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Nancy Totten, Realty Executives

American Builder Magazine
T’s Construction & Development Inc.
Living & Working in Carefree
Written by Luanne Mattson

You can't hide from mistakes in a small community like Carefree, Arizona, and Gale Totten, CEO of T's Construction & Development, knows that. If he goes to the grocery store in his neighborhood, it's likely that he will see one of his clients. They are his neighbors, and he prefers it that way. He and his wife Nancy have lived and worked within the 2,800-person community for eighteen years.

The husband and wife team is committed to quality. Nancy Totten handles all of the real estate functions of the business and has a branch office through Realty Executives. The two have developed a niche for their six-person company within the community, specializing in Premier Quality Projects both commercial and residential. Working mainly in the Northeast Valley, T's Construction is a full-service company that does everything from finding land for clients to subdividing the property and constructing commercial buildings and homes.

Often, T's Construction builds on spec for clients who are interested in investing. With Nancy Totten's real estate branch as part of their office, the system works well. Totten began his career in California working part-time during college in his uncle's commercial construction business. After college, he worked full time for him. When his uncle retired a few years later, Totten bought the business from him. He moved to Arizona in 1980 when he got a contract to build a hotel in the Valley. He opened his current office in Carefree in 1991.

Post Tension Concrete Foundations
With new home foundation failures in the news lately, one technique Totten has incorporated into his business is the use of post tension concrete. He uses this technique, common in commercial construction, because Totten cannot risk foundation failures. The homes his company builds range from $500,000 to $6 million, and he believes the extra cost of post tension concrete is worth it. Post tension concrete helps prevent foundation failures by using a series of cables within the concrete slab. A few days after the concrete is poured, the cables are tightened. In effect, the tension on the cables stretches the slab, creating a "floating" surface that puts less stress on the ground below. Post-tensioned concrete is more resistant to ground movement and, therefore, has more structural integrity.

T's Construction also makes it a point to use materials that will last longer and, in the long run, save


money. The company uses synthetic stucco because the material is more pliable and resilient, which is less prone to cracking. The company has completed a number of challenging projects such as building homes on hillside lots and those that hang from cliffs.

"The biggest problem in our industry is failures," says Totten. "What we try to do is look at the past failures and design away from them. Often, this requires spending extra money up front."

That's where T's Construction is different. Instead of working for clients who ask, "How cheap can we get in?" Totten looks for those who ask, "How good of a product can I get?"

Totten does not sign contracts with clients right away. It's almost as if the company courts the client.

I know that when building a home, we are creating a work of art for families," says Totten. "I also realize how gratifying and refreshing creating your own home can be." Totten and his team commit to fulfilling the dreams and visions of their clients.

"Often," Totten says, "our clients become good friends after the project is completed."

Leadership on All Levels
T's Construction is able to complete hard-to-build projects because Totten believes in hiring quality people and giving them room to breathe. His employees must have leadership abilities and he tries not to stifle them or mother them. Giving his employees free reign empowers them to be creative and produce results.

Totten looks for employees who are established and who give 100 percent. His company's projects require quality people who are focused on their jobs.

One of T's Construction's current projects, a 50-unit elderly care facility called Heritage at Carefree, exemplifies the upscale markets in which the company is involved. The $4.5 million project is being built on three acres in Carefree and is a resort-style facility patterned after the Four Seasons Hotel in Carlsbad, California. Other current projects include homes in Desert Mountain, Cave Creek, Carefree and Paradise Valley, as well as commercial construction in the same areas. The company works on 10-12 projects each year.

Another hallmark of T's Construction is the way their projects work with the environment. Totten's goal is to blend the materials with the environment. Quintero, a private golf community near Lake Pleasant,


is one of the projects that fits this concept. The goal is to have the structures look as if they have been on the property for years.

Giving Back to the Community
A member of the Kiwanis Club, Totten has donated his time and efforts to his community. In 1998, the club needed a building to house their flea market, which is part of the club's fundraising efforts. After completing the building, a fellow member approached Totten for help on a Habitat for Humanity Desert Foothills.

The well-known housing ministry had a unique project in which it was helping four families fulfill the American dream of home ownership. Although Totten initially thought he would simply be helping by providing some materials or labor, it was soon clear that the project needed more of his effort. The Desert Foothills project was not a single family home; it was a four-family unit that needed a general contractor who was licensed in commercial construction.

Totten stepped up to the plate and says it is extremely gratifying. He enjoys the prospect of helping families who have been struggling for years. Though many people believe Habitat for Humanity gives houses away, Totten counters by saying that each of the new homeowners must show that they can afford the monthly mortgage payment and that they must put a number of hours, or "sweat equity," into building the home.

Through his involvement, Totten learned about the humble conditions in which these families live. Now in the permit phase, he is anxious to break ground and move forward to assist them.

For more information, please contact:
T's Construction & Development, Inc.
P.O. Box 2311
7202 East Ho Road
Carefree, Arizona 85377
Email: TsConstruction@qwestoffice.net
AZ license #ROC B-129348

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