Using takeoff software to renovate historic homes with Eric Pierce

Show Notes

On this episode of “The Building Code,” Zach and Charley are chatting with Eric Pierce, co-owner of Color Houses in Houston, Texas. The Color Houses team has been renovating historic homes for the past ten years, and they share their passion for restoring a home’s original beauty and character.

Tune in to the full episode to hear more about their decade-long journey of renovating historic homes and how Buildertrend Takeoff helps them simplify their processes and scale their business.

What is the historic home market in Houston like?

“All of our projects are in these historic neighborhoods. We do a lot of bungalows, a lot of craftsman-style homes, a lot of dog trot homes with breezeways and that sort of thing. And all of these homes are historic to Houston specifically. They were all built before we had insulation or the new insulation that we use now. It was all before air conditioning. So many of these houses just get knocked down and then someone puts up something that’s kind of similar but not the same. All of the old beautiful wood goes into the landfill and it’s all new SYP, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, our passion is really trying to preserve some of that and renovate some of these homes back to what they were before.”

What’s your experience been like with the new Takeoff feature?

“It’s been really helpful. We’re much more accurate than we used to be. It’s much quicker, obviously, than what it used to be. I can get some stuff drawn in a few minutes and get it out and then get into the back and forth rather than telling them it’s going to be a couple days. And so, it really helps streamline my process as I’m generally in charge of working with the selections, working with the architect on the selections and all that kind of stuff. It’s changed my job for sure.”

Related content:

Learn more about the Color Houses team and how they’re renovating historic homes in Houston, Texas.

Check out the Color Houses Instagram to follow along on their historic renovations.

Listen to the last episode of “The Building Code” to learn about how to make jobs more sustainable with Matt Hoots of SawHorse design build.

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Transcript

Zach Wojtowicz:

Welcome everybody to “The Building Code”. I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

And I’m Charley Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Charley, how’ve you been, man?

Charley Burtwistle:

I’ve been fantastic. I feel like Zach and I work together quite a bit. We’ve talked about that before, and we’re always in business mode and we’re trying to get stuff done and we never have a whole lot of fun. And then we jump into the podcast studio and it’s the highlight of my week.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s true.

Charley Burtwistle:

Very, very excited to be here. And it’s a beautiful Friday afternoon.

Zach Wojtowicz:

People stop us in the hallway and say, “Podcast day.” It’s got a different energy.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, a little different mood. A little pep in our step. And it’s 4:30 on a Friday, so very, very excited to be here. Zach, tell the people listening who we have on this episode of “The Building Code”.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You got it. Today we’ve got Eric Pierce from Color Houses down in Houston, Texas, and we’re here to talk a little bit about his experience using Buildertrend. He’s got a really interesting backstory I do want to give a little nod. If you’re not watching this episode on YouTube, you’re going to be missing out on something special.

Charley Burtwistle:

We did hear he will be joining from his country, like out in the country, so he’ll have a nice scenic background behind him. Very, very excited to see.

Zach Wojtowicz:

His country of Texas.

Charley Burtwistle:

His country of Texas.

Zach Wojtowicz:

All right, let’s get Eric in here.

Charley Burtwistle:

Hey Eric, welcome to “The Building Code”. Really excited to have you here today. Thank you for joining us from the country. First time out in the rural areas of Texas. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in construction?

Eric Pierce:

Yeah. Well, so myself and my business partner Zach, we were both teachers in-

Charley Burtwistle:

No way.

Eric Pierce:

… in his previous life it seems.

Charley Burtwistle:

I was a teacher and Zach.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And so was Zach.

Eric Pierce:

Oh, really?

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah.

Eric Pierce:

Oh, cool. Yeah. Excellent. Yeah, it was awesome. But he left teaching a little bit before I did, and we both separately and independently moved into historic homes in Houston or homes in historic areas in Houston and renovated them and lived in them with our families. And when he left teaching, he wanted to get into building. He knew that’s what he wanted to do, so he started buying one house at a time and renovating it and then selling it and moving on to the next one. But he really carefully renovated them because they were also historic homes. And so he would do that. So he did that for a few years or a couple years, and he decided he wanted to go back to school and get his masters in architecture. And so he went to U of H and started working on his masters in architecture.

