Wayne Homes Helping Communities to Grow

By ALAN OLSON

Staff Writer

In the few years that Uniontown, Pa.-based Wayne Homes has had a local presence in Belmont County, the business has helped numerous families realize their ideal home ownership situation.

Wayne Homes operates in many places in the area, with numerous locations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with service in West Virginia counties from Hancock down to Wood. The Belmont County office has been open since 2013, during which time they’ve assisted in building nearly 200 homes in the area since opening in 2013.

Wayne Homes is an on-your-lot homebuilding company, but sales manager Alana Hendershot said many prospective homeowners approach them without property, which they assist in the acquisition of, something which has become a steeper obstacle in recent years.

“We will partner them with a realtor in many cases, to help find land and property,” Hendershot said. “Which is getting a little challenging in some places, finding land has proven to be a challenge in a few counties. …. Residential areas, as far as local developments, many of them have already sold their lots the cost of land has gone up significantly in recent years.”

Chief among the consumer base Wayne Homes sees, Hendershot said, are first-time homebuyers in their mid-20s, as well as retirees seeking a lasting housing option, rather than a retirement home. Wayne Homes offers more than 40 floor plans to prospective buyers, which can be modified to the customer’s wishes, such as widening doors to increase accessibility or removing walls for wider space. Once the process of building the home advances to dig day, Wayne Homes offers a 125-day deadline.

Hendershot said their peak activity was in the last three years, when the oil and gas boom led to many homes being built, especially when compared to the high price of renting property at the peak of the industry. While plans have yet to be set in stone, Hendershot said she suspects a similar rennaisance in home construction may come around when the proposed Dilles Bottom ethane cracker plant is finalized and construction begins.

“I think (the cracker) could certainly increase the market, I forsee higher interest in building new homes, should that happen,” Hendershot said. “Many of them were questioning how long they’d be here, and the cost of rent at that time was skyrocketing. Many of them were saying, ‘If I’m going to pay $1,500 per month in rent, why not pay $1,500 per month in mortgage and get a nice home that’s mine.'”

“In many cases, customers are able to build a new home, with warranties, versus buying an existing home that doesn’t have warranties and needs renovation.”

Homes offered by Wayne Homes come with several warranties, offering proof against structural problems, waterproofing of the foundation, and the minor problems associated with settling during the first two years, such as creaks and stuck doors.

Hendershot said that key to their operation is the inclusion of numerous trade partners, including local family and private electricians, and when available, the cooperation of local family businesses with mennonite or Amish backgrounds to aid in construction and installation.

“We have a trade crew who’s going to come in and do the foundation, a separate crew that does the framing,” Hendershot said. “We’re using a lot of trades from the area, but also some that move two hours away, and we’re always looking for trades to add to our ever-growing team — electricians, specialists in hanging drywall, painters. It’s always helpful to have three or four different crews.”

Belmont County has been good to Wayne Homes, and she feels the sentiment is a common one among locals, and also an attractive option to out-of-state people looking for a place to settle.

“Belmont County’s certainly a great place to live, and many of our customers feel the same way,” Hendershot said. “Much like ourself, we see many people who’ve grown up here, who are choosing to stay here. … We’re getting ready to build a house for a woman from Texas, and when the oil and gas boom was at its peak, we were seeing interest from people who were just passing through, to make this a more permanent home.”

Houses in Belmont County through Wayne Homes range in price, from smaller Cape Cod-style homes starting at $133,100, to ranch-style homes beginning at $140,000 and multi-story homes at a similar price point. Homes in the Signature Collection line include premium options such as master bathroom suites, energy-efficient home automation packages, and other high-quality options.

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