Inherent Quality: Teton Heritage Builders Pencils on Paper & on Site

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Jackson Hole is a very active marketplace and finding a builder that has the capacity to take on your project is only the first hurdle. Then there’s finding the right builder, designing your dream home, and staying on budget. The quagmire of building a home from start to finish has so many big and small details that it might seem like an impossible feat to find the builder that can truly navigate your property’s features, to present the best of each inherent quality, from view to faucet.

Teton Heritage Builders from its inception has been making sure that most of the hurdles of the building process have been removed to allow for as much transparency and accessibility as available to the builder and the homeowner. It’s not just about the business, it’s the personality of the quality and teamwork that Teton Heritage Builders (THB) puts forth.

THB works with many firms in and around Jackson and they consider their firm blessed with many competent purveyors for a given task. “Having that as a premise, each project has differing needs and many times a particular firm has either done previous work on or specializes in an owner/homesite specific need,” explains Burt Mills, head of business development and client relations for THB. “Most owners come to THB with a specific objective in mind and with a clear idea of the resources they wish to dedicate to their new home. Being efficient with the homeowner’s resources, and attaining the best value from those resources, often drives the decision-making process of what skills, abilities, and resources are utilized to perform a given scope of work,” according to Mills.

“Due to our 23+ years of experience building in the Northern Rockies, we really do understand what drives the value of any given home that can be designed.”
–Greg O’Gwin, Teton Heritage Builders

As outlined in their introduction materials, THB is able to put the full weight of their combined experience to bear when the firm is able to participate in the design process from the beginning. They offer free Lot Constructability Analysis to real estate buyers to help them understand the pros and cons of differing lots and renovation projects. From the point that an owner wants to design a home to build, Teton Heritage Builders will help an owner find and set up interviews with architects that design in their particular style. Through the design process, the collaboration between homeowner, builder, and architect acts as a reference point for constructability and cost analysis to support a homeowner in making key decisions regarding design direction.

According to Mills, THB tailors the relationship directly to the homeowner’s needs, “Some homeowners are deeply involved and join in on weekly conference calls with THB and the design consultants. We use ZOOM and SKYPE among others depending on what part of the world we are all in at the moment. Some homeowners are less involved and are comfortable with monthly check-ins. We utilize a software tool named ProCore to manage documents and communications between owners, consultants, and subcontractors. We are able to post schedule updates, progress photos, drawing sets, and revisions, etc. This allows for 24/7 access by owners to check status from wherever they are right off their phone,” describes Mills.

With all that support, it’s hard to imagine the build process without them. Because THB goes through an in-depth process of estimating projects at the front end of the design phase, they like to be involved at the time of contracting an architect. “Due to our 23+ years of experience building in the Northern Rockies, we really do understand what drives the value of any given home that can be designed.,” says Greg O’Gwin, head of office and co-owner. “We look at different factors in what drives the value of a home, from site conditions, to the overall architectural design, and materials selections to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The outcome of carefully planning with these factors in mind is the ability to focus the greatest emphasis on interior finishes. Those finishes are what we see, touch, and feel every minute we are in our homes. Also, by being involved from the start of the design, we can help assure that the overall value of the home dovetails with the resources our clients want to devote to their new home.”

The complimentary testimonials are endless but they all continue along a common theme–no surprises. THB refers to their foundational business philosophy as Design-Phase Estimating. This approach has been with the company since the beginning, and it is what makes the firm stand out amongst the competition.

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Mark Dalby, project manager and co-owner, explains the Design-Phase Estimating process, saying, “It is essential for a custom home builder to be able to look at a set of blueprints and develop an anticipated cost for a home. We have a proprietary estimating program that can take a home at the schematic level of design and give an owner a plus/minus 5% cost of construction. It is way more accurate than throwing out a $500, $600, or $700/square foot expected cost. We dig into the details shown, and with assumptions, give you a very accurate representation of what we see as costs for the home. To be clear, if there is going to be a budget crisis on a custom home build we like to have it early on, when the home is still theoretical on paper, rather than when we are in the middle of construction. If necessary, we can then go into an intensive value-engineering process that can help define the design moving forward.” This process has satisfied clients with projects that vary from new to renovation to 1,000-square-foot guest houses and homes that are as large 22,000 square feet.

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When THB got its start in 1996, Peter Lee, the owner, was working in commercial development in Jackson, Wyoming. He saw an opportunity to use the scheduling and accounting disciplines of the commercial process in the building of custom homes. This was a departure from the “pay your money and take your chances” approach that was typical at that time. THB has several points of distinction in their design build process: free lot and building assessments, true open book accounting, design phase services that focus on the owners’ experience in the finished home, accurate home cost estimating with proprietary software, guaranteed maximum pricing, dedicated superintendents, very deep experience in this marketplace, and, with building in Jackson Hole, a significant influence over subcontractor pricing due to volume of work.

The end result is that THB’s homeowners have truly appreciated the depth and precision that THB achieves, to deliver anticipated costs on every home that they build. Their design-phase services not only set up true expectations of cost, but also establish trust with the client—trust that has years and years of a strong solid reputation in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

“It is essential for a custom home builder to be able to look at a set of blueprints and develop an anticipated cost for a home.”

–Mark Dalby, Teton Heritage Builders

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With all the accessibility to the process from design, to cost, to quality tradesmen, there has to be a catch, right? Well yes, there is a catch. The catch is that Teton Heritage Builders, to no one’s surprise, is in very high demand. In 2018, the firm received recognition for the Home of the Year from Mountain Living for a Snake River Sporting Club property where the firm worked in conjunction with WRJ Design and Carney Logan Burke Architects to bring a property to completion after being left in the havoc of the recession.

Teton Heritage Builders also regularly works with several regional and nationally recognized interior designers. They maintain regular partnerships with architects from New York, Illinois, Texas, and all around the Rockies. Their website is a purposeful and comprehensive resource for scouting a commercial or residential project, be it a custom log, timber frame, western contemporary, or modern design.

Outside of work the THB staff is heavily involved in the community. “Our co-owner Mark Dalby is Vice President of Habitat for Humanity in Jackson,” says Mills. He and I have both done volunteer work to raise homes here. I have volunteered for the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and am a member of the JH Rotary Club where I volunteer to read to pre-school children.”

Whether building houses or volunteering, Teton Heritage Builders is a stalwart business in the Jackson community.