And about that same time, I decided to start looking for a new career. My wife is also a teacher and we were having kids and we’re like… I just wanted something new. A challenge. And he and I had been friends for a while at that point, so I knew what he had been doing. And when he went back to architecture school and I was telling him I was leaving teaching, we started talking about working on things together. We had both renovated a couple of homes each at that point. And so at that point he started building a house for himself, a custom home, and he asked me to help him because he was in school. So I basically project managed it for him and it went really well. And we decided to just take a shot at mixing friendship and business. And so I joined Color Houses and at that point he had had the company for a couple years for his renovations. And so I joined up and we became partners and we’ve been doing it ever since.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I love it. I mean, it’s actually really common. We always like to joke, construction’s kind of like a quilt. We get a lot of different backgrounds to end up in this amazing industry, really exciting. What did you teach? Did you teach construction sciences or you’re like a…

Eric Pierce:

Oh, no, no.

Zach Wojtowicz:

… science teacher?

Eric Pierce:

No, yeah, I taught middle school language arts and history.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nice. That’s awesome. Also a former history teacher.

Eric Pierce:

Awesome.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, Zach constantly makes me feel bad about just my general knowledge, I guess.

Zach Wojtowicz:

But then he hits me with a data science formula and I’m like, when I look at him angrily.

Charley Burtwistle:

So remind me again, Eric, I may have missed this at the beginning, but about how long ago was that when you and Zach started Color Houses?

Eric Pierce:

So Zach started the company in 2010 and I joined him in 2013 and we became partners at that point.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Nice.

Charley Burtwistle:

Gotcha. Yeah, for a while. Yeah, I was going to say coming up on 10 years.

Eric Pierce:

10 years next year. Yeah.

Charley Burtwistle:

Very cool. So how’s the company grown and kind of evolved to where it was at 10 years ago to where it’s at today?

Eric Pierce:

Oh, man, it’s grown a lot. We started basically just doing so well. Like I said, he had started doing renovations, buying a house and renovating it and selling it. So I started helping him with that. Once we finished his house and we realized that this was a thing that we could do and pursue that, we would buy a house and renovate it. And we also started putting our name out there, friends and family and that sort of thing. We just did some bathrooms and small kitchens and things like that. But through Zach’s going to architecture school, he’d always had a passion for the design side of things, but he’s also just super energetic, loves to be in the mix, in the middle of things. He wants to be on site.

And so when he got out of school and we kind of had a couple of little projects behind us, we really looked at making Color Houses a small design build firm, and quickly realized that we or I didn’t have the expertise to be behind the computer drawing stuff, designing, and he didn’t really want to be. He wanted to use that knowledge on site to build interesting things for architects and that sort of thing, and so we had started developing relationships with some of the local award-winning architects in Houston. And we started getting our name out there and showing off some of the stuff that we had done previously and picked up a couple of additions and things with some of our local architects and realized that that was what we wanted to do. We basically wanted to be the architect’s builder for Central Houston and for those historic areas around Houston, which we found was really kind of a niche that the architects were looking for as well. I mean, there are tons of great builders in Houston, but there’s so many custom builders that are doing really big projects.

There are smaller builders doing just small renovations and nothing that really needs design and plans. They all need design, but they don’t need these huge sets of plans or anything. And so the architects we talked to had a really limited pool of builders to go to where they have these super crazy 30 page plans with drawn out details and all these things and that the builders that they had worked with just weren’t quite equipped to deal with, and we felt that that was an area that we could really excel in based on our knowledge of plans and design on our end, and then our passion for just being out there and being a part of the actual construction and being part of the cruise and being part of the action. And so we’ve really kind of built our company around that. And now we typically take on, I’d say six to eight projects a year. We’ve grown a lot in the last few years, and they’re all typically historic renovations plus additions, and it’s all generated, it’s all designed by these local architects that every project is a custom build.

And so we’ve come a long way in the last several years when we’ve really transitioned to getting our name out there to different architects and just moving along and building up our connections to that. And we’ve gotten to the point where now we have a few architects where they get a client, they do the design, sometimes we’re involved really early in the design with pricing and just talking through some of the design elements based on the budgets that the architects have. And some of our architects are, we’re on a short list of builders that the architect just sends the client out for bids once the plans are done. So we kind of have a mix of those things, but we’ve gotten to where generally we’re on this short list of builders who these architects really want to work with. And so it’s been really exciting with us because we’ve done some just really cool things that we’re really proud of.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, I bet. That sounds awesome. I’m really interested, before we go too far, about two ex-teachers getting into building, what was the elevator pitch to get the architects to take a flyer? And you’re like, “How did you break into that connection?” Or did Zach meet him through architecture school or, I’m really-

