Doug Lasher Construction
After a quarter-century of building high-end homes, Doug Lasher still enjoys what he does.
By Mark Lawton, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Doug Lasher grew up working in the construction business his father started in the last 1970s. “I went to Boise State University,” Lasher says. “When I got done, I went right back to building homes and doing construction again.” In the early 1990s, he started taking on his own construction projects and in 1994 incorporated as Doug Lasher Construction. The business evolved into its current niche.
“In the early 2000s, I built in flat subdivisions,” Lasher says. “I had five house plans and built the same houses over and over. Now, every house I do is unique.” Like with other builders, work fell off during the Great Recession. “We built fewer houses for sure,” Lasher says. “I pretty much started remodeling and just remodeled a lot of stuff over the next two years. That’s what I survived on.”
Today Lasher designs and builds upscale homes in Boise, Idaho and the surrounding counties, in what is called the Treasure Valley. The homes range in price from $800,000 to $1.2 million with 90 percent being custom. “The projects we do, I start them from the ground up,” Lasher says. “We do a lot of hillside stuff so we create a lot of unique designs to fit the property.”
“[Doug] has the unique ability to walk the slope, a hillside lot, and consider the best way to build it,” says April Florczykk, a realtor and marketing director for Doug Lasher Construction. “And he connects very well to customers because most customers can’t articulate what they want or like.”
Over his quarter-century of construction, Lasher has seen design trends come and go. “I try to design in every house a separate game room or relaxing room, an extra room to get away or for the kids to get away,” Lasher says. “I do very few dining rooms. I do big bars and big [kitchen] islands. Customers all want this big island and no dining.” “Many don’t want a tub in the master bathroom,” Florczyk adds. “And they want big garages, 1,000 to 1,200 square feet, the equivalent of a five-car garage.”
Although a lot of the building materials his firm uses are environmentally benign, Lasher says he doesn’t get much demand for green houses. “It’s more expensive,” he explains. “Though we do get requests for certain items. Customers like green carpet.”
Smart house technology is another story. “There are so many new products coming out that we have to stay familiar with,” Lasher says. Those products allow homeowners to operate devices with their smartphone while not at home. Thermostats, garage door openers, lights, and newer model ovens are among the items that can be operated remotely.
On Site Communications
While it sounds almost old-fashioned, Lasher does a lot of his communication face-to-face with clients at the building sites. “Custom building can be overwhelming to buyers,” Florczyk notes. “We try not to overwhelm buyers with too many decisions up front.” A major part of communication is dealing with client changes. “You have to have everything in writing,” Lasher says. “I’m probably way too accommodating. If it’s doable I will look into it. If its already installed, there will be a cost involved.”
In the long term, Lasher says his biggest challenge is finding skilled trades-people. “People aren’t learning trades anymore,” Lasher says. “They are all 45 to 50-year-old people who will eventually be gone.” This issue is particularly acute because “our market has experienced massive growth,” Florczyk notes. “We just can’t keep up on an inventory level with so many people moving in the area from out of state. This past year has been the most difficult.”
Your Own Niche
“A lot of our work is referrals,” Florczyk says. “We will build for a customer multiple times. They will tell a friend to call us.” “I enjoy what I do,” Lasher says. “I think you need to have your own little niche and market that, then I think you’ll stay busy and successful.” Asked if back in 1994 he expected Doug Lasher Construction to last 25 years, Lasher laughs.
“I was hoping,” he says. “I grew up in the family business since I was in grade school.” Lasher is hoping his 27-year-old son will eventually take over Doug Lasher Construction. “He has a master’s degree in construction from Boise State,” Lasher says. “He’s very good at it.”
2804 Hard Rock Drive
Lasher is particularly proud of a house he recently built in East Boise. “It’s very linear,” Lasher says. “It fits at the end of a cul-de-sac. It’s very dramatic from the front and rear. It’s a very modern design that fits in with the hillside. It’s totally different from every house up there.” “The clients were working with another builder and were way over budget when they came to us,” Florczyk says. “[Lasher] was able to make some suggestion on the design and still build within a budget that was comfortable for the clients.”