Settling into your own home signals the next chapter in one’s life. Whether it’s a new space for a growing family or a retired individual’s next investment, a house lets you firmly establish roots and give everyone a safe haven.
Willis Sinclair Homes has been building custom houses for residents of South Carolina. Just like the houses they put up and repair, the Bill Burdick and his son-in-law Willis built their company from the ground up.
Started From the Bottom and Stayed on Top
Before they founded Willis Sinclair Homes, Willis and his father were running a construction company that landed on INC’s top 500 companies. The two went their separate ways and Willis formed his own business with his father-in-law, Bill Burdick.
“We continued building million dollar homes on a plantation in southern South Carolina,” Bill said with regards to how it all started. But the housing depression also hit during this time, so they added other services such as house remodels and additions, repairs, house cleaning, and home checking for absentee customers.
More than 10 years later, Willis Sinclair has retained these same services and has started building new homes. Their expertise covers small and large jobs, from building custom homes in the million dollar range to changing light bulbs or hooking up a battery charger to an automobile.More than 10 years later, Willis Sinclair Homes has retained these same services and started building new homes. Click To Tweet
It’s all (family) hands on deck in the Willis Sinclair business. Willis acts as president, while Bill manages the jobs. Bill’s three daughters also work for the company: Abbey handles the public relations, Mandy takes care of house checks for absentee owners and executes newsletter mailings, while Jessy is in charge of the books.
Transforming Blueprints Into Reality
A custom home build starts with meeting the prospective client. The discussion helps them determine what exactly the customers want. They will suggest an architect if design plans have yet to be drawn up. If the clients have plans on hand, they are given a detailed cost estimate and a time frame for building the home.
“We know home building can be a very stressful situation, so we do everything to make it pleasant,” Bill emphasizes.
After they receive the “go ahead,” Willis and Bill acquire the necessary permits and start construction. Their clients don’t normally live in the immediate area of the new home, so photos and descriptions of the developments are uploaded on the website. The same copies are emailed to the customer for their personal reference. This back and forth ensures that the house turns out according to their desires and expectations. Frequent visits are also encouraged so that everything turns out exactly as the client wants.
Making sure that the home is exactly what the customer wants is a challenge their company constantly overcomes.
“Some customers have a difficult time picturing what the home will actually look like when they see the plans. As the home construction proceeds, they realize a room is too small or they want brick on an interior wall,” Bill describes. But every change is welcome throughout the process:
“In the end, we want their unreserved recommendation, so we don’t mind making changes as we go along if they see something they would prefer. We don’t charge extra for changes because we want our customers to have exactly what they want. We stay very flexible with our construction because we don’t want our customers to ever say, ‘I wish we had made this change.”
The customer’s involvement depends on their preference. Bill recounts two opposite situations:
“One home we built was not seen by the client until it was finished. The opposite extreme was when our client was living in the guest house (adjacent to the main house) as we finished the main house. The owners were around the construction on a nearly daily basis.”
Customized Down to Every Detail
Willis Sinclair ensures every request complies with sound structural engineering—no matter how impossible or crazy the request may seem. Bill shares about one project being outside of their normal construction design, which involved using two large steel I beams:
“It was our first time to erect an assembly of beams and steel support posts…We had to place them on the concrete as accurately as possible…It took about three hours to get both beams erected and bolted in place.”
Another interesting project involved building a small home on a golf course. It included numerous details such as hydronic heating in the floor and a design built according to the Feng Shui philosophy. Willis, Bill, and their team did everything they could within code to fulfill all these details.
Ensuring Quality All the Way
Speed, cost, and quality come with every build. “Speed and cost are important, but not as important as quality,” Bill says. His company strives for quality, speed, and cost, but quality is the critical deliverable. The company ensures all three features in each build, without choosing one over the other:
We keep our overhead low to help with pricing,” Bill of Willis Sinclair Homes emphasized. Click To Tweet
“We keep our overhead low to help with pricing. We have managers on site to make sure quality and speed are maintained.”
Technology helps them deliver these three factors in all their projects, which Bill discusses in detail:
“By laying everything out in project management software, we can anticipate when we will need deliveries and sub-contractors to be on site. We can queue subs long enough that we don’t have to wait on them.”
The scheduling software also alerts customers of important decisions that need to make about their design.
Distributing Relevant Content
Willis Sinclair spreads helpful information for homeowners in their newsletters. Distributed to about 60 current and potential clients, these newsletters were first printed their newsletters using the office print before having them produced at PrintPlace. Bill attests to the ease of working with us and producing quality printing:
“Working with PrintPlace has been very easy. The newsletters (printed as brochures) come back looking very nice. Both sides are printed using heavy smooth paper that makes the brochure stand out from junk mail our clients might receive.”Bill attests to the ease of working with PrintPlace and producing quality printing. Click To Tweet
These newsletters provide their customers with information useful to a home builder or someone thinking about doing work on their home, such as home addition or remodel ideas, green building ideas, SEER ratings on air conditioners, and tips on hurricane season readiness every June. Bill attests to the exposure and awareness the newsletter has created for their business:
“I think the newsletter is responsible for a significant amount of work and goodwill. Our 60th newsletter is being posted today.”
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