01 Mar Reviewing 2016 And Preparing For Homearama Louisville 2017
Since 1968, Louisville has displayed hundreds of custom homes throughout the area during the area-wide event, Homerama. Last year, the event featured 20 uniquely designed homes throughout Norton Commons. What makes Louisville’s event unique compared to many other home showcasing events in other cities and towns is that many of the homes are typically located in the same neighborhood!
On today’s episode, Jason Black, the president and owner of Artisan Signature Homes, shares his experience over the last decade of having several homes featured in Homearama and what it was like featuring a home for the first time back in 2006. He gives us an inside glimpse of what he is working on for the home in this year’s event and shares insights when deciding when to take on a client who wants their new home displayed in an upcoming event.
“Homearama is the best place to go to see what’s going on in the home construction business.” – Jason Black
In This Episode, We Discuss:
- Jason shares the story of the first year he participated in Louisville’s Homearama and the awards his company earned.
- We discuss some of the features the Poplar Woods Lot #19 home will have on display at this year’s event.
- We discuss the type of things some home buyers may be concerned about when displaying their new home at Homearama.
- He provides insight into what he considers when taking a client that wants to showcase their home.
- Why homeowners can get far more for their money when working with builders on a Homearama home.
- How Homearama helps promote home remodeling vendors throughout the Louisville region.
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Homearama Louisville 2017 Podcast Transcript:
Welcome to the Custom Home Builder podcast series, the show for people who enjoy the home design and construction process. If you’re looking for your next builder right now, or hoping to build your dream home in a few years, our Custom Home Builder podcast is the show that answers all of your questions as we pick the minds of experts to ensure your luxury home building process is as smooth and as enjoyable as possible.
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Hey there everyone. Welcome to another episode of the Custom Home Builder podcast with Jason Black, the president and owner of Artisan Signature Homes, Louisville’s best known and most accomplished custom luxury home builder. Jason, good to see you this morning. How are you?
Jason: Greg, I’m doing great. Thanks for coming out this morning.
Greg: My pleasure, as always. It seems a little early in the year to start talking about Homearama and yet, here we are. I guess it’s never too early. You have to start planning way in advance, don’t you?
Jason: Yeah. We’ve already been planning several months. Actually as soon as last year’s Homearama ended in 2016 over in Norton Commons, we started thinking about it and that’s when the plans came together was late last fall.
Greg: Wow. You gave yourself a week or two break and right back in it.
Jason: Yeah. I think the thought was we’re going to take a break from Homearama next year. It’s a lot of work, furnishing a house and design. We’re going to lay low. Then all of a sudden we had a customer come along that really enjoyed our work and our product, and said, “Would you guys be interested in doing Homearama again?” We’re like, “Sure. We love Homearama.”
Greg: Okay, so let’s start way back when. Do you have any idea, a little history of Louisville’s Homearama because I know different cities have different shows. Not everyone has a Homearama, or they call it different things. Can you tell us a little bit about Louisville’s Homearama?
Jason: The unique thing about Homearama in Louisville is I think it goes back, I think 1968 was when it started in Louisville and it’s been going pretty much every year since.
Greg: Wow. Even in downturns?
Jason: Even in the downturns we’ve had the Homearama. Where it’s different in Louisville is we have a single site, so there’s usually a minimum of maybe seven or eight sometimes, like last year we have over 20 homes in the show. They’re not scattered across the county or the city. They’re on one street in one neighborhood. You pay your ten or fifteen bucks at the door and you can see anywhere from eight to 20 furnished homes in one site.
Greg: I have to admit the Louisville Homearama is the only one I’ve been to. I’ve not been to a home show in another city. In other cities you’re saying that they’re scattered across the cities?
Jason: Yeah. They have a parade of homes. You’ll go to one neighborhood and you’ll look at one house, and then you got to follow a map and go through a little obstacle course. I guess with GPS now it’s probably a little bit easier than it was in years past but it’s a little more difficult. The builders probably don’t get seen as much on those shows. I mean-
Greg: Seems like a drag from the consumer point of view.
