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Local builder crafts area’s high-end homes

Dan Sherman

They say a man’s home is his castle, and a Reno builder is happy to provide those castles for a princely sum of $500,000 to more than $2 million each.

Established in 1996, HomeCrafters specializes in custom, one-of-a-kind homes for northern Nevada’s elite.

Business is booming, to the tune of $13 million in sales volume for 2002.

For the owner of the company,Troy Means, homebuilding runs in the family.

His father, Alan, developed Caughlin Ranch, his grandfather, Jack, is a structural engineer, and his late great-grandfather, Perry, was an architect.

HomeCrafters is a labor of love for Means which happens to be immensely successful.

“I worked a long time in the subdivision industry,” said Means.

“I always had a desire to do my own thing, and also to build high-end homes.

HomeCrafters is the result.”

Means’ company is divided into two groups.

The first is a custom home building operation, and the second is a semicustom home division, managed by his brother Travis, which builds homes in subdivisions offering a variety of floor plans.

An example is their sold-out PineHaven, an award-winning development which consisted of 54 high-end homes in southwest Reno’s Caughlin Ranch.

Each home offered 10 different floor plans.

“My father had a piece of land to sell to a builder, and we decided to do a joint venture on that property,” said Means.

“The houses cost from $425,000 to $800,000.Our clients were split about 30 percent locals and 70 percent transplants.”

Of those transplants, Means estimates that many came from California.

“I would say 50 percent came from Northern California,” said Means.

“About half of that group moved here for a job with one of the big tech firms like Microsoft, Intuit, or Cisco.

The other half are retirees.”

Reno appeals to retirees for several reasons, said Means.

“Lots of these people want to be close to the Bay area, but they also want to escape it because of such lifestyle issues as traffic and high taxes.”

Next up for HomeCrafters is a project in Somersett, a major northwest Reno development.

“We purchased 19 lots and we’re going to build a version of the PineHaven homes priced from the low $600,000s to $750,000,” said Means.

“We’ll offer six or seven different options of homes.”

Marketing the homes is the least of his worries, according to Means.

“The developer has an advertising campaign in place and he advertises on our behalf,” said Means.

“But most will sell by word of mouth.

Right now we have several lots tied up and also a waiting list.”

Attention to detail and personal service has worked well for HomeCrafters in building their affluent clientele.

“I personally meet with each client to help them customize their home,” said Means.

“I’m their contact on the job, along with our field supervisor.

And we take our time putting up these high-end homes, anywhere from 10 months to sometimes a year and a half on each.

Any more than that would diminish our ability to build the quality house we’re known for.”

Of course, putting up large homes requires lots of folks hammering nails and putting in fixtures, and Means has run into a scarcity of laborers.

“We’re creating a lot of local jobs, and to meet demand we’ve had to pull in workers from Salt Lake City,” said Means.

“We used to pull in people from Sacramento, but their housing market has heated up and that source dried up for us.”

Means predicts steady demand for new housing, since he does not anticipate the California migration to slow.

The only issue he sees relates to topography “The immediate Reno areas are built out, so we’ll see growth in the north valleys and Carson City, and also in Fernley where land prices have not risen as dramatically as here in town.” On the horizon for Means is another large crop of houses he plans to build in the southwest Reno area.

“We just signed a deal for 70 acres where we plan to put up 60 homes, most likely in the high $500,000s to the low $600,000s,” said Means.

“Those will be available in 2005.”

To supplement their home-building business, Means team of 10 full-time employees oversee light commercial building and high-end remodeling jobs.

“A lot of people have nice homes built in the 70s and 80s in older neighborhoods which need a modern look,” said Means.

“We go in and often strip them to the walls to give the owners new interiors.”

And although it hasn’t been requested yet, it’s likely that Means could even provide aspiring royalty with a moat.