Lexington’s Grand Tour of Homes is a highlight of every summer for Lexington homeowners and prospective homeowners in search of inspiration. Hamburg Journal invited a few of the builders behind those homes to share a few thoughts about this year’s upcoming tour and our neighborhood with the Hamburg Journal readers.
Jimmy Nash, Jimmy Nash Homes
Jimmy Nash loves Lexington. He tells us, “Anytime you go on vacation and you look forward to coming home that tells you about your community. I call Lexington the biggest smallest town in America. It’s a community where the more you give the more you get back.”
He’s passionate about Hamburg too. “Hamburg is the best location in Central Kentucky,” he says. “Its location is the number one selling point because it’s close to downtown, close to both I-75 and I-64. Hamburg also has the convenience of shopping and entertainment. And, it has lots of choices of schools of both public and private education.”
He says, “We’ve always supported the Home Builders Association and we try to have a Grand Tour home each year. We have a loyal following each year. We’ve been in business for 23 years and the public enjoys seeing something new. We are always pushing the envelope in offering something unique that customers can take away. What’s nice about the Grand Tour is the multiple locations and various price points so there is something for everybody.”
This year, he says, “We have two homes in the grand tour of homes – both are new model homes that we’ve opened up this year… When we do a model home, each has a different theme. In Patchen Wilkes, it’s a Farm House design. In The Reserve at Greenbrier we have a more traditional design.”
He says, “In Hamburg, we have a 75% market share in homes with a price point above $500,000. There is probably a stereotype that we are expensive because the Grand Tour of Homes we showcase are on the high end, but what will surprise readers is our affordability. In addition, we’ve started doing renovation and remodeling projects. We don’t advertise it, but try to keep it word of mouth.”
Asked about what challenges might face Hamburg, he says they aren’t challenges per se, explaining, “As the community continues to grow, some patience will be involved because we’ll have improvements with roads and schools. There will be new streets and new corridors to construct. The Master Plan might be slow, but it will take place eventually. For example, the new YMCA has been in the planning stages for years and is now becoming a reality as well as the new high school to be built on Winchester Road and the new elementary school off of Polo Club Blvd.”
Nash sits on several local boards, including Cardinal Hill Healthcare System, Andover Country Club, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and he is Chairman of the Kentucky Easter Seal Society. He says, “I grew up around building and construction as both my father and grandfather were both General Contractors.” He describes Jimmy Nash Homes as “a one-stop shop that can handle a new home from A to Z. We can help a customer design a home from start to finish.” He tells us Jimmy Nash Homes “completed the Still Meadow Community, Andover Forest, and we are the exclusive builder at Patchen Wilkes community, and we are the preferred builder at The Reserve at Greenbrier.”
A typical day for Nash begins “at the office at 8 am” and he then work 12-hour days. “On the weekends, I enjoy spending time with my wife and my two sons. One is 12 who likes to golf and the other is 14 who likes to play Lacrosse. I recently returned from Atlanta for a lacrosse tournament. My hobby is playing golf at Andover, where I am a Member, which allows me to network and spend time with friends.”
He adds, “I will say this. Every day is a unique day… It’s really a great journey. When the home is complete and the daily communication comes to a halt… it’s like an odd feeling like when your kids go off to college and aren’t there on a daily basis. We truly develop a bond with our customers.”
JON BYER, Byer Builders
Jon Byer is “a fourth generation builder.” He tells us, “I got a business degree from the University of Kentucky in the early 90s, I have built numerous homes and completed multiple remodeling projects in the Hamburg area including Andover, Tuscany, West Wind, Home Place, Summerfield, for the past 20 years.”
He and wife Michele have been married for 15 years and have two children Jack and Reagan. They attend Southland Christian church and are supporters of the Ronald McDonald House. He tells us, “During the tour we raise funds and awareness for the Ronald McDonald House of the Bluegrass.”
Byer’s approach is hands-on. He says, “I’m an on-site builder who oversees the daily production. I am not a production builder with project managers or supervisors, I provide personal service, and strive for only top quality workmanship, unique creativity, follow through, and ensuring that even small details are effectively handled. We also provide remodeling services, have an in house architect, and a design team.”
