Tammy Davis

While some may call Tammy the Office Manager, we think of her as the heart and soul of the Doll Homes office.  She is the one behind the scenes making sure that our paperwork gets done, that phone calls and emails get answered, and that our clients and our team’s lives run as smoothly as possible.  You may also see Tammy out at one of the many Community DOLLars events that Doll Homes hosts throughout the communities in which we build.  A Manassas, VA native, Tammy has a passion for music and may just be the Foo Fighters biggest fan.  She is currently enjoying being the World’s Greatest Grandma and looking for the next concert to attend.

 

Lawrence K. Doll

Lawrence Doll, Founder

Lawrence K. Doll is the owner and founder of The Lawrence Doll Company, a real estate development company formed in 1980 and based in Fairfax, Virginia. His passion for the industry and success of the development company compelled him to form Lawrence Doll Homes, LLC, in 1995. This was established to provide a broad range of “semi-custom” homes to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding housing market in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area.

Mr. Doll is a decorated military veteran. As a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, he served his country in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Upon returning from service, he was stationed two years in Washington, D.C., as part of the prestigious Honor Guard prior to his honorable discharge. He later received his degree in Business Administration before entering the real estate industry.

Lawrence Doll Homes, LLC, is dedicated to meeting the needs of the home buyer. This is done by proving to each home buyer our commitment to quality, value, and integrity – the core values that are Lawrence Doll and the Doll Homes Team.

Doll Homes’ reputation and customer satisfaction rate define the company as a respected developer and builder in a highly competitive market consistently demanding nothing short of excellence and value.

Bye Week Blog Week

What a week it has been!  We’ve been busy with our Station House Project, our 3rd Street home in Herndon, and a few other upcoming developments this week. 

The Depot

The quintessential old farmhouse in need of some TLC

New Deck at 3rd St Herndon

No matter how busy we get, though, we always make time for community.  We have been hosting our monthly Community DOLLars events, most recently with the amazing Nunu of Nunu’s Thai Dishes   and enjoying Chalk the Town and Arts Crawl with our friends at EOTH and ArtSpace Herndon.  Every Friday we have been volunteering at JamBrew to support our local musicians and artists.             

Free Appetizers at Nunu’s

Arts Crawl

 

Chalk the Town

Volunteering at JamBrew

 

So stay tuned for next week’s blog, and look for us around town.  As always, we love to see and hear from you!

-Doll Homes

Obsolescence and Plastic Surgery

Every once in a while we end up with and old home that resides on a piece of property we intend on building new homes upon.  Generally speaking it makes more sense to resign ourselves to the conclusion that the old home has lived a full and useful life and, like most things on this Earth, its time has finally come.   

Better to make way for a new generation of home that meets the demands of buyers in a new era.  

The quintessential old farmhouse in need of some TLC

After all, that’s what this original home did for the people at that time, or else one could argue that we should all still be living in caves.  However, there are occasionally reasons for keeping and/or giving a new face lift to something that restores it to its former glory or even breathes new life into it (just ask your favorite movie star and their plastic surgeon) ;).  

We are getting ready to launch a project that has just such a home on it.   This is when we get to have a little fun! The opportunity to strip it down to its bones, reshape the interior, and put all the pieces of the puzzle back together with newer and shinier ones, can be such a rewarding challenge.   And, in some cases, it gives me an opportunity to do things that I wouldn’t normally get to experiment with in a new home.

Queue the term “She Shed…”

You may have heard of the term, or have seen pictures of one in commercials or media.   But who ever really gets an opportunity to build one?! (I’m literally rubbing my hands together and smirking as I’m writing this…)  Well, besides being able to enjoy restoring the home pictured above, it also came with an old barn/carriage house! And, while I am sure it did a tremendous job of housing a carriage at one time, we live in an age where we only need to plug our transportation in rather than feed it hay to ensure we can get to work the next day.  So, it would seem that our little barn is in desperate need of a new title and purpose!

So, because this post has already grown too long, I plan to spend the next few posts sharing the transition of the remodel of the old home and how I’m going to make our cute little barn

A barn with an identity crisis

Resemble this…

A barn with a purpose! Courtesy of paducahone

Stay tuned and feel free to share your ideas or any “she shed” stories!

  • Will

Community DOLLars

Lawrence Doll Homes believes that a community is truly the sum of its parts and can only be as good as the people, businesses and organizations that call it home.  That the overall character and success that defines a community relies on those very people to enrich it and, more importantly, support one another. And by choosing to support a local business, community organization, or neighbor, ensures a vibrant, interesting place to live with unique and successful businesses that satisfy the needs of a familiar clientele.  

It became apparent that to do its part in realizing this idea, Lawrence Doll Homes needed to do something beyond creating timeless homes that contribute to the visual character of a community.  It’s because of this that we decided in 2015 to embark on a mission to give back to the communities in which we build and launched an ongoing campaign titled “Community DOLLars.” Through a series of unconventional marketing approaches and partnerships, we hope to do our part not only financially, but by helping to promote local businesses and community activities that encourage lasting local participation.

