Building Better Homes with Craig Evans | PART 1 #832


Craig Evans, the owner of Douglas Brooke Homes, is a licensed Building Contractor in the State of Florida with nearly 30 years of construction experience including: Residential, Commercial and Municipal. A third generation builder, he has worked front line activities through management as a subcontractor, laborer, foreman, superintendent, project manager, midlevel manager, and executive management, truly learning the business from the ground up.


Craig has successfully grown multiple companies into quality brands by focusing on adding value to every facet of the project and not letting details go unnoticed.


He believes in teamwork and has put together a quality team in house as well as some of the most trusted trade partners in the industry to build Douglas Brooke Homes.






Narrator  This is The Norris Group’s real estate investor radio show the award-winning show dedicated to thought leaders shaping the real estate industry and local experts revealing their insider tips to succeed in an ever -changing real estate market hosted by author, investor, and hard money lender, Bruce Norris.

Bruce Norris  Thanks for joining us. My name is Bruce Norris and today our special guest is Craig Evans. Craig is the owner of Douglas Brooke Homes is a licensed building contractor in the state of Florida with nearly 30 years of construction experience including residential, commercial, municipal. Third generation builder he has worked frontline activities through management as a subcontractor, labor foreman, superintendent, project manager, mid level manager, and executive manager truly learning the business from the ground up, Craig has successfully on multiple companies and quality brands by focusing on on adding value to every facet of the project and not letting details go unnoticed. He believes in teamwork, and has put together a quality team and in house as well as some of the most trusted trade partners in the industry to build Douglas Brooke Homes. And Craig, we’re very happy you came along and met with the Norris group and have built homes for our investors for the last year and a half or so.

Craig Evans  Well, first of all, that was a mouthful that you said Bruce.

Bruce Norris  Yeah, I didn’t know you had such a essentially evolved bio. As you can tell, we kind of know each other and that’s fine. You know what’s kind of good is honestly, it’s really good to face some hard times with people, because until that happens, you don’t really know who you have. Yeah, and I’ll go back to that the hurricane when it hit. We were in the middle of a bunch of projects. And one day, I mean, maybe the day after the hurricane hit. You just told me he says Bruce, I’ve got to unplug. And what you did is you took your boat 20 times a day and help people get off islands they were stuck at.

Craig Evans  Yeah.

Bruce Norris  And I asked for a list of stuff that you could give to people. And so we loaded up a van and took it there. And so we both found out more about each other on that day than we could have any other way.

Craig Evans  That’s right. And that’s right.

Bruce Norris  Yeah, and that’s pretty cool. Because I think that’s one of the most important things in business is trust, you know, if you get to a point where you go, Okay, I don’t, I’m not concerned about intent, you know, I know the intense good.

Craig Evans  Right.

Bruce Norris  And when you get to there, I mean, everything’s workable.

Craig Evans  That’s right. Well, and I think Bruce, even with that a lot of it comes back to how you and I met. I mean, you know, let’s face it, you when you and I met you, you were coming out of a situation that wasn’t great for the Norris Group.

Bruce Norris  No, it was it was terrible. And that was funny. Because you, were being mentioned to me, and I was being mentioned to you. So, as I was, you know, negotiating and giving checks to people at the head stake at discount. They were going why don’t you just work with Craig Evans, he pays all his bills for a long time. And I think you were hearing from the subcontractors, why don’t you go talk to Bruce because he’s got to, he’s got to solve something.

Craig Evans  Well, you know, Bruce, you don’t talk a lot about that day, because that is what has started our last, what is it three and a half, four years of friendship. And I truly look at it in that way, you know, we I value more as a friend than anything business, business wise.

Bruce Norris  Thank you.