Eric Pierce:

A couple of ways. Yeah, Zach met some through architecture school. We did a couple of new construction builds that we bought a lot with an old house on it. And we renovated the old house and sold that and then split the lot and put up some new construction. And so for that, we went to a local architect and got some of his plans and worked with him to build those. And from there, in many ways, I mean, Houston is huge and there are so many builders, so many architects. But again, in a lot of ways the architecture community is really small. I mean, we definitely work with architects who have gone to school all over, but a lot of the architects we worked with have gone to Rice or U of H for architecture school. Even if they didn’t get their bachelors there, they just kind of ended up going there and then sticking around in Houston and doing their thing.

And so once we got in with a couple of them, they would talk to their friends who are in this community and they’d say, “Oh, yeah, these guys did good work if you’re looking for someone.” And so we just slowly over the past 10 years have just grown into being a part of that community. And now our name is starting to get outside of that smaller community from within those two schools and into some other stuff that we’re really excited about. But that’s kind of where we started was focusing on this architect community through Rice and through University of Houston. Zach and I would both go to… Rice has a big design association, and they do a big house tour every year. And so for several years we’d just go on this house tour and meet the architects who are on this tour, and we’d start to just put our name out there, “Hey, we’re doing this project down the street, we’d love for you to come take a look.”

And some of them did, some of them didn’t. So we’ve kind of grown through that. So a lot of it was very specifically targeting people to come and take a look at our work and take a look at our finished product, take a look at what we’re doing at framing and roughing and whenever they want to come by, just bring them by so they can see our whole process and understand that.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, that’s awesome to hear the growth and obviously congrats on the 10 years. Curious, how many employees do you have now or what’s kind of like your team setup look like?

Eric Pierce:

Yeah, our team setup is Zach and I, and then we recently hired an office manager and she’s been incredible. We’ve really been working on really integrating Buildertrend into these processes. And we’ve gotten big enough where we needed someone else on the backend to just help us keep things organized, keep our calendars organized, help us with our to-do list, just build all of that stuff out and keep everything in Buildertrend. And then also get that stuff from Buildertrend sent out to our crew. And then beyond that, we’ve brought a trim carpentry crew and our painters in-house. And so that’s really allowed us to really focus on some of the more complex details that we’re working on. We work with a lot of really good subs for all of our trades and framing and some of those pieces, but having our trim carpentry crew and our paint crew, they both know each other very well.

So there’s a lot of communication between our carpentry and painters so that it’s not just carpenters come in and do their thing and then leave, and then painters are left to fix a nail hole or do this or do that. They’re really working together and they’re cognizant of what the carpenters are cognizant of what they’re leaving for the painters. And at the same time, the painters know the carpenters they’re all kind of integrated together in the same company. And so they have no problem giving our carpenters a call and say, “Hey, we’ve got this and this and this. Here’s a small punch list before we really get going. Can you come take care of this?” And carpenters are like, “Yeah, we’ll be there.” We schedule them based on our workload and everything. And so there’s just a lot of really good energy within our company and between those two groups.

And so we have a crew of three painters and four trim carpenters. And we can also grow and shrink that as needed based on our project load. But those seven people are really the core of Color Houses. And so they’re with us all the time, they’re with us full time, and they’re fantastic. They’re all experts in what they do. And it’s also allowed us to really experiment with different materials, different methods, and in some sense, it’s not just a cabinetry crew. I mean, they’re capable of doing some really nice woodworking and different things. And especially in these historic houses, sometimes we’re able to offer fabricating trim or corners work or whatever that will match up with the existing house. Or if stuff is broken and we’re repairing it, we have the capability of being able to fabricate the things that we need to really bring that authenticity to the new part of the construction. So it’s been really cool and we’ve done some neat cabinetry, some a little bit of furniture, and nothing crazy.

We’re not out selling furniture or anything, but-

Zach Wojtowicz:

Not yet.

Eric Pierce:

… just some nice pieces for clients that are like, “Oh, hey, can you build this thing for us?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we can.” And so it’s been really awesome.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Did you know those guys previously, were they subs and then you decided to bring them on staff? For whatever reason, a lot of the builders I’ve worked with in Texas have more and more started to bring the trades that they really trust for certain carpenters, so that quality control, obviously, it’s a huge opportunity.