This year we have partnered with Eye of the Heart, LLC who has helped us focus on our Community DOLLars initiative. We had the honor of working with local businesses and organizations such as Lake Anne Brew House, Weird Brothers Coffee, Nunu’s Thai Dishes, ArtSpace Herndon, and more.  

This month we are also participating in local Herndon music and arts festival JamBrew, each Friday through September on the Herndon Town Green. Stop by and visit us or follow us on FaceBook and Instagram to find out where we will be next!

Initial pencil sketch and final 3D rendering of one of our newest homes in our upcoming Station House community

Concepts…

Like any new concept, the inspiration for designing a new home can originate from any number of sources.  But, I typically find that the heart and soul of each new home I create begins with a singular concept that usually predominates the overall design.  And, comically, it sometimes presents itself as a revelation at unusual or even inconvenient times. This has actually resulted in an idea being sketched on a napkin that lived in my pocket until I could get to my office several days later.   Sure, I’ve had ideas expectedly come from a picture of a brilliantly unique, yet functional kitchen layout in a magazine (yes, I still enjoy reading magazines). Or from seeing a derelict house reborn into a beautiful structure that compliments the neighborhood on one of those DIY shows (yes, I sometimes watch those too).  But, I’ve also been inspired from seeing so many beautiful farmhouses, situated in their pastoral setting, on a recent drive to the countryside.

I remember thoughtfully trying to figure out what feature or aspect of that sight that brought such warm feelings of home that I could implement into my next design. Sure, there are other practical elements that have to be considered.  Like, whether designing a home to fit a particular lot, or one that you plan to rebuild over and over, there are always a number of factors that will undoubtedly influence the ultimate design in some way. And, as a homebuilder, you also have the constraint that you are designing a home that hopefully appeals to a wide range of people, tastes, cultural backgrounds and generational differences.  It is because of this one, albeit huge factor, that a lot of new production homes look so similar. Afterall, this is a business, and character rarely wins out over profitability.

Being a small builder hopefully affords us the ability to design new homes that we are not only proud of, and ones that we would live in ourselves (I do by the way), but that also stand out from the multitude of homogenous designs that we have grown to expect when visiting any new home community.  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway, and I can only hope you feel the same way…

 

  • will

Choices…

There once was a time when a new home was constructed utilizing materials that were found on or near the site it was being built upon, and was somewhat limited by the level of skilled labor available.  This didn’t leave much room for variation in products or imposing one’s aesthetic on the design. Technology progressed, as it usually tends to do, and new homes at one point could be ordered from a catalog, with the materials being delivered to you by your friendly train conductor.  Although, I’m sure the Amazon business model hadn’t been adopted yet, so shipping was most likely not free. This advancement was one of the milestones that opened the door for varying products, styles and features to enter into the equation.

Fast forward to today… All that the world has to offer in terms of products that can be used to construct one’s home is only limited by how muc

h someone is willing to pay to get it to the job site.  And, new products are either being found or invented all the time. The utilitarian or financial value that any of these products found today adds to one’s home is up for debate, but the personal satisfaction of being able to put your own thumbprint on your home, with products that make you feel proud of and comfortable living in what is most likely the most expensive thing you own, is arguably priceless. So,

with all that is available, why is it that you see the same hardwood floors, faucets, and other components being offered at most new home communities? For anyone that went to college, I imagine that was covered

in freshman economics 101.

But, despite the fact that it may not be the most efficient or cost effective business practice, I have too much pride for what we do to allow Doll Homes to build anything where profit determines all decisions. We are fortunate enough to be one of the few remaining industries that produces a tangible thing, so why would we reduce ourselves to building the same widget using the same products over and over? Afterall, these new homes will be around for generations. Not to mention, giving customers the opportunity to make unique selections sets us apart in the industry, while offering the satisfaction to our customer that they have made their new home truly their own.

So, you want to talk about live edge mantels made from old walnut trees that fell in our area, or sinks carved from stone? Let’s discuss countertops that are made from semi-precious stone, and that light up from an LED panel underneath. You want to put brick on your floor instead of hardwood? Or, let’s talk about hardwood floors that are reclaimed locally and made from   

 old barns or fences.

 

You are only limited by your imagination, and a few building codes, and we won’t even have to make a trip to the train station.

-Will

PS. All the pictures are actual photos of unique products that customers selected to be used their homes. How cool is that? 

It was a hot day, but we were ready!  With the Anita’s Frozen Cotton Candy truck at the ready, we gathered at 751 Quincy Street in downtown Herndon, VA to celebrate the coming of our newest project Station House.  The community had the chance to get a first look at our newly designed Summerston and Sutton models, learn about the Station House project, and take advantage of some great Grand Opening specials.

Station House Launch Party June 2018

There was a local DJ helping us to ‘beat’ the heat, so to speak.  We also had an array of gift baskets from surrounding local businesses up to raffle for anyone who stopped by.  We had baskets from great shops like Weird Brothers Coffee, Elden Street Tea Shop, Meg Donnelly, LMT, Ch’i Body Works, Crooked Run Brewery, Senor Ramon’s Tacos, and even some cash prizes!  Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern provided a delicious chili bar for us to enjoy under the tent.

