On March 23, Walt and Dondee Ford watched workers dig the foundation of their new home. On April 2 they moved in.
Count 'em, nine days to finish a split-level, 2,060-square-foot house with an attached garage.The house, located in the new Ivory Homes Rancho Estates subdivision, was the subject of a bet among five building superintendents in the company's south and central divisions.
Of the five, one completed a house in 19 days. Another finished the job in 17. The third built a house in two weeks, and the fourth did the job in 10 days.
Then came Dan Goodrich, a superintendent in Ivory's south division. He bet his crew could build a home in nine days. First, Ivory employees had to convince the Fords that a home built in such a short time period would be of the same quality of a home normally built over 90-day period.
The Fords, who were renting a house in Provo, have moved 14 times during the past 81/2 years. They were anxious to accelerate their building plans because they were originally scheduled to move into their home in June.
So the work on the stick-built house began. The major difference was the crews were larger and worked longer hours, Goodrich said. And much of the work, usually spread over a number of weeks, was performed simultaneously.
"There's nothing about this home that's different than any one we'd build in 90 days, except the coordination and teamwork of the people building the home," said Ellis Ivory, chief executive officer of Ivory Homes.
The accelerated construction schedule relied on the cooperation of the Orem City housing inspection office, which agreed on a one-time basis to step up their inspection schedule to accommodate the builder.
Building inspector Carl Westfall said the construction meets building codes. "In this case, we have approved sections of the building and allowed them to conceal some sections. We want to emphasize this is not a policy change," he said.
Despite the extra work for his office, Westfall said he marveled at the coordinated effort of the construction workers.
"This has been phenomenal. It's kind of like an ant hill, everyone doing their own project," Westfall said.
Goodrich said the project relied on the cooperation of the Fords, Orem city officials and the army of construction workers employed to do the project.
As many as 50 people worked on the house at the same time. The sheer number of people coupled with the time constraints placed upon the workers caused tempers to flare at times, but for the most part, the workers labored harmoneously.
"We've done three lunches and had some Coke deals (breaks) for them. Mostly, it's been a lot of patting on the back and shaking hands. Ninety-five percent of the time everyone's been handling it pretty good. There's been a comrade and a pride taken in their work - that they're part of something kind of special," Goodrich said.
Goodrich lived in a mobile home (recreational vehicle) parked at the site for the duration of the project. "I've built this house 40 times in my mind while I've been sleeping," he said.
Fords are convinced it's a well-built home. In fact, Dondee Ford welcomes anyone who doubts its sturdiness to drop by and take a look for themselves.
"With all our moves, we're ready to move in and get settled," Dondee Ford said.
Ivory Homes is the largest homebuilder in Utah. Under normal circumstances, a home like the Fords' would take three to four months to complete.
Last winter, John Stubbs, then a building superintendent for the company, decided he wanted to improve work coordination among company's subcontractors.
"They built a house in 27 days. Everyone was just amazed," Ivory said.
Then came Goodrich's project, which pared the time by a third.
Ivory complimented the crew on its coordination and hard work but agreed this was a one-time event - even in housing starved Utah County.
Ivory's 25-unit subdivision in Lehi sold out in two weeks. Fifteen of the lots sold the first two days they were for sale.
"It's the hottest thing I've seen since the '70s," Ivory said. "We had not built in Utah County since last fall. We're going to build at least 100 homes this year, and we'll be the largest builder in Utah County."
The largest and seemingly the fastest.