FORT COLLINS – Celebrating 33 years as a custom home builder is a tremendous achievement in a time where every market downturn can drive more and more small builders out of business. It’s an achievement of which Doug Buer, founder and President of Buer Homes, is very proud.
When he started Buer Homes, Inc. in 1985, Doug had already been building for quite awhile. While born into a family of talented carpenters, it was his job with Pat Powers, a long-time custom builder in Fort Collins, that honed his craft. With Pat’s passing, Doug stepped out on his own, founding Buer Homes, and has since spent more than 30 years making his name synonymous with quality. He’s committed not only to his clients, his company and its projects, but to the building industry in Northern Colorado itself, a commitment which benefits both builders and homebuyers alike. He has been an integral part of the Northern Colorado Association of Homebuilders, currently serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors, as well as sitting on several committees, including the Foundation—the organization’s community service arm.
Business comes mostly from word of mouth, happy current and former clients showing their homes to family and friends who then seek out Buer. But sometimes, strangers find their way to Buer, having seen his model home, or possibly even a home on the resale market. This just happened a couple of weeks ago: a buyer saw a Buer-built home and called Doug; she said she missed the opportunity to purchase it by three days, but asked if he could build her one just like it somewhere else. Some clients have even found Doug by viewing his entries in the Parade of Homes, an event in which Buer is planning to participate again in a couple of weeks.
The NOCO HBA Parade of Homes starts September 7 and runs for two weekends. Doug says that although they missed the Parade the last two years, as they were too busy to enter, they got lucky this year and had a spec home ready just in time to show.
A very hands-on builder, Doug is on his job sites daily, supported by his son, Jared, who has been his dad’s right hand man for about 12 years now. Doug’s brother, Mitch, is a master carpenter, who, with his son, Garrett, creates all of Buer’s handcrafted woodwork, the beautiful finish details for which Buer Homes is known.
BUILDING WITH BUER
Buer Homes is somewhat unique in that every single step of the design and building process is handled in-house. It’s not that they never work from a plan drawn by someone else, but a majority of their clients rely on Buer to create a unique “theirs only” design that draws its inspiration from the client’s imaginations and the land’s special features, be those views, waterfront, or lot contour.
Design styles vary as each buyer has their own view of what a perfect home looks like. From farmhouse to castle-like, and all styles in between, Buer strives to make the home fit both its surroundings and his buyers’ dreams. And, when building a spec home, he stays true to timeless Colorado styling, while incorporating the best updated products the market has to offer.
Where does he build? In past years, all over Loveland, Berthoud and Windsor. The land comes either from a buyer, who already owns the perfect spot on which they want to build, or from Doug’s searching out the best lots he can find, most recently a group of estate lots at Thompson Crossing II, in Johnstown.
In a tight labor market where many builders may struggle to find help, Doug says that Buer Homes has gone back to its roots, taking on fewer projects and doing more of the work themselves.
“We spent almost a year trying to find a good painter,” he says, “someone whose work would live up to our expectations, and our buyers’ expectations. We finally gave up and went back to doing our own painting, which we’re good at. That is ultimately the benefit of having built homes from the ground up. From the beginning in this business, I learned every job related to building a home and it’s what I taught my son too, so while it may it may be a little frustrating sometimes, labor shortages don’t really slow us down.”
In addition, he says he has a great team of subcontractors who have been with him for a long time and on whom he relies. He says it’s not worth bidding out jobs like some builders do, looking for lowest price; he’d rather work with the people he knows, who, literally from the ground up, provide him with tremendous service and follow-up support.
Buer says that he’s happy when buyers are happy; not just happy to be finished building, but happy in the homes he’s built for them, and it shows in events like the Parade of Homes. The first year Buer Homes entered, they won the People’s Choice Award. As show attendees came through, a regular comment was that although there were some really big, fancy homes on parade, his was one they could really see themselves living in. Doug strives for beauty but livability, so that’s the best compliment he can get: that buyers or anyone walking through one of his homes feels, well, at home.