Case Studies

Pratt Home Builders: Traditional Homes, Traditional Neighborhoods.

  • Written by: Pratt Home Builders: Traditional Homes, Traditional Neighborhoods.
  • Produced by: Pratt Home Builders: Traditional Homes, Traditional Neighborhoods.
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Pratt Home Builders (Pratt Homes) has been in the business of designing and building classically styled houses for 14 years. Founded in 1998 by James Pratt Jr. and his son, Win, Pratt Homes serves the Chattanooga, Tenn., metropolitan and outlying areas.

“Win started with his dad as a builder,” says Tina Frizzell, vice president of Pratt Homes. “Now he is the CEO of the company. Actually, he has a biology degree from the University of Tennessee and was on the path to becoming a physician, but his passion is building houses.” Frizzell says that everyone in the company shares Win’s passion.

The company has clearly established an outstanding reputation for quality, fairness and delivery; Pratt Homes holds several honors for building excellence. “In 2011 and again in 2012 we were named one of the top 200 builders in the country by Builder Magazine,” Frizzell beams. Additionally, the company is a member of the National Association of Home Builders prestigious Builders 20 Club.

The Pratt Home’s team consists of 37 people – including sales – and the team builds 100 to 120 homes every year. The team at Pratt Homes recognizes the importance of being a good fit with customers, so the company focuses on forming good working relationships up front with buyers who share the same building philosophy, even though this means passing up some opportunities.

Good Neighbors

But the team aims to please each and every customer, while never compromising transparency. To help potential clients choose a proper builder and also make good decisions about building a home, Pratt Homes hosts new home construction workshops. The company’s workshops are three hours long and very educational for first-time builders.

“An educated buyer is our best customer,” Frizzell explains. “We offer tips on how to check references, how to pick out a good lot. We explain how construction is financed. It’s important to know what you want in a good builder and find that. Sometimes it’s us. Sometimes it’s not. Our workshops are in no way self-promoting.”

As for the competition, Frizzell says, “It’s a pretty even playing field here, which is great. A standard of fairness is good for the whole industry.”

One of Pratt Home’s most interesting projects to date is fully planned neighborhood: Reunion. Win, in conjunction with a local developer, designed the residential area with modern living in mind, but with a touch of nostalgia. “It looks like a movie set,” says Frizzell. The houses are built in traditional styling, reminiscent of popular residential architecture of the 1920s and 1930s. The neighborhood is Pratt Home’s second such traditional-style neighborhood and employs sidewalks, vintage-style streetlamps and a small park.

Part of Pratt Homes system of traditional business values is a commitment to community. “Every year we raise approximately $70,000 for the American Cancer Society,” Frizzell says proudly. Pratt Homes’ yearly donation is possible through corporate contributions and fund-raising events put on by the company, such as a recent wine event held in one of Pratt Homes’ model homes.

The team at Pratt Homes also participates in the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway every year. In 2011 the organization named the company Builder of the Year after Pratt Homes raised $1.2 million to fight a life-threatening childhood disease. Through Pratt Homes’ fund-raising efforts, the house was donated entirely at no cost to St. Jude. This is the fourth year in a row that Pratt Homes has built the St. Jude dream home for the Chattanooga area.

Proper Planning

The largest expenses for the residential contractor are land, labor and materials. All general contracting is subbed out. “We don’t have anybody on staff that swings a hammer,” Frizzell explains. Pratt Homes maintains a regular set of suppliers and subcontractors. “We don’t bid things out,” says Frizzell.

All expenses are agreed upon ahead of time so the company never has to haggle. “Win’s philosophy is, if everything is black and white it’s better for the customer, better for our subs, better for our vendors and better for our employees,” Frizzell spells out. “Everyone knows exactly what is happening, and the whole process runs smoothly.”

Contracts are rolling in abundantly for Pratt Homes, and Frizzell says, “We have as much business as we can handle right now.” But the company did face some bumps during the recession, especially with the market downturn in 2009. “The building fall followed the development fall,” Frizzell explains. “Builders here are doing really well and we’re growing, but we’re running out of building sites.”

After the downturn, developers had a lot of stocked up land that they then couldn’t sell. To keep themselves afloat, these developers dumped the land they had at lower rates, and local builders snatched up the inexpensive lots quickly.

Win Pratt’s leadership is the heart and soul of the company, and Frizzell expresses a respect that the whole staff at Pratt Homes shares. “I’ve never been more impressed with a person,” she says. “He’s an eternal student; always reading, always learning and doing research.”

Win’s team is recognized nationally as a leader in building, development and community partnership. The full-service builder is progressive, technologically advanced and continuously strives to stay ahead of the curve in new innovations in the industry.

The Pratt Homes team upholds a philosophy of tradition and believes that a satisfied customer is the ultimate product. Pratt Home Builders sets standards high, choosing to exceed customer expectations from the very beginning through integrity, honesty and reliability.

Published on: March 15, 2013

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