It was a fun afternoon of learning about the new homes, customization options, speaking to the real estate agent, and touring the property.  We were delighted to have community members, current DOLL Home owners, and perspective buys all come out to celebrate the day with us.  Building in communities like Herndon is what makes it all worthwhile.  We are excited for our newest project and can’t wait for all the people we will be fortunate enough to meet along the way.

It’s the little things…

Recently a lot of time is being spent becoming intimately familiar with the details included in the site plans and construction drawings related to our new housing project called Station House, in Herndon, Virginia.   This is not always the most spiritually fulfilling task and can be quite tedious at times. It got me thinking about a quote from an unknown source that I’ve had taped to my desk for the better part of 12 years.  It reads,

“There once was a time when a land developer could simply be a shrewd entrepreneur. Now it is necessary to be a mystic, an engineer, an architect, a soil scientist, a tax accountant, a land use attorney, and a politician. A wide range of technical skills must be acquired and effectively applied to be successful in today’s market.”  

Now you only need to add to that erosion, structural, energy efficiency, electrical, plumbing and carpentry proficiencies that are required to build a home on your developed land and you are ready to embark on your wildly successful homebuilding career! The fact is, like most professions, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the details, especially those that you aren’t proficient in.  In homebuilding, all of those details matter. Because, afterall, those details are intended to create a tangible, very large, expensive thing that someone is going to be living in for many years. And the consequences could be significant, whether costly or even dangerous, if overlooked.

For instance, your architectural specifications may assume a certain size concrete footing and wall strength for your foundation utilizing very technical and complicated equations that far exceed the understanding of even the most mathematically inclined. Nevertheless, you are confident in the abilities of your architect and structural engineer, and now only have to call a concrete company to come and pour the foundation once the whole is dug.  Right? Not so fast… If your geotechnical report, that is generated by a soil scientist and independent of your architectural plans, says the soils where you intend to place your house don’t drain fast enough, then pouring that foundation as planned may result in the basement walls collapsing in on themselves over time.

Or, let’s say your framers go ahead and frame all the windows and doors as they are shown on your plans. I mean, what could be wrong with going off the plan? Well, not all windows manufacturers adhere to standardized sizing. So unless your framers knew the exact dimension of the actual windows that are being ordered ahead of time, you may find yourself ordering a bunch of additional lumber and paying for additional labor to your now angry framers to cut out and re-frame window openings throughout the home.  Oh, and you get to watch as all the new lumber that was originally used gets cut out and thrown into a dumpster.

The fact is, there are so many details between concept and realization in building a home, I’ve realized that one lifetime is simply not enough to gain a full understanding of all the professions that are involved in making a house grow out of the ground.  Most of what you need to know to be good at it doesn’t come from a textbook, but rather is learned after many years on the job. However, knowing just enough or being willing to ask for help in deciphering differing professional opinions is mandatory to ensure a sound, quality home.  

So we as homebuilders endure reading all the technical jargon, reports, and instructions for each home before starting because the details matter, a lot.

-Will

Raymond Mohler and His Grand Champion

I guess it all started while spending summers with my grandparents at a young age, in a small farm town in Indiana. Summers in Indiana, in addition to being hot and predominantly surrounded by cows, and corn, lots of corn, came with a very big backyard pool, family, and construction.  You see, my grandfather was the town carpenter. I never was sure if this was an official title bestowed on him, but he built the town truck stop, the town bank, and numerous other buildings. And, after all, there wasn’t much room for many other carpenters in a town of about 2,500, so the title seemed fitting.   In addition to belly flops and potlucks with family all summer, I got to spend some time on construction sites, and even was given the opportunity to practice smashing my fingers with a hammer on occasion in an effort to learn how to “toenail” roof trusses.

Thus began my budding love affair with home building, land development and all things construction related.  And, between working my way through college at a restaurant, getting married, having 3 kids, a home, a dog, 4 chickens, and a grossly neglected garden and various other hobbies that I don’t have time for, I find myself on the other side with this one constant. Construction. This month will be my 23rd year with the same home building company that I started with right out of school.   And, as you can imagine, my duties have grown from holding open houses and looking for future home sites. I now am the managing partner at Lawrence Doll Homes. In addition to running a small business with my partner and mentor, Lawrence Doll, my duties range from land acquisition, house design, product selection, financing, land development and, occasionally, where to plant a tree.  

I love what I do.

But, as with most professions, certain aspects are more enjoyable than others.  I design all of the homes we build, truly making them custom homes. The ability to put years of experience into a plan, sometimes starting on a napkin, and seeing it ultimately rise out of the ground is rewarding on a spiritual level.  But, seeing someone move into that home, who appreciates the quality and thought that went into this one-of-a-kind, tangible product, that will be here for a lifetime, is also rewarding beyond any paycheck or accolade.

So this is the foundation for my being here.  And the basis of this blog is to try and show you why I love custom home building so much.  Sometimes it’s pure joy. Sometimes it sucks. But I’m living this life that I’ve built. And I Love it.

-Will