Eric Pierce:

Exactly. Yeah. We’ve worked, especially in those two areas, we’ve worked with several different subs and just at different points in our progress, we’ve worked with these people and we would get to the point where we were requesting from our sub who has maybe several groups or several teams of carpenters and painters and whatever like, “Hey, we really want this guy on our project because we know that they are capable and we know that they are going to really take care of the job, especially for what we’re doing.” And so as those relationships grew, we got to know those guys. And really it had to do with, a lot of these guys are working for people that are paying them by the job or by the week or whatever. And so there’s no real consistency. If there’s a lot of work, then they’re making really good money and they’re doing their thing. And then if the work falls off for whatever reason, then they’re stuck for a day or a week or however long, and they really have to plan for that.

So when some of those guys would be stuck, they’d call and say, “Hey, do you have anything to do?” And we’d finally just say, “Hey, look, we can bring you on and pay you consistently, give you some time off and whether we’ve got specific carpentry work to do or not, we always have work of some sort, whether it’s running through a framing punch list or trim punch list or just whatever.” And so it was really beneficial for both of us where they would get a consistent job career and worry less about the day-to-day, week to week paycheck. And all of our guys are really great. They very much specialize in what they do. They’re experts in what they do, but they’re also willing to do whatever needs to be done for the company. So sometimes they’re building a fence, sometimes they’re building walnut cabinetry. So most of the time they’re doing the walnut cabinetry kind of stuff. But every now and then they’re willing to just jump in and help, which has been amazing.

Charley Burtwistle:

That’s awesome. Well, Zach and I know all about doing what you have to do for the company. You’re talking to a data scientist and a customer success senior manager who just happen to host a podcast now.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah.

Eric Pierce:

Right.

Charley Burtwistle:

I would like to say we were chosen for this, but I think we were the only two that volunteered. Here we are.

Zach Wojtowicz:

It wasn’t a long list.

Charley Burtwistle:

But no, that’s really cool to hear and like Zach mentioned, I feel like that’s something that people are slowly starting to shift to more and more is bring things in-house, standardized processes, just more consistency in the day-to-day obviously, continues to allow you to scale at a faster and faster clip. I’m interested to hear, we’re always answering or asking this question, but I’m interested to hear from your perspective as someone that came into the game cold and now has been a part of a very successful business over the past 10 years that’s been able to scale. What kind of advice would you give to people that are maybe looking to start out and started anywhere in the construction industry or even people that have been around for maybe 20, 30, 40 years that are looking to grow their business?

Eric Pierce:

So the biggest thing that we’ve learned is in order to scale, you have to have your processes and systems in place. And that goes from the beginning, from your sales process through the construction process, and even just your process for communicating with clients, your process for getting your selections done, processes for change orders, all of that stuff. We learned all of that stuff along the way. And there are times when you’re just winging it and then you realize we’ve got to get this down, written down and built into the process that we’re working on and build out checklists and build out calendars and those things to help you just maintain that consistency throughout your projects and make sure that you have your notes and just all of that stuff when you have a meeting with the clients or with your subs or whatever, have your agenda.

And Buildertrend has been really helpful with that. I mean, we take our notes and then we put it into Buildertrend, we put it into a daily log or into a change order or selection or whatever. And we have all of that data right there, and the client has access to that information, we have access to that information because we’re doing projects that are, at this point, they’re a year long plus and you start out, luckily we’ve had really, really great clients to work with so far for the most part.

But even with great clients, you talk about something back in framing and then you get to trim or paint or whatever, and they walk through and they’re like, “Hey, why did we do this?” And instead of just being like, “Oh, remember we kind of talked about that one time,” we can go back and pull up the notes and say, “Okay, we decided on this. This is why we make that decision at the time. It still is relevant today. Or maybe do you want to change something? If so, we can write up a change order real quick and figure out the cost and discuss what makes most sense for you guys and go from there.” So really having those processes built into everything that we’re doing throughout the entire project and across our projects has been just really, really huge for us.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, we love to hear that. And we tried not to make it too salesy on the podcast Buildertrend, but you just kind of did it for us. So if you’re ever looking for another gig, we can get you up to Omaha and get you on the phones and sling some builders for us.

Zach Wojtowicz:

You want to call the call.

