The Meadows at Hampton Cove development sits nestled at the southern tip of the Appalachian Mountains in northern Alabama, just 25 minutes southeast of Huntsville by car. Within its sprawling 300 acres, a prospective buyer can choose one of 400 spacious home sites, and there Stoneridge Homes will build the client a fully customized dwelling surrounded by a suite of communal amenities, including a heated, Olympic-size swimming pool, a clubhouse, walking trails, a fishing lake, a homeowners association, and a nearby trio of Blue Ribbon Award-winning schools: Hampton Cove Elementary, Hampton Cove Middle, and Huntsville High School. One imagines that entrée into such a development would cost a pretty penny, but perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the Meadows is its prices.
Jim Wright is the CEO of Stoneridge Homes, and he prides himself on his ability to construct quality custom-built houses that are also affordable. At the Meadows, homes start in the $300,000s, with about 2,800 square feet of space, yet each one can still be tailored specifically to its owner’s wishes. This is largely thanks to Stoneridge’s on-site design center, where buyers can create their dream homes from a variety of colors, models, and layouts, many of which are offered standard to keep costs low. “My little motto is, ‘We build custom homes at a production price,’” Wright says. “When people go to my design center, the money spent on extras is truly very little in the grand scheme of things.”
Wright started Stoneridge Homes in 2007 and purchased a large number of his lots in 2008, when prices were reduced during the real estate crash. It’s because of this that he can now afford to sell complete residential products that cost so little. “My accounting and finance background has always kept my focus on overhead and expense control,” Wright says. “Every builder should know, at any time, what a house costs or whether they’re over or under a budget. I think that’s a very strong skill set of mine.”
As one of the few guild masters in Madison County, Alabama, Wright already has a total of 13 communities in the Huntsville area, and his company is able to complete about two per year. But, the builder is the first to admit that the success he has garnered with Stoneridge Homes hasn’t been achieved alone. He’s appreciative of his bank and specifically the group of bankers that took a chance on funding his developments over the years while other financial institutions were pulling back on builder financing. “They decided to take that gamble, and we both won,” Wright says.
He also values his employees and views them as partners, including his construction crew, his vendors, his suppliers, and his subcontractors, most of whom have worked with Wright for 12–15 years. Most of his main office staff has also been with him for many years.
Stoneridge Homes’ future plans include expanding into the smaller-home market, and it will soon offer a line of dwellings less than 2,400 square feet in size. Many of today’s home buyers are looking for simpler homes with lots of storage for their busy lifestyles, and Wright and his team want to be able to cater to them as they’ve catered to everyone else.
As Stoneridge continues to grow, more lots in desirable, convenient locations are a must for the company, and plans are already under way for five new locations. Wright is humbled by and thankful for his continued success, and he is often heard saying that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the future of homebuilding. He loves what he does and hopes to continue being an active homebuilder in the Huntsville area for many years to come.