In a place where a majority of the housing stock was built before the 1940s, new homes in Butte are a bit of a commodity.
For several years, Les Thomas Construction Inc. and Coldwell Banker Markovich Real Estate have been combining forces to bring new homes to Butte residents. The homes that Les Thomas builds come in a variety of floor plans, and homeowners are able to personalize their abodes by selecting from a finite set of choices, including countertop colors, flooring colors, lighting fixtures and other details, to make their homes unique.
That’s according to Jana Richards of Markovich Real Estate, who’s been representing Les Thomas for about eight years.
If you’re looking for a new Les Thomas home, you’ll have to get in line. Richards said the homes tend to go fast, and a majority of them are sold on a pre-sale basis.
Les Thomas mostly specializes in ranch-style houses, which tend to feature long, low, ground-hugging profiles. The homes are single-story in character, although the company offers homes with full basements. Other features include open and uncluttered floor plans and uncomplicated exteriors.
Originally from Oakland, California, Thomas is a fourth-generation carpenter who knew he wanted to go into the trade ever since he was a kid and his grandfather handed him a block of wood to hammer and drill.
“My grandfather was a carpenter. My uncle was a carpenter. My dad was a carpenter,” said Thomas, noting that the trade runs in the family’s blood.
Thomas got his start in the industry with a four-year apprenticeship program and afterward began building homes in California. He moved to Helena in 1989 to work for his uncle and went on to work as a subcontractor before starting his company in 1991. In 2012, he moved to Butte. He has built well over 30 single-family homes in the Mining City and over 400 throughout his career.
What makes the Les Thomas company unique, Richards said, is that the construction firm is able to consistently produce homes in a set array of styles.
Les Thomas isn’t a custom builder, she said, but homebuyers are still able to give their homes a personal touch by selecting upgrades, such as finished basements, exterior details, fireplaces, triple car garages, and more.
“The list kind of goes on forever,” Richards said of the upgrades homebuyers are able to choose.
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Because a majority of the homes are pre-sold, Richards said, being able to select these details ahead of time helps buyers stay within their budgets.
“There’s no hidden cost,” said Richards, noting that the price quoted to homebuyers when they go under contract for the construction is the same price homebuyers will close on.
Floor plans Les Thomas offers include the Rancher, the Extended Rancher, the Spacious Rancher and the Tri-Level. The company also builds four different styles of single-level homes. According the company’s website, the homes range from about 1,650 square feet to 3,600 square feet.
“We have them all over Butte,” said Richards, remarking on the homes’ locations, which includes the Beef Trail and Continental Drive areas and more. “We do them on acreage, we do them on city lots, we’ve built out in Rocker. We’re also getting ready to build out on Shirley Way in Fairmont.”
When asked if there’s a demand for new homes like the ones Les Thomas builds, Richards responded, “absolutely.”
“We sell out every year of our time slots (to build the homes),” Richards said.
Buying homes new, she said, helps buyers avoid dealing with deferred maintenance or having to update outdated features. The homes also come with a one-year builder’s warranty, and buyers get to do a walkthrough before closing on the home.
For Richards, the best part about representing Les Thomas is working with homebuyers to personalize their homes.
“We’ve actually met some incredible people who have become our friends,” she said.
As for Thomas, he said he enjoys every phase of the building process. “Meeting the people,” he said. “Getting out, getting my hands dirty.”
Richards added that there’s something satisfying about leaving behind concrete reminders of one’s work.
“It’s really rewarding to drive through an area and know we’ve built a neighborhood,” she said. “And it’s a neighborhood of friends because we’ve become so close to the people.”