Asked to share a unique project memory, he says, “My wife and I are constantly playing pranks on each other which usually consist of one of us hiding somewhere jumping out and scaring the other. Recently, she called me and said she was going to stop by one of my jobs and would be there in a few minutes. Upon hearing what I thought was her vehicle pull up, I ran and hid in a closet. A few seconds later I heard her walk through the door and I jumped out and screamed. But to my surprise it was my client, needless to say she nearly fainted!”
“That is the one thing I love about my career,” he says. Everyday is different and unique. With that being said it always consist of a daily devotion, checking on all jobs for quality control, scheduling, and communicating with my clients and sales team.
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, traveling, fishing, golfing, and waterfowl hunting.”
The Byer model on the tour is located at 1788 Sandhurst Cove (in the Summerfield subdivision just off Winchester road), where he definitely will not be jumping out of any closets.
His advice for tour goers is, “Take your time looking at the details of each home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if you’re looking for a preferred builder it’s a great time to ask the builder specific questions.”
He says, “A home is one of the biggest financial investments people will make. I feel that the Hamburg area provides an added appreciation to homes due to the amenities and its location. With the new schools, YMCA, and responsible growth I feel that Byer Builders will be rooted deeply in the Hamburg area for years to come.”
He’s committed to Lexington, saying, “I’m blessed and proud to call it home. I love our community and have a tremendous amount of respect for preserving our heritage. I look forward to working with and educating our community for years to come on responsible growth while preserving the beauty of this great city!”
JAMES MONROE, James Monroe Homes
James Monroe didn’t buy a house the first time he went on Lexington’s Grand Tour of Homes. He tells us, “My first memory of the Grand Tour was going with my new wife right after we got married to all the houses which we thought we would never be able to afford. It was so much fun to see those expensive houses fully furnished and have the ability to walk through every room. By the end of the tour we did not buy a house but my wife did tell me we could buy a flat screen TV.”
Of this year’s Tour, he says, I am most looking forward to showcasing our fine homes to the public. We are the only builder who will have homes priced from $125,000 to $350,000. This gives us a special opportunity to be the premier small volume builder for many Central Kentuckians.”
“We are one of the few builders who will build on our lots or yours. We also will build one of our plans for you or completely design a new plan to fit your lifestyle. Even our house plans can be completely modified and customized specific to each home owner. We have rarely built the same model house exactly the same for two different customers. Most of the people we talk to on the Grand Tour do not know that about our company.”
“We are a small volume builder who treats every house and customer as if we are building custom. There is nothing we will not change, add, or redesign to make your home custom to your family. We do this regardless of the price point of the home.”
“Lexington is home,” Monroe says, “I was born on Bassett Ave, yes in my parents’ home. I have many memories playing with the neighborhood kids and at Henry Clay’s Home. When Toyota opened in Georgetown we had to move to Scott County because my dad started working there. The only college I ever wanted to go to was University of Kentucky. So after high school I came back to Lexington. I got married here and I have planted my roots here. Lexington is my home, where I am raising my family, and Lexington is where I will be buried if I am so lucky.”
He says, “I think the Hamburg area is one of the greatest places to live in Lexington. This is where I live. We want to continue to build great quality, energy efficient, and low maintenance homes for those who want to raise a family, retire, or enjoy life in the Hamburg Area.”
“I think the biggest asset for the Hamburg Area is the proximity to I-75 and I-64. This allows for easy access around Lexington and to Georgetown, Richmond, Berea, Frankfort, and Mt, Sterling. Hamburg will soon be able to offer everything that the Nicholasville Road and Harrodsburg Road area has to offer plus more. I am really excited to get a new YMCA, High School, and Elementary School in Hamburg. There is great golf in the Hamburg Area.”
