We recently visited with Baird Graham of The Baird Graham Company to hear more about his home building business. We view Baird as one of the premier home builders in the Nashville area and we have the distinct pleasure of representing him on some of his new construction homes.
Tell us about how you got into the construction business?
After college, I came back home to Nashville and started working for KC Remodeling. As the name suggests, we did home renovations and were very involved in the process. That’s when I began to learn about construction and all of the skilled trades. I learned how much I loved the business and how it really came easy to me. Charles Penning (owner at KC Remodeling) and I still talk frequently and I consider him a mentor to this day.
After working with him for a couple years, I went out on my own, and now, I am in my 13th year of owning my own company. We focus only on new construction homes.
In what ways has home building changed since you first started?
It really hasn’t changed leaps and bounds. I would say that technology has really improved the materials we have at our disposal. As the attitude around building codes, the environment and really Nashville as a whole has changed, it has made the process of building homes evolve.
That said, the basics remain the same. We really pride ourselves on the rough-ins or in other words, what the house looks like behind drywall. Ensuring that the walls are plumb, level and square, and the wall cavities are vacuumed before drywall is hung are just a couple small things that we do to maintain a quality of product that we are proud of. Ultimately, we want our homes to look as good on the inside as they do on the outside.
Changing gears to design. We understand that you make most, if not all of the design choices in the homes you build.Can you tell us a little bit about that process as well as where you draw your inspiration from?
In the past, I’ve worked with several fantastic designers and decorators that have inspired me. That said I’m really involved in every aspect of my builds from design to construction and I really enjoy it. Seeing other people’s work both here in town and online thru Instagram and whatnot really inspires me to push myself to be innovative. Currently, we are building nearly 100% spec(ulative) homes. It can be difficult to be over the top creative in my market as I want people to be happy with our builds. I don’t want a potential homeowner to walk thru one of our houses and feel, oh this is just another spec house. I stay very traditional with my builds, nice, clean simple lines.
It’s great to be able to build my properties and developments with the flexibility to make changes on the fly by managing my own construction and design.
You’re currently building a farmhouse in Leipers Fork. What are some of your favorite features of this home?
The best part about this home is the location. It’s the right balance of being in Leipers Fork but also being right around the corner from Highway 96, where we’re so close to downtown Franklin. We’re sitting on right at six and a half acres wrapped around this beautiful farm with beautiful oak trees flanking the drive, so privacy is such a plus with this project. The opportunity to come out here and build a modern farmhouse inspired home has been really great.
I’m working on around 20 projects typically in the Belle Meade, Green Hills, Forrest Hills area so being out of town can be difficult but it’s truly awesome being out here. It has also been great getting to know and work with new building inspectors and to build relationships with those folks. I hear a lot of talk about how difficult it can be to work with Williamson County Codes but those people have been nothing but great to work with. They really know what they are talking about so it makes my job easier.
Much like The Clough Team, you have a family member who works for your company. What would you say is the best and also the most challenging part of working with family?
The best part is easily the trust. There’s no doubt about it. My dad has focused a lot on the punch list and finish out work of our builds. He’s probably close to starting to slow down but trust is absolutely the biggest thing. In terms of challenges I probably put a little too much on him at times as it’s easy to forget that building homes is all I’ve ever done whereas it wasn’t his first career.
That said, most of our subcontractors have worked with me since the beginning. As a result, we are able to manage more projects with fewer people than most builders simply because of the trust and the experience I have with them.
We know you love to fish and that hobby has taken you to some really cool places. Where all have you traveled on fishing trips?
Being in Middle Tennessee between Nashville and the Tennessee River there are hundreds of incredible wadable small mouth creeks. I grew up going out with my dad and wading the creeks and fishing for small mouth fish. As I got older my mom would send us out in the morning on the Harpeth River and pick us up a few hours later 4-5 miles downstream.
In the past 12 years or so, I’ve been going down to the Keys once per year to go Tarpon fishing. It’s my favorite thing to do in terms of fishing. We trailer our own boats down there and literally deep sea fish from sun up to sun down.
I also have my own farm out in Southeast Missouri that is about 700 acres that sits inside a 5,000 acre refuge. We have a cabin and a shop with ATV’s that the kids ride on trails around the whole property. Actually, my eight and six year old can tour you around the whole farm better than I can. They know it all.