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.
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 manyyears 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.
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.