Today’s Builder 2020

Professionally produced 3-minute television segment that aired in 2020

Our own Lisa Pickell talks to Constructech TV

Peggy Smedley sits down with Lisa Pickell, COO, Orren Pickell Building Group, to discuss how the labor force has changed in the last 20 years and what can be done to get more women involved in the construction industry. Pickell also talks about how to keep a family-owned business running in a competitive landscape.

Should we remodel our home or build something new?

Deciding whether to leave where you live and build a custom home or renovate and remodel what you have can be an emotional struggle. On the other hand, if you don’t like where you live, the decision can be easy. “If your home looks great from the street and you love it, that’s a big plus,” says Orren Pickell, the president and chief operating officer of Orren Pickell Building Group. “The tried and true method of achieving your goals and making your house better is not necessarily to move away from it but to renovate or remodel.”

If you do decide to stay put, it’s important to tell your renovation team exactly what you like and what you don’t like. Pickell urges clients to share every pro and con about the house. “Tell them what things bother you, what needs to be fixed, and what your dreams are,” he says.

One way to cover all your bases is to go from room to room. Is the garage right? What about the closets, great room, and kitchen? Asking questions from a livability standpoint will help you—and the team—create a plan that’s cost effective and one that helps you achieve your goals. Sometimes the questions are tough. “If we have to do too much to accommodate the changes,” says Pickell, “the cost of doing so may not be worth it.”

If, however, you love your location and can reinvent your home, it makes sense to keep what you have and make it the best that it can be.

Assembling your homebuilding dream team

Putting together a great team is among the most important aspects of building a luxury home. It’s not, however, as simple as it sounds. With a project of this magnitude it is essential to create a team that 1) combines the right players and 2) is accustomed to working together. The team is almost always led by an architect and builder who work closely with others, including:

  • Landscape architect
  • Interior designer
  • Structural engineer
  • Civil engineer

Plus, says Orren Pickell, the company’s president and chief executive officer, you might need to select a lot in which case a real estate agent will join the team. “It might also be wise to have someone in finance as part of the mix,” he adds.

With top-notch professionals on board, the construction process flows more smoothly, details are attended to, and the overall experience is positive. “When you take the time to assemble the right team, a strong team, you’re making an investment in what may be the biggest expenditure of your life,” says Pickell. “Rather than having one stick that can easily break, you have a bundle of twigs that’s very tough to break.”

A solid team will not only build a beautiful and functional home but can also save you money along the way. Changes are inevitable during the process and while some modifications will increase the cost others can bring the total price tag down. “Everyone is watching for the quality of the project and the price of the project,” says Pickell.

To stay on track and on budget, Pickell maintains a dedicated web site for each homebuilding project. All the changes, product selections, client action items, schedules, photos, and all other processes are posted on the site.

Another of Pickell’s strengths is its ability to pull everything together within the last phase of construction. “We have a whole separate team that comes in to help our superintendent finish the project,” says Pickell.

Should an architect or builder oversee the construction of my custom home?

“Good quality design that is of value and buildable is very hard to find,“ says Orren Pickell, president and chief executive officer of Orren Pickell Building Group. “Yet with careful planning it is possible to have it all.”

What’s more, you don’t have to choose between a builder or an architect when it comes to creating your dream home. Pickell recommends that you can—and should—have both.

“The builder will work hand in hand with the architect to make sure there’s value in construction and design in each room, in every feature of the house,” he says.

Having an architect and builder on the same team is ideal. It ensures that each design change will adhere to a budget. Also, architects may not necessarily be aware of what construction costs are today, which is another reason why a builder on the team is simply invaluable.

Too often, an incredible design can be incredibly expensive and the plans literally get shelved and are never used. To avoid that scenario, Pickell recommends that you pick a builder whose value system is comparable to yours. A good builder will always be thinking about quality, cost, timing and service while working seamlessly with the architect for the ultimate goal of creating an amazing custom home for you and your family.

Incorporating timeless design into your dream home

A common question that arises during the homebuilding process is: what are the timeless—and timely—design features found in today’s custom built homes? According to Orren Pickell, the president and chief executive officer of Orren Pickell Building Group, it’s best to avoid trends when designing a home. It’s always good to look at the latest trends and perhaps garner an idea or two. But the important question to ask, says Pickell, is “How are you going to live in the house not only today but in the future?”

In the past, kitchens were generally located in the back of a house. Today, the kitchen is the center of a home where everyone gathers. “That’s a lifestyle change,” says Pickell. Locating the master bedroom on the first floor is another lifestyle choice that’s becoming more and more popular. If you design a home knowing that you’ll want a first floor master suite in the years to come the process will be easier and more cost efficient. “A house that’s timeless should be designed that way,” adds Pickell.

The best way to incorporate timeless design is to maintain a balance between what you long for today and what you may want and need in the future. And don’t forget to ask question such as:

  • How can we live in this house when we are older?
  • How can we accommodate for our aging parents?
  • How can we make room for our kids and grandchildren when they come to visit?
  • How can we make our home comfortable for our family/friends during the holidays and other celebrations

Don’t let costs prevent you from building your dream home

When it comes to building a home—big or small—cost is always a universal concern. With so many elements in the mix, dollars can quickly get out of hand. This is why it is so critical to stick to your budget. Orren Pickell Building Group has an outstanding process in place as well as a team of experts who thoroughly understand how you can adhere to your budget while creating the home of your dreams. Here are two rules of thumb from Pickell:

  1. Don’t make it bigger than it needs to be.
  2. Don’t make it any more complicated than it needs to be.

The key is to design a space that is both comfortable and livable—a simple equation for success but one that requires careful planning and clear, open communications. “Let’s not make it more expensive than we have to,” says Orren Pickell, the company’s president and chief executive officer.

What drives the size—and budget—of a home is the first floor: the room count, the size of rooms as well as the hallways. Instead of designing a space that’s too big OPBG will create a floor plan that’s right for you. “We don’t want to design something that’s any bigger than it needs to be,” adds Pickell.

Throughout the homebuilding process OPBG keeps a close eye on every element that can drive up the cost of construction. To keep construction costs within budget OPBG recommends finishes that are not only beautiful but also practical and will last for years to come. “If you put the right materials into the home, the residual cost of maintenance will come down,” says Pickell. And with their extensive experience in and knowledge of the homebuilding experience, OPBG knows instinctively how to make that happen.