Stand on a dirt lot, and envision your dream home. Picture a finished product with large entertaining spaces for summer get-togethers and brisk autumn nights. Want to be able to use the pool in the late afternoon? Perhaps the lot with the western-facing backyard is better for your build. Don’t like baths? Nix the soaking tub in the primary bath.
It takes some vision and foresight, but there are plenty of benefits to buying a Hamptons home off floor plans — especially in this economic climate.
“What it allows you to do is to lock in the price of your house,” says Steven Dubb, the principal at The Beechwood Organization, a Jericho-based company founded by his father, Michael Dubb, that has built more than 7,500 homes in 60 communities across the New York metro area since 1985.
With several successfully completed projects on the South Fork, including The Latch, recently completed in Southampton, Beechwood’s latest projects are in Westhampton Beach: Country Pointe Estates, a 22-home residential community on Depot Road, and Oneck Landing, a four-parcel Moriches Bay enclave on Fiske Avenue.
“Pre-construction usually has a discount to what a finished house would cost. You take some of the market risks out of the equation when you buy pre-construction, off of floor plans. Construction cost inflation has been about 3% a month since things started coming back after the lockdowns,” Dubb says. “In a price-conscious world that’s one of the biggest benefits of buying off floor plans.”
Buyers also have the opportunity to customize their homes. “If there are things you want to change, rooms you want to add, bathrooms you want to make smaller, ceilings that you want to make higher — you really get to personalize and customize your home as opposed to buying an existing home where you’re stepping into somebody else’s decision,” he says. “When you buy pre-construction, you have the opportunity to make all those changes, to build it exactly the way that you want.”
Another plus, as opposed to building from scratch, is not having to go out and source a team and deal with all the headaches that come with that, from finding tradespeople to overseeing the build.
There is also the benefit of a warranty. “New York State has warranties that are mandated on new construction and most builders, especially Beechwood, exceed those state-mandated warranties. That, of course, is a lot better than stepping into an existing home where problems might be hidden, might not pop up for a couple of months and you’re on the hook for it entirely,” Dubb says. “It makes it a little bit easier to sleep at night.”
Record of Success With Floor Plans
Once Beechwood’s two Westhampton Beach developments are completed, the firm will have created 129 homes on the East End. In 2013, the company designed Bishops Pond, a 69-home luxury condo community in Southampton Village which became the fastest-selling community of its kind in the Hamptons. Two years later, Beechwood sold out 10 townhomes next door, as well as the four estate homes built at Bishops Grant on North Main Street.
The development at The Latch won design awards for its work at the historic main building and adjacent Terry Cottage, originally designed by the noted architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White. The 19-condo townhouse community at 101 Hill Street and the single-family home at 109 Hill Street ranged in price from $2.6 million to $7 million. This is Beechwood’s first project in Westhampton Beach.
“I think Westhampton is in the middle of the resurgence,” says Steven Dubb. “It started a couple of years ago and it’s only going to continue to grow because Westhampton: one, it’s really beautiful, and two, it is so much more convenient to get to from parts of Long Island and from New York City.”
For many people who are working hybrid work weeks, and who fell in love with being in the country during COVID, it’s easier to get back and forth to Westhampton from the city; it’s only 75 miles east of Midtown Manhattan, which cuts down on the traffic endured getting to points further east. “And, generally, it’s priced less expensive than other parts of the Hamptons,” he adds.
The Country Pointe Estates are located on the former site of Wholistic Tennis Academy at 44 Depot Road, within walking distance of the Long Island Rail Road Station in Westhampton; it’s just a five-minute drive to Main Street and Dune Road’s beaches. A five-minute drive south is Beechwood’s second development, Oneck Landing, overlooking Moriches Bay at Oneck Lane and Fiske Avenue.
At Country Pointe Estates, the half-acre lots feature homes ranging from 2,700 square feet to 5,900 square feet of living space. Asking prices range from $2.1 million to more than $3.6 million.
The Aberdeen is a new model, just added to the offering at Country Pointe, featuring the same amenities for a buyer who wants to entertain, but with fewer bedrooms than the Atlantic, Beacon and Commodore homes — plus with a better price point.
Floor plans for all four styles show open-concept great rooms and entertainment-ready kitchens, first-floor primary bedrooms and spacious mudrooms — some of the most sought-after features by Hamptons homebuyers. Extensive outdoor living spaces at each home are connected to a pool and a pool house.
Dubb says most buyers desire finished lower levels with space for a pool table, a bar with a “man cave” and a gym.
Prospective buyers are shown floor plans, not just on paper but on a large, interactive screen at Beechwood’s temporary showroom at Country Pointe Estates, where they can swipe through the different exterior and interior designs. (Visitors may even forget they are in a trailer, as it’s stylishly decorated and well-appointed to reflect the houses that will be built!)
Beechwood is using many of the same interior finishes and products that were used at The Latch.
“We’ve got model photography, we have samples of materials, and we’ve got walkthrough videos that we’re able to show prospective purchasers,” he says. “It’s one thing to have words on a page describing a flooring, it’s another to see a photo of it or to be able to pick it up and hold it in your hand.”
Every house at Country Pointe Estates will be unique.
“One of the hardest things about buying off of floor plans is you need to share the vision. You need to be able to use your imagination,” Dubb says.
There is a bit of “self-sorting” that goes on, Dubb says, because people know they are not going to see a finished house before they make the decision.
Some people still struggle to conceptualize it, while others pick it up right away. “We get a lot of buyers who have built houses for themselves or who have been involved in construction or in renovations in their (other) homes,” Dubb says. “Sometimes you can see the wheels turning — sometimes it’s very easy, some people pick it up naturally.”
Getting in Early
Dubb is excited for the model home, which is being framed, to be completed because there is still no substitute for being able to walk through a space. Of course, there is also no guarantee how many homes will be available after the model home is finished, as several lots have already been sold. Its anticipated completion date is early spring of 2023.
Buyers looking for value will jump at the opportunity to buy in this phase. For instance, at Beechwood’s project Weddington Glen in Weddington, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte, 50% of the homes available have been sold since Beechwood started selling in March. There is no model home even under construction yet. “It’s entirely off of floor plans and renderings,” Dubb says.
Those buyers will be rewarded in the long run because they got in at the preconstruction prices, and the homes in the community are going to be worth more when construction is complete, Dubb adds.
Just like with Country Pointe Estates in Westhampton Beach and another ongoing project Beechwood has at Oak Ridge in Saratoga, the floor plans and architecture were designed specifically for that location and market.
So what’s the biggest drawback to buying off the floor plan? The lack of immediate gratification, Dubb says, as buyers are purchasing a house not yet built. “If you buy an existing house, you get to move in 30 or 45 or 60 days. That is not the case when you buy pre-construction.”
As for the developer, offering all that customization is a double-edged sword. “We throw ourselves at the feet of our buyers. When we say we offer customization, we mean it.
So that means if somebody decides that they want to put a special kind of tile in their master bathroom, and it’s hard to source, we’ve got to go and figure out how to source it.”
Grappling with the supply-chain issues and labor shortages is a challenge all developers are facing. Dubb reports his industry is starting to see the supply issue normalize. “When we were building The Latch, we were really in the thick of it and we managed to get everybody in for the summer,” he says.
This article appeared as the cover story for the September 2022 issue of Behind The Hedges. Read the digital version here.