Suzy and I have visited with many builders including Jim Bowers, Ward Coe, Ron Jewell, Jeff Justice, Mike Gilles, Mike Hancock, Chris Mock, Rick Russell and Tim Turner. We met Mike Hancock of Basement Contractors at the 2000 Home and Garden Show. I have an Uncle in Ohio who is an excavator and I asked him years ago why there are not basements in Oklahoma homes. He explained that the freeze line in Oklahoma is about 18 inches. The freeze line in Ohio is close to 42 inches. It doesn’t cost much to dig down another 16 inches and now you have a 7 foot high basement.
We have attended Home and Garden Shows for many years and I always stop by the vendors that advertise they do basements. Mike Hancock was the first contractor that answered all the questions the way I thought they should be answered. He explained how important the backfill was on the basement wall. He explained the moisture barrier that needed to be installed between the poured concrete floors and walls and the dirt. We had two meetings with him to discuss the home we wanted to build. We toured many of the homes he had worked on. The deal sealer for Mike Hancock was when I found out that Mike was also a certified structural engineer. I really feel comfortable knowing a structural engineer is going to be responsible for building the entire envelop of our home. And although Basement Contractors does build complete homes, we wanted to bring additional expertise for the building process. Mike Hancock wouldn’t recommend a builder, I suppose because he works as a subcontractor for so many, but suggested we talk to him before signing a contract. If we can break ground in the near future, Basement Contractors will promote this home as there 500th basement in Oklahoma.
Finding a green builder was a difficult task. Rose Creek, our new neighborhood, has a “preferred builder” program. We started by looking at those builders and touring homes they had built. One by one we eliminated different builders. Many of the builders we spoke with were interested in building our home, but none seemed excited about building the home. We were looking for a builder that wanted to make this home their signature home.
We really liked Jeff Justice and he seemed very interested in building our home. However, he had some commitments and decided he would not be able to do the project. He recommended Mike Gilles of Geobuilders/Savannah Homes. We set up a meeting with Mike in May of 2008. He seemed to have an understanding of the home we wanted to build. More importantly, he seemed excited about building this home. We “connected” with Mike in many different ways. He has great knowledge base for what we are trying to accomplish and seems to recognize that we are cost conscience. Mike was in the first Energy Star class and has built more energy star homes and more geothermal homes than any other builder in Oklahoma. Eighteen months after meeting him, he has not asked for or received any compensation; he is still excited about building this home and believes we are building the home of the future. We speak at least twice weekly, have had at least 20 meetings and traveled to the 2009 International Home Builders Show in Las Vegas with Mike and his wife. We’ve presented many ideas to Mike during the past year and he’s listened to every idea. He’s improved many, agreed with some and told us others were bad and explained why.
Mike has more than 20 years experience in construction.
Certified Professional Builder
Member Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association (COHBA)
Member Oklahoma State Home Builders Association (OSHBA)
Member National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
2009 President of the Past Presidents Council COHBA
President OSHBA 2007
President COHBA 2000
NAHB Board of Directors
2007 OSHBA Homebuilder of the Year
Selected to build COHBA’s “Feature New Products Home” in 1999, 2002, 2004
Selected in 2001 to build State Farm Insurance disaster-resistant demonstration home
1997 COHBA Homebuilder of the Year
Beyond all this, Mike is easy to work with. He is patient and listens to my ideas. He allows me to follow up with ideas that he hasn’t utilized or researched. He always has the bottom line in mind. Other builders we’ve talked to in the last eighteen months, all believe Mike Gilles has the expertise to build this home.
Suzy and I have selected Laurie Dale Keffer, the late builder, Mark Dale’s sister, to be our landscape architect. Laurie is a registered landscape architect and a member of the American Society of Landscape architects. Laurie does not take on many projects but she is excited about what we are doing. She has been around home building her entire life — her father is the late home builder Everett Dale.