Jason: With Homearama, I mean the builder, your stuff is on display and your showcase, your goods are there, so that’s one of the reasons we really like to participate in Homearama.
Greg: Do you have any idea how long Louisville’s been using that format? Has it always been one site?
Jason: Yeah. Usually it’s one site. They’ve done a lot over the past few years they might pick two sites. Last year they had a first time, they were in I think Bullitt County so two different sites, two different price ranges. Again, this year in 2017 there’s one in Poplar Woods, which is in Goshen, Kentucky, which is Oldham County. The price point of those homes is probably going to be 800,000 to 1.5 plus million.
Then there’s a second site in, it’s a subdivision called Catalpa Springs. That’s out off Shelbyville Road in far eastern Jefferson County there near Taylorsville Road. New development home sizes are going to be 1,200 to 1,500, 1800 square feet and the price point is probably going to be 350 to 450. It’ll be one of the … You hate to say 350 is less expensive, but you know for Homearama, and you think of showcase, you’re thinking big million dollar homes. It’ll be an entry level type house or price point for Homearama, but I think you’ll still get the same great finishes in those homes.
Greg: Where will we see you?
Jason: We are going to participate right now, we have lot number 92 in Poplar Woods, so we’ve got a … It’s a new plan. Very excited about the plan. We really like the homeowners. They’re very involved, very excited about Homearama. This house is, it fits very much in line with our tag line, which is “modern finishes with southern charm.” We’ve taken that New England influence of cedar shake, we’re going to have stone, a lot of thick, white trim, we’ve got a cupola, we’ve got a pass through garage, or a porte-cochère that people may see. You drive actually under the house or under the roof line, and then there’s a four car garage in the back.
Greg: Are there going to be pictures for us to follow along?
Jason: Absolutely. I’ve got a hashtag right now. It’s called #poplarwoods92. I’ve started posting, just a couple of pictures, I’ve been doing some Instagram stories with some behind the scenes daily footage of the process. We’re just getting going with the framing right now, but more pics will come soon, and probably have a rendering or two on our website, on our Homearama page.
Greg: Wonderful. When was your first, I’m assuming, I know, that ’68, the first year of Homearama was not your first year.
Jason: I passed on that year. I was not in existence yet.
Greg: And not for a few years yet, right. When was your first Homearama?
Jason: My first Homearama dates back to 2006, and it was in Beech Spring Farms.
Greg: Do you remember the home?
Jason: I do. I do. It was our first Homearama house, and I was really … I had been in business for a few years, but I still working my other job at the time, and was thinking if I’m going to do this building thing, we might do Homearama and really get the name out there. We went for it, and we built a very cool, French Country was a very popular style. We had a cream painted brick with some beautiful stone work, and we had some really creative trim work. That house set the tone for my business going forward and the homes we built. It was spec home. We didn’t have a buyer. It was over a million dollars. First Homearama we won the grand award for best home, best interior design, best trim work, and kind of really-
Greg: Set the bar high.
Jason: We set the bar very high in 2006. It was a fun way to start Homearama, that’s for sure.
Greg: Then your most recent Homearama, and anyone who listens to the podcast, I know I apologize, we all know the answer to this, but your most recent Homearama?
Jason: It was last year in Norton Commons. We had two homes, but the home that everybody seems to remember was house number 13, our Hampton Point. Again, we won Grand Award, first place, which is the best, most coveted award, it’s awarded by the people voted, and best interior design. Yeah, we’ve got a tendency when we do Homearama, we like to do it well, and I think the crowds really appreciate the extra effort we put into it.
It’s not just Homearama that we put that extra effort into. Every house that we build, I think could be a show house. We are just so passionate about what we put into these homes. A lot of people tell us, they walk into our houses and it’s like, “I know there’s no furniture in here, but it almost seems furnished with all the detail, and trim work, and built-ins that you put.” Again, Homearama is such a good place for people to come out if they’re thinking about building, or they’re thinking about remodeling, or just want to get out and see the latest trends. It’s the best place to go to see what’s going on in the home construction business, that’s for sure.
