Austin Modern Home Tour | Q&A w/ Michael Thurman

Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours

We’re gearing up for this weekend’s Austin Modern Home Tour, which promises some incredible spaces – from small-footprint homes in the urban core to an amazing hill country residence with a view just minutes from downtown to a cutting-edge domicile in Westlake Hills.

One of the homes that will be featured is Kipp Flores Architects’ hilltop modern home, which boasts balcony views stretching out eight to ten miles. Built with Thurman Homes, this vibrant, wood-framed design is efficiently constructed with clean, subtle angles, an environmentally controlled heating and cooling crawlspace, and disguised appliances that blend in with each room’s design.

In advance of the tour, we had the chance to sit down with Michael Thurman himself to chat about the priorities of custom homebuilding, architect-builder chemistry, and how barroom bets can result in unprecedented views.

Q&A w/ Michael Thurman, Thurman Homes

Your company, Thurman Homes, is a custom homebuilder and contractor.What’s your biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to design and build a custom home? 

Know what the most important things are that you want in a house and have an idea of the costs associated with those items. For example, we are in the process of designing a house that will have a sound studio for recording in it. Our customer has this as the #1 item on their list of amnesties and realizes that it is going to have special construction requirements and cost associated with it. Getting pre-qualified for the purchase should also be a top priority.


You have a great history of building high quality, modern, sustainable homes in an urban atmosphere. Why do you think that product is so popular in Austin? 

We don’t take our product line to the extreme of contemporary design style.  This broadens our appeal and allows us to control cost better which produces a lower price point and an increased demographic base.

Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours
Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours

Your company philosophy really emphasizes quality and the luxury lifestyle. What does that mean to you?

For us, quality translates to less stress in your day-to-day life of living in your new home. The first months of your stay in your new home should not be congested with calls to suppliers and the builder to come back and work on issues in the home.  So, while we do focus on the quality of construction for the sake of sustainability, we also focus on it for the sake of sanity!

Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours
Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours

You have designers and architects who you work with repeatedly on multiple projects and recommend to your clients — including Kipp Flores, who designed the home that will be featured on the upcoming tour. What makes for good chemistry between an architect and a builder? 

Having routine face-to-face meetings with them, and not just relying on the PDF’s going back and forth.  Many of my corrections and additions are done on the plans with a red pen and then delivered to the office in person.  In the age of texting, Facebooking, and emailing, there is no substitute for personal interaction where the element of design is concerned

Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours
Photo Credit: Eddie Greene, Evolution Tours

A home that you’ve built — 3305 Hyclimb Circle — will be featured on the upcoming tour. What features of the home should tour-goers be sure to keep their eyes out for?

Make sure to have a sample of wine and soak in the view from the upstairs catwalk.  Your head ends up about 30 feet above the ground, and the view is ridiculous. We knew that we wanted to maximize this awesome view with a back deck, but the cat walk is a step up from that!  It is a result of a late night drinking battle with one of my best friends, Jerry Fryer.  His challenge to me while intoxicated was to step up my game, and make the view even more accessible and awesome.  I would caution all friends of builders who engage in these bar battles.  Jerry spent a lot of time in the following days help me build it!!

Don’t forget to get your tickets to the Austin Modern Home Tour and explore this home in person!

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