Bello Custom Homes streamlines its building process to pass savings onto its clients.
DAN HAMBRICK AND JASON HANSEN understand the magnitude of building a dream home and how that can affect homebuyers engaging in the process for the first time. Budgets always shift, every detail can be overwhelming and there is often little wiggle room for compromise in options.
That’s why the founders and managing partners of Bello Custom Homes makes sure their Denver-based custom homebuilding firm pays close attention to details that can lead to savings for clients in the long run. Hambrick admits his clients often are pleasantly surprised by the amount of luxury his homes present despite the prices.
“We have figured out a way to get a very high-end look for a reasonable price so we can pass that cost
savings to the client,” Hambrick says. “People are blown away by our finishes for the price we’re selling the home. If we’re selling the home for $1.1 million, we’ll see the same type of house somewhere else for $1.5 million.”
Bello Custom Homes was launched as Bello Construction in March 2006. The fledgling company performed
smaller construction jobs like remodeling work before graduating to fix-and-flip projects in the Denver market.
Eventually, Bello moved into pop-top construction and additions before moving into new construction about three years ago.
“Three years ago, the market changed here [in Denver],” Hambrick says. “As fast as you could build a house, it could sell.”
Hambrick is no stranger to the pace of a rapidly changing economic climate considering the career path he has taken. He has a background in finance, having worked on Wall Street for years before the collapse of the global economy. When the Great Recession took hold, he
moved from New York City to Colorado to work in the mortgage industry. At the apex of the financial
crisis, Hambrick’s mortgage company moved into short sales.
Bello Custom Homes was borne from the short-sale firm Hambrick founded with Jason Hansen, who remains a managing partner with Hambrick today.
“I’m more of the finance guy, so I find the money and finance the homes,” Hambrick says. “He’s the field guy, so he’s managing the projects from the field.”
In the last year or so, Bello Custom Homes has had about 10 clients approach the company with architectural
plans for their homes in hand but no idea of a budget. Once construction of the home is planned out, however,
these homes wind up well outof their financial reach.
In response to this trend, Bello Custom Homes is moving toward a design/build model to offer clients a one-stop shop for their custom homes. Hambrick says the company has hired an in-house architect that can sit down with clients from the start of the custom homebuilding process to design a home that works within their budget.
“This way, they’re not spending $20,000 on plans that no builder could build,” Hambrick says. “An architect wants a job – he designs with no budget in mind. We’re filling that void because there’s a void in the market right now.”
Bello Custom Homes’ latest innovation is saving time, money and waste on each of the company’s jobs. Bello recently began using Ready-Frame, a framing system where an entire house worth’s of lumber is precision cut to specs in a factory with lasers and saws. The lumber is delivered to the job site in bundles numbered according a design loaded into proprietary software. Framers refer to the design to piece the lumber together like a puzzle.
According to Hambrick, this is a much better alternative to traditional framing. The price of the lumber and labor is the same, but projects are framed in 10 days instead of three weeks. That much time can cut down on mortgage interest for the homeowners.
Ready-Made also reduces waste. Bello Custom Homes used to fill an entire dumpster of wasted lumber at every job site. Wasted lumber now fills up a normal-sized trash can. With no on-site cutting of lumber, job sites are much safer and environmentally friendly, as well.
“We’re not throwing pieces of lumber off the roof anymore, so the jobs are safer,” Hambrick says.
Bello Custom Homes has landed a project that has the potential to catapult the company toward the top of the custom homebuilding industry in Denver. The company is one of five builders chosen to deliver homes for the Boulevard One development in Denver’s Lowery neighborhood, beating out about 55 competitors and holding its own among some of the oldest and most recognized homebuilders in the area.
“We’re the smaller company that was chosen, and the reason for that was our high quality and reputation,” Hambrick says. “It’s a very big thing.”
Bello Custom Homes is part of the test program for the development, and the company and its fellow builders have broken ground on the first houses in the neighborhood already. Homeowners expect to take passion of Bello Custom Homes’ first lot at the end of the 2015, and the next two lots will be delivered in the second quarter of 2016.
“Everything we’ve done up to this date is infill situations, where we get ourselves into a desirable area of Denver, bulldoze a house and start over,” Hambrick says. “This is unique to us because we’re up against four other builders bigger than us, and we also have to follow Boulevard One design standards. It’s a more structured type of project than normal.”
The specs for Boulevard One homes call for a more modern feel in the homes’ aesthetics and operations. For example, homes must meet the Home Energy Rating System Index of 40 or better without the use of solar. This rating is the industry standard by which a home's energy efficiency is measured. It’s also the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home's energy performance.
For the design of the homes, Bello Custom Homes is installing a number of contemporary features, including cureless showers, recessed flooring and floating staircases.