Greg: When you decided to build in the next, in Homearama 2017, do you like to have a client already, who wants to build with you? Let me back up and ask the question differently. Did this client come to you and say, “I want to build in Homearama 2017,” and that’s when you said, “All right, I’ll build in Homearama 2017.”?
Jason: They wanted to build. They liked the subdivision of Poplar Woods. We looked at a hand full of lots. Some of the lots were in Homearama, some of them were not. The one that they really liked … Homearama and Poplar Woods is a conservation development, so over half of this development is reserved for green space, so almost all of the houses back up to either green spaces, walking trails, parks, they’ve planted gosh, thousands of trees in this neighborhood.
Greg: It’s really pretty.
Jason: They knew they wanted to be in there, and we kept coming back to lot 92. It kind of sat up a little bit higher on the hill, backed up to a vast green space, and pretty quickly we decided that Homearama was where we were going to go.
Greg: They liked the lot … My question or concern if I were a home buyer … There’s got to be some hassle in it for the home buyer to work around the Homearama schedule. Is there something in it for the home buyer, or is it strictly that they like that lot so they’re willing to deal with what goes into it?
Greg: They’re going to have thousands of people walking through their brand new home before they even move in.
Jason: Yeah, that’s one thing. It’s like, “Are you okay with,” I think there’s almost 40,000 people that came through Homearama last year, which is impressive.
Greg: A lot. Yeah.
Jason: I think a lot of them were in the Hampton Point at one time. It was a little shoulder to shoulder in there for a little bit.
Greg: Can I do a quick time out? I loved your Hampton Point house, honestly. I really liked the inside of, and I know you have names for each of them, but your smaller cottage house.
Jason: Oh, the Magnolia Cottage, yes.
Greg: The inside was so warm and welcoming. Not to say anything about the other one, but they were different, very different interiors.
Jason: That was Gretchen, my wife, had done the interior design of that one.
Greg: Well now it sounds like I’m plugging… All right, go ahead.
Jason: No. No. Right, Hampton Point was a very … Client was little bit more modern, had some different designs that were just unique to the market. Almost, kind of hotel-spa-ish with a modern twist. Some really cool stuff. The Magnolia Cottage, our smaller house was just very light and airy. All the walls were pretty much one color, had some antique brass fixtures, some whitewashed floors, whitewashed beams. People have really been drawn to that house.
In fact, we just broke ground, I’m sorry, getting ready to break ground on a couple of new Magnolia Cottages. That house has been so well received that we’ve just purchased some new lots in, I believe it’s section N4 in Norton Commons, and we’re going to build a row of those Magnolia Cottages. For the sole reason of people just loved that floor plan. It’s a very open floor plan.
Greg: Wonderful. I totally interrupted you. You were telling me what’s in it for-
Jason: What’s in it for the home … I think I’m going to step back as we talked about is it good to have a client, or would you rather not have a client. It really is a double-edged sword. If you have a client you want to make sure that their vision matches your vision as a builder. If somebody comes to me and wants to build some ultra-contemporary home that, it’s the only time I’m going to build a house like that, that could change what I’ve worked so hard for to build my clientele, to like this light and airy, Southern Living coastal type feel and all of a sudden they’re like, “Artisan builds, they’re very, they’re ultra contemporary. Did you see their Homearama house? That must be what they like.” I made sure this year with Homearama, our client, their objective fit with my objective. That is good architecture, very timeless, we’re going to have a lot of trim work, a lot of panels, light beams. I think the house will really showcase what Artisan is about.
Greg: Well that’s interesting. It has to be the right house for you as well as the right house for the client.
Jason: That’s right. There is some security from the builder knowing that the house is sold going into the show. That’s the good thing. I guess it’s good as well to build a spec house because, with no buyer in mind because you know 100%, hey this is what my style is. I know that this is what I want to put out there for the public to see, so a couple of things to think about with Homearama.
