Thursday, October 31, 2013

"App-tly Named" BuildCHX(TM)

It's all my daughters' fault. Just about the time I finished publishing my homeowner's helpful hints book UnHINGED - A Homebuilder's Secrets for Saving Time and Money, the girls sat me down one day and said 'Dad, we sure are proud of you for writing a book, but our generation is never going to read it! You must produce an easy to use app which does the same thing.' You've got to be kidding me - after all that work somehow I have to condense the content of the book into a usable building tool for the phone?

SURPRISES are the enemy of all building projects. We wanted to create a transparency for the building process so that homeowners were never left with the two most common jobsite questions, "What happens next," and "What selections do I need to be making?" So we created an app that helps homeowners through the building process.

The new, one-of-a-kind app, BuildCHX allows the user to track the building process through a chronological roadmap of steps necessary to build or remodel a home. Suddenly, magazine clippings are now a thing of the past. The new app also links the building process with idea boards that allow the user to capture and catalog ideas and inspiration for their project.  

I had the idea that it is one thing to catalog ideas, and another to share them. So, I intentionally built the functionality in BuildCHX to share the idea boards with key members of the building team. I call it "TeamShare." Ideas and photos are also linked to Facebook and Twitter for ease of sharing with friends and family.

Ultimately I had the homeowner in mind when designing this app. However, designers, architects and builders, who all manage multiple projects at one time, have also expressed their interest in using the app to help keep their information straight.

As you can imagine, we are excited with the outcome. But what are others saying? Let's follow the early election returns:

 Just paid for the app and made some money! by Roxy Ryan
We are having our house built and are at the beginning of Step4. Upon reviewing previous steps found a tip we had overlooked. We just saved $275! A "must have" if you're building a house and want to stay on top of things.
BuildCHX Review by Cheryl Murff
What a great tool for building or remodeling! This is a must for anyone who wants to glean from a top notch builder!
Homeowner by Jmaddhill
This is a great app if you're building or remodeling a house. Tons of practical steps help you organize the building/remodeling process from A to Z. The ability to easily share product choices among a group (homeowner/decorator/builder) is fantastic part of this app! I highly recommend it! 
The app was published on October 17th and is available in the iTunes Store. An Android version is due out in late November.

Check it out, leave me a comment and/or write a review. We want to know what you think! Still yearning for more? Us too....stay tuned for future enhancements which will make BuildCHX even better!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Reviving the Greek

For twenty-eight years Cozy and Mark Palmer dreamed of having a Greek Revival Farmhouse - now they live in one! The Palmers entrusted Hoebeke Builders, Inc. with helping design and build their dreamhouse. Last week they moved in.

To say the process went well would be an understatement. Mark and Cozy were dream clients! Always ready with a picture, or a video, their desires were communicated very simply and clearly. Right down to the highly polished black handrail on the front stairs.

Before our book, UnHINGED - A Homebuilder's Secrets for Saving Time & Money was...well, UnHinged, the Palmers followed the premise of the book perfectly by building a project team that included: architect Paul Turney, interior designer Rebecca Low, landscape architect Daniel Houchard and his company From The Ground Up, and Hoebeke Builders. Each different discipline performed their work on time, and in concert with the rest of the team. The results are obvious.

It's always great to finish a project and walk away with a new set of best friends! Special thanks from my end to the best business partner a guy could ever have, Phillip McCloud, who dogged the details and made a wonderful home S U P E R B! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Just Released...

If you follow this blog, "Raising the Roof..." became "UnHINGED - A Homebuilder's Secrets for Saving Time and Money." (What in sam hill is he talking about?) The book! Amazon just released that labor of love so often mentioned and described on this blog. After months of writing, editing, re-editing, re-writing, editing some more, formatting (whatever that is), and working on a cover, UnHINGED is finally off my desk.

So who are we trying to hit? National Association of Homebuilders says that every year in America 305,000 new custom homes (not tract) are built. AND... $191billion is spent on remodeling. Ahhhhhhh...that's quite a market. So here we go, beating the drum.

35 years of building homes and working with clients have taught me a thing or two about the building process. Literally hundreds of friends and family have called through the years asking about various aspects of the construction industry. As we have become fond of saying, "you should know what I know..." and now, with UnHINGED you will! The pages are filled with all kinds of time and money saving tips. Would you believe it if I told you that we serve those tips and ideas up with a little bit of humor too?

Is this some sort of swan song or something? Shoot NO! Hoebeke Builders, Inc. is just gettin' goin good! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

It was totally predictable. Just like the waves that crash on the beach of the Monterrey Peninsula, the lure of big profits, and fast easy cash flow has once again washed in a whole new crop of builders! Because Texas has steadfastly refused to implement contractor licensing, anyone can hang out their shingle and start building homes. All it takes is a cell phone and a truck... And everybody in Texas has a cellphone and a truck, right?