Craig Evans  But the interesting thing was, you can imagine it as a general contractor, and also, you know, as a subcontractor with some of our other companies. You know, we hear a lot of times people like, oh, you should work for this person, or you should build for this person. And in that there’s a lot of times we hear the good things. But what’s what’s the truth, you know? And obviously, part of it is like, Hey, we’re going into this situation, why is someone leaving a builder? And in that same process, what is that going to mean for me? How is that potentially going to affect my company? And I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I think the thing that hit me the most that I didn’t learn until the day you and I were sitting in that lobby, just starting to talk and, and not even so much about business, but just who we were and what our families are and what they mean, was when it really hit me while you were there, and that was you had to work through some like trying to talk people off the cliff of what was going on. But more importantly, you were there to write checks for that you didn’t have to write checks or they weren’t your projects. You were writing checks because of your reputation.

Bruce Norris  Right. Absolutely.

Craig Evans  And that was to me the also the thing where I just kind of struck me as like, Okay, well, we’ll see if we do business down the road. But more importantly, I want to know who this man is. Who is this man as a person?

Bruce Norris  Thank you.

Craig Evans  So, I, I have enjoyed working with you and the Norris group and investors that you bring to the table, all of that process. But it’s because of who you are, you know, because like you said, you don’t know who people are until you go through a tough time. And even in that that was one thing to see how you handle it then. But let’s face it versus you are neither one of us knew COVID was coming.

Bruce Norris  No.

Craig Evans  One of us knew the supply chain issues were coming. The labor issues were coming. That hurricane Ian, I mean, those days if I called you the morning of the hurricane and said, Hey, you call me when it’s done, or I’ll call you because you’re gonna need help because that storm was supposed to hit you and not us.

Bruce Norris  That’s right. And you know, when you called me I remember  you were charging the wind speed. And I think you mentioned 190 It wasn’t sustained, but it was it had hit it. It’s like, oh.

Craig Evans  Yeah, we got gusts actually we got confirmed gusts from the firehouse station just about a mile and a half from us. They had gusts upwards of 206 miles an hour.

Bruce Norris  Wow. Good thing you were in a home you built?

Craig Evans  That’s right.

Bruce Norris  Wow. Well, that is one thing that’s special about Florida construction, especially the newer stuff is got a code that’s, it’s different. And I when I when I first came to Florida after Hurricane was ’92. And that was in Miami where my buddy lives. And I was driving. And I was I was there a month later. So, I was driving, but there were piles of trash lining every street, that cleanup was not close to being done. But I was passing by neighborhoods that were still okay. And then I found out later, oh, that’s block homes, then I go to stick built homes and they were not okay. And sometimes really badly done. And then I’d go past a mobile home park and it wasn’t existing. And so, you know, kind of note itself, you know, make sure you build concrete houses, you know?

Craig Evans  Well, you know, and even with that, one of my one of my friends that we worked with him on his house, he is a builder. But we did a lot of the stuff, Formula shell and things like that. He is literally just over the bridge from Fort Myers Beach. His main floor took water, but everything below him to me was completely underwater, all of his cars, all of his garage, everything. You know, there were other houses that were literally in his neighborhood that were built 15-18 years earlier, before some of the you know, because code started changing after Andrew.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Craig Evans  And then again after Charlie, there was several houses that were built pre Charlie that had not been affected by that, that change in our zone because of wind zone changes. And they were literally completely off of their their substructure. My friend’s house that we had, he had been in his house for six months. And like two days when Ian hit. And I mean, you know, he had 21 feet of water come into his house, onto his property.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Craig Evans  You know, we built it an elevation that he only had, I think six or eight inches of water in his main living level. But everything else below that was completely underwater. Once waters receded and that whole wall of water was gone. To realize there was zero structural damage to his home was, a that was a proud day to see that stuff you build can withstand 21 feet of water. Yeah. Oh, that was comforting to know that okay, when we build it, we’re building it right?