For a buyer, it is a great deal to purchase a Homearama home. It’s not necessarily that they’re going to save $100,000, but they’ll actually probably get, I’m going to say $100,000 worth of upgrades. It’s not necessarily going to be any cheaper, but they’re going to get more for their dollar. Instead of putting your standard Delta faucet in there, they make a line that’s called Brizo, it’s their upgraded line. They want to see their higher end stuff showcased a little bit more.
Greg: They being that, “they” would be the vendors in this case?
Jason: Yeah. The vendors or trade partners want to showcase what they’re capable of doing, so they’re going to either discount their product or upgrade it for you at maybe what you would normally pay for the standard faucet.
Greg: Is this one of the biggest opportunities for all the vendors to get out in front of people. Not only is it great for you to meet and greet people but is this really it for your … I don’t even know, your hardwood guys, and your trim guys, and your electricians, and your plumbers, is this really the big show for them?
Jason: It’s a mixed bag. Some of the vendors like our appliance people, and cabinet people that, somebody’s coming into look, they’re going to look specifically at those.
Greg: Guilty as charged.
Jason: My plumber and my painter necessarily may not benefit from Homearama directly, but the indirect benefit is if Artisan has a good showing in Homearama, it’s going to be beneficial to those trade partners as we build houses going forward. They usually will participate with some type of savings package for us.
I think we’re able to build the quality product we build. We don’t jump subs every house. We get these guys that we work with day in and day out, house after house. We’ve schooled them to how we like to build a house, and what our expectations are, so I can’t bring in another painter, or what on a Homearama house just because he wants to do it for free to get his name out there. I’ve got a certain process I like to follow. Just because somebody comes to me with a one-time proposal, it usually doesn’t interest me. I’m in it for the long-term, building the brand, and building that relationship with my buyers.
Greg: If you’re talking about appliances. Let’s stick with kitchen appliances because those are my favorite, what might someone see? Is that a discussion between the client … The client says, “I cook a lot. I do this, I do that, and I want a six burner whatever. GE Profile.” Then how does that, being in Homearama, how would that kind of conversation evolve?
Jason: We use Century Entertainment for our cabinetry and our appliances. We’ve actually already had several meetings for Homearama there. We looked at different appliances and the first question was, which appliance are we going to get the best bang for our buck for Homearama? We used Wolf and Sub-Zero last year. They were really interested in getting their products in the show. We use them a fair amount in our homes. It was a great opportunity and they’re going to participate again this year. We started there. We’ve got a great 40 inch, 48 inch double oven, six burner cook top with a griddle that we’ve already selected for Homearama. I think it’s going to be a pretty good stove for this house this year.
Greg: Sounds nice. Yeah, I’m already jealous. I’m ready for the pictures to come up.
Jason: They’re not quite there yet. Hold on.
Greg: I know that because I listen to your Home Builder Series, so I know when the kitchen appliances go in, so sort of a shout out, everyone needs to listen to that series and figure out when each step goes in. I know the Homearama process is a little bit different. Literally, when do you start this with the buyer, and do you have to talk to them more often to keep them up to date on-
Jason: It’s definitely an accelerated pace. The benefit of Homearama is you’ve got a defined closing date. I mean you know at the end of July the house is going to be open for the show. They’re not pushing it back, so usually that means a mid-August move in for them. It’s a very tight schedule, and with our process we like to follow we had to start very early, so as soon as we started designing this plan back in the fall, we had already started with those selections in mind of making cabinet designs, and plumbing, and tile and all of that. We’re at the framing stage now. When that’s done we got to be ready to rock and roll and get our trade partners in there, and don’t have a lot of time to answer questions or wait for selections, so all that has to be done early. A good portion of our home is already all picked out before we even started construction.
Greg: The buyers have to know that and be onboard with, yes I can make these selections quickly and not, let me think about it.