There are a few challenges facing the neighborhood though. “The Hamburg area is seeing a shortage of lots,” he says. “There are plenty of lots for smaller homes and two story homes under $300K. These lots are typically 40-50 feet wide. There are plenty of lots for your larger and more distinguished homes which cost above $600,000. These lots are typically 75-100+ feet wide. For a person who wants to build a ranch home or have a home with larger yards but cannot afford the $600,000 and up price point is very limited. We need more 55-65 ft. lots to accommodate this growing need. Growth in this area is going to be very limited due to the LFUCG Urban Service Area Map.”
He adds, “we completely sold out all of our homes in Phase 1 of the Fairways at Andover. We are expecting to close on additional lots in Phase 2 and begin building those new homes. We are also building homes in Kearney Hall and Newtown Springs. Newtown Springs and Kearney Hall both have 50-60+ foot wide lots. These lots cost half as much as those in the Hamburg Area.
James is married to Martha Monroe and they started James Monroe Homes in 2006. In 2009, he says, “we started building all of our homes to Energy Star standards. This really helped improve our quality because we had a third party company inspect our homes and verify their energy efficiency. We continue to use a third party company to inspect several times, rate, and verify the quality and energy efficiency of every home we build.”
His work days starts “with me out the door around 7:15am. I spend most of the morning and early afternoon visiting every job site. I am looking to see what has been done, needs to be scheduled, and meeting with contractors to discuss options for the house. I then spend the afternoon in the office working on emails, bids, proposals, invoices, billings, permits, and other paper work. If I am lucky I am finished by 5-6pm. If not I am working until 9-10pm.” But he is a devout family man too. He says, “For fun I like to be with my family, especially my kids. I work hard so that we can play hard on the weekends. It is very important to me to make weekends family time and that has priority over any work affairs. In the spring and summer time we like to fish, shoot bb guns, camp, canoe, kayak, whitewater raft, trail ride ATV’s, play baseball and tee ball, ride bikes, swim, and do just about anything outside. In the fall and winter we are snowboarding, Cub Scouts, watching all UK Sports, tailgating, and have family movie night. I am an active leader in North East Christian Church Youth Group.
He says, “In 2013 we were named HBAL Builder of the Year, HBAL Green Builder of the Year, and had one of our homes awarded Best Green Build Project of the Year.”
Asked to share a project memory, he admits, “I have a very low tolerance for pain. I was walking through a home that Drew Brester was building who is a good friend of mine. While we were talking and walking I rolled my ankle on a rock in the construction entrance and immediately passed out. When I woke up I had no idea where I was and all the contractors and Drew were leaned over my body looking at me as if to say, ‘is he alive?’ I was so embarrassed. To this day Drew Brester will still call to check on me and make sure I have not passed out again.”
He concludes, “We have participated in the Grand Tour of Homes for the past 5 years. This is a great opportunity to educate the public and our future customers on how we build quality and energy efficient homes. The public gets to see our finished product first hand.”
His advice is simple: “First and foremost go to all the James Monroe Homes first. Then go to as many of the homes as you can. It does not matter if you are in the market to buy today or next year, want decorating ideas, looking for design ideas of your dream home, or just dreaming; go and have fun. This is the best time to meet many builders and get a good idea of what they can build.”
LISA BALL, Ball Homes
Lisa Ball says, “I’ve lived here all my life, and take great pride in being part of such a wonderful community. It is a great opportunity to work together with others who share a desire to create and support great places to live, and to give back to the community. The Tour offers a great chance to meet people who are interested in new home ideas, but who might not otherwise make it out to an open house. It is a wonderful opportunity to show what is new in design, energy efficiency, and comfort and convenience features. Many people don’t realize how much new homes evolve in even a few years in terms of energy savings, livability, and style.”
She says, “This is a wonderful opportunity to get a comprehensive look at what is available in new homes in our area—and with 44 homes in four counties on the tour, it could be overwhelming. Visit the interactive map at hbalexington.com or pick up a planbook at any home on the tour, and use it to target the floor plans, locations and price ranges that are of the most interest.”
She says, “This year we have 14 model homes on the tour, and half of those are brand new models, plus many have new floor plans and new communities. It’s been nice to see how many new options we are bringing to the Tour this year, in addition to the popular model homes in some of our established neighborhoods.”
