De Young Properties
De Young Properties is developing the first zero-energy community in central California.
By Tim O’Connor, Senior Editor, Knighthouse Media
As the homes begin to sprout up in De Young Properties’ newest development in Clovis, Calif., the feature that will surely stand out are the solar panels that will adorn every roof. However, De Young Properties’ green efforts run much deeper. EnVision will be a zero-energy community, a process that begins not with energy production, but energy savings.
“Ninety percent of our time in developing a community such as EnVision is spent designing the energy efficiency of the home first,” Executive Vice President Brandon De Young says. The 36 homes in EnVision will include De Young EnergySmart™ features designed to maximize efficiency and reduce energy waste. The addition of solar panels into the design only came after De Young Properties significantly reduced consumption and determined the likely energy need for the homes.
More than 10 homes are already under construction on the site and the first houses are expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year. “EnVision will not only be central California’s first zero-energy community but it will also be the largest of its kind built in the entire state of California,” De Young says. “We’re proud to lead the charge on that.”
Building EnVision is the culmination of a decade’s worth of work in deploying energy efficient features such as smart lights, which can turn off when no one is in the room. “If you don’t care to spend the time on [research and development] you might get yourself into a pickle here and there,” De Young notes.
Despite the long journey, De Young knew it was the direction the company needed to head because hot central California summers – which can reach temperatures as high as 110 F – can lead to massive energy bills. Reducing those costs would create a huge advantage in luring prospective buyers. “It really is an important feature for our homes because of how high energy bills can be and how uncomfortable people can be in their homes,” De Young explains.
But before De Young Properties could make the leap into developing a complete zero-energy community, it had to identify the right products and systems that also fit the company’s decades-long drive toward progress and delivering value. “We find it important for us to continue to progress to provide the best home possible for our buyers,” De Young says.
That idea of progress is something that has stuck with the De Young family since it got into homebuilding. De Young, his sister, Ashley, and their older brother, Ryan, represent the third generation of their family’s involvement in the homebuilding industry. Their grandfather, John Bonadelle, started building homes in central California after World War II and completed more than 14,000 projects during his career. His daughter, Paula, and son-in-law Jerry De Young continued the tradition when they founded De Young Properties in 1974.
Since then, De Young Properties has built more than 7,000 homes in the region. The company will close on nearly 130 homes this year alone. “We’ve definitely been increasing pretty significantly year-over-year,” De Young says.
The company primarily builds in the Fresno, Calif., area – its recent projects have been in the neighboring city of Clovis – and it tries to stay within an hour’s drive of its headquarters. The vast majority of its projects are production homes, although it has done some custom work.
In addition to its production homes, De Young Properties has built 11 homes for the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway program, which supports research into ending childhood cancer. Through its participation, the company has raised over $10 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and it is now working on its 12th Dream Home. “It’s been a really rewarding journey on this project and the St. Jude team has been amazing to work with,” De Young says.
Although it is a major builder in central California, the company still operates as a family business. “Our family of five make up nearly the entire executive management team,” De Young says. “When you’re that close with your management team you can be a bit more candid. I feel like we can get things done easier. You don’t have to tiptoe around the bureaucracy you might have in other organizations.”
The siblings began entering the business about a decade ago after they each graduated college. Over time, they’ve taken on increasing responsibility and are now responsible for the day-to-day operations. “Our parents have started to kind of pull back a little bit,” De Young says. “[They are] taking a little less of a direct role in things.”
In building homes for a mass audience, De Young Properties balances the need to be affordable for the market with its desire to deliver top-notch quality and features. “It’s definitely a premium home,” De Young says. “We’d rather build a better home and charge a little more for it because we know our buyers expect that of us having built quality homes in the Central Valley for over 40 years.”
The quality of a De Young Properties home has helped it stand out in a competitive market. The company chooses products and brands such as General Electric and Kohler that it knows will hold up for the long run, and it enlists subcontractors with a proven track record for meeting its high standards.
Its ability to deliver consistent quality gives De Young Properties the confidence to offer a five-year fit-and-finish limited warranty that is among the best in the industry. “Because we build a quality home, it’s an easy thing to do,” De Young says. “We really stand behind our homes and it’s for that reason that we offer it.
“At the end of the day, it’s our last name that’s on the door of our company,” he continues. “We try to go above and beyond to make sure our customers are buying a home that will stand the test of time.”