Eric Pierce:

Yeah, I mean it really has been helpful. Yeah. We really enjoyed working with you.

Charley Burtwistle:

I’m curious, how’d you guys discover Buildertrend and about how long ago did you implement it?

Eric Pierce:

We started implementing it right around at the beginning of COVID.

Charley Burtwistle:

Oh, gotcha.

Eric Pierce:

So, three years ago now, four years ago now. And really, once we had grown from doing these smaller jobs that are only a couple of months long or a few months long, or plus one or two big projects to where we were managing four, six, eight year long projects, it just got overwhelming. I mean, we just couldn’t keep up. And there was a huge learning curve there. Just trying to figure out those processes, and basically we Googled what are good project management software. We used some other project management software that is more generic and it’s like $25 or $75 a month, whatever. And we used it for about six months and it was good for what it did. But during that time we’re always looking during that time for something more comprehensive. And we had come across Buildertrend and a few other pieces of software. And at first the price was just given where we were at the time, the cost of Buildertrend just seemed really high.

And when we were using this really cheap project management software, and it wasn’t built for builders or for construction, it’s just one of these ones that you find on the internet that’s like, “Hey, pay us 25 bucks a month and we’ll give you a calendar and some other things to use. So during that time we really started looking in more and more to Buildertrend. And so around six months of using this other one, we kind of dove in and we called up and started a trial and got connected with a trainer. And from there we really worked hard to implement it properly. And the deeper we got into it, the more we realized just how valuable it really is and the time savings and like I said, building those processes around what Buildertrend offers. And it was really easy because Buildertrend is geared towards builders.

And so you had the processes that we were trying to figure out. How do we do a better change order process so that we’re not just eating cost or just telling clients, “Yeah, we can do that, no problem.” And then we’re like, “Okay, that’s 500 bucks or whatever.” And they’re like, “Wait a minute, you said you could do that.” And we’re like, “Yeah.” So just working through, figuring out how to do those processes efficiently and Buildertrend had so many of those things already built in. And there’s a learning curve for sure for Buildertrend because it’s got so many pieces, but the trainers are excellent. We worked really closely with the trainer for the first few months and then since then the catalog of trainings that we can do on our own, plus your customer service.

I chat with someone on customer service every few months just because something we’ve started to work with a new piece of the software or we’re, or we’re getting deeper into a part of the software and like, “Wait a minute, how does this connect to this?” And we get on and chat and they work through it with me and now I’ve got it and move on. And so it was a combination of working through our process and finding something, some software that would help us to build out those processes most efficiently. And that would allow us to just really communicate with all of the parties because we’re not spec home builders where it’s just me and Zach going through and saying, “All right, we’re going to do this and we want to put this here and whatever.” We’ve got owners to deal with. We’ve got the architects to deal with, the subs, and then each other, me and Zach and then in our crews.

And so finding something that could accommodate all of those various parties and do it efficiently and honestly in a way that made sense was difficult to find until we really got in and evaluated and looked at Buildertrend and saw what it could do for our business.

Zach Wojtowicz:

And I imagine too, I’m interested with your historic home market. I wasn’t sure if these were the architects driving a lot of the renovation or are a lot of your clients they already own the property and you’re coming in and renovating it? Or are they resell, are they-

Eric Pierce:

All of our clients at this point… Every now and then we’re about to start a new construction project with an architect. So every now and then we do those. But for the last five or six years, almost all of our projects have been owners who have this wonderful bungalow or craftsman style house or something. I mean, when I talk about historic homes, sometimes I’m talking to people in the northeast or something Chicago or San Francisco, even where they’re like, “Oh, 1910, that’s young.”

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s not historic.

Eric Pierce:

What are you talking about? But in Houston, where everything is always new all the time, having something that is actually historic and has some of our unique vernacular for the south.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Texas flare.

Eric Pierce:

Yeah, not everyone is capable of dealing with those things. And so all of our projects are in these historic neighborhoods. They’re typically dealing with obviously, an older home, but a smaller home, 1,000, 1,200, 1,500 square feet. A lot of them are basically two bedroom, one bath kind of things. And in some of the areas they do have just different designs. We do a lot of bungalows, a lot of craftsman style homes, and then a lot of dog trot kind of homes with breezeways and that sort of thing. And all of these homes, they’re historic to Houston specifically, and they were all built before we had insulation or the new insulation that we use now. I mean, they’ve all got some cotton fiber or different methods of cooling the house, but it was all before air conditioning. They’re all using this old heartwood pine for ship lap and the guts of the house.

