Overcoming the economic downturn in 2009 to offer homes with a higher definition of quality.
Building three homes per month keeps High Definition Homes busy in the Thurston and Pierce county areas of Washington state, where the company focuses on the personal and unique tastes of clients.
“We limit our custom homes to one to two homes at a time [per month],” Kellen Mangan says. “Custom homes tend to take more time and attention, so we make sure our clients get all that taken care of. We offer a high definition product that has some very unique features. Being a small builder, I personally, as the owner, visit each home nearly each day and inspect the quality, with attention to detail.”
In every home, High Definition Homes offers a granite slab counter and hardwood flooring throughout the living, entry and kitchen areas. Standards in each home include natural gas cook tops and higher-end appliances, ensuring a higher definition of quality.
“On some of our more custom-type buyer-end spec homes, we’ve been purchasing reclaimed lumber,” Mangan says. “We’ve been building fireplace mantels out of reclaimed lumber that is sometimes over 100 years old, which is unique.”
A distinctive feature for High Definition Homes is its unique coffered ceilings.
“We will take some product and build a really decorative ceiling in a kitchen, an office or a living room as a free upgrade,” explains Mangan. “It’s really a wow factor when a customer comes in.”
Currently, the company is working on The Links at Indian Summer, a golf course community in Lacey, Wash., that features homes from $299,000 to $400,000.
According to Mangan, the project is noteworthy because it is gated with an emphasis on security. It has 50 to 100 percent larger lots than typical new construction. Lot sizes range from 8,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet in a market where the average lot size is about 5,000 square feet.
“We just had our first open house and sold one right away,” says Mangan. “We’re very excited to have [it] in our portfolio of projects.”
A stable present, however comfortable and consistent it may be, doesn’t mean High Definition Homes had an unchallenging start. Mangan started the company as a do-it-yourself builder in 2009 in the middle of tough economic times.
“I was doing everything from the real estate to the site cleanup on weekends to the tile work,” he says. “Anything I could get my hands on I’d do.”
The hard work paid off when the company sold its first home before it was finished being built. Slowly and conservatively, after selling one house the first year, the company sold six homes the next year and 14 homes after that. Last year, 20 homes were sold, and this year, the company plans to sell about three per month. Today, the company has an office in Olympia, Wash., that includes a full-time bookkeeper, full-time construction manager and an assistant to the construction manager. Last year, the company’s annual revenue was about $4 million.
In 2010, as a new business in Thurston County, Wash., High Definition Homes was nominated by the Thurston County Economic Development Council as one of the top three finalists for New Business of the Year for Thurston County.
Prior to finding success with High Definition Homes, Mangan worked in real estate sales.
“I sat on site for new construction for several different builders in the area,” he says. “During the downturn, a few of them went out of business and their properties became available, and that’s when I got my first property.”
Mangan also had experience in the field as a construction laborer for a builder in Washington.
“I’ve been able to see a lot of different aspects of the business, from sales and marketing to being the cleanup guy to being assistant to the sales manager for a large, national lumber company and being involved in the land development side,” he says. “I’ve seen all the different aspects of the business and how it comes together.”
Through these experiences, Mangan has seen a trend in consumers being more educated on what products are available. For example, as a builder in Washington where rain is frequent, Mangan and the supervisor at High Definition Homes make it a point to carry a moisture meter to test all houses.
“We’re very cautious,” Mangan says. “We’re consistently renting dehumidifiers to take the moisture out of the houses. We are also using products that hold up better in the rain and the way that we install our siding.”
Throughout this process and others, High Definition Homes explains all construction practices to its customers.
“We go into every single house and not only do we nail the floors down, but we come back and screw the floors down as well to minimize subfloor noise,” Mangan says. “We have a full service customer service program. I’ve had clients where we’ve built their house and we’ve built their parents house.”
Customer loyalty is important to the company and it makes it a priority to listen to its customers’ needs.
“If we don’t have a product that’s in their price range, than we’ll tell them that,” Mangan says. “We’re constantly taking on new projects. So, we try to listen to what the customer wants and really just take it from there as far as features and service.”
The stable present currently being experienced by the company is paving the way for a bright future. Mangan would like his company to continue with its consistent goals, making goals every year to grow at a conservative basis.
“As long as it keeps selling, we’ll keep building them,” he says. “We’re pretty strong on the sales end because of the unique features. Once we get a house finished, they tend to not sit for very long. I hope to grow the production and add more staff without sacrificing any quality or service.”