Belman Homes, Inc.
Homebuilding Heritage: The Belman Family Legacy
Building on relationships to customize dream homes
At the crossroads of tradition and innovation, Belman Homes has etched an indelible mark on the American home-building landscape, breaking new ground with every project. Founded in the 1970s, this family-run business in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has become a promise of quality and innovation in the real estate and construction industry. At the helm of this legacy is David Belman, President of Belman Homes and a second-generation home builder whose journey is interwoven with the evolution of Belman Homes itself.
Belman’s father, Don Belman, a visionary in his own right, laid the foundation for Belman Homes as a real estate and land development company. In the 70s, he was instrumental in assisting other builders to purchase lots and sell their homes, which was disrupted when the builder he primarily collaborated with unexpectedly left the industry. With this challenge, Belman’s father took a bold step, leveraging his great understanding of the industry and his network of skilled tradespeople to transition into the building business.
Building the Future
For Belman, the building business was a profession and a way of life. Growing up, conversations at the dinner table often revolved around the nuances of construction and real estate. Belman laughs, “I grew up in the whole building business; it was in the basement of our home.” These early experiences, coupled with hands-on work on building sites during his youth, ingrained in him a deep appreciation for the craft. After high school, Belman moved into the real estate side of the business, obtaining his license, and beginning to sell homes while pursuing a college education.
The late 1990s marked a significant transition for Belman Homes, with Belman playing a central role in steering the company toward new horizons. Under his leadership, Belman Homes expanded its scope to include land development, custom homes, and condominiums, particularly in Southeast Wisconsin. This expansion was not just in scale but also in vision and spirit.
The loss of Belman’s father in December 2020 was heartbreaking for both the family and the company. Belman’s stewardship ensured that Belman Homes continued to thrive, honoring his father’s legacy while forging its path. Belman’s multifaceted role as a realtor, broker, and business administrator, along with his numerous accolades, including being named the 2017 Waukesha Freeman citizen of the year, is a testament to his dedication and skill.
Now, under Belman’s leadership, Belman Homes is strongly committed to creating an exceptional building experience for each customer. This customer-centric approach has been fundamental to the company’s growth and reputation.
Belman and Belman Homes distinguish themselves not only through their business acumen but also through their dedication to charitable activities. Their collaboration with the Operation Finally Home organization highlights their strong commitment to community welfare and social accountability. Their efforts to introduce this program in Wisconsin, coupled with their direct involvement in building homes for veterans, has infused a significant social aspect into the legacy of Belman Homes.
Leader in the Community
Belman’s role in the building industry is a balancing act of leadership, talent, innovation, and community involvement. When asked how he manages it all, Belman reflects on his involvement with the local Metropolitan Builders Association since 2010. His natural leadership qualities propelled him to the association’s president position and, subsequently, to a significant role at the state level.
Around the same time, he decided to join the leadership team for the State Builders Association and commit to building his first mortgage-free home for Operation Finally Home. Operation Finally Home became a key piece of his business’s social responsibility initiatives and a powerful tool for raising awareness and funds. Meanwhile, his involvement in the building industry at the legislative level allowed him to advocate for crucial issues like housing affordability, a cause close to his heart.
A Family Affair
Belman owns two distinct entities: Belman Builders, specializing in construction, and Belman Homes, focused on real estate and marketing. This separation emphasizes their strategic business approach, with each division serving a unique role within the Belman brand.
Belman’s dynamic lifestyle extends beyond his professional achievements. Described by his wife, Susan, as hyperactive, he indulges in various activities, from working out and playing basketball to Taekwondo and swimming. His daughter, Kaitlyn, a high school junior, mirrors her father’s passion, showing a keen interest in business and marketing.
Kaitlyn’s enthusiasm for marketing and aspirations to possibly lead the company one day reflects a pattern seen in the building industry, where family businesses often pass through generations. Belman takes great pride in her desire to take her academic pursuits to Carroll University, and her part-time involvement in the family business indicates that Belman Homes’ legacy may very well be upheld by the next generation.
Community and Craftsmanship
Belman Homes is the full real estate experience encompassing the builder, developer, and realtor roles. This integrated model has enabled them to create entire communities, primarily in Waukesha County, where they are the exclusive builders. They manage several subdivisions, usually handling two or three projects simultaneously.
