It’s hard enough to build custom residential projects in your own town, but what happens when you step outside of your comfort zone? When the economy tanked, Phoenix was one of the hardest hit markets. Our business significantly declined through both a lack of available jobs and intensely fierce competition for the jobs that were available.
How did we cope? In addition to stream lining our AZ process, we developed an out of state general contracting business model that allowed us to go where the work is and it is still our template to this day. We networked with architects and clients that we had previously built for and reached out to new ones that we wanted to build for throughout the U.S. Since 2008 CZ’s out of state work has involved (2) completed two houses, (2) that are nearly complete, (1) that is about to break ground and (4) on the boards (including work with Lake Flato Architects and Olson Kundig Architects).
9 Aspects about working out of town and travel.
1. While climates and regions vary immensely, all houses still sit on the ground and the number one goal is always to keep any water out of the house.
2. Know your soils; this is one of the biggest variables. Clay, silt, and sand all behave differently, both good and bad.
3. While good subcontractors are hard to find, they exist everywhere. I call it searching for the ‘diamond in the rough’. Once you’ve found them, you know it.
4. Bad subcontractors are easy to find, they exist everywhere. Once you’ve found them, you know it.
5. Listen to your local subcontractors (the diamond in the rough). They possess important knowledge that will make the project better.
6. Have a back-up plan. If we can’t source a product or subcontractor in the region we are working in, we fabricate and bring crews from AZ. Usually for the same or even a better price.
7. The building permit processes are widely varied. In Fairfax Country (VA), a single family residence required (9) different permits with over (25) inspections. In North Sioux City, SD, a single family residence required (0) permits and no inspections. We delivered the same quality of construction for both houses.
8. Fairfax County (VA) was touted to have one of the most difficult review and inspections processes in the country. During the first inspection for concrete foundations, the inspector didn’t review the plans, didn’t inspect the work, and didn’t even get out of his car. He passed us on the drive by. Get to know your inspector.
9. Enjoy your travels, our country is a diverse, rich, beautiful landscape. In the past four years we have visited 12 new states. We have seen a full Midwest farming season from snow on the ground to harvest, the Missouri River flood to epic proportions, New Orleans, southern hospitality, our Nation’s Capital in the spring, central California wine country.
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CZ Modern Home – Fairfax County, Virginia
Rendering of side porch by Lake|Flato Architects
Photo of side porch by Lake|Flato Architects
Rendering of Kitchen/Family Room by Lake|Flato Architects
Interior Photo of Kitchen/Living Room – Lake|Flato Architects, North Sioux City, SD