Bruce Norris  Yeah, no, that’s a it’s a good thing. They changed the elevation, you know, for most of the other areas that were higher. You know, we look, we look, kind of like we’re on a mountaintop. And then when you have one of those hurricanes, you go, I’m really glad. I’m really glad we’re higher than that guy next door. You know, I wanted to go back a little bit and talk about some of the cycles because we’re definitely in a new cycle. But I just want to touch briefly, because you’ve been around a while 2006 and 07. I really want to touch on what was what was the mood of the buyer like at that point, because that was that was a crazy period. And was that driven, do you think by investor money at that point? Or was that still owner occupant buying all that stuff at the top of the the price level?

Craig Evans  It was both I mean, there was there was massive, in this southwest Florida market. There was massive amounts of investor money that was coming in. But you know, it’s not the investors that we deal with now, the investors that…

Bruce Norris   Right they were speculators.

Craig Evans  That’s it because of the lending market that was going on, you had people that couldn’t afford their main house, their primary residence, and they were getting loans for 10 rentals.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Craig Evans  You know, because they could breathe on a mirror and fog it up, they were allowed to get a loan. But unfortunately, you had a lot of of primary residence being bought in under the same guise of that structure that they were buying stuff, they shouldn’t have been.

Bruce Norris  Correct at that price they probably shouldn’t have…

Craig Evans  That’s it. That’s it. So, so, you know, the the the oh eight fall of that came because of the lending that was there. But yeah, the cycle of it, I would say it was probably close to 60/40. There were there was a lot of investor money there. But again, it’s a whole different cycle than what we’re seeing now. Because the cycle of money that’s coming through now buying stuff is there’s a lot of primary residence at here. A lot of primary residence. And Bruce, you and I’ve talked about this for the last year and a half the amount of people moving into Southwest Florida is unfathomable right now.

Bruce Norris  Yeah.

Craig Evans  So, so, that’s a huge draw on housing that as a requirement.

Bruce Norris  After after, ’06 ’07, we hit ’08, ’09. And obviously, the market crashed. And one thing that Florida had at that play at that time was a huge, like it was a very long foreclosure process. So, when you when California hit Oh, eight and Oh, nine, it was the worst of the foreclosure time. You guys had that until 2014?

Craig Evans  That’s correct.

Bruce Norris  It went on and on. And it was actually four year duration for a foreclosure. So, what was it like to be a builder? during that cycle? When it was all you could buy a two year old house below replacement cost by far?

Craig Evans  Well, that’s the interesting thing. That’s interesting. You’re pulling, they’re mentioning that because, again, at that time, there were no new homes being built.

Bruce Norris  No.

Craig Evans  I mean, we went to, you know, permits being pulled were in the hundreds and maybe 1000 for the entire county of Lee County. Simply because, as you said, you could buy homes for 30, 40 50% below replacement.

Bruce Norris  Exactly.

Craig Evans  So, it was an interesting time, which then I’m sure I’m not trying to jump ahead of you, but I’m sure you’re gonna go to that’s what created the next cycle and created a lot of the build because with no new homes being built, people were grabbing up that demand of inventory that was that was below replacement costs. Well, then by 2019, 2018 and 19. You know, people were moving in saying, Okay, I want to find the deal. I want that five year old to 10 year old inventory. There was nothing had been built.

Bruce Norris  Well, what what I do also want to kind of relate to so at 2020. I mean, I was in both markets, but California felt like it was kind of done. As far as excessive price increases. We were not escalating. As a matter of fact, a certain percentage was already negative like 25% of the inventory year over year was showing a little bit of a negative hit. And then the Coronavirus hit.

Craig Evans  Right.

Bruce Norris  And on all of a sudden, it was it felt like oh 607 in velocity of price, right?

Craig Evans  Right.

Bruce Norris  I mean, it just went nuts. So, you know, you’re building. And if you’re starting a home and getting done with it a year later, the price that you could have gotten would change dramatically in that 12 months.

Craig Evans  Oh, absolutely. You know, I go back to in 2019 Let’s call it we were selling our 1400 square foot model $499,000. Today that house I want to say is like 305.

Bruce Norris  Yeah. 50% increase. Yep.

Craig Evans  That’s right.

