Builder Spotlight: Peter Pratley
The Pratley Company
Cos Cob, CT
Peter is a man who understands the value of time. He's speaks with the urgency of a guy on a mission, and indeed he is: building sweet homes in his area of CT, notably including the fast-growing Greenwich and Westport areas. Speed, especially in decision making, is important to him, as is efficiency. Its part of what he does and why people like to refer him. He can walk around a space and knows where to open up a wall, where you need to refresh a functional system, where a window would make a huge difference. He has the skills of a designer, engineer, and architect rolled into one person, so he can advise on deals in a thorough way. He sometimes plays the role of the expediter too, so an anxious client can get going fast, and without relying on the shady hucksters looking for expediting dollars.
Peter has been swinging a hammer since he was 14. His dad worked sheet metal and he grew up with that pride of making something with your hands. Took a break to go to school, and spent some time on Wall St afterwards -- but the crash of '87 taught him something: better to have control over something you understand than to pass around a peice of paper that could disappear at any time.
So he went back to carpentry, and in a few years, had started a project management company that turned into a development business. He flew high (like many of us did) in 2005/2006 but since then, has shifted his philosophy to run a smaller, tighter ship.
"A good hombuilding organization," says Peter, "should produce $180-200K per person."
As part of these conversations, I like to ask the builder about advice they might offer others in the game. Perhaps reflecting the increasingly challenging homebuilding market, global warming, or both, his first reaction was "Don't be a homebuilder. Go be a fireman instead...Just kidding!"
Homebuilding isn't easy. And harder still to do reliably, on time, and on budget. Peter's real advice is to get organized, and have mastery over your costs. Additionally, run estimates the same way on every deal, so you can look back across them for patterns and learnings. Peter himself has built a 1100 line spreadsheet that he uses on every job -- and its one of his secret weapons.
Check our Peter and some of his work here.