Before you place your house on a lot, you have to know it. When I say know it, I mean every contour and every tree. The contours are important because every line of movement you can avoid can save tens of thousands of dollars. Every tree is important because of feasibility of placement and drainage. I took this photo yesterday of Mike Munoz with Keystone Concrete. In the case of that tree in the corner, it was a fairly decent amount out of the footprint of the house. However, upon closer review it was in direct conflict with the drainage on the side of the home. The drainage isn't there now, but needs to be created in the future with a cut so that water doesn't flow against the foundation. Little things like this prevent a potential headache and is often eye-opening for both clients and honestly myself included. Guys like Mike are professionals and bring a dimension that can't be discovered in an architects office sometimes. I like to spend some time in advance of finishing plans with clients so that they completely understand their slab height, and if adjustments are necessary then we can make them easily so that they will have a better family experience. By experience I mean everyday things like taking out the trash, enjoying the backyard patio, watching the kids play, etc. I'll bet we make some sort of adjustment in this area 3 times out of 10 builds after visiting the site.
Meet Jacob our intern from UTSA Construction Science program. Here's a hint, he's the much younger one. He and I were admiring each other's sunglasses so we switched and took photos of each other just messing around at lunch the other day. He is so much fun and has a great sense of humor. We started nick naming him Jake the Snake and now, we just refer to him as "Snake". I met Snake a couple of years ago at a UTSA internship seminar and he stood out amongst the 200 other kids that I met. He was so personable, kind, eager and displayed a humility and hunger that we look for . He asked if he could help us by digging ditches, cleaning, whatever and I was just blown away- he was so different. We started by letting him open and close our model over the weekend and after a period of time he morphed into one of our project managers at an entry level. His energy is always up and he gives us an opportunity to mold someone vs. changing habits. The best part is we get to give back to San Antonio and support our academic system by helping out these kids and giving them a chance to take an alternative route than most of their buddies. We have been blessed by his presence and looking forward to more opportunities to recruit in the future.
I'm sitting in my driveway for 30 minutes with the car on, talking on the phone and I walk in to greet the family, kiss my wife and kids and act normal. After a moment I see my wife acting a little funny and I say "what's wrong"? She says back to me, "who were you talking to in the driveway for so song?" I tell her one of my customers and she says "Oh thank God I thought it was another woman." The people we build for are busy. So my phone typically starts lighting up around 5pm when they are on their way home. It's not uncommon that I'm talking to them from my driveway, my garage, a culdesac, the woods or some other random spot. Some call just to say hi and check-in but most of the time it's a concern they have about their build. To be a good builder there are so many things that are important, but mostly what I find invaluable is a sympathetic ear to listen and problem-solve so that my homeowners can sleep at night. This is something that I enjoy teaching my guys, and actually doing myself because oftentimes people just have a hard time visualizing a particular phase and need to be calmed down. They're not yelling (most of the time) or anything like that, it's mostly just helping them understand that a particular situation is under control and if it's brought to our attention for the first time, that we will be all over it. I've taken calls on Thanksgiving Day and they're shocked when I call them back. Sometimes I try so hard to honor my families time because our business starts early and ends late, but more often than not I want people to feel at ease and let them know that everything is going to be all right. I don't know if I really have a point to all of this other than to say that building can be one of the most stressful things you ever do in life so I think it's important that when you're evaluating a builder at some point of your life that you look for that "X" factor which is someone who cares about your project as much as you do.
From the desk of....
Thoughts, tips and musings from the folks at M&F