More than 20 years ago, Willow Tree Low Country Homes began with the philosophy of performance and the understanding that it takes more than square footage to construct a beautiful home. The same work ethic still applies today. Custom homebuilder Jim Garman, along with his wife, Bunny, and daughter Kerri Lester, continue to provide customers on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton with superior quality workmanship with the best possible prices. The family talked recently about Willow Tree’s commitment to excellence.
Jim, you’re a Certified Master Builder. What does that designation mean and what other certifications do you hold?
Jim: There’s only about 65 Master Builders in the state. By hiring a Master Builder, a homeowner is getting someone with a proven track record of stability, integrity and service. Master Builders are committed to staying updated in the most current practices in their fields. In addition, I am also a Certified Graduate Builder, Certified Green Professional and Certified Aging In Place Specialist. I’m always educating myself on new building standards and codes. I take advantage of Continuing Education opportunities available because that is information and knowledge I can pass along to my clients.
I hear the term “custom homebuilder” a lot. What does it mean to your company?
Kerri: At Willow Tree we do not have “model homes” or a selection of floor plans that you must choose from. A Willow Tree Home is truly the vision of the homeowner. Of course we have past homes that we have built and floor plans to use as inspiration, but we are not trying to force a client into building something we have built before. We will guide you through the process of designing the home that reflects your own style and imagination. I think that’s something that sets us apart.
There’s so many choices when building a custom home. The process seems like it could be very overwhelming.
Kerri: It doesn’t have to be. We’re with you every step of the way. We work very hard from the beginning to change a client’s mind-set from overwhelming to exciting. With the right builder, a custom home can be a fun experience. I go with every client to every appointment — whether it’s picking flooring, cabinets, lighting or appliances — and we work with vendors to keep everything in budget.
What is your business model?
Jim: Our mantra is quality not quantity. On average we have about three or four projects going at once because more than that would not allow me to give each client the attention they deserve. We are committed to quality and I am on the job site every day. I’m the planner, project manager and sometimes you’ll find me on the roof making sure the bones of the house are perfect. If our clients have questions, I’m there to answer them personally. We have such confidence in the superior quality of our homes that we live in a community in which I have built many homes. Clients are now my neighbors.
Bunny: By choice, we are a small family-owned and family-run company with low overhead. This allows us to give each of our clients the one-on-one attention they need and deserve.
What advice would you give to someone considering a custom home?Kerri: Pick a homebuilder that you feel comfortable with. Of course you want a builder to complete your project on time and on budget, but you also want someone who is honest and who you feel comfortable inviting into your life. It takes anywhere between eight and 12 months to build a custom home from start to finish, so you’ll be spending a lot of time with your builder.
Willow Tree Low Country Homes is located at 10 Durban Place, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926. 843-342-2320. www.willowtreebuilders.com