STL Life

Sun Tunnels and Big Dreams

Categories: St. Jude, St. Jude Dream Home | Posted: May 23, 2017

What does it take to build a home? The standard construction stuff, of course – concrete, brick, wood, drywall, wiring, pipes, paint, etc. As the St. Jude Dream Home construction has progressed, you’ll be happy to hear all that’s going in as scheduled (that “whoosh” you hear is a sigh of relief from the construction team).

This being the Dream Home, though, there are always surprises built in that require more than the standard stuff – because, hey, if you’re going to build a house called a “Dream Home” you kind of by definition need to throw in some Dream Home-worthy features, right?

One of those went in last week, and at the risk of being labeled construction geeks, we’ve just got to give you a sneak peek at it because it’s seriously that cool. It’s called the Velux Sun Tunnel, and it brings sunlight into those parts of your house that don’t have natural light sources – a laundry room, hallway, or bathroom, to name a few usual suspects. Sure, you could put a standard electric light in (or even a fancy-schmancy chandelier to really snazz up the space), but natural light is just so much…well…happier.

Think about it: how much happier are most people on a pretty, sunny day than on a dark, rainy day? Natural light makes us feel better (and there’s some scientific and/or physiological explanation for why it does, but we’re homebuilders, not doctors, so we won’t even try to explain it), and – quite frankly – makes us look better, too. Go ask any woman of an, ahem, certain age (and by “certain age” we mean anything over age 20) whether she’d prefer to be photographed in natural light or artificial light, and you’ll suddenly understand why all your favorite family photos are taken outside.

So we were more than happy to see the good folks from D-7 Roofing installing Velux Sun Tunnels in the Dream Home. It’s just one more reason to grab a ticket starting June 15 for your chance to win this home – not only will you love living in it, but you’ll look good living in it!

By the way, while we’re giving shout-outs to D-7 Roofing for their mad sun tunnel installation skills, we’ll also take the opportunity to thank a few other seriously generous companies for their help building the Dream Home. If you’ve got construction plans, thank these companies for their generosity to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by tapping them to help with your next project:

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The Builders Are Back For St. Jude

Categories: St. Jude, St. Jude Dream Home | Posted: March 9, 2017

We’re baaaaack.

Because when St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital calls, Payne Family Homes is there. Actually, they don’t even have to call anymore. This is our fourth year of building the St. Jude Dream Home, and we’ve fallen into a pattern about it. Pretty much as soon as we complete the drawing – always live on FOX2 News – and get the confetti out of our hair, we’re thinking about the next Dream Home. Have you ever seen kids running around a candy store? Yeah, that’s pretty much the same level of giddiness that our Dream Home Build team has sitting around a table for an entire day planning all the fun elements and features we can put into the next home.

We spend most of the winter planning and recruiting our construction partners to help, but again, it’s really not a hard sell. Most of our partners come to us saying, “How can we help?” They provide labor, supplies, materials, and enthusiasm beyond our expectations every year.

And they show up. At 6 a.m. on a cold February morning, they all show up in an empty field to celebrate the groundbreaking of a home that they’ll pour heart and soul into over the next few months. They’ll show up on their free weekends with their families to help build it. They’ll spend many midnight hours choosing paint colors and fabrics.

They’ll meet the local kids helped by St. Jude, and they’ll celebrate how St. Jude saved their lives. They’ll meet the families of kids who didn’t make it – they’ll cry with them, look at photos and videos of their precious children, and celebrate the strides St. Jude has made since to save other children battling the same life-threatening diseases that claimed their children.

And they’ll know again that every nail, every piece of wood, every detail, and every moment of time is worth it. So here’s to another year of building the St. Jude Dream Home. We can’t wait to share more and show you the progress and all the fun details of this special home. Stay tuned and start planning now to get your Dream Home ticket when sales start June 15th.

A Different Kind of Life at Main Street Crossing

Categories: Living in St. Louis, Main Street Crossing, New Homes In St. Louis, New St. Louis Communities, Wildwood | Posted: December 31, 2016

It’s not something we’re used to in the suburbs. Our cars have become an indispensable part of our lives. Walking – with the intent and ability to do more than just exercise – almost seems a lost art for those of us who choose to live outside a city center.


Let us introduce you to Wildwood’s Main Street Crossing – but first, go get your walking shoes on. It’s OK…we’ll wait.

Now that you’re comfortable, here’s the scoop: if you live in Main Street Crossing, you can leave your car keys at home, walk out your front door instead of your garage door, and stroll – as in literally walk, comfortably, without working too hard at it – to everything from a Starbucks and a giant Dierberg’s to a couple of seriously cute boutiques and one of the best restaurants around. Depending on where you work, or your ability to talk your boss into opening a satellite office, you might even be able to walk to work every single day.

Sound impossible in the suburbs? Wildwood Town Center has all that, and now it’ll have Main Street Crossing. We’ve even come up with a new floor plan series to commemorate this new style of community for Payne Family Homes – our New Urban Collection. Stroll down the blocks – no cul-de-sacs – past the nostalgic homes (with garages tucked away in the back) and greet your neighbors on the way to the Saturday morning farmer’s market in the Town Center. Grab some fresh fruits and veggies, and a bottle or two of Missouri wine, and walk back down your street, stopping to sample brunch being served on the elevated, covered front porch of the friends you’ve made next door to your new house.