Bruce Norris  Now, so ’06, ’07 was explosive years, 2020 to 2022 explosive years. What do you see as the outcome of 20 and 22. Now where 2023 going forward? Compare that to what you saw in? ’08, ’09, do you see any correlation there? Or do you think there’s going to be a completely different outcome?

Craig Evans  I think we’re apples and oranges and the type of cycles that we’re in now compared to what was going on then. Again, as you were talking about, we had such a long foreclosure period, that that was inventory that people were looking at because they were buying or so far below replacement costs. You come to now we’re not in a foreclosure period, we’re in a period to where we’re still short on supply. Now, it is the purchase rate as fast as what it was no, but it compared to any normal market, we’re in a very healthy market of how the timing of stuff is moving. But no, I we’re literally we’re apples and oranges compared to what the market is now. And the cycle of real estate we’re in now compared to what it was in the  ’08, ’09 time period.

Bruce Norris  Yeah. And why that’s important is that when your inventory starts getting dominated by lender on properties, your prices freefall because the lenders have to get rid of those things. But if that doesn’t occur, so what’s occurring this time is very different. So, now we’re in 2023, you had a chance to refi, your home for 18 months at four and then three, and then something that started with a two. Okay, so what’s going to motivate you to sell that inventory, and get something that now this is a six or a seven, the chances are yours gonna say I’m good. And the reason that’s important to think of is that, I don’t really know, and you probably do the mix of new homes, versus existing home sales as a percentage historically, that would be interesting to know. Because what’s not on the table now, is tons of existing homes are not going to come up for sale. So, you’re going to have new homes build X amount, let’s say it’s 20% of the inventory. But the other 80% of the inventory, that’s normal isn’t showing up, maybe 25%? Well, that lead will show up. And it’ll show up only because of the situation. I lost my job. So, I am now transferring to somewhere else, and I’ve got to sell, but even then, see, that’s what’s so protective about the cycle is you could make a decision and say, well, rents have gone up so much. I bought this, yeah, I bought that 1400 square foot house for 200 grand, but I got an interest rate on it at three, and it now rents for 1800 bucks. I’ll just keep I’ll just keep it. So, we really have never faced this market. That’s what’s amazing.

Craig Evans  And that is exactly what’s interesting, you know, because obviously, three months ago, interest rates were you know, we’re really starting to hit a peak rate. And I think everything is even here for about a maybe a three, four week period tops started to freeze a little bit, then people started to get some right normality, at least in this market. And realize that, hey, that, as you said that those rates starting with a two, those were no longer. No. But you know, to take it to that. I mean, we signed two contracts this Saturday. They were one of them had a rate of 6.94 I believe it was I or a fix 30, again, you know, Bruce, I mean, you remember if you go back to ’07, ‘0 when when things were kicking, what was those rates at that time?

Bruce Norris  Well, they were adjustable teasers. So, it didn’t really matter. They were 1% for about 90 days. And then oh-uh. Yeah,

Craig Evans  So, so, you know, I think what you know, we we’ve actually seen a lot of the lending down here, we’re actually starting to see that number starting to drop a little bit over the last 35 to 40 days. Not dramatic, but I mean, we’ve seen quarter point drops on the on the retail market of what the rates are going for. So, that’s helping tremendously in even in my for my personal portfolio, the rates that we’re paying on that has come back down and you know, I can get stuff, you know, at pretty decent rates for fixed 30 Now, where even 45 days ago wasn’t getting those types of rates. So, it’s an interesting process to see what those cycles were then compared to what they are now. So, many so many facets that are driving what why it’s different now compared to what it was for ’09 to 2014.

Bruce Norris  We just checked the interest rates I think there was a negative inflation report this week. And I think the rates went to seven.

Craig Evans  Yep.

Bruce Norris  The mortgage, the mortgage rate anyway, something like that.

Craig Evans  Yep. So I for for my I’ve got two that I’m putting into my portfolio now that are actually some of my bills. That just like we do for you, I build some for me as well. So, in that I’ve got to going in and I’m sub seven on a fixed 34 for a rental property.

