Austin Design/Build: Remodeler named builder of the year

Lynn Motheral 

Austin Design/Build

7109 Douglas Lane

North Richland Hills 76182

(817) 501-7745

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Lynn Motheral first got involved in the building trades while still a student at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst. That interest grew into a passion and remains with him today.

“I was taking drafting classes and my senior year I was working half days as a residential framing contractor,” Motheral said.

Motheral founded his company in 1981, Austin Design/Build in North Richland Hills.

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He attained Certified Master Remodeler and Certified Master Builder status in 1996 and became a Certified Pella Contractor a year later. He acquired his Certified Graduate Remodelor status from the National Association of Home Builders in 1999.

In 2001, he became the first remodeler to be named president of the Greater Fort Worth Builders Association (GFWBA). He was also president in 2016-17, becoming the first to hold the office multiple times.

He was designated as a “Big 50” Remodelor in 1996 by Remodeling Magazine.

And he was recently honored as the GFWBA 2018 Builder of the Year in a ceremony Sept. 27 at the Petroleum Club.

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“I consider this award to be very prestigious award and it is an honor and privilege to be awarded this by my peers,” Motheral said.

Motheral has served and is currently serving in numerous leadership capacities within the building industry.

Since 1994 he has been on the GFWBA Board of Directors; has served as secretary, treasurer and president of the Texas Association of Builders Remodelers Council; and is currently a life state director of the Texas Association of Builders.

Other organizations he has been involved in include the National Association of Home Builders, Certified Master Builders of Tarrant County, Greater Fort Worth Builders Association Government Affairs, Greater Fort Worth Construction and Fire Appeals Board, Pella Windows Advisory Board, Texas Building Trends Advisory Board, Cowtown Executive Association and many others.

He has been involved in television programs as well as radio talk shows, using his expertise to update the public on what is happening in the building industry.

The latest appointment he has been given is to the Construction Research Advisory Board Executive Committee for the University of Texas at Arlington.

He has based his business on the premise that professional work done in a timely fashion results in top value for the client’s dollar.

Austin Design/Build craftsmen are experts in, but not limited to, the areas of kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, handicap-accessible remodeling, complete interior and exterior painting, roofing, and room additions.

FWBP: What are the major changes you’ve seen over your years in the business?

LM: Customer expectations have increased exponentially. Customers, as well as builders, are more interested in energy savings, indoor air quality and less maintenance on homes. Decreasing the energy footprint of our homes is very important for builders and their customers.

FWBP: Any big issues in remodeling?

LM: Profit margins are down, and customer expectations are up. Building materials have become a commodity, and their pricing has become increasingly more volatile. Customers have the internet, which is a good tool and a bad tool.

The internet gives them instant information and can cause confusion, because what works in one climate doesn’t always work in other climates. Oftentimes the information is just wrong. Customers are more inclined to believe the internet than someone that has been in the business for 30-plus years. That causes interesting challenges.

I think that the internet has allowed customers to become more sophisticated, and therefore pushes contractors to up their game. I think that is a great thing.

FWBP: Any legislative issues for remodelers?

LM: There are always additional levels of government for builders and remodelers.

Specific building standards are becoming a part of our contracts, removing implied warranties. This allows the customer the ability to know what type of building standards their contractor is going to be building to. It also allows the contractor not to be held to unreasonable standards that a client might mistakenly have.

Municipalities are making it more difficult to attain permits quickly and continue to find creative ways to add additional fees onto the building industry, causing costs to increase so high that the average entry-level home exceeds the income of most first-time buyers. First-time home buyers are being priced out of the market.

FWBP: What has been your most rewarding project?

LM: Last year we completed a residential project that is very energy-efficient. We worked very closely with Owens Corning and Fox Energy, two very active members in The Greater Fort Worth Builders Association, in order to attain such energy efficiency. It attained a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) rating of 50, which means it is very airtight. I think that project was the most rewarding, knowing that our customers will be spending their money on things they like to do instead of high energy bills.

FWBP: What are the main things people thinking remodeling should think about but often don’t?

LM: Understanding that remodeling is typically more expensive than new home construction. So, the decision has to be made. Do I like where I live right now? Can I modify the existing structure and get what I need? Do I understand if I am trying to get back all of my investment in the next two years remodeling is not for me?

The lowest bid is normally not the best bid. There is a reason they are the lowest, and that is usually not the contractor that you will ultimately be happy with.

There will be change orders or inferior materials used and/or unqualified contractors that do inferior work. Would it be better to move out of the house instead of living there during the remodel?

The market is so volatile that it is getting difficult for professional contractors to get prices from their subs or suppliers held for 30-60 days. So, cost plus job with an escalation clause are becoming more typical. Keep about 10 percent set aside for change orders and rising cost.

Concrete, wood materials and drywall are some of the materials we have seen the highest rise in cost in the last year. These rising cost are being passed on to the customer, so have a very frank discussion with your contractor about what happens when the cost for a material increases by a certain percentage.

FWBP: What lies ahead for you and your company?

LM: I spend a lot of time as an expert witness in construction defect litigation as well as consulting with people that are having issues with their contractors or water intrusion.

This is something that I derive a great bit of pleasure from. Helping builders that have been sued and/or helping owners that have been done wrong is very rewarding.

My son works for me overseeing my projects and doing inspections on the legal work. I see us doing more of these cases, and this leads to us completing projects that have been abandoned or just not built correctly. This is very challenging, and we find it very enjoyable.

I enjoy seeing my son as he develops and grows in his knowledge. I see him taking over more and more, and probably becoming better at this business than I am.