Premier Home Builders Inc.
Maintaining a lean organization is the way Craig Authier prefers to operate his real estate development company, Premier Home Builders Inc. With a staff consisting of three people, Authier runs multiple companies performing numerous facets in the building industry in and around western Massachusetts.
Established in 2004, Premier Home Builders is a culmination of Authier’s construction experience, which spans more than 20 years. In 1995, starting when he was 25 years old, Authier entered the industry by getting involved in his father’s real estate company. After realizing he lacked the passion for real estate sales, Authier began purchasing homes to remodel and place on the market. “Eventually I built a couple of houses and landed a 50-unit condominium project in ’97,” he recalls. “I was very new at it at the time but I had a lot of help from my father. I oversaw the construction and he oversaw the building of the roads.” Since then, Authier has built more than 300 condominiums and houses.
Thriving in a tough market
Authier has been able to remain busy in 2016. In January, Premier Home Builders wrapped up a 30-unit condominium project in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Upon completion, the company immediately began an additional 29-unit project in South Hadley as well. “I also have a 10-lot subdivision that just had the roads built,” says Authier. “I’ve taken deposits on seven lots already in the past three weeks with that project. Things are booming right now.”
In a market-driven industry, Authier aims to build at least 12 condominiums and houses per year. In 2015 alone, he built 20 and expects to reach 30 in 2016. “This is shaping up to be the biggest year of my career,” he says. “I’m actually looking to gain backup people in every trade just to be able to handle the volume.”
Authier has established strong working relationships with some of the highest quality subcontractors. This is crucial to his business as Premier Home Builders deals exclusively in the development of condominiums and high-end homes. “I’m not going to sacrifice quality in order to receive a lower price,” says Authier. “I don’t need to do that with the market that I am in.”
A challenge that Authier and all local developers are currently facing in the state of Massachusetts is the fire sprinkler ordinance that was passed in 2015, requiring all new-construction multiunit homes with more than two units to install sprinkler systems. “It’s really affecting the profit margins, which are just dwindling,” Authier explains. “Within a 10-year period, I’ve gone from building condos for $75,000 to now building them for $175,000, plus all the acquisition and development costs.”
Authier says that as a result, it is the builders that are dropping out of the market rather than the buyers. “What’s happening is the land values are dropping,” he shares. “Builders can’t pay what they used to for land because of the back end of what they have to build the units for.” Authier believes that there are other options for fire safety issues, such as fire-rated drywall or alternate plumbing methods that would significantly reduce the cost of sprinkler installation. “Right now, if I’m developing 30 units, it costs about $180,000 for the sprinkler systems alone,” he adds.
Staying the course
The flagship project of Premier Home Builders is a development called Oak Hill Estates in Chicopee. With groundbreaking beginning in 2007, this was the first project that Authier completed as the sole developer and builder, and was also the most difficult as it took place right before the market crashed. Due to the price and quality of the units, Authier was still able to sell out the development in less than three years.
“The market had topped out in 2007 and there was still a need for what I was providing,” Authier explains. “The same types of units in another city were priced at $70,000 more than Oak Hill. It was the scariest project, but ended up being the most profitable development I’ve ever done.”
The driving force behind the success of Premier Home Builders is the vision that Authier maintains for every project. Authier creates his own unique design for every home and condominium before passing it off to an architect to complete the drawings. By providing the right product at the right price, Authier was not only able to survive but thrive during the recession. Authier attributes his success through tough economic times to sticking to his business model and approach to the market. “If you adjust your approach to prepare for failure, then you are going to fail,” he says. “We’ve had a winning approach that we have ridden through good and bad times.”
This approach will carry Premier Home Builders Inc. through what is expected to be its biggest year in 2016. With his successful track record, Authier and his team look forward to setting an example of how high-quality at the right price is a recipe for success.
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