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A WOMAN’S PLACE IS… BUILDING HOMES

Debbie White and Deana Sears, Partners in Southern Charm Builders. Photography by Jennifer Denton.
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When most of us hear the word “homebuilder,” we think of a male-dominated profession, but these hardworking Texas women have built 17 homes in the last two years. Debbie White and Deana Sears are the powerhouse team behind Southern Charm Builders just north of San Antonio.

With no middle men—literally and figuratively—Debbie and Deana build homes for their clients like they hope someone would build a home for them.

Whether it was publishing a magazine for attorneys, or 10 years in real estate, Debbie White has always been in sales. When the builder walked off with her and her ex-husband’s money—without completing their 6,000-square-foot home—like any strong Texas woman, Debbie took the proverbial bull by the horns. With the stress of the builder absconding with their money and a financial market that was charging 17 percent interest rates, Debbie’s marriage ended in divorce. Like everyone else, however, she didn’t throw her arms up and walk away. She built the house herself.

Debbie White, Partner, Southern Charm Builders

“I learned the order everything needed to be done in, and how it needs to be done, and I just did it,” said Debbie.

From there Debbie met a framer who knew a lot of subcontractors, and together, they decided to build a spec home. In addition to their experience, Debbie White’s grandfather was in the lumber business; her first husband and her brother were stucco contractors, and her daughter is an interior designer. The world of homebuilding was a natural for her.

Deana Sears, Debbie’s partner in Southern Charm Builders, is also a Texas woman. Straight out of college, Deana went to work for the Dallas Cowboys where she handled the media, the players and player appearances for 14 years. When she married a television anchorman and moved to San Antonio, she and her husband built three homes. On the last home, Debbie was their builder.

Remembering when Deana Sears was her client, Debbie said, “I’ve built a lot of homes from 10,000 to 1,000 square feet and dealt with a lot of home owners. Deana’s the only client who ever came in on budget, and she dealt with everything in an awesome manner. She’s sweet. She’s organized and meticulous. She knows how to get along with people, and we’re both Christian women.”

Deana Sears, Partner, Southern Charm Builders

When Deana’s husband proposed the two women join forces and become a team, Debbie thought about it and prayed about it. “Deana has strengths in areas I don’t like to handle,” said Debbie. “I’m the on-the-job person, so we compliment one another.”

“Building homes is kind of like having a baby,” said Debbie. “You say I’m never going to do another one, and then, there you go!”

After suffering through a bad homebuilding experience that led to divorce, Debbie vowed she would never put anyone through that.

“Unlike a lot of builders, after you sign the contract, you never see them again, but we’re it,” said Deana. “We take care of everything. We get business strictly on our reputation, and we pride ourselves on the good job we do.”

From taking a piece of land, to seeing people happy with the end result, Debbie and Deana find the homebuilding process rewarding. “We’ve had women stand in their new kitchens and cry!” said Debbie.

“During the entire procedure of building a house, we will hold your hand from the beginning, until you’re holding the key to your new home.”

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22 thoughts on “A WOMAN’S PLACE IS… BUILDING HOMES”

  1. After having built 5 homes and an automobile dealership, I LOVE building homes. if I were twenty years younger I would so do this. From the smell of the soil after the basement is dug to the adjustment of moving walls to accommodate what you want, I find it so much fun and it always makes me feel like I have really accomplished something! Kudos to these ladies, I always say a man can do the physical part of the building but it takes a woman’s instincts to get things right. Carry on ladies.

    • It does take a woman’s instincts, but Debbie’s been known to be on site with a hammer and a saw! They do it all… and with great instincts! How fun, Deborah, that you’ve had so much building experience. I think I built a fort once out of a refrigerator box! Brenda

  2. I love this, Brenda! Thank you for introducing us to two such incredible women, I love reading about such powerful role models and I hope they inspire other women and future generations to enter the industry. Essie xx

  3. If my mom had been born and raised with this generation, I’m convinced she would have been a great home builder or contractor. She’s got the skills and the eye for detail, but at 78 she’s content to conquer small town politics.

    We’ve come a long way, baby!

  4. Awesome story about strong Texas women. Thanks Brenda for spotlighting these two women!!!! Rock on! As a REALTOR for 35+ years, building a home can be stressful unless you have true professional builders and superintendents.

  5. How awesome! It makes sense and I bet they can outbuild the men any day! Coming from a construction family myself I know what is involved in building a house and the fact that these two women have made such a fabulous career of it is so inspiring!

    • Sometimes we just need to have our back against the wall before we realize everything we’re capable of doing. So cool that you’ve dreamt about being a homebuilder as well. Love your comment so thanks for stopping by! Brenda

  6. So glad to hear about them and their business! Very inspiring and I look forward to seeing how God uses them!

    • I’m amazed by all the women who dreamed of building homes! Guess it shouldn’t surprise me since my favorite Xmas gift when I was about 10 was a set of small, white, interlocking building blocks with floors and windows you could add. This was before Legos. I’ve thought about that gift a zillion times. It’s a wonder I didn’t want to build homes, but I don’t think things were presented in ways that allowed us to envision ourselves really doing that, do you? xoxox, Brenda

  7. My mother, who lived to be 87 and died in 2008, was South Carolina’s first woman builder. Dot Hammett. Built quality custom homes. A very interesting career. Love this feature, Brenda.

    • I love hearing that, Leisa! You’re an amazing woman who’s raising an amazing daughter under difficult circumstances. Your mother would be so in awe of you and Grace. xoxox, Brenda

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