Our Guidebook Cover Family’s Trans-Atlantic New Home Building Experience

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This empty nester couple from South Africa graces our cover and shares their home building experience with Parade of Homes Guidebook readers.

Building Halfway Across the World

Johan and Sophia broke ground on their townhouse in Woodbury’s Dancing Waters Development in December 2013. With fresh snow on the ground and temperatures dropping to record polar-vortex lows, these Native South Africans were in for some Minnesota culture shock!

The one-level, association-maintained townhome may be a long way from their native Pretoria, but the empty nesters brought a lot of familiar culture to their new home. Atop the kitchen cabinets you’ll find tins of their favorite international treats, as well as curries and spices from home to prepare dishes with the African and Indian influences they love. When the weather’s nice you’ll find Johan outside cooking on the “braai” (barbeque) and in the morning Sophia will be preparing “pap,” a traditional South African porridge popular for breakfast.

The house serves them well, particularly with all of the traveling that they do. Not having to take care of yard work is conducive to Johan’s travel schedule and the abundance of trails are perfect for walking Mowgli and Mia, the pair’s adorable dachshunds.

When the couple first decided to build in Minnesota, the process was especially unique since they were still selling their home in South Africa. They split residences between both countries during the build process, with Sophia residing primarily in South Africa and Johan at a rental apartment in Minnesota.

“I would visit every day and email Sophia the progress,” Johan explained. Meanwhile, Sophia was busy showing their home in South Africa, and getting ready for their big move.

Before they decided to build with Pratt Homes at Dancing Waters, Johan was traveling back and forth from South Africa to Minnesota every month as he transitioned from his job at a major steel corporation in Johannesburg to VR Steel in the United States.

“It’s not every day that I get to build a home for a family with a 17-hour transatlantic commute between us,” laughed Len Pratt of Pratt Homes.

This scenario is definitely a unique one for Pratt Homes, but the entire team worked hard to make the transition stateside an easy one for Johan and Sophia. The couple’s connection to Minnesota also helped. “We’ve been visiting Minnesota since 2000,” Sophia explained. “Our grown kids and grandkids live in Minnesota, as well as my sister and her family, so we were familiar with the area.” Johan added that, “Pratt Homes was always so professional and really made the transition easy.”

Pratt Homes seamlessly worked with the exchange rates and all of the new documentation that comes with moving abroad. “We were building a new home new life, making new friends and finding a new bank, all while packing up our house in South Africa and moving halfway across he world,” Johan smiled.

The 2014 Fall Parade of Homes is sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.