How We Selected Our Builders

Building a Home Made for Hosting

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I'm Katelyn James Alsop, a photographer, educator and momma who believes any photographer can have a profitable AND purposeful business.


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So you may have seen that we’re on a trip this week with our parents. So for those of you who are about to send me an email and fuss at me for working on vacation… you should know that I pre-blogged this whole week!! I know this may seem a little pre-mature being that we haven’t even started the building process but I really wanted to tell the story about how we selected our builders and why we love them so much! If any of you have ever built a home before, you know that it’s an incredibly intricate process that is also VERY personal. You’re literally trusting someone to construct the dwelling that you’re going to spend the majority of your life in… unless of course you are like us and you feel like you live in an airport!

This is just a season and we’re thankful for it. We’re working and traveling while we can and one day, our life will slow down. We’re a lot closer to that point than we used to be! We’re excited to be home more in April and May because that is when CONSTRUCTION BEGINS! Ah! We still can’t believe that it’s real!!

So, since we’ve been taking you along on this journey every step of the way, I want to take you back to this time LAST year. This time last year we had found the land, creepily written a letter asking to buy it and the owners accepted. The land was getting re-zoned and we were in the process of finding a builder who we loved and putting our house on the market. A realtor that we met through the land process (Hope Egan!), told us that we really needed to check out a custom builder named Southern Traditions and so we started our “research”!

So what does it mean to “Research” for builders. It’s a lot of fun! We toured Homearama in Richmond like three times. We saw model homes and we looked through dozens of websites. We eventually decided to meet with Southern Traditions in person. We met with Trent who explained a lot to us about the company and how they operate. We toured a home that was in the drywalling phase and we were impressed. However, that wasn’t why we ended up picking them. This is such a great marketing example for ANYONE who is running their own business (Photographers… take notes!) Over the last YEAR of working with them, here are 6 reasons we hired them that have NOTHING to do with the quality of their homes:

– They NEVER Discredited Another Builder: This spoke volumes to us. We even gave them opportunities to! We would discuss what other builders we were looking into and they had nothing but positive things to say about their competition. This simple thing was a HUGE determining factor for us because it said a lot about their character and we appreciated that.
– They NEVER Emphasized How Young We Were: In the past, our age as been an interesting element in the home building process. For example, when we built our last house, we had several situations where certain people on the job site would address my dad first even though we were the owners. I understand….. we’re young and it’s weird that we’re doing this at our age but we really wanted to work with someone who appreciated our ambition and didn’t make us feel like we were out of place. We jokingly asked if we were the youngest people that Southern Traditions had ever worked with and I think we determined that we are!
– They are FLEXIBLE and eager to SERVE: We asked if my brother and his boss could do our drain field design and even though this isn’t standard for them, they didn’t think twice. It would have been easier for them to just use their guys but they let us do our thing and it was never an issue. They have been patient when our house wouldn’t sell and responsive as soon as it did!!
– They have a SMALL but awesome TEAM! So far we’ve worked with Rob, Trent and Elaine and we love them all. They all have different roles but yet they are very involved with each project. They’re personable and they love our story and what we hope to do with this new house and that was really important to us! This house is such a big undertaking and we have such high hopes that it will be a property that changes lives and impacts our industry! We also love that they only build a max of 15 homes a year! That’s a little different than our last experience where they were building 27 homes at ONE TIME!
– They get excited about the CREATIVE stuff! I’m going to let the cat out of the bag and share that I want our kitchen islands to be MINT! Elaine helps us with the design and she loved this idea! I had a CRAZY idea for our bathroom and they never second guessed it…. we might all second guess it once it’s in front of us! I’m telling you… it’s a bit strange! The Southern Traditions team not only allows us to be creative, they ENCOURAGE it!
– They’re REALISTIC: My dad always says “KK, they will let you do ANYTHING so you have to refrain.” This is true. If I wanted to add a custom window that would completely destroy our budget, they could do it. However, when I mentioned one of my window ideas that was evidently quite pricey, Rob offered a more realistic option that saved us money. We appreciate their concern for our budget and our allowances!

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, they seem like nice people but can they build a great house?!”. They sure can! One of our favorite things to do is tour the Homearama neighborhoods in the Southside of Richmond. This year Homearama is taking place in Hallsley and the Southern Traditions home is gorgeous!!! If you’re in the area and you want something fun to do in May, you should tour their spec house and tell them we sent you!!! We just saw it under construction and it’s just incredible!!

So there you have you it! We love Southern Traditions and we’re so thankful that we are working with them! You can find them on Facebook HERE and I’m hoping I can convince them to hop on Instagram sometime in the next 8 months so that you can see all of their amazing homes going up!!!

If you want to follow along on our home building journey, follow the Home Made for Hosting Instagram account for updates!!! (And sneak peeks!!)

Here are a few pictures of our contract signing day! Photos by Matt Kennedy!!! haha He was visiting when we did this! I love that he was there for this!!! :)

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How we purchased land that wasn’t for sale! 

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Thanks for reading!

— Katelyn

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