Business View Magazine interviews the principals of Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes as part of our focus on best practices in American home construction.
Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes is a versatile, luxury home builder in the north Dallas metropolitan area that focuses on high-end design, architecture, and premium quality construction. It is co-owned by childhood friends, Scott Faulkner and Kirk Perrin. Faulkner handles sales, marketing, and investment fund management, while Perrin handles the construction side of the business.
Recently, Business View Magazine spoke with Faulkner and Perrin about their company. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
BVM: Can you talk about the genesis of Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes?
Faulkner: “Kirk and I have known each other since the 8th grade. We grew up together, went to high school together, and worked landscaping and construction from age 14 all the way through college. At that point, Kirk went off to Texas A&M to technically train as a builder and I realized that that was not what I wanted to do because I didn’t have his aptitude for building. So, I went the sales and marketing route and went to Baylor University and then to SMU for my MBA.
“Back when we were in our teens, we dreamed someday we would start our own company, so we could run it in the way that we wanted to. I have been a resident of University Park and Preston Hollow since I got out of college and Kirk has built all over the metroplex since 1990 – some 28 years. Fast forward from the early ‘80s to 2012 when we decided to form the company and fill the niche that I saw in the Preston Hollow and Park Cities area for a custom home builder who combined both the trained technical ability to build high-end custom homes, but also had a personal side to the business, which included being more involved in clients’ lives, post-construction. This formula has served us and our clients extremely well as our rise has been quite rapid in the last four years.”
BVM: What was the plan when you first began operations?
Faulkner: “The master marketing plan was to do several spec houses in different genres and to go ahead and complete those houses (aka don’t sell them early) so the general public could come and see the finished work before we started doing custom jobs for individual families. In contrast to builders who were just doing the middle-of-the-road, traditional style homes, we went a little further out of the box.
“We started with a Modern Farmhouse, then a Santa Barbara; a California Mediterranean; a Hill Country Contemporary; then a Cape Cod; a Sophisticated Modern, a Modern Tudor; then we did a really modern-contemporary home. After we developed and sold our spec houses, we then turned and started doing custom jobs for customers who now are coming to us. We were heavily spec by design and now we’re 90 percent custom and 10 percent spec homes. Of the next 10 houses, nine are custom and only one is spec.”
BVM: Do you buy your own lots?
Faulkner: “Yes we buy our own lots. But some families purchase their own lots and we are happy to build on their lot or ours.”
BVM: Do you also have design services?
Faulkner: “We do not. For the very high-end custom homes that we build, the very best architectural and design work is required and we feel this is done best by outside firms. We only work with award- winning designers who have both the experience and the staff to handle a home like ours. Same for architects—while we work with different firms, early on we partnered with David Stocker of shm architects, as he allowed us to create distinctly custom designed homes on every project, which is exactly what we wanted in our initial portfolio. Of course, we are happy to work with any architect or designer a couple is engaged with, we just didn’t want to be a design/build firm as we don’t feel it is the right offering for this market and this level of home.”
BVM: In what ways do you feel you differentiate yourselves from the competition?
Faulkner: “Quality, expertise, vision, build time, and a personal touch. Number 1: We feel our quality and expertise is matched by few others in this high-end space. Most of the builders are more on my side of the business, not having a background in true construction; it’s usually just a construction supervisor that handles the operations of the company, whereas we have an actual owner of the company handling operations who is a technically-trained builder, and he participates on each and every house. In addition, Kirk is allowed to focus purely on operations; he doesn’t have to handle any of the sales, marketing, finance side, dealing with investors–those are completely separate, which is a big differentiator from most other builders.
“Next, vision is a differentiator for us. It’s our job to take the thoughts and dreams of the homeowner and put that first on paper, working with the architect to come up with the perfect plan for their particular family; but also in real life by coordinating the vision of the house with the designer, as well, so, in the end, the family is overjoyed with the house they have just built. We are working really hard to change the perception of the home building process and have truly changed the opinions of everyone we have worked with.
“Another way we differentiate ourselves from the competition is the time it takes to complete the home. Our time of construction is averaging between 11 and 12 months and most of the home builds in our neck of the woods are more 18 to 24 months. Another differentiator is that in addition to his technical knowledge, Kirk was trained in the production home building business; so he manages a P&L like a production builder. This allows us to keep our costs down due to his expertise and since we are also building spec houses, we keep the costs down for our clients as well, just as if it were our own money on the line.
“Finally, we felt there was an element missing in the home building process, which was a personal touch. By that I mean truly getting to know your clients throughout the build process and being involved after the home is finished, as well. Your home is being built by people, not by a big company like the production builders and there should be a benefit to that. And we have made that our mission. I literally beg every new client to call the people we have worked with and seek their opinion. ”
Perrin: “When we first started, we made the decision to not be a build a big box with a lot of square footage firm like a lot of guys in Preston Hollow/Park Cities were. So, we went out and sought one of the best architects in the country, award-winning designers, and secured higher-end contractors. Our objective was to provide our customers with a level of quality and supervision that was lacking in the marketplace. We also wanted to customize each and every house from the architecture, design, and finish out versus just building that monster house with low end amenities that the production guys were doing.”
Faulkner: “So, it’s the quality/expertise, vision, quick build time to build, the vast array of our portfolio, and the fact that we’re not developing the same house and just changing the footprint or orientation. A lot of builders down here are building the same house; simply rotating the floor plan. I feel I’ve got the best builder in town, trained by one of the best universities. And we add a personal touch. We stay in touch with our customers after construction. I’m actually going out to dinner tonight with one of my homeowners that we built a house for in 2014. I’m not just their builder; I’m a neighbor and a friend.”
BVM: How important are relationships with vendors, subcontractors, and others to the success of Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes?
Perrin: “We have a ton of long-term relationships on the construction side having been in the business for almost 30 years. Plus we have some newer relationships that we think are going to be long-term with architects, designers, realtors and so, across the board, that’s one of the things we put a high priority on – relationships with people that are like-minded and have common goals for high-end, luxury, custom homes, and taking care of our customers on a long-term basis.”
BVM: Has anything occurred recently, or planned for the future that will affect the way you operate?
Faulkner: “We started doing more golf course estates. We’re doing one in Brookhaven; we just finished one off the 13th hole at Canyon Creek Country Club; and we’re about to start two on Castle Hill’s golf course, which is only six miles from Legacy and the Tollway. That’s another niche that we’re moving toward. The second part is, we’re going to move a little bit more into the development side, acquiring the land and doing six-to-fifteen home developments, where it’s exclusively all Faulkner Perrin homes being built. We are evaluating locations as we speak.
“As far as the future goes, I would say it would be growth and expansion into other outlying markets like the “Executive Corridor” as I call it – Legacy and the Tollway, whereas now we’re further down in Dallas in the Preston Hollow, University Park, Highland Park, Bluffview areas. But we’re also going to have an offering up there to handle those C-Suite executives who are moving in from the east and west coasts.”
Perrin: “Growth is in the forefront of what we’re doing. Now that everyone has seen the vast array of styles of homes we can build for them, we are looking to expand. We’ve had such an overwhelming response from our homeowners, we feel it’s time to provide more opportunities for people to experience what it is like to own a Faulkner Perrin home.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes
WHAT: A luxury home builder
WHERE: Dallas, Texas