Bruce Norris  No, non owner occupied. Wow. Okay, that’s right number.

Craig Evans  Yeah.

Joey Romero  Bruce, we have a term for 6.9. It’s called Hard money.

Bruce Norris  Yeah, that’s funny. That was we had a 6.9. rate for, for a longer, for a long term loan. Actually. Yeah, that’s how we did, that’s how we encourage people to do rental loans is we had a we had a fordable product that was out for years. That’s funny, you mentioned that Joey. Yeah. Now the markets changed. You know, what’s interesting about our industry, Craig, is that the volume of sales, okay? First, we’ll talk about unemployment. S,o unemployment numbers are really, really low, still, historically, very, very low. But the volume of sales, I use California is down by about 50%. So, you went from 450,000 sales to below 250,000 sales, and your price has gone down, maybe 100 grand. So, the revenue that that entire industry is generating is down by 50%. They’re still employed, but getting paid half of what they were.

Craig Evans  Right.

Bruce Norris  And the same thing true with lending. So, the bulk of the business was reifies for a long time, and now it’s probably zero. But they’re still employed. They’re just not making anything. So, that’s one of the things you know, when we write this new report, or coming up, is really analyzing that and say, okay, well, you can say unemployment is still fine. But the revenue for the entire industry is was here. And now it’s here.

Craig Evans  Right.

Bruce Norris  And that’s, and that takes its toll, you know, so that it’ll be it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. Now, builders, notes, let’s talk about like a, like a track builder. What’s, what’s their mood, right now, if you said, like L&R, one of those guys who had, you know, they certainly had their way for quite a long time. They didn’t even give you a price when they started constructing a home. It’s just like, it’s, it’s gonna be what it is, when we get done with it. You want to put your name on it, that’s great. But things changed. And now, I wonder how bad their cancellations are? And I guess the the, the bottom line is, do you see any chance that there’ll be auctions of unsold tracks of homes?

Craig Evans  In our market?

Bruce Norris  Yeah.

Craig Evans  No.

Bruce Norris Okay.

Craig Evans  No, it’s, it’s an interesting thing. And I think part of the reason even go back to your last point, we’re talking about the revenue and what was the revenue that was coming out of this industry. It has been very interesting to see in the last 45 days, the amount of lenders from outside markets, calling us directly wanting to be preferred lenders for Douglas Brooke Homes.

Bruce Norris  Okay.

Craig Evans  Because they understand, I can’t get loans in Texas right now. Because, you know, Austin has taken a beating. But I can do loans in South Florida. Because there’s a tons of loan, there’s ton of products still being sold. So, it’s been interesting to see even that shift of how the Marketplace nationally is looking to just as you said, how do we replace some of the the revenue that’s being generated, that we’re losing out of our market share, because of what’s happening in certain places in the country. That’s not happening here. Again, I don’t ever want to say that we’re bulletproof. But right now we’re southwest Florida is in a really good position. To go back to, to go ahead. Um, so we’re gonna jump in and say something?

Bruce Norris  Well, I was just going to say one of the things that is really protective of the market for Florida, is who’s coming here. So, you have migration from states that have like a median price at double the level. And so you could, you know, just a scenario, think about somebody having a $2 million condo in Manhattan that has a million dollar loan on it. If they decide to move to Southwest Florida, the million dollar homes gonna be a whole lot nicer than their $2 million condo, and then they don’t owe anything.

Craig Evans  That’s right.

Bruce Norris  Well, you see, you can’t say that in California, where are you going to migrate from? to have a more expensive house sold, you’d have to go from Canada to California basically, or something like that. There’s very few choices. So, Florida is really the epicenter now of migration and immigration for the whole country. And money, by far, the migration of net worth is staggering. So, Florida is number one, and it’s more than 2345 and six and seven combined.

Craig Evans  Yep.

Bruce Norris  So, that’s, that’s what’s going on is there’s a lot of money showing up and Florida’s median price is still on par with the net one nation.

