King of the Castles
Jun 07, 2017 10:16AM
● By Ashley Pape
Meander down nearly any residential street in Southlake and you’ll glimpse an idyllic scene: stunning homes, manicured lawns and neighborhoods that basically nail the whole quality-of-life thing. But some Southlake homes stand apart.
You know the ones—the castles that rise majestically from the earth, the most luxurious of sanctuaries. Jimmy Lambert, owner of J. Lambert Custom Homes, a Southlake luxury homebuilder, specializes in these fit-for-royalty estates.
Lambert’s passion is more than constructing beautiful homes; it’s bringing families’ grandest visions to life. And no matter the vision, Lambert works with purpose and passion to create the kind of residences families want to come home to— from the steep rooflines and stately spires right down to the fence enclosing the property.
The humble fence, in fact, was how Lambert first forayed into entrepreneurship. And, over the years, he took his career from wooden fences to multimillion-dollar palaces.
AMBITION AND A PASSION FOR BUILDING
Ever since he was a young boy, Lambert has been building things. He and his father built fences, horse stables and barns. They poured concrete and even added on to the front of their home. “We were always building projects,” he recalls.
As a teenager, Lambert continued with the construction projects and also took on a job at Winn-Dixie. He advanced up the ranks at the supermarket, getting promoted to assistant store manager by age 21. He was next in line to get the store manager position, but he wanted more and better opportunities.
So he traded in his supermarket apron for a paintbrush, going to work for an iron company painting fences. Looking for additional cash flow and following his entrepreneurial spirit, Lambert later went into business for himself, launching a wooden fence company. He saved for tools and equipment and began selling and building fences for high-end builders in Southlake and Keller.
For 17 years, Lambert sold, designed and installed fencing, eventually doing the iron gate and fence work for dozens of builders, many of which were top-tier custom builders. His fence company was thriving, but Lambert wasn’t satisfied—yet.
“We developed different ways to paint and build fences, but I wanted more,” he says. “I saw how builders would sometimes take off during the week to enjoy their families. Fencing didn’t allow for that, and I wanted a better life.”
Lambert studied the upper-end builders, and learned about design along with what to do and what not to do. “I was friends with many of the estate-home builders, and we discussed the homebuilding business often,” he says. “I decided I wanted to build custom homes, so I worked hard, paid everything off and sold the company.”
The next step in his entrepreneurial journey? Starting J. Lambert Custom Homes. Lambert had one goal in mind: He wanted to build homes families would love.
CASTLES COME TO LIFE
Putting together a team for his new company was relatively easy; Lambert had amassed a network of hardworking subcontractors from his years of working in construction. He also had a network of architects and bankers who believed in him. The banks loaned him funds to build three spec houses ($500,000 each) to get started. The homes sold before they were finished.
Lambert’s homes graduated from the half- million dollar range to over one million. The homes only continued to get grander, reaching well into the multimillions. And as for the square footage of his homes? To say they’re Texas-sized doesn’t do them justice.
“We built a 27,000-square-foot home in Southlake and currently have a 30,000-square- foot home that just sold,” he says.
If you’ve ever wondered about the neighbors who reside in these hometown palaces, Lambert says they’re athletes, CEOs and business owners. And he enjoys working with all of them. So much so, in fact, that Lambert’s company has only one phone number listed: his.
“My subs tell me stories about how some builders never step foot in the home under construction once it’s sold,” Lambert says. “I sell it and I work with families one-on-one throughout construction and after construction. They can call me on my cell—anytime with any concern.”
Southlake residents Bill and Deb
Dreger know firsthand Lambert’s commitment to his clients—they’ve had
Lambert build two of their homes. “I’ve
watched Jimmy on many jobs. He’ll sit
on a project long before he starts to build
the house,” says Deb. “He looks at the
lay of the land and how the sun comes
up. He takes everything into account, so
the house is exactly where it needs to be.
From that point forward, he’s on the job
almost every day. He is completely aware
of everything that is going on.”
When the Dregers sold their home in Timarron to move to Clariden Ranch, Deb says the home was crafted so well that they received the cleanest inspection report they’ve ever had. When they’re ready for their next home, Deb says she’ll turn to Lambert again. He has become a close family friend. “We left with a deep friendship and an understanding that if anything out of the ordinary happens, Jimmy is there,” she says. “Jimmy is simply amazing. He’s a passionate man with a love of pleasing his homeowners. I can’t say enough about him. He stands by his work and he’s proud of what he does.”
Lambert works with families through the design process and builds the home with his subs. He’s there as the concrete is poured for the slab, he’s with the framer as the walls are built, and he walks through each home with the city inspector. For Lambert, it’s a matter of building families the best possible home.
“The best builders don’t delegate but over see projects themselves to keep problems at a minimum,” he says. “My job is to make sure the process is as fun and simple as possible, so it’s enjoyable for the families we build for. It’s the little things that can make building a home fun and exciting.”
Over the past 18 years, Lambert has constructed nearly 80 custom homes—most over $2 mil- lion and some close to $12 million. It can take anywhere from 12 months to four years to con- struct these estates; it depends largely upon the buyers’ selection process and their timeframe.
Whatever buyers might dream, Lambert is ready to make it happen. “We specialize in every size and style of home for any family,” he says. “We try hard to listen to our buyers and stay on the cutting edge of cool ideas.”
For Lambert, the most rewarding part of his job is making buyers happy and knowing he has succeeded in a challenging project. He enjoys when everything is moving along peacefully. “It’s constant hard work,” he says. “But I enjoy working with the subs who do such a great job with a huge passion to build these families an incredible home.”
KING OF HIS OWN CASTLE
Lambert builds in Southlake and Fort Worth, but he hangs his hat in Springtown, a charming little town 20 miles northwest of Fort Worth. He and Gina, his wife of 34 years, own more than 50 acres of land and live in a house he designed and built.
“We bought raw land, built a road and cleared a place for our home by a natural pond,” Lambert says. “We selected everything. It was fun.”
The couple raised their sons Cody and Ty, now grown, amidst the town’s willowy trees and roll- ing hills. The boys went to a small school, and Gina was involved in nearly every school event while Lambert grew his business.
Looking back, Lambert attributes his success to good, old-fashioned hard work—along with a healthy dose of respect, always giving more than he takes and following through. “My business philosophy is to do right,” he says. “There is always a right way to do something. It’s the extra five percent that makes the biggest difference.”
When Lambert started his company, he set out to build the kind of homes families were dream- ing of. In the process, he ended up building the kind of life he always envisioned. If there’s one lesson Lambert has learned in his 30-plus year career, it’s that anything is possible. And his life is proof.