If you knew that Billy Perry had been designing houses since 1976, you’d think you had a man with plenty of experience sitting at the drafting table.
But Billy’s partner makes him look like a newcomer.
Bill Perry, Billy’s father, started his business, Bill G. Perry Family Design, in 1959 and just celebrated his 55th anniversary in home design.
Bill watched the company he founded at his own kitchen table grow during the 1960s, with Billy Jr. joining his father along the way to their current tally of more than 60,000 homes built from their drawings — both locally and around the world. The company is at 4821 NW 36.
Builder Jason Powers, who started JP Homes in 2005, said he frequently directs his custom-build customers to the Perrys because of their reputation for “great flow” in the home and “efficient use of space.”
In the model Powers recently completed at 8813 NW 110 in the Chapel Creek addition, he said the 2,400-square-foot floor plan “feels 400 feet larger” thanks to the Perrys’ design.
Powers, who is breaking ground this summer on his own development, Prairie Hills Estates, said he plans to build most of his specs in the new neighborhood from Perry designs.
Powers’ three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath model features an upstairs bonus room and a “flex room” or study. It is listed at $266,900.
While designing houses put bread on the table, it wasn’t the only endeavor that Perry Sr. and Jr. took on as a team. When he was 10 or 12, Billy Jr. said, his father started him on music lessons. As Billy Jr. picked up the five-string banjo, Bill came along for the ride, starting guitar lessons himself.
For Billy, music grew into much more than a hobby. As a founding member of the bluegrass band Mountain Smoke, he has played professionally for nearly four decades.
Bill Sr. stuck with his guitar too, and, along with Billy, continues to play with the band Cimarron Station.
All while maintaining a catalog of more than 8,000 different house plans.
Bill Sr. said the principles of house design have remained consistent for 55 years, although “there’s so much more detail” in houses today.
He first began to master those principles when he took the skills he’d learned designing steel tanks for oil fields and redirected them to floor plans.
Perry said that when his daughter was born with a defect requiring open-heart surgery at age 3, he had to work multiple jobs and look for new opportunities in order to meet the medical expenses. When he was offered his first shot at house design, Bill said he “just had a feel for it.”
To say the least.
After a few years of designing for builders in central Oklahoma, Perry started his own business in May 1959 and booked 59 design contracts on his first day.
For Billy, the family craft came naturally.
“I just had the ability to visualize a house in my head,” he said.
The younger Perry began doing so — by hand — in 1976. In 1987, when he made the leap to computer-assisted design, he learned that it was still the designer, not the computer, that created the plan.
“The computer is still just a fancy pencil,” Billy said.
The Perrys as a team have been innovators, bridging the “traditional” designs from the earlier part of the 20th century with more contemporary concepts such as larger garages and more spacious closets.
“Homes are just so much more usable today,” said the senior Perry.
One of the biggest differences between modern and traditional designs, Bill Sr. said, is what he called “open kitchen plans” — the “better living flow” designed at the center of most new homes.
“They’re so good for big families,” Perry said. When his own large extended family descends on his house, Perry said, “that’s where everybody ends up.”
And for the Perrys, family is why they do it all.
The Perry Family Design crew is truly a family affair, including — in addition to Bill and Billy — Bill’s daughter Trina Spaugy and two grandsons, Grant Douglas and Robert Perry.
“It’s great to have a family you can work with,” Bill said, surveying the Chapel Creek house with his son and partner, his eyes moisting.