With every downturn in the economy we see overextended "homebuilders" finding themselves short on cash, crashing on the rocks, and washing out to sea. All too often the naive homeowner is left holding the bag. But with every wave that washes out, another economic wave swells, and a whole new crop of builders washes into town. Fortunately this happens less in other areas of the country where wannabe contractors have to apprentice two years under an established builder before they can even sit for a highly rigorous licensing test. But not in Texas!

We endorse the idea of injecting new, energetic builder blood into the marketplace. But the lack of regulation governing their training puts the unsuspecting homeowner at risk.

Years ago crops of new builders at least tried to make an effort to learn something about the homebuilding business by taggin' along with the subcontractors and watching, or sometimes even working, with those that have practiced a craft for years. Now we have "cellphone" builders that know nothing of the minutia of building homes -they drive around in their truck all day barking orders at the subs by phone. Sadly it's left up to the subs to try and figure out how to get the houses built. The grand loser? Why the homeowner of course!

What most other states have figured out is that there are thousands of little bitty nuiances to the homebuilding business that need to be learned to protect the homeowner. Ahhhhh...that's called "experience!" Thousands of little 'tricks of the trade' need to be learned before a high quality product can be produced. For example did you know that:

  • The maximum clear span of a 2 x 12 without significant deflection is 18'?
  • Or, that ions of dissimilar metals (two or more) used together most often results in one of the metals eating the other metal? This can happen in just a year or two - not good for water intrusion!
  • Or, that paint and stain rags left in a heap will ignite due to "spontaneous combustion," and fire travels at a rate of 17 feet/second?
  • Or, that compressive strength of a concrete pier depends not only on the strength of the bearing rock, but also on the "skin friction" of the pier walls?
  • Or, that brick is an inhibitor of rain and snow moisture but the porosity of the brick and mortar requires that metal flashings extend all the way through the brick and up the exterior wall?
  • Or, that the standard backset (distance between the edge of the door and the center of the knob) of door hardware is 2 3/8" - not suitable when the doors have 3 1/2" stiles (vertical members) and you are trying to get the knob in the middle of the door.
  • Or, that lacquer and lacquer products are highly flameable and cannot be used around any live electrical source that isn't fully contained? (Read: blow your house up!)
And on...and on...and on... The point is practice makes perfect! Is there really any substitute for experience? How can a guy just starting out in the homebuilding business, that doesn't have the benefit of either an apprenticeship, or rigorous testing, and hasn't done his time in the trenches of experience, qualify to undertake the construction of probably the single largest purchase a family will ever make? Maybe the better question is "would you really want to live in a house built by a guy just cutting his teeth?"

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Platform to Argue

An armored truck took out the rear quarter panel of my truck a few months back. No one was hurt and the armored truck company quickly referred me to their insurance company to get the damage repaired. "Let the games begin!" After a few months of chasing my tail trying to get the truck fixed, I went back the other day to the armored truck company (couldn't get any satisfaction with the insurance company) and reminded them that this was their problem, not mine, and they needed to send someone over with a rent car to pick up my truck and take it in to have it repaired. No matter that I was stopped at a red light when I got hit, both the armored truck company, and the insurance company made getting it fixed my problem. Today, they brought me my rent car!

This most recent foray into the wonderful world of insurance comes on the heels of no less than three really good insurance fights last year! WHY WON'T THESE PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO DO, AND HONOR THEIR CONTRACT/POLICY?? Simple: Shareholders.

More and more there is talk in this country of a revolution. I'm convinced the revolution most probably will start over insurance and insurance companies. Rampant deception caused by excessively conservative policy interpretation has been inflamed by shareholder greed as they demand greater return on their investments. Who gets squeezed? You and I do! The more policies that are sold, and the more money insurance companies can take in translates to higher profit margins if  the company can weasel you out of benefits. 

Everyone knows that you have to have insurance. But when you buy protection, what do you really have? A platform to argue with the company that sold you the policy. Most likely they won't honor the face value language written in the policy. Congratulations, you've just invested your hard earned money to buy a place at the negotiation table. "Well the policy really doesn't say that, we interpret that phrase to mean this instead!" And on it goes.... If you don't like it, your Big Protective Brother's attitude is 'go ahead and sue me - we've got more money than you do, and we'll bleed you to death.'

Maybe it makes sense to hire an insurance attorney to read every policy before purchase so that all of the loopholes can be exposed. Do you suppose Big Protection will negotiate out the inconsistencies that are discovered? Good luck with that fight!