Custom homes have emerged as a growing segment for Belman Homes, particularly in the current market climate. Belman emphasizes their hands-on approach in designing homes tailored to individual client needs. Though challenging due to budgetary constraints and client expectations, this aspect of their business is managed meticulously to ensure client satisfaction.
On the technical side, Belman Homes’ projects fall within a wide price range, from $600,000 to over $2 million, catering to a diverse clientele. The company has over 50 home designs, which clients can customize. Emphasizing quality, Belman takes pride in the hand-built nature of their homes, incorporating old-world craftsmanship and ensuring high energy efficiency.
Providing custom made hand finished cabinets is unique to their building process, a practice not widely adopted in the market, which adds detail and craftsmanship to their projects. “We’re very proud that our homes are hand-built. We try to incorporate the old-world craftsmanship into these homes.”
A significant aspect of Belman Homes’ success is the longstanding relationships with its trade crews, many of whom have been with the company since its inception. He notes, “We have a lot of crews that have been with the company since my father started it. They are tradesmen and craftsmen, not just contractors to us.”
Annually, they aim to construct around 25 to 30 homes, though recent market conditions have slightly reduced this number. Despite this, the focus has shifted to crafting larger and more detailed homes, underscoring their commitment to quality over quantity.
Construction time for a Belman home, from initiation to completion, typically spans seven to eight months, with the entire process, including planning and communication, taking about a year. This approach to home building, reminiscent of traditional craftsmanship, sets Belman Homes apart in an era where prefab methods have become the norm. Their homes are aesthetically pleasing and built to endure, potentially serving families across generations.
Belman emphasizes the importance of craftsmanship in their construction process. Using top-quality materials from renowned brands like Kohler, Pella, and Lennox, Belman Homes ensures that the final product is made of the best materials and assembled with utmost precision and care. This attention to detail extends to their choice of contractors, favoring long-standing relationships with trusted tradesmen who share their passion of quality and dedication.
Belman acknowledges several key vendors and suppliers essential to their success. Bliffert Lumber and Fuel, a major lumber partner, maintained a reliable supply during the pandemic, ensuring Belman Homes’ projects continued smoothly. He also mentions longstanding partnerships with suppliers like Pella for windows and doors, Arrow Millwork and Cabinetry for custom woodwork and cabinetry, and Dave Droegkamp Heating and Cooling for HVAC systems, notably contributing significantly to their Operation Finally Home projects.
It’s not just the materials and craftsmanship that make a Belman home; it’s also the collective effort and shared values of everyone involved in the process, creating homes that are not only structures but embodiments of community, resilience, and enduring quality.
Next Generation of Homebuyers
Looking into the future of the housing industry, Belman expresses concern about the challenges facing the next generation of homebuyers. “One of my biggest concerns going forward is the future of our industry … I’m always trying to help promote and encourage more housing affordability”, he notes. With a stark contrast between the affordability of homes in the 1950s and today, he points out the urgent need for more efficient land use, increased housing density, and embracing technological advancements. Belman Homes, he believes, is ready to adapt to these changes, particularly by integrating more online experiences in line with the expectations of a new, tech-savvy generation of homeowners.
At the company’s heart is a dedication to veterans, a sentiment best captured by Belman, “I’m most proud of the work that we’re doing with our veterans right now… It gives them a fresh start in their lives.” This effort to support and honor those who have served the country exhibits their community involvement and is the cornerstone of the legacy they aspire to leave behind.
Looking Ahead: Innovations and Expansion
Belman is optimistic about Belman Homes’ growth and future projects. Plans to develop properties catering to younger buyers, focusing on smaller, more affordable homes, reflect a strategic and responsive approach to evolving market demands.
Belman Homes is a company deeply rooted in tradition yet agile enough to navigate and shape the future of the housing industry. Under Belman’s leadership, Belman Homes stands as a model of quality, innovation, and community commitment, set to continue making significant strides in the future. “Our vision is creating the ultimate building experience one customer at a time.”
AT A GLANCE
Belman Homes, Inc.
What: Belman Homes, a family-owned business, stands out as a comprehensive builder, developer, and realtor, offering a complete suite of services in the home construction and real estate sectors.
Where: Waukesha, Wisconsin
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