The pre-sale for Main Street Crossing starts January 1st. It’s the perfect day to start fresh with a whole new perspective on living in Wildwood. Call Community Manager Linda McCarthy at 314-565-8465 to kick 2017 off in a way that’ll probably end up changing the rhythm of your family’s life. Oh, and you might want to make sure you’ve got new walking shoes for your new life, too – you’ll get a whole lot more use out of them in Main Street Crossing.





Finding Strength In Community

Categories: Eureka, Living in St. Louis | Posted: May 4, 2017

St. Louisans are a resilient lot. Situated pretty much smack dab in the middle of the country, we tend to get all the curveballs that Mother Nature can throw at us. Tornadoes? One of the main reasons most of us have basements. Blizzards? Snort…we’ve had blizzards and tornadoes in the same week. Earthquakes? Yeah, we’ve got this little New Madrid fault line thing that is mostly quiet…until it decides to toss out a magnitude 7.9 earthquake that only changes the direction the Mississippi River flows. Trust me, that’ll keep you slightly on edge for a couple hundred years.

Technically we don’t have hurricanes, but if a big one hits New Orleans or the Gulf Coast, you can be sure we’re going to feel it a few days later with a few more days of rain. Speaking of rain, sometimes we get a lot of it.

No, you don’t understand – I mean Noah’s-gotta-be-around-here-somewhere-with-a-pile-of-wood level of rainfall.

And did we mention the multiple rivers that surround us? Yeah, that combination is kind of a recipe for disaster. We may not be able to remember phone numbers or the number of feet in a mile (tell me again why that’s important?), but when floodwaters start to rise, we can tell you the projected crest levels of every town in the area and the comparison between projected levels and record crests.

Unfortunately, flooding with record crest projections is where earlier this week we found ourselves once again. Sigh…again. We are way too familiar with the most efficient way to fill sandbags at this point, but we have to be – for the second time in 18 months, water has hit the second stories of homes, taken out a newly-renovated high school gym, swamped scores of businesses, and rattled the sense of security for children and adults alike. If you go through a flood like this even once, the sense of dread after a day or two of rain that starts to rise almost as fast as the water can is hard to shake.

But we’re also a hearty, practical lot. We might pause and swallow hard a few times when rainfall predictions start to creep up, but then we take a breath and quietly start preparing. When the water starts to rise, we find the most vulnerable areas in our towns and we swarm in with people, shovels, sandbags, food, and – most importantly – hope. The kind of hope that, in the face of nearly insurmountable odds, comes from working together to preserve far more than buildings. We’re preserving community. We’re preserving families. We’re preserving a way of life that, in towns across the St. Louis region, is what our idea of home is all about.

So in the face of this latest threat that affects so many in the St. Louis region, we’ve once again shown our resilience. We built sandbag walls – and in one particularly sweet triumph for downtown Eureka – they worked. We’ll deliver food to volunteers. We’ll give to local relief efforts. And we’ll clean up what needs to be cleaned up, rebuild what needs to be rebuilt, and stand together again. Because that’s the kind of community St. Louis is – and that’s why Payne Family Homes is proud to help new homeowners make life happen here.

Photos courtesy Jacki Ripson

Every Step Counts

Categories: St. Jude, St. Jude Dream Home | Posted: March 30, 2017

There are – obviously – quite a few steps involved in building a home. There’s the big stuff…clearing the land, pouring the foundation, framing the house, etc.

Then there’s the stuff you don’t notice so much – the carpentry details, the concrete stamping, the wiring. You’d definitely miss it if it wasn’t there, but you’re probably not going to set up a picnic lunch to watch the work happen while oohing and ahhing over it all day.

But, there’s an amazing group of companies that volunteer every year to do this relatively unseen work for the St. Jude Dream Home – and they most definitely need to know that, while they may not do the sexiest work on the home, we absolutely could not build it without them. For that, and for the many hours of time, talent, and materials they so willingly share with us, all of us at Payne Family Homes are incredibly grateful.

So we’re going to do some oohing and ahhing over these wonderful, giving, big-hearted people and companies today, and we hope you’ll join us. Give their social media pages some love, give them a call or shoot them a message to tell them how much you appreciate their support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and/or think of them the next time you need construction help. They’re simply the best – in so many ways.

Beyond being vendors and partners, they’ve also become friends. They’ve laughed with us on long construction days, they’ve cried with us as we mourned beautiful young lives lost far too soon to destructive, horrific diseases, and they’ve been there, over and over – many times before we even ask.

Thank you to three-year St. Jude Dream Home partners Cheltenham Construction Services, Cowling-Garbo Concrete, and Grasser Electric – all of you are true craftspeople. Thank you to four-year partner D7 Roofing – your skill and your hearts are equally huge. It’s been an honor to work alongside all of you in doing all we can to help St. Jude beat childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

And you know, call us construction geeks, but we think what you do is a lot of fun to watch. Don’t be surprised next weekend at the Dream Home if we’re kicked back with our picnic basket chowing down some Chick-fil-A and Madison’s Cafe and armchair quarterbacking as we watch you do what you do best. Of course, we’ll also be ducking the construction materials you’ll be throwing at our heads to shut us up, but it’s a small price to pay to be part of the entourage that makes sure all our volunteers feel like the rock stars they are!