Its the custom: Hibbs Homes, St. Louis, MO — Best Construction Blog competition

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Hibbs Homes, a custom home builder and renovator serving the St. Louis, MO market, has developed a blog demonstrating state-of-the-art social media practices. The blog combines corporate sophistication with practical resources and some strategic search engine optimization, with carefully-considered in-text links for relevant keywords/phrases.

The blog balances technical advice with company news and images — individual ‘personality’ is muted in favor of a more balanced, consumer-reassuring format.  This blog is a great example of how a business can grow beyond its founders dream and personality, yet reassure readers that the owner is still very much on the job (more likely at the job site or at clients’ homes than in the office writing blog postings, though.)

Doghouse image
Kim Hibbs, Brandon Hibbs and Matt Belcher work on framing a green doghouse for a St. Louis Home Builders’ Association charity auction

Many recent postings have been written by marketing and communications director Melody Meiners, including a recent discussion of how colour, texture and scale are vital in the design process. Here are her thoughts about painting and color, for example:

There are a couple of ways you can approach bringing color into your house, but a thoughtful color palette is a must to get an authentic luxury home feel. You could select a perfect palette to carry throughout each room, highlighting one color for each room or you could customize a palette for each. If you’d like some inspiration, we have a whole collection of perfect palettes on Pinterest, and we add to them weekly. And we can’t stress enough how easy and dramatic a change a coat of paint is on the walls. Don’t be afraid to commit, start with an accent wall and then build up if you’re nervous. Trust us.

When you dig in further, you’ll find postings from company founder Kim Hibbs, which show his passion for the building process and energy/environmental efficiency.

I enjoyed this December posting where Kim explains the difference between a custom and tract home:

Many people are familiar with the phrase “tract home” but there is still a little bit of confusion on how it is different from a custom home. And as a custom home builder, it is one of the most common questions I get when meeting with new clients who are evaluating their building options.

A tract home is also called a production home, and is based on a floor plan that is built over and over with very minor changes for each individual client. You most commonly see them in larger subdivisions that have about 4-5 different styles of homes in them. Occasionally you’ll see modifications like a larger garage or breakfast room on the floor plans, but in general the major price and design differences lie in the exterior and interior finishes.

However a custom home, sometimes referred to as a luxury home, is a unique to the client and is built once specifically for you and your family. Building a custom home can be exciting and fun-you get to make all selections and your budget and imagination is often the only limitations. Siding, windows, roofing, flooring, cabinets, lighting, plumbing, placement of bedrooms and baths – everything is custom built to your taste and lifestyle.

Does building a custom home cost more than a tract home? Probably, but the beauty of building custom means you control the budget and so it doesn’t have to cost a lot more. Sometimes a larger selection of materials and finishes can cost more, because custom builders usually don’t get large volume discounts like tract home builders, but if you work with your builder to select materials from companies they have established relationships with you can often find something that works perfectly with your vision and your budget.

One cost that is unique to custom home building is that of hiring an architect. Tract homes are built off of existing plans, but many times there is a cost involved with changes and you still need to engage an architect and engineer. But custom also give you more flexibility if you’re interested in building a verified green home through the National Association of Home Builders or United States Green Building Council’s LEED program.

Still not sure if custom or tract homes are the right decision for your family? The bottom line is If you want a new home, but don’t necessarily need something that is one-of-a-kind, a tract home may be your best option.

But if having freedom and flexibility in your design and selection is important you are better served by building a custom home.  After all why should you buy someone else’s dream home when you can build your own.

Either way make sure you find a builder with a good reputation, tour their homes, and talk with past clients before making your final decision. A little homework will help you select the right builder, and be sure you are balancing quality with savings.

Note how “It’s the Custom” makes effective use of in-text links for keywords important for this business’s search engine optimization.  Like any SEO strategy, the key here is to use this approach carefully, within the framework of original content and relevance.

Overall, this is a really-high quality blog and a worthy entry in the Best Construction Blog competitition.  Voting continues until April 1.

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