Neighborhood Tours 2
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Rabalais Homes Building Dreams
BY STEVE WHEELER

Steve Rabalais worked in the homebuilding business for nearly 20 years when he decided it was time to form his own company. So, 12 years ago he started Rabalais Homes LLC with the intent of building custom homes that his friends and neighbors could be proud of.

Today, Rabalais owns one of this area’s most successful homebuilding companies and completes more than 30 homes every year. And we’re not talking about spec homes, but beautiful new custom residences with anywhere from 2,700 to 7,000 square feet of luxury living area.

With a company motto of “Building Dreams,” Rabalais has built his own dream company here in Baton Rouge.

The 52-year-old Rabalais and his wife, Stephanie, have turned a start-up construction company into a well-oiled machine that has found a winning home-building formula:

always treat your customers, your subcontractors and your vendors right. And always pay attention to the details!

“We specialize in New Orleans style homes with raised front porches and balconies with iron railings,” Rabalais said during an interview in his office in Central.

Also, Rabalais learned years ago that people in south Louisiana love to entertain. He and Stephanie do a fair amount of entertaining themselves.

But in order for his home-buying customers to do that, Rabalais learned that it’s important for their homes to have nice outdoor settings.

“We focus a lot on outdoor spaces,” Rabalais said of his designs. “We build a lot of outdoor kitchens, outdoor living rooms and outdoor fireplaces. That’s what sets our houses apart. “We do a lot of brick work inside homes,” he continued, adding interior brick and antique wood are almost always popular features in his homes.

But the most important reason for his company’s success? “We pay attention to detail. That’s the main thing,” Rabalais said.

He also believes in buying local. “We try to buy from local people and hire local,” the homebuilder said.

“I like to keep my business in the community. We’re loyal to our subs and vendors. We’ve been using the same vendors for the past 12 years. We work as a team.”

And it doesn’t hurt that, “We have a great office staff too,” Rabalais added.

Rabalais has a wall of awards from local homebuilder groups as testimony to the quality of homes he builds.

The developments

Rabalais started building in the Village at Magnolia Square in Central – about six years ago with just four custom homes. Today, The Village is booming. It’s a Traditional Neighborhood Development, which means it combines the best of residential homes with light commercial businesses that the homeowners want.

“The Village at Magnolia Square has turned into a premier community in Central,” Rabalais said. “It didn’t flood. Property values are increasing.

We have a 5-star restaurant [Stab’s] in front of the development. And with home prices from about $240,000 up to nearly $2 million, “We have a price point for everybody.”

“Central is really growing,” Rabalais said. “It’s amazing how the Central Thruway helped everything out.” And the Village at Magnolia Square is where you’ll find Rabalais most of the time. In fact, he built his own home and office in the development.

He’s also working closely with RE/MAX Professional in Long Farm Village, another TND off Barringer Foreman Road, where Rabalais has another 10 homes under construction.

Giving back

Rabalais Homes LLC doesn’t generally do much remodeling work, but Rabalais said after the recordsetting August flood, everything changed. He and associates Tony and Larry Cockerham teamed up to remodel about 50 homes that had been damaged by the devastating floodwaters.

“We started in August, and we’re wrapping up the last houses now,” he said. “We kind of put our custom homes on the back burner for a little while. Our customers understood.”

While the progress made by Rabalais Homes LLC in the past 12 years has been phenomenal, Rabalais said he’s always looking for ways to grow. “We’re steadily growing,” he said. “We’re building larger and larger homes.”

Rabalais said his father instilled a work ethic in him that continues today. “My Dad taught me to never turn down a job,” he laughed.

Rabalais has also learned it’s important to really listen to his customers and keep them involved in the entire construction project.

“Homeowners have a lot of involvement in the process,” he said. “We make it enjoyable for the homeowner.”

And while Rabalais said he loves handing the keys over to satisfied new homeowners at closings, his favorite part of the job is watching a home rise from nothing.

“I love it when you start out with a pile of lumber on the ground and watch it rise into a home,” Rabalais said. “Really and truly, I enjoy what I do.”