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The 2023 Best Builders in Dallas

Plus, the custom homebuilding process can be an emotional roller-coaster ride. Here’s a breakdown (to save you from having one).
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Lance Trachier

The tricky thing about dream homes is that our fantasies can build them in a flash. But constructing tangible domiciles can take a while—a year, or maybe double that. “It is against our culture, where we want instant gratification,” says Sheri Barringer, co-owner of Barringer Custom Homes. “Building a home takes time, but it’s worth the wait.” 

Add a hefty financial investment onto the laborious process, and the emotional journey can feel like a roller coaster. But just like with any ride, you’ll feel less unhinged when you know what to expect. Here’s a look at a typical custom build process—and the emotional ups and downs you can expect to accompany each stage.

1.


Milestone:

Groundbreaking


Emotion:

Elation


Strap in, folks, and do your best to make this an enjoyable experience. “We do a formal groundbreaking, where they bring their kids out and we get them all hard hats and a shovel,” says John Sebastian, CEO of Sebastian Construction Group. “We work hard to involve clients, to keep the energy up and keep them excited.”

2.


Milestone: 

Pulling a building permit


Emotion: 

Frustration


In the Before Times, permitting took a few days. But during the pandemic, city permit centers were so burdened, residential projects could stall for six months, waiting for approval. “That’s out of everyone’s control,” reminds Sheri Barringer, who notes that pestering the permit office is a big no-no. The timing on permits in the first quarter of 2023: about eight to 10 weeks in University Park and two to three in Dallas.


Take Deep Breaths and Remember This

There’s a reason that “quick” and “custom” don’t go hand in hand. “The houses we do, they’re not cookie-cutter,” John Sebastian says. “There’s nothing repeated from another project; it’s not a cut-and-paste situation. I wish I could think this is like manufacturing bricks or something in a production line, but this particular, exact house has never been built before, so it’s gonna have some variables.” And in your most frustrated moments, remember that rarely will a builder purposefully drag their feet. “We have no incentive on our end to make the house go any slower than it should,” Michael Munir says. “All of us bill on progress, so if there’s not progress being made, we’re not making money.”


3.


Milestone: 

Earthwork and foundation


Emotion: 

Anxiety


The foundation stage moves at a steady clip if the earth is dry, but progress is at the mercy of Mother Nature, and projects with basements can be especially troublesome after a storm. “The land has to dry out, so we’ve had foundations that would usually take six or seven weeks that took four or five months,” says Michael Munir, president and COO of Sharif & Munir Custom Homes. To stay sane, he suggests working ahead of your builder on design selections such as tile. “Use that time productively instead of being frustrated about what you see on site.”

4.


Milestone:

Framing 


Emotion: 

Delusions of grandeur


Perhaps the speediest part of building is erecting the framework, or skeleton of the home. “It goes vertical quick,” says Blake Byrd, president of Knox Built Construction. “There’s a lot of joking, ‘Oh, this is going so fast, there’s no way it’s gonna take 16 months—we’ll be in this house in 10 months!’ ” Byrd says. “Well, that’s not exactly how it works.”

5.


Milestone: 

Rough-in 


Emotion: 

Disappointment 


The rough-in, or mechanical stage, involves the home’s all-important guts: ductwork, pipes, electric wires. “If you’re coming by regularly, you don’t really see any change to the structure of the home, so it feels slow,” Byrd says. But builders warn against rushing this phase. “When people talk about the quality of building—that’s what’s going in behind the walls,” Barringer says. “It’s really important to have the right quality controls in place during this time, because it matters.”

6.


Milestone: 

Wall close-up  


Emotion: 

Exhilaration


Insulation and sheetrock go up in a matter of days, giving the project another burst of momentum. “Sheetrock flies up, and that really defines the rooms,” says Byrd. “It actually makes the house feel bigger.”

7.


Milestone: 

Fixtures and finishes


Emotion: 

Delight


Many of your selections—cabinets, floors, tile, windows, and exterior elements—start to go in, and while it doesn’t necessarily move fast, you’ll see progress on new components with each site visit. “It starts to feel like the home is coming alive,” Byrd says.

8.


Milestone: 

Paint


Emotion: 

Restlessness


Don’t expect painters to waltz in with rollers and slap on a coat of latex in high-quality homes. “The prep work for a high-quality home can take every bit of six to eight weeks,” Byrd says. “They’re coming in with auto body Bondo and touching up every corner at the base, all the door and window casings, bonding everything so you don’t see the seams.” The meticulous prep for museum-quality walls can feel like a drag. As Barringer puts it: “It’s just sanding, bonding, priming. Repeat, repeat, repeat.” 

9.


