From House Beautiful
If the concept of being able to check out real estate listings online (thank you Zillow) as well as take virtual tours still amazes you, then you’re going to go be delighted by this next bit of news — especially if you’re looking for a new home. Just head on over to Welcome Homes, a new startup and online platform where you can design your dream home online and then move into it IRL within a few months.
Let me guess — you’re somewhat in disbelief? The whole notion of being able to sit on your couch and plan out your dream home (almost as if you’re playing a virtual reality design game) and then actually having it come to life does seem pretty out-there. However, it’s also a genius solution for who folks who may have a particular vision for their new home, but do not know how convey those details to builders. Now, you design the home and Welcome Homes builds it.
The startup, which had a soft launch in October 2020, currently serves select locations in the tri-state area. HGTV alum Anthony Carrino, who serves as the Welcome Homes Head of Design, spoke with House Beautiful about the company’s big break into the housing industry. Right now, he reveals the team is already working with its first two customers. While that might not sound like a large client base, get this: There’s already a waitlist of around 1,000 folks pining to design their new digs through this one-of-a-kind platform. Here’s a rundown of how exactly Welcome Homes works.
The first step to building your dream home online is choosing the location. If you happen to own a piece of land, you’re ahead of the game. However, no worries if you don’t — Welcome Homes’s website offers a list of potential building spots in your area. Next, you select your home model, which for right now is limited to the Grand Model, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom 5,320 square foot home (The company notes that a smaller model will be introduced in the future). Once you’ve got that all in check, you can click into the home and cherry pick what exactly goes into each room. You’ll be able to select appliances, countertops, flooring, doors, paint, and more from lists of preset styles generated by Welcome Homes.
“We really wanted to focus on giving people enough choice [in the design process],” Carrino explained, but in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. “The idea was to pare down the selections enough to make it feel manageable for somebody yet still give them enough of a selection,” he explained. Below, for example, are just two potential styles one could choose for the their home’s exterior.
There’s also an impressive list of amenities that customers can add onto their homes. These range from a touchless faucet in the kitchen, to a smart toilet, to an outdoor kitchen, to an under-the-counter wine cave or full height wine cave, and more.
After the home’s design is finalized, Welcome Homes will calculate the price and work with you on securing financing for the property. A home designed by Welcome Homes will start at $700,000, but may go up in price depending on any extra amenities added.
On its website, the company touts prices that are lower than existing buildings in teh same market. As Carrino explains, in many cases, buying an existing home and then renovating it to make it your dream home will often cost more (in both labor and money) than if you designed your digs with Welcome Homes from the start.
Once you officially close on your home, the building begins—a process the company says takes approximately six months. Local contractors will be recruited to do the construction work and build your dream abode. Of course, you’re more than welcome to check in on your home. Throughout the process, “customers are able to come onsite and see the progress,” Carrino assures. “I mean, how exciting is it to build your home? So why wouldn’t you want to come and visit?” he says.
Once the home is finished, you’ll receive the keys and voila: Welcome home! For Carrino, jumping ship from more traditional roles in the industry to joining forces with an innovative group of creatives set out to introduce an entirely new way to buy a home was a no-brainer. “Being able to bring people higher design for a lower number, um, just felt like, like a great synergy to me,” he says. While he noted that implementing technology into construction might not always go smoothly, Welcome Homes’s tech-heavy model was one he believed in from the get-go. “At Welcome, they are focusing the technology where it should be focused: the consumer,” he explains. You can learn more about Welcome Homes here.
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