And so many of these houses in these areas just get knocked down and then someone puts up something that is kind of similar but not the same. All of this old beautiful wood goes into the landfill and it’s all new SYP and different things, and which there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but our goal, our passion was really trying to preserve some of that and renovate some of these homes back to what they were before. In the last couple years, we’ve done several homes where over the last 100 years people will take out the breezeway, they’ll build into the breezeway, and there’ll be like a bathroom. You go through the front door and then there’s like a bathroom in the middle of what used to be this beautiful hallway where you would open the front door in the back door and open the windows and the air comes through and circulates and that’s how you cooled your house. And now it’s all just built in. And so we’ve done a lot of work reopening those houses and really bringing them back to what they were.

Yeah, we’ll put air conditioning, we modernize them, we do what we need to do, but if the owner wants to turn off the AC in the fall, because people don’t realize, people think of Houston is just hot and humid, hot and humid, and no doubt it very much is.

Zach Wojtowicz:

That’s what I think of. Every time I’ve been there, that’s been my experience.

Eric Pierce:

From June to August, and this year into October, which was not cool, but it can be very hot and humid. But then you get into October, November, December and instead of shoveling snow, we have these just beautiful dry breezes coming through and people want to open it up. And so we’ve done a lot of work adding onto those smaller houses, really building them out into homes that families can live in, but also that are maintaining that beautiful character from around the turn of the century and they’re able to just turn off the AC and open the house up and enjoy the weather when we’ve got it. So that’s really been our focus. And so we’ve gotten to the point where all of our referrals are through architects. They are bringing us the clients. So we’ve built that reputation now where we’re not going and trying to sell ourselves. I mean, we’re always trying to sell ourselves, but now we’ve built our reputation of the architects send their clients to us and we’re capable of executing what they’ve planned out and what they’ve designed.

And really the hardest part is figuring out how to do it within the budget that they want to do it in, especially this year and in the last year and a half or so, last years, that’s getting harder and harder. But generally, we’re building these houses or we’re at renovating and adding onto these houses for families that we love the historic homes and love the historic neighborhoods, because they’re very walkable, it’s really great communities to live in and you’re not going to get necessarily what you find in the suburbs with these giant houses, but they want a little more space and they want to be able to have a family and not have a couple of kids in one room and sharing a bathroom and that sort of thing. So they want some more space, but they want to keep that historic look and that feel of those old materials and we’re excited about that and happy to help them out with that.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Watch this segue, Charley. Speaking of saving cost materials, Takeoff, you’ve been using Buildertrend Takeoff too… See, you thought it was good. You’ve been using that with Buildertrend. We recently launched a new feature, so I’d love to talk a little bit how that has improved your processes. What’s your experience been like with the new Takeoff feature?

Eric Pierce:

Yeah, it’s been really great. I think it’s huge that Buildertrend has added that piece to the software. It was another piece that we spent a lot of time looking for and looking at, and there are some really great software packages out there for Takeoff, but this one is really simple, instead of getting out a scale ruler in your plans and trying to find your square footages for tile or wood floors or whatever-

Zach Wojtowicz:

Is that what we were doing before? You were getting out and you were…

Eric Pierce:

Basically, yeah, yeah. I mean, because again, at the time when we were just a younger company, we didn’t have the money to go out and spend. I mean, some of these Takeoff packages, the really nice ones are really expensive. I mean, a lot of times we’re just old school using a ruler and that sort of thing. Sometimes Zach, because he’s capable with AutoCAD and that sort of thing, I mean, he can pull those things, those dimensions and everything if we need to, but then it’s still pretty labor intensive because you still got to get the plans in there and draw them out and not only draw them out, but dimension them and everything. This process is really easy. You just upload your pages and you pull your page on the screen and scale it and you go. And I love that it’s got all these layers.

It’s really easy to save and print from. Frequently, I am pulling square footages and then sending what I’ve drawn on there, and you’ve got a million colors to choose from and all that kind of stuff. So I’ll send them a page of the bathroom floor tile is this and it’s this space and the mud room tile is this dimension and this space. And I’ll shoot that over to the architect just to verify and they’ll say, “Yeah, but we also wanted that tile here or whatever.” And so you go back in and draw it up and you’ve got your totals and then I just send it over to the vendor and the vendor can also see, it’s not just a square footage that I’m giving them, but they can see the layout because we’re often using custom tile, or at least not necessarily custom tile, but just very patterned tile and all of these different things.

