Double T Homes in Berkeley Springs, WV
- Bonnie Williamson
Doing things the right way helps you maintain a good reputation and produce a quality product. Allen Truax of Double T Homes, Inc., in Berkeley Springs (WV), operates his business and his life by those words. "Reputation is everything," he believes.
Truax started out in the housing business more than twenty years ago, working with his father Dale. He did excavation for schools and homes, operating heavy equipment. He learned the ins-and-outs of what it takes to construct a well-built home. Along the way, he gave his time to the community by serving as a volunteer fireman for twentyeight years—an endeavor that he describes as "the greatest occupation on earth."
A lifelong resident of Berkeley Springs, his strong religious background added to his concern for the welfare of his neighbors and those with whom he did business. He became involved with modular homes in 2002. The excavating business and modular home construction all came under one umbrella in 2006. The name Double T came from combining Truax and Tracey, his wife's name. His company maintains fourteen employees. Initially, business was slow because of the problems within the housing market. However, in 2011, Double T was able to hire six more employees.
Truax says modular homes are built better than stick-built homes. They can also be ready in half the time, and fit almost any budget. Customers can have their home ready in three to four months. "We can also custom-build and customdesign homes," he assures. "It's not just a take-it-or-leave-it situation. You have more options. You give me a plan, I can build it."
Modular homes are houses that are divided into multiple modules, or sections. They are manufactured in a remote facility and then delivered to a site. They're assembled into a single residential building, using either a crane or truck. Independent building inspectors are on site to supervise the construction and ensure that all building codes are adhered to during assembly.
"The modular parts have to be lifted by cranes and shipped to a site. They have to be stronger to go through that process," Truax adds. Lower prices for modular homes can be attributed to numerous factors. Because they're assembled indoors, they aren't subjected to the weather, which increases work efficiency and decreases damage to building materials. The large-scale manufacturers of modular homes can bargain more with suppliers and get discounts on materials. In addition, less waste is generated from modular homes. With similar plans being consistently built, the manufacturer has records of exactly what quantity of materials are needed for a given job, so waste is minimal—whereas waste from a sitebuilt dwelling may fill several large dumpsters.
Truax offers modular homes in a variety of styles—even log homes. "The most popular model is the chalet—sort of a vacation-type home. The next would be Cape Cods."
Double T also offers Econo Homes that can start at about $81,500. These homes are base-priced with crawlspace foundations, a $12K well/pump and septic allowance, baseboard heat, and standard excavating. There are very limited changes available on these homes, hence the lower price. Styles available are Ranch and Cape Cods. Green homes are also available, which are more energy efficient and utilize recycled materials. The location of a home rarely presents a problem for Truax. He recently worked on a home sited on the side of a mountain. "It was way out there—no power lines or anything. We work with Potomac Edison and other agencies to get the job done."
Truax says he is involved with every aspect of a project. He works with people he trusts to build it the way it's supposed to be built. "We're a full-turnkey operation, a onestop shop," he contends. "We get everything ready for you to move in. Most companies don't offer that. Here, you don't deal with multiple contractors. It's one person." Unfortunately, his commitment to quality has worked against him.
"Different counties have different inspection criteria, or don't require inspections at all. We need a more even playing field. I'll lose jobs in the bidding process because others cut corners. I won't. I want the homeowner to have peace of mind." Despite the many challenges in the housing market, Truax says Double T Homes is doing well, with plenty of work already scheduled for the future. But he does believe that much of the housing market is in need of an overhaul. "You fix the housing market, you fix the economy."
Home appraisals are contributing to problems in the housing market, he believes. A home appraisal is an opinion of its market value. Since home appraisals are required by lenders to proceed, either with the purchase of a property or refinancing of a property, problems with home appraisals can put the brakes on a transaction. After a homebuyer and seller agree on a price, the buyer applies for a mortgage. The lender then orders an appraisal to ensure the value of the property. The large number of foreclosures nationally has caused problems. To determine what a home is worth, the appraiser compares prices of similar homes that were recently sold in the area. If the property appraisal comes in below the agreed upon price, the buyer usually has to make up the difference, and may instead walk away.
Truax remains optimistic and enthusiastic about his work and his customers. He is especially proud of the fact that people trust him. And they do. He has repeat customers, as well as people coming to him to correct problems other builders created in their homes. He also keeps the communication lines open, and stays in touch with his customers to make sure they are satisfied.
Recent praises for Double T's work are listed on its website. Larry Robinson, the owner of Mountain Home Real Estate and Twin Mountain Construction says, "I began working with Allen Truax about three years ago, when a business partner and I contracted with Double T Homes to build a modular home on our lot. We were very happy, not only with the quality that Allen delivered, but also with his follow-up customer service. We have since worked with Allen on several projects, and the quality and service are still excellent. It's always good to know there are people around who can not only deliver good work, but also stand behind it."
Les and Winona Jackson of Berkeley Springs say, "We purchased a Double T Home form Allen Truax in October of 2007. We asked for a few modifications to the original floor plan and Allen made the changes easily and quickly. Our home was priced right, delivered on time, and completed to our satisfaction. Allen and his staff were a pleasure to work with and they stand behind their work one hundred percent."
Truax stands by his company's philosophy, too. "We have a motto here at Double T Homes: Come in as a customer, leave as a friend." If you're interested in considering a modular home from Double T Homes, visit their website at www. DoubleThomes.com or call 304-258-0001.