Nichiha had the privilege to sit down and speak with our newest Builder of the Quarter, SLC Homebuilding. Vice President for Homebuilding Dan Gilbert gave us insight into SLC Homebuilding and the building industry as a whole. We are thrilled to share this information with you and provide knowledge from an established Tennessee homebuilder. If you have any additional questions for Dan, please type them into the comment section below. We would love to hear any comments or thoughts you may have.
Q: Why did you get in the building industry?
A: I have always been interested in building and how things fit together. When an opportunity came available at Southern Land Company it was a no brainer. SLC has been around for more than 30 years developing the best and most unique single and multi-family communities all over the country. We are currently building single family homes in only Franklin, Tennessee. I've been with the company for 11 years.
Q: Tell us about the style of homes you build.
A: Our homes are built to be architecturally correct ' a lot of craftsman, Tudor, and most recently farmhouse ' very traditional with big front porches. We build primarily in the Westhaven community. Westhaven is a traditional neighborhood development with high architectural standards and focus on design and landscaping. The community is connected throughout by sidewalks and unique green spaces. The owner of the company is a big fan of Walt Disney, and he wanted to build a one-of-a-kind community where people don't have to leave: it has a fire station, post office, dry cleaner, taco shop, spa, salon, fitness center, grocery store, etc.
Q: How is the market in your area?
A: It's a strong market. Nashville and Franklin are some of the hottest markets in the country with a lot of job growth and great schools.
Q: What challenges do you see in the building industry?
A: The two biggest challenges are affordability and labor. Finding quality labor is a challenge because the quality laborers are busy. They are setting the terms for themselves, which hasn't been that way for quite a while.
Q: What current opportunities are available in the industry?
A: No matter what's going on, there are a lot of opportunities. You have a lot of people wanting to buy ' we can feel confident building more specs because buyers are out there. We want people to see the finished product, since it is so different. We are going to do 53 houses this year; 15 of those at any time are usually specs.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: We have some very creative people in our company, but we get a lot of inspiration from our buyers. They bring us a lot of great ideas ' we use some of those ideas in our future spec homes. It can be a very overwhelming process to build a house ' we try to help the buyer through the process. When we get a project started, the homeowners are assigned to a project manager, who helps guide the buyer through the construction process.
Q: How has the style of homes you have built evolved?
A: Selections, colors, and floorplans within houses are getting simpler. White countertops are big right now. Anything white, gray and ice are big right now. Color is done by adding decorations. Buyers are more focused on resale value, whether or not they're going to sell their house.
Q: How long have you used fiber cement siding on your homes?
A: We've been using fiber cement siding since the inception of Westhaven, 13 years ago. Fiber cement has always been a big part of the look we are trying to achieve. In our community, using fiber cement siding is unique ' most of the material people were using was brick. We use the smooth siding with a 7' reveal, which is unique to this market as well. We like the ability to use custom colors on the siding and shutters for pop. We started using Nichiha and the character that comes with the look sells itself.
Q: What features do you like most when using fiber cement?
A: It's a great looking product, and it is not as expensive as brick. We use flashing at the butt joints. I like that you are not relying on a bead of caulk to keep moisture out. Once we get that initial installation together and house painted, there is not a lot that a homeowner has to do on the outside of their home. We can pick any color we want ' as trends change, on a brick home, there's not a lot of variation. With fiber cement, you can put yellow on a house and it really gets people talking.
Q: Any additional information to add?
A: SLC Homebuilding is dedicated to doing things the right way. This is more important to us than anything else. Because of who we are as people, we take a lot of pride in what we do when we build someone a home.
We are so thankful to Dan for taking the time to share his experiences and thoughts with us. To learn more about Dan and SLC Homebuilding, check out our recent blog post that highlights the company as Nichiha's Builder of the Quarter.