Windsong Contracting LLC
In Williston, North Dakota, Windsong Contracting LLC has been building single-family homes the “Windsong Way” since Mike Dolbec launched the general contracting group. The Windsong Way means working with Windsong’s talented team to customize a plan for an affordable home that reflects the owners’ style and personality in every corner.
“We’re a builder who offers innovative solutions of unbeatable quality and value,” says Dolbec, president of Windsong. The surge of the energy boom in North Dakota has meant serious demand for housing and with rentals through the roof and overpriced modular homes, more residents are looking to build and turning to Windsong for an affordable custom stick built single-family solution.
“We’re one of the largest single-family homebuilders in Williams County,” details Dolbec. “We currently have two large developments; 111 homes in one and 80 homes in the other with an additional 60 single-family homes currently under construction,” says Dolbec. “We offer custom home building but most of our homes are part of a selection of seven to eight different model packages that we modify slightly to suit each customer’s needs.”
Building a positive experience
Despite the large volume the company completes every year, it’s always quality over quantity for Dolbec and his team. Windsong believes the homebuilding experience should be exciting, fun and most of all a positive experience.
The Windsong Way starts by selecting the plan that’s right for the buyer. “Our customers start by choosing an initial home design to work from,” explains Dolbec. “We offer many floor plans so you can choose based on size, style, geography and lot size. We also have two full-time draftsmen on-site who can craft custom plans.”
In an area with so many first-time buyers looking for an affordable approach, Windsong helps customer build and own a new home for far less than the average rents in the Williston area. “The demand for affordable housing is through the roof in Williston because of the energy boom,” explains Dolbec. “In our area, affordable housing is a loaded phrase because on average, the mean income is higher and it’s another reason rents are so high.”
Windsong also offers many of the custom stick built models at lower prices than most modular homes in the area. “We want our customers to be repeat customers, not disappointed with overpaying for a home that will depreciate after time,” says Dolbec.
Windsong has been working to land customers Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, but has faced some challenges in keeping prices low. “In Williams County, the developer is required to put in 100 percent of the infrastructure,” says Dolbec. “It’s not like in other regions where the city puts in roads and the water company puts in water lines. Here we have to put everything in up front which means we’ve got an additional $35,000 or more built into each lot before construction even begins and that puts a pinch on the price. We have solved this by obtaining some lower priced lots and can now accommodate this for our buyers.”
Certain regulations, such as a recent Fire Sprinkler bill, also add to homebuilding costs. “If you throw in another $5,000 for a fire sprinkler system that just takes the chance of qualifying for an FHA loan out of the equation,” explains Dolbec.
Fortunately, as an active member of the North Dakota Association of Builders (NDAB) and the local Williston Area Builders Association, Windsong has organizations vying for its best interest on the legislative front. Both the NDAB and the Williston Area Builders Association lobby against unnecessary rules and regulations that hinder homebuilding.
“Networking is a huge benefit of the NDAB, but the association also provides legislative action for the health of the home building industry,” says Dolbec. “Another major benefit is just the credibility we gain by being a member. There are a lot of guys that come and go up here for the amount of work, but the members of the NDAB are here to stay and are serious about doing good business; I think end-users see that.”
Cross-platform cloud integration
With a team of just 10 employees, including five project managers, Windsong manages to turn over affordable homes on a fast-tracked timeline by being as efficient as possible. Dolbec’s background is in manufacturing and he still runs some operations overseas as an expert on processes and procedures in production efficiency. He says the same rules apply to the homebuilding industry.
“We utilize cloud-based software called Builder TREND,” he says. “This unique program allows Windsong’s project managers to run 90-day contracts on a 75-day building window – scheduling everything online and notifying subcontractors and material suppliers across projects with the click of a button.”
Dolbec discovered the breakthrough program at the 2013 Homebuilder’s Show in Las Vegas. “I was amazed to see how it could track all aspects of construction and integrate with everything from design and drafting to QuickBooks,” he says. “This program really keeps everyone in the loop from our project managers to our plumbers and trim subcontractors. Our project managers and subcontractors can access any information they need in the field from their phones or tablets, allowing them to perform quality inspections, take orders and take pictures to update customers on daily project progress.”
Even in the fairly remote area that is Williston, Dolbec says staying abreast with technology is important. “We really focus on new building products and technologies to make things more efficient on the job and then return that savings onto our buyers,” he says.
After a strong 2014, Dolbec says there’s no slowing for Windsong in the next few years. “We have almost doubled our volume this year and I’ve been approached by six different developers looking for a builder,” he notes.
With the demand for affordable single-family homes still hot, Windsong Contracting is making its mark as the go-to builder for exceptional value and efficient timelines.
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