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Statler's model home offers design ideas

Statler Construction’s model home at 929 Fifth St. in Kalona won a 2020 Iowa City Area Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Builders Excellence Award in the $351,000-$450,000 category. (James Jennings/The Union)
Statler Construction’s model home at 929 Fifth St. in Kalona won a 2020 Iowa City Area Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Builders Excellence Award in the $351,000-$450,000 category. (James Jennings/The Union)
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As a builder, Jeremy Statler, owner of Statler Construction in Washington, prefers to give people wishing to build a new home something real to view.

Each year, Statler builds a model home to give people some ideas when designing their own new homes.

“I found that it helps when people are looking to build to see something,” Statler said. “They may not like this plan and want something totally different, but there are still a lot of things we can use it for to give them ideas, whether it’s size or features or options or amenities.”

His latest model home, located at 929 Fifth St. in Kalona, boasts 1,620 square feet on the main level.

There are just two bedrooms on the main level and a four-season room on the back.

“By having the two bedrooms in that size, it gives you a little bit bigger spaces,” Statler said. “In the basement, I finished one more bedroom. There’s about 1,000 square feet down there.

“It has a big family room and bathroom. It has another area where I could finish a fourth bedroom if future buyers choose to.”

Statler said that in his model homes, he tries to show as many different things as he can.

“In the guest bathroom, I set it up with more standard features and finishes that we do,” Statler said. “In the master bathroom, I show some different choices and ideas, like a nicer faucet.

“We put a rope light in the toe-kick, which is a nice night light kind of thing. We did a tile shower instead of a fiberglass shower.”

He said that a model home helps put details like room sizes in perspective.

He recalled a time when someone came to him with some basic plans showing a master bedroom measuring 20 feet-by-20 feet.

“That is a big bedroom,” Statler said. “When we came in here, we looked at the master bedroom, which is 13-by-14 approximately and has a king size bed in it.”

He told the people, “So, what you’re looking for is actually like seven feet bigger this way and six feet bigger that way.”

“They realized that maybe they don’t need it that much bigger,” Statler said.

Statler’s model home won a 2020 Iowa City Area Home Builders Association Parade of Homes Builders Excellence Awards in the $351,000-$450,000 category.

Business has been brisk for Statler despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m pretty well booked out this year,” he said. “Next year isn’t looking as good as what it did last year at this time, but I’m still optimistic.”

He said that his biggest challenge right now is the soaring price of materials, with the average price of lumber up 120 percent over what it was in April.

“When COVID hit, the big mills and companies that are producing lumber thought things were going to slow down, and they lost some employees,” Statler said. “They scaled way back on production of raw lumber. Actual construction did not slow down. Supply went down, and demand went up, so prices are going to factor into that.”

He said he can call a lumber yard to place an order, and they will only guarantee the price for a day.

“They can’t guarantee if or when it will come in,” he said. “If it does come in, they’ll call you. You’d better pay for it and pick it up, or they’ll give it to someone else. As soon as it comes in, it’s gone.”

He added that there are issues with the supply chain, with some materials – like treated lumber – that are nearly impossible to get.

That creates a problem if there are multiple items he needs for a project.

“The problem is that I might need five different things for a project,” he said. “If one of those doesn’t come in, it might keep me from doing anything. It’s hard to plan.

“I’m meeting with people now who want to build next year. I can’t give them a price right now.

“While I fully believe that come January, February, March, supply will be ramped up by then, and demand won’t be as high and prices will come back down, I can’t go and give somebody any sort of guarantee or cost without knowing a little better where things will be. It makes it harder to plan and line things up for next year.”