Can This Homebuilder Make Lake View Great Again?
SAN ANGELO, TX — A homebuilder is targeting blighted areas in north San Angelo. Their aim is to construct high quality single-family homes that can be financed by a new homeowner who would otherwise have been relegated to a life of paying rent. At the same time, by introducing new home construction on lots that otherwise would have been empty, the aim is to increase the Tom Green County property tax base.
Chad Decker, partner in NuHome Constructors, LLC, labors over blueprints with an Excel Spreadsheet open on a nearby PC. Every dime counts, he said, to keep the costs down. This time, Decker is worried about how much the temporary trash bin on the job site will eventually cost him, and how much the mailbox is going to cost.
Above: Partners Mike Biggerstaff and Chad Decker on the job site. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Decker is a custom homebuilder like his partner at NuHome Mike Biggerstaff. Both have built hundreds of custom homes in higher-end parts of the county, like Wall or Southland. NuHome is forcing both to carefully watch costs, more so than with a larger custom home. There isn’t much profit margin to play with.
Decker is a good partner to have. He has years of experience building spec homes in the Houston area for a large homebuilder. He learned what areas to look in order to keep costs down.
Biggerstaff said they are leveraging their existing relationships with subcontractors and their building supplies vendors. “See these cabinet tops?” Biggerstaff pointed inside the only remaining model home. “These granite tops would have otherwise been thrown away for scrap,” he explained. The partners figured out a way to put high-end countertops in at a fraction of the cost. Those countertops now come standard in a NuHome.
Above: Finishing out a NuHome on E. 49th St. Biggerstaff consults with Colin Early who is installing custom cabinets, (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
The three- and (one) four-bedroom home designs are standardized. The sweet spot for the move-in price is around $155,000. The partners have to keep most of the homes below that so customers can qualify for a home mortgage. “It’s all-in,” Biggerstaff explained. “We even sod the yard and include a home warranty.” The windows are double-paned, too.
NuHomes are being built in Lake View, just east of the Rodeo Fairgrounds, like on E. 49th St. They have about a half dozen homes either sold or in the process of being built. The partners said they are busy purchasing more lots in the more blighted parts of town.
Above: Mike Biggerstaff shows off the window hardware on the latest NuHome. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
“When one of these homes goes up, we see the whole block change,” Biggerstaff said. As he drives down the street, he describes how this existing homeowner or another removed the old junk car out of the front of their house, or applied a new coat of paint, or fixed a broken-down fence. “I think people genuinely appreciate being able to get into a new home in the neighborhoods where they grew up,” Biggerstaff said, pointing to the pride people from Lake View have in their childhood stomping grounds. Lake View High School is within walking distance from many of the lots the partners have procured.
Decker grimaces when asked about government subsidies. They get none, and in some ways, the partners are thrown government roadblocks. On government help, Chad noted, “You’ve got to be kidding, right?” He pulls up the Tom Green County Appraisal District website and starts going over the newer appraisals from last year. Some of NuHome’s fallow lot valuations have more than doubled. He applied for a contractor’s spec appraisal for some lots in order to keep the cost of ownership low.
The City of San Angelo wants NuHome to build sidewalks, sewers, and water lines before constructing a new home on some lots. That makes those empty lots inaccessible to the NuHome business plan. “If we could get this land replatted, we could put three more homes here (pointing to a large open area). But we can’t afford to build the required sidewalks and keep the cost of the houses low enough,” Decker explained. There were no other sidewalks anywhere else near that block of land.
Above: Mike Biggerstaff shows the plans for their latest home model, this one expected to cost around $135,000. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
For now, however, the number of lots that are ready-to-build outnumber the current pace of how fast the partners can build new homes, so the partners are withholding their objections to the City’s Master Plan.
The NuHomes are popular. Last month the partners held an open house at the second home built. About 40 potential homebuyers and some who were just curious about what was happening in their neighborhood stopped by in less than two hours.
Across the street from that home, which has since sold, a new pad was just placed for the next NuHome.