Jason: Absolutely. That was part of our deal is, if we’re going to do Homearama, you’ve got to be committed to make your selections early, and they’ve been great. It definitely … That holds true for any build we do. Sometimes a house, we can get a house finished early, or on time if all the selections are made, and we get to just set back and build and don’t have to wait for answers, or make changes.
Sometimes people will change their cabinet layout after we’ve already roughed everything in, like, “Well, the cabinets aren’t in. What’s the big deal to change it?” Well we’ve already got the plumbing in, we’ve got the electric in, the gas is in. It’s usually a snowball effect with changes, so we try to get all that picked out early and move on from there.
Greg: You’ve had a lot of success at Homearama with awards and such. When someone comes to you and says, “I want to build a Homearama house,” are you eyeing those awards or does it just fall into place some years, and other years someone just wants to build, I don’t want to say modest, but a house that might not be all the bells and whistles and they’re perfectly happy with that.
Jason: Our first goal is to get the client what they want, if they’re up for it. Last year’s client he was game for just about anything we wanted to do, and he had a lot of ideas. You say he was in it to win it, we were definitely all in it to win it last year. This year, we’re going to … The goal is to build a house that the customer loves, that is a good resemblance of what Artisan likes to build. If we win fantastic, we’ll be ecstatic, but I can’t say that we’re all eyes are focused on winning the Grand Award. If we win it, it’d be great. Our end goal is to make the customer happy, get some brand awareness out there of the Artisan company and our process and what we like to do.
Greg: Do you find that people who are buying and building Homearama homes, do they go out the home a little bit more often, or is it the same as every other buyer, the same amount of visits to the job site.
Jason: You know it all depends. Most of our clients are very involved in the process. I can’t say they’re out there daily, but a lot of them are out there daily. Sometimes it may depend. For framing and walls are going up, they’re anxious to see what happens that day. If it’s drywall stage and the mud’s drying, they may not go out there every day.
Greg: That’s not quite as exciting.
Jason: That’s right. They’re very involved. With social media, with the invent of the Instagram stories and whatnot, I’m trying to post daily progress of our homes. People can follow along, the homeowners, I can tell when they’re watching because with the stories, they’ll send you direct messages with smiley faces or hearts or whatever.
Greg: I was going to ask that, is that a good thing, or a bad thing, that you share their home with everyone? It sounds like they like it.
Jason: Yeah. A lot of our clients are private, don’t want their name out there or whatnot, but it’s a good way for them to see what’s going on. I’m not talking about specifically whose house it is. The cool thing with the house this year is our client is a … She loves yoga so we got this awesome yoga studio that we’ve designed. It’s got it’s on separate entrance. You got to walk over the porte-cochère to this dedicated yoga studio with tons of natural light. We’ll probably reserve an entire podcast to talk about this room because it’s really going to be awesome, what we have planned for that space.
Greg: I don’t have to meet her and try yoga right? That’s a different … That’s a YouTube channel out there somewhere, right?
Jason: I think if she joins us on a podcast, it’s only fair that you and I have to do a pose or two of yoga.
Greg: Fair enough. Fair enough. You sound very relaxed about Homearama. I’m guessing that’ll change in June and July. Until then, enjoy your build. I can’t wait to see you, I enjoy seeing you stressed out a little bit. It’s kind of fun. Sorry.
Jason: With one house this year, and like I said, selections are well underway, and house is moving along well, so as long we have some good weather over the next couple of months, I think we’ll be in good shape, and it’ll be a fun experience for everybody involved.
Greg: All right. Well we will post pictures and we will update I’m sure, this house and this conversation as we get closer. Jason, thanks for having me out today and talking about the upcoming Louisville Homearama.
Jason: No problem. I look forward to sharing more as we move forward.
Thank you for joining us on this episode of the Louisville Custom Home Builder podcast. If you’re looking to build a home and would like to reach out to Jason with any questions about the process, or maybe just your individual needs and desires, please visit the website at artisansignaturehomes.com. We appreciate your time with us today, and look forward to bringing you another episode next week.