Milestone: 

Trim out and punch out


Emotion: 

Impatience


While you’ll get some jolts of joy as appliances and countertops are installed, you’ll have to exercise more patience than ever during this final sprint. “It looks done, but it’s not done,” says Sebastian of the home’s final phase. “I always encourage a client: Let us fully punch it out before you start bringing in your artwork and furniture, because those things make it more difficult. That final fine-tuning—lighting adjustments, tweaking hardware to make sure everything closes properly—it could take a couple of months on some of these big projects. It’s like death by a thousand cuts.”

10.


Milestone:

Completion! 


Emotion:

Blissful relief


It’s finally done! (But now you have to move.)


Well Built:

The 153 Best Builders in Dallas 2023

Ackley Custom Homes

Alair Homes

Alexander Hunt Distinct Homes

Alford Homes

Allgood/Pfannenstiel

Atrium Fine Homes

Attaway Homes

Austin Neuhoff Homes

Austin Taylor Group

Avida Custom Homes

Axiom Builders

Bailey Family Builders, Inc.

Barcus Construction Management, LLC

Barnett West Custom Homes

Barringer Custom Homes

Barrow Builders Group

Bauhaus Modern Homes

Bean Co Homes

Beechwood Custom Homes

Bella Custom Homes

Biggerstaff Construction

Bob Bobbitt Company Inc

Bob Thompson Homes

Braswell Homes

Brian Michael Distinctive Homes

Buford Hawthorne Builders, LP

Calais Custom Homes

Caprock Custom Homes

Charles A. Barnett III, Inc.

CJB HOMES

Classic Urban Homes

Cleve Adamson Custom Homes

Coats Homes

CREATE

Crescent Estates Custom Homes

Cresswell Custom Builders

Crow Bar Constructors Inc. 

Custom Homes of Texas

Danes Custom Homes

Dave R. Williams Homes

David Leite Custom Homes

David Lewis Builder

Deering Construction

Desco Fine Homes

Dettaglio LLC

Double Door Custom Homes Inc

Edinburgh Custom Homes

Ellen Grasso & Sons Custom Homes

Ellerman Homes

Endurance Homes

Faulkner Perrin Custom Homes

Ferrier Custom Homes

Gardner Custom Homes

Garvey Homes

George Davis & Associates

George Lewis Custom Homes

Goff Custom Homes

Greenwell Homes

Hardy Construction

Hartman Construction, Inc. 

Hawkins-Welwood Homes

Hayes Signature Homes

Haynsworth Custom Homes

Heritage Blue Homes

Herman Darden LLC

Hoffmann Homes

Holmes Builders

Hudson Construction

Isler Homes

J.D. Smith Custom Homes

Jarrett Construction

Jim Johnson Group

Jim Scott and Sons Builders

JLD Custom Homes

Joe Kain Homes Inc.

John Young Construction Co.

Joseph Paul Homes

Key Residential

Kienast Homes

Knox Built Construction

LRO Residential

Luxury Homes Designed and Built by Tony McClung

Malone Custom Builders

Marable Homes

Mark Clifton Homes

Matie Custom Homes

Matt and Paul Home Design and Construction

McCowen-Sainton Homes

McKinley Built Homes

MegaCo Construction

Michael S. WilsonCustom Homes

Milan Custom Build

Millennial Design + Build LLC

Mishler Builders

Montgomery Custom Homes

More Design + Build

Mosaic Building Co.

New Leaf Custom Homes

Nixon Custom Homes

Patten Custom Homes

Pencil Point Construction

Phillip Jennings Custom Homes

Platinum Homes by Mark Molthan

Prospect Custom Homes LLC

Provenance Builders

R.A. Millennium Properties

Randy Clowdus Construction

Range Builds*

Reside Builders

RGD+B

Richard Dietrichson Fine Homes

Richard Miller Custom Homes

Richland Builds

Rick Shipley Custom Homes

RJA Construction

Robert Clark and Associates

Robert Elliott Custom Homes

Robert Hopson Construction Group LLC

Ron Davis Custom Homes

Rosewood Custom Builders

S&H Design Development, LLC

S&R Development

SCH Homes

Sebastian Construction Group

Shaddock Custom

Shaddock Homes

Sharif & Munir Custom Homes, Inc. 

Sleepy Hollow Homes

Snelling Homes

Southgate Homes

Stark Homes, LLC

Starr Construction

Starside Custom Builders

Sterling Brook Custom Homes

Steven Hild Custom Builder

Susan Newell Homes

Sustainable Structures of Texas

Tanner Homes

Tatum Brown Custom Homes

Tekton Built

The Hill Group

Thomas Development + Construction

Thomas Signature Homes

Tim Jackson Custom Homes

Todd James Homes

Tommy Ford Construction

V Fine Homes

Ventura Custom Homes

Victor Myers Custom Homes

Waterside Properties

Wes McKenzie Custom Homes, Inc.

Westchester Custom Homes

Zachary Custom Homes

*A previous version of this story used an outdated name for Range Builds. This has been corrected.

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