The average person may consider themselves doing well to own a home by the age of 30. Chris Clardy already owns an entire neighborhood.
Clardy, 30, a 2002 graduate of Mississippi University for Women”s business school, owns the Rivendale development off of Highway 50 near the state line, which currently includes 10 houses and eventually will grow to include around 30.
But Clardy is no newcomer to the real-estate market rolling the dice on a big investment. His first project was building his own home in 2003 and he moved on to doing custom work for hire.
He built each of Rivendale”s 10 houses himself, plans to start an 11th in October and won”t stop for years.
In actuality, Clardy doesn”t own the 10 houses on Rivendale, but he used to.
Nine of the 10 houses he”s built have been sold, and he expects to close on the 10th in a couple of weeks.
“Keeping it to (building) one house at a time has definitely eased my mind,” says Clardy. “All these were sold before I finished them.”
Clardy says building five or six houses each year isn”t particularly stressful, but it is educational.
“I”m learning a lot. There”s a lot of red tape you have to go through in developing a subdivision,” he said.
The red tape includes dealing with the health department and the Environmental Protection Agency on top of coordinating 30 different contractors. Clardy contracts out carpentry, concrete, electrical and heating and air work. If he has time he”ll handle the trim work or the flooring himself.
“Of course, it”s pretty much a full-time job just keeping clean-up on stuff and keeping contractors lined up where the house doesn”t sit for long periods of time,” said Clardy.
Clardy learned the business from working with his father, Don Clardy, owner of Clardy Drilling and Excavation. The two of them do all the dirt work on each house.
It was through friends of his parents that Clardy became aware of the property off Pleasant Hill Road where Rivendale sits. He purchased the land in 2006 and had an engineering firm draw up a plan.
The plan showed space for 36 1,700-2,000 square-foot homes on 1.25 acre lots. Each home is selling for $175,000-$200,000.
The area appealed to Clardy because he wanted to capitalize on the trend of families moving away from the city, but remaining close to town. The Rivendale subdivision is five minutes from the Highway 82 bypass, 10 minutes from East Columbus, 15 minutes from Highway 45 N and 15 minutes from New Hope High School.
He says the houses he builds are high-end but not luxury. And that”s intentional to make sure they remain affordable.
“I believe some people who used to be buying $250,000 houses have come down to my market of houses,” said Clardy. “I try to be one of the most competitive builders in town. I”d much rather turn as many houses as I can rather than squeeze every penny out of them.”
Clardy prides himself on his ability to provide quality work at affordable prices, which spreads quickly through word-of-mouth in a tough economy.
“A builder”s reputation pretty much makes or breaks him. I”ve never built a perfect house and I”ve never seen a perfect house, but I think the homeowners know that I try and I care,” he said.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.