Character Builder
When choosing a “dance partner” for new-home construction or a grand renovation, reliable and capable options abound.
by Bill Donahue

Allison Payne grew up in the Mayfair neighborhood of Philadelphia and moved to Central Bucks County at age 11. She remembers the move as an adjustment, but she eventually fell in love with her new home. Her appreciation for the area only deepened as she got older.

“I liked the history, the cultural landscape, and the actual physical landscape, especially in the towns along the river,” she says, referring to New Hope, Lambertville, Stockton, Washington Crossing, and Yardley, among other communities on either side of the Delaware River. “I always told myself I’d live there one day.”
College and graduate school took her away from home, and her career in the pharmaceutical industry took her even farther away. She met the man who would one day become her husband while on vacation in Germany. Over the years they started a family, raised their two kids, and eventually saw those kids become adults who left the nest.
“We were, like, what now?” she says. “So I said, ‘I want to go home. I want to live by the river.’”
In other words, she wanted to live in one of the river towns she fell in love with earlier in her life. The couple had been good with their money, and her husband had also come into a “comfortable” inheritance, so finances were not a problem. The primary obstacle: finding the right spot to call home.
“It’s been an interesting few years for the market, so we ended up buying a property up toward Upper Black Eddy,” she says. “It didn’t have everything we were looking for, really, but it had a ton of potential.”
She’s since taken the lead to make sure that potential becomes realized. She began by hiring an architect to help her envision the home of her dreams. She is particularly excited about having an outdoor deck that, once finished, will overlook the Delaware. To make it possible, the architect suggested they would not have to do a complete teardown and rebuild, but close to it.
After interviewing several builders, she believes she’s zeroed in on the one to bring the architect’s vision to life. After all, some of the area’s most stunning architecture bears the fingerprints of exceptional builders and other contractors—B&D Builders in Central Pennsylvania, Harth Builders in Lower Gwynedd, Senior Construction in Doylestown, and Worthington & Shagen Custom Builder in Newtown, among many others.
“We want someone who has a good track record, a nice portfolio, and who can help stay true to the architecture of the area, but with some modern touches,” Payne says. “We also asked to interview some past customers who could tell us about their experiences—the things they liked, but also how [the builder] responded when things didn’t go quite according to plan.
“We’ve never had a house built before,” she continues, “but I imagine there’s going to be at least one or two things that could or will go wrong. You just want to know whoever you hire is going to have your back when it does.”
She hopes the new home will be move-in ready by Christmas of 2025.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life, November 2023.