to all-time highs in most markets,” Owens said. “Not much room to keep going up, what goes up will come down, usually faster than it went up, so land speculators beware.”

Owens, whose homes have classic lines and multi-purpose rooms with some truly stunning kitchens, is noticing an uptick in empty nesters building their post-kids dream homes.



“This is great for my business as lots of empty nesters are coming into the custom home market, and that is the group my homes fit perfect for,” Owens said. “We have had great luck with downsizing clients from a 6,000- to 9,000-square-foot home to a new, more energy efficient, trendy, lock-and-leave type home, and they love it. I have tons of experience working with this demographic and my style really fits well with this group.”

Owens says that some other higher end clients want custom homes that are timeless, though “clean lines are still a bit hit whether in a more traditional home” or a more modern one.


“Contemporary is, of course, cool, but some people are already turning from it,” Owens added. “We are seeing clients who liked the idea, but have gone away from it.”

And clients are asking for more earth-friendly and energy efficient choices, which Owens recommends as long as they make financial sense.

“Most of our clients are self-made, and they understand the value of money,” Owens said. “Paying for outrageous green features just to say they have it is not what got them where they are. They want Green features, but only ones that make good sense from a pay-back perspective and/or they can see an immediate benefit for use in their daily lives.”


Still, Owens is focused on providing the highest quality of materials and workmanship that his brand is known for, as well as the innovation that homebuyers expect. To see more of Owens’ work, stay tuned to CandysDirt.com!