Putting on a hard hat after 17 years as a computer systems consultant might seem out of character, but not to Navpreet Randhawa, the brains behind a townhouse project going up on Sheldon Road.
"We like to buck the trend," said 37-year-old Randhawa, who moved to Westchase from Canada with his family seven years ago. "Most developers go farther north where the land is cheaper but we wanted an older neighborhood, sort of urban renewal.
Thus, Riverchase Condominiums, a community of 17 townhomes on 2 acres south of Waters Avenue on Sheldon Road, and the company's first venture.
"We're taking it one project at a time," Randhawa said.
Keeping Singh Construction small is just one way Randhawa plans to buck the trend. He says his own frustration as a homeowner with large home developers fueled the decision.
"Buyers really seem to like dealing with someone who is accountable," said Randhawa's wife and business partner, Harveer.
With a big company "if something's wrong you have to go through a chain of command and wait three weeks for an answer," she said.
The Randhawas take pride in having a small company, unabashedly so. They've even named two of the streets at Riverchase after their daughters, 5-year-old Kaureen and 4-year-old Jaseem.
Caren Alexander, a 39-year-old registered nurse who has purchased one of the homes, said she was immediately attracted by the development.
"I was just driving along and saw them," Alexander said. "They were so pretty that I just pulled in."
The Mediterranean-style condominiums, priced from $185,000 to $240,000, are flanked by a white fence on either side. Plans call for a foot path at the far end of the property along Rocky Creek. A model home is scheduled to open next month with completion of the project set for November.
So what would prompt a career computer systems consultant to chart so different a course?
"It was a dilemma, sort of a mid-life crisis," said Navpreet Randhawa, who was moved here intending to help with the feared Y2K crisis.
The family moved to Westchase and then to Westwood Lakes off Race Track Road, where they now live. Randhawa, who also has worked as an engineer, was left with few job options after the high-tech bubble burst.
Harveer, who had worked in hotel management before the couple's two daughters were born, was ready to go back to work. So, together, they began considering what they could do.
Land development was a natural choice since Navpreet's father had been a developer for 30 years in Canada and Harveer's father a financier.
"We had an opportunity most people don't have," Navpreet Randhawa said. "We were in a unique position."
Free now from the stress of working for someone else, the couple face a different kind of pressure.
But they say it's one they wouldn't trade. They love the flexibility, even if their day starts with tea at 5:30 a.m. and sometimes continues into the night.
"We had never worked together before," Navpreet Randhawa said. "It has provided a new dimension to our relationship."
Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripleysptimes.com.