Whitestone Custom Homes
Even as Whitestone Custom Homes celebrates its 20-year anniversary, the company is focused on the next 20 years by preparing to grow. By Bianca Herron
Tim Rice founded Whitestone Custom Homes in 1998 because he saw a need for a local builder that could provide luxury custom designs and quality at an affordable price. Nearly twenty years later, Whitestone has become one of the largest custom homebuilders in the San Antonio market thanks to its Practical Luxury Program™, which emphasizes unique designs and custom architecture tailored to customers’ individual lifestyle.
Rice, who is president of the company, says Whitestone is a niche between higher-end production and super custom builders. “There are still few builders who do what we do today, so we don’t have much competition,” he says.
Whitestone builds more than 40 homes per year, 85 percent of which are custom, in key markets including San Antonio, New Braunfels and Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas. The company prides itself on building unparalleled quality into all of its homes.
“Our customers define quality by our three, soon to be five, model homes in the market,” Rice says proudly. “They also see that quality in the photography of the homes we build on our website and through our employees. Katie Sachse, our vice president, has put together a quality staff. So when prospective customers come into our office or call, they are able to efficiently answer their questions because they are trained well.”
Whitestone emphasizes customer satisfaction, which is why it not only provides a 10-year warranty against structural defects and an in-house decorator to help customers who might not have the time to decorate themselves, but also a 45-day window of customer-driven plan customization.
This allows the buyer to truly end up with a plan for a quality-guaranteed home that will reflect their individual tastes, and lends itself perfectly to their personal lifestyle, Rice notes.
“Customers don’t want to make mistakes when it comes to designing or decorating their homes because it is something that will last them many years,” Rice says. “Our process gives them confidence and clarity in their choices when it comes to major decisions such as structural changes, as well as fine-touch decisions like lighting, wall colors and other décor.”
As Whitestone prepares to celebrate its 20-year anniversary next year, Rice notes that the company has adapted to meet the needs of its customers, who have become more conservative since the economic downturn in 2008.
“For example, they may have the money to build a 6,500-square-foot home, but they are unwilling to spend the majority of that money,” he explains. “They want help with determining the most important thing for them to have in their homes. So instead of 6,500 square feet, we’re now averaging about 3,500-square-foot homes.
Despite the change, Rice adds that Whitestone is very proud to celebrate 20 years in the industry. “It feels like it hasn’t been that long,” he says. “We’re very proud and are focused on the next 20 years. We’ve identified markets that we’d like to expand into, like Austin. We see more demand and potential in that city.”
Vice President Katie Sachse agrees. “We started as an independently-owned family business, and we are still one today,” she notes. “Given the climate in this country, it’s important to note that families and locally born businesses can strive for success and be leaders in their markets. We’re an example of that because we are an industry leader in San Antonio.”
1417 Burgundy Way
Whitestone’s latest project is 1417 Burgundy Way, a brand-new, fully furnished model home. With four bedrooms and four bathrooms, the two-story model home acts as a sale center.
“It’s exemplary of the quality of the construction that we have provided our customers with over the course of our history,” Sachse says. “It also showcases our unique ingenuity and design. We pride ourselves on thinking outside of the box and coming up with plans and homes that not only fit a need, but also a certain level of desirability and practical luxury.”
The home also features a three-car garage, large recreational and family rooms, an in-kitchen eating area, formal dining room, study, and three fireplaces. Additionally, one of the bathrooms boasts a pool bath that leads to a large patio and sundeck at the back of the property.
1417 Burgundy Way is located in the Hill Country market outside of New Braunfels. This is an up-and-coming area, Sachse notes, as both land sales and ready-to-rent homes are on the rise in the area. “It’s an excellent location to advertise our ‘Build On Your Lot’ program,” she says. “All of our model home locations are within communities that you can not only build on lots that we own, but we can also build on a customer’s lot.”
Sachse adds that Whitestone sees high demand from customers who want the company to build on their own lots. “As I said, land sales are on the rise,” she says. “So people are purchasing land and coming to us because they want to build their dream home.”
Whitestone finished construction of 1417 Burgundy Way in early February. With a large and loyal subcontractor base, the company likes to work with trade partners who live close to the homes it builds. “We find that if you can provide consistent work, they will be loyal,” Sachse says. “So they not only count on us for regular work, but we can also count on them to be available.”
She adds that Whitestone is “very fortunate” to have great relationships with its trade partners, some of which the company has worked with for many years, which also helps maintain quality control. “We pay fair, and they know we are a company they can trust because we handle ourselves professionally,” she says.
As Whitestone looks ahead, the company is focused on growth and the future. “We’re active in three communities right now, but by the end of the year we’ll be active in five,” Sachse says. “We’re already underway for our next two projects and then we’re looking to Austin. With all of our projects, we aim to exceed all customers’ expectations by providing practical luxury and all the right space in the right place.”