And it’s not as simple as just putting in some 12 by 24s or some squares. We use a lot of hex and octagonal tile with patterns or different colors. And so we’re able to work with the vendor very easily through that process to figure out how much of each color or pattern or whatever we need of those tiles. And it’s been really helpful. We’re much more accurate than we used to be. It’s much quicker, obviously, than what it used to be. I can get some stuff drawn in a few minutes and get it out and then get into the back and forth rather than telling them it’s going to be a couple days or whatever. And so it’s really helps streamline my process as I’m generally in charge of working with the selections, working with the architect on the selections and all that kind of stuff.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Easy part of the job, right?

Eric Pierce:

I’m sorry?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Easy part of the job, right?

Eric Pierce:

Yeah, right. Yeah. So easy. But yeah, it actually has made that part of the job so much easier between having the selection tab and all of that information, all those details in Buildertrend, and now being able to pair that with my dimensions and areas and all of that and put it together and shoot it off to an architect or a vendor or whatever, it’s changed my job for sure.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Love to hear that.

Charley Burtwistle:

Appreciate all customer feedback, but great customer feedback. The compliments are always nice to hear as well too.

Eric Pierce:

Absolutely.

Charley Burtwistle:

Well, Eric, we are running up on time. We could continue to talk to you forever. We could tell you’re passionate about what you do and-

Zach Wojtowicz:

And what a scenic background.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, it’s been very calming watching it.

Eric Pierce:

Just happy to provide it.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, but thank you very much for coming on. Would love to talk to you again sometime.

Eric Pierce:

I’d love it. Yeah, thanks so much.

Charley Burtwistle:

See you.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Charley, you feel relaxed. You look like you’ve been in nature.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yes, absolutely. That was the most beautiful background I’ve ever seen. Rivals my Mount Rushmore little spin.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Throwback to the Mount Rushmore episode.

Charley Burtwistle:

Throwback to the Mount Rushmore episode. But no, that was great. That was another episode of just talking to someone that just truly loves what they do and it’s so refreshing. I feel like we constantly, I don’t know, at least Zach and I, we talk about things that we could do better and things that we can improve on. And it’s nice talking to customers that love what they do, love our product, and you can actually see the impact that we’re making and that they’re thus making to their clients. Really, really refreshing and maybe that’s just me, the zen in me kind of leaking out after the scenic background behind the-

Zach Wojtowicz:

It’s that extra energy I was talking about in the intro.

Charley Burtwistle:

Yeah, absolutely. No, it was fantastic. What do you think Zach?

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, I was thinking about during the interview, I don’t think we’ve had a historic home builder before or renovator, so that was really interesting to kind of hear that process. He does a lot of things that I think more builders are starting to do, which is bring in-house labor. You talk about finding good trades and that is a huge piece of making construction happen. There’s the administration, they got to have people who do great work. The craftmanship, I could really tell talking to him, he’s a guy who pays attention to the details and I’m going to go check out his website and just see the work they’re doing and-

Charley Burtwistle:

Oh, it’s actually incredible. I hate to admit this, but I was kind of scrolling their website during the interview just because they have a little gallery page and I was scrolling through it. There’s some really, really cool pictures out there.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah, and he’s a former history teacher, so it’s really cool. I kind of can see him doing kind of the historic work and it was cool.

Charley Burtwistle:

It was also cool that his partner’s name was Zach, and every time we talked about him-

Zach Wojtowicz:

Well, every time he says his name, my heart skipped like, “Oh.”

Charley Burtwistle:

Well, when you would say it. When you said it, I thought you were talking about yourself with the third person. You’re like, “Oh. So, Zach, the teacher, he was a pretty cool guy and I was like a lot cooler than this Zach, the teacher, that’s for sure.

Zach Wojtowicz:

Yeah. If you want sick burns of Zach, join “The Building Code”.

Charley Burtwistle:

No, that was a fantastic episode. Hope everyone listening enjoyed it. We’ll see you next time. I’m Charley Burtwistle.

Zach Wojtowicz:

I’m Zach Wojtowicz.

Charley Burtwistle:

See you.

Eric Pierce Headshot

Eric Pierce | Color Houses


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