“Hamburg is such a wonderfully diverse and accessible environment for living, shopping, dining, and entertainment, with so many options,” she says, “There is excellent availability of healthcare of all kinds. There’s tremendous energy and potential for continued growth.”
“Hamburg is [also] relatively new area to Lexington, and attracts a lot of people who are new to the area because of its accessibility and great availability of options. Many who are new to the area might not realize that Ball Homes is a family-owned and operated company building new homes in the area since 1959. In many ways, our business has grown with the families of Lexington, and the city itself. Many of our homebuyers are in their second or third Ball Homes, or are second-generation customers who grew up in one of our homes and then came back to us when it was time to own their own.
Our corporate mission is to provide quality communities for the people of Kentucky. Our new homes and communities in Bryant Oak and Chilesburg are great examples of these, and we feel they combine great contemporary neighborhood design with great home design and quality.
She wants to see Hamburg meet the challenge of “providing additional opportunities for recreation, activities, and entertainment that are kid-focused,” adding, “We’re excited about continued growth in the Bryant Oak Reserve and Chilesburg residential areas.”
Asked to share a project memory, she says, “Most of our funny stories revolve around dealing with wildlife in a new construction environment—skunks, especially! Sometimes we have some unexpected visitors to the job site, and it’s not unheard of for them to hole up in an unfinished house during the quiet of the night. Sometimes we get involved in some unplanned animal rescue adventures!”
In her free time, Ball “enjoys spending time with family, and I am a big UK fan and also a horse enthusiast.”
MIKE KERWIN, Mike Kerwin Homes
Mike Kerwin Homes has been designing and building homes in Lexington for 27 years. He enjoys the Grand Tour for “the opportunity to show the public what our team is capable of producing…and this is the first time in quite a while we had a home to show.”
He encourages tour-goers to “look past the decorating and focus on design and craftsmanship.”
He says, “We haven’t built a spec house in eight years. We are a design and build firm.”
Currently, they “have three homes in the design stage and will be starting one in Blackford and one in Pikeville next month.”
He is staying put, saying, “I have the best job in the world! I am surrounded my intelligent capable people who share a common goal of producing the best built homes in Central Kentucky.”
Lexington is home to their family. “It is where my wife, Laura and I raised our children and where they are now raising theirs. It is a wonderful place to live.”
Take the Tour!
This summer the Home Builders Association of Lexington will be presenting its Grand Tour of Homes. The 2014 tour will feature some 45 new homes—almost twenty percent more than last year—located around the Bluegrass region of Kentucky including Fayette, Scott and Woodford, and Jessamine Counties.
The homes themselves will represent a diverse range of what’s available in these markets for prospective home buyers in various price points.
According to Chip Crawford, the 2014 President of the HBA, this will be the largest of the tours in recent years. This, Crawford believes, “indicates that the market is moving again! Which is great news for builders and consumers who want to purchase for the first time or make a change.”
This year’s set of homes, according to HBA, will cover a cost spectrum ranging from the very accessible $113,900 to the more extravagant $1.3 million.
Along with a diverse price range, The Home Builders Association of Lexington also works to show off some of the diversity in architecture styles available to those in Lexington and its surrounding areas.
That being said, even if you’re not in the market for a million dollar home, it’s always fun to see what’s out there on the real estate market. The tour is self-guided which means participants can select the homes that most interest them and create their own home tour experience to suite their needs—whether it’s practical research or a little wish-fulfillment.
Each year on the list of selected houses, one particular location is designated a “Home of Excellence.” These homes are the product of a collaborative process between professional members of the HBA of Lexington Registered Builder Committee where each party takes a leadership role during the various phases of construction. The first “Home of Excellence” was built back in 2003 to show-off the latest in design, technology and décor.
For 2014, that home is a new construction located in the Clays Crossing community off of Clays Mill Road at 104 Yates Court. This particular home is a four-bedroom clocking in at $825,000.
For those interested, the properties will be open and available for viewing on July 19, 20 and the 26 and 27 from 1 pm to 5 pm and there is no cost to attend the tour. There will also be representatives at each of the homes to answer various questions and explain their projects more in depth for those that are curious.