Craig Evans  Oh, yeah.

Bruce Norris  So, it’s not like we’re overpriced as far as the rest of the country. We’re not.

Joey Romero  So yeah, you talk about that insulation, Bruce. But, you know, one of the things that has affected Miro when we interview that Derek harms in San Diego, and he talked about immigration affecting some of the labor issues down there. And it was hard to get crews and all those kinds of things, you know, one of the unspoken, you know, installations that Florida is getting to with along with that wealth, along with that migration, the immigration is bringing labor too. Labor that is still able to, you know, complete all these jobs.

Craig Evans  Yeah. Obviously, immigration, and what we do is a huge role, and plays a huge role in the amount of trade partners that we’re able to utilize for, for our jobs. The since II, and it is, you know, I think a lot of times people think, oh, there’s dues, because of the immigration we’ve got, we’ve got plenty of labor, I mean, there, there is still the battle of labor, you know, you’ve got to be very quick on how you pay, you got to maximize things and especially since Ian has hit with certain of the remodel projects that are going on in certain areas, you go to Sanibel Island, you know, like, you know, we’re around let’s say, for per board on drywall, our our raw cost of material and labor to get that done is running about 75 to $80,  board depending on the week to hang tape and finish a board of drywall, you got to across the bridge to Sanibel Island, and your 213 to $230 a board. It’s, so  obviously, you know, there are certain aspects now that that is the fight to make sure that the labor pools and the resources that we utilize now to build, we’ve got to be very, very time sensitive and making sure that we pay on time, that we keep them busy enough, and that we run our jobs efficiently so that they don’t get frustrated that they make sure they get paid, because obviously they can go right across the bridge and make four to five times as much. So…

Bruce Norris  And maybe work independently too.

Craig Evans  That’s correct. That’s it. So, so the while there are great things about what is you know, you never want to say that a storm is great, because, you know, there’s still things that that mentally I still see from all the stuff that we did. But but at the same time from a business process, there’s a lot of things where Hurricane Ian has been good for the construction industry and the real estate industry down here. But but that doesn’t mean that we’ve got unlimited amounts of labor. Because again, Bruce, I know you and I talked about this, at the I Survived Real Estate event last year, right after the storm was you know, the amount of housing that was taken out of the marketplace due to Ian. Well, it’s coming out, there’s only about three to 4% of the population that was here is actually choosing to leave.

Bruce Norris  Right.

Craig Evans  So, you’ve got about 23% of the single family residences were damaged to one degree or another. Only three to 4% of that population is saying I’m out. Let me check out of this. Well, okay, so there’s still a 17 point spread there of people that are staying that don’t have a place to live.

Bruce Norris  Right, they have to migrate while their home is either being demolished and rebuilt or find a contractor fix it, right.

Craig Evans  That’s right. So ,it’s a very interesting dynamic now and the labor pool definitely plays into it. Because when you’ve got that many people that stayed, you know, and Bruce, you know, we were talking about it that night that, you know, we it’ll be interesting to look six months down the road and see how many of these people actually stayed well, we’re seeing, hey, the majority of them are choosing to stay and fight through, you know, whatever headaches they’ve got to fight through right now, because of the value of what we do and how you know, the lifestyle that we live here. But the challenge that brings is okay, we’re still short this amount of housing, where are we going to put new people that come in to help us build so that sets of challenges?

Joey Romero  That’s gonna do it for this week’s episode. Please join us again next week for the Norris Group Real Estate radio show and podcast where, again, our guest will be Craig Evans, CEO and founder of Douglas Brooke homes.

Narrator  For more information on hard money, loans and upcoming events with The Norris Group, check out For information on passive investing with trust deeds, visit

Aaron Norris  The Norris Group originates and services loans in California and Florida under California DRE License 01219911, Florida Mortgage Lender License 1577, and NMLS License 1623669.  For more information on hard money lending, go and click the Hard Money tab.



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