Growing up in his father’s construction business, Isaac French seemed destined for a career in real estate. He relocated to Waco, Texas, in 2020 to capitalize on the real estate market, and has since built a stunning multimillion-dollar property that generated $500,000 in bookings in 2022. French, a 25-year-old bookkeeper and contractor, began by running a cloud-based accounting firm before venturing into the construction and real estate markets…
Waco was only two hours from Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas, making it an ideal location for real estate. In 2020, French purchased a 5-acre plot and constructed a “tiny hotel” consisting of seven cabins ranging in size from 550 to 650 square feet. The small property, which was built in the Scandinavian style, is now known as Live Oak Lake. French said, “I’d had these ideas sort of brewing to create this modern Scandinavian housing concept in Texas.”
His entrepreneurial spirit and experience working in his father’s construction business gave French the confidence to carry out his ideas, resulting in a spectacular hotel that drew immediate attention after it opened last year. French began with a blank canvas. He used $138,000 of his savings to buy the empty lot and then used his construction knowledge to build his tiny luxury hotel.
He estimated that the construction costs would be around $1.6 million. His father, two brothers, and father-in-law then joined him as minority partners, allowing him to secure a construction loan worth 80% of the build’s appraised cost. His collaboration with the family provided French with access to a line of credit from his father’s construction business to cover additional construction costs.
He was confident that the property would be appraised at a higher value than the purchase price, especially if he could demonstrate its commercial success. The project ultimately cost $2.5 million to build. The price increase was primarily due to labor shortages and skyrocketing lumber prices, as well as additional features like hot tubs and a pool.
As the project’s general contractor, French used all of his construction experience and knowledge to oversee the construction of roads, utilities, and a man-made lake. “I was also surrounded by a lot of incredible people in terms of contractors and landscapers,” French said. The tiny hotel finally opened for business in January 2022, after nine months of construction.
Four months after it opened, Live Oak Lake was appraised at $3.1 million, and French did an 80% cash-out refinance. He received a loan for 80% of the property’s value, totaling $2.48 million, and used numerous drawings and renderings in planning forms to emphasize Live Oak Lake’s key selling point as a “experience.”
French was able to pay off his original construction loan as well as the line of credit in his father’s construction business that he used to complete the project with the new round of funding. French eventually achieved his goal of creating an oasis for his visitors. The seven identical cabins each have two floors, two bedrooms, one bathroom, an open-plan kitchen, and a living area.
The tiny houses are separated by a few hundred yards and surrounded by trees, with string lights between them that reflect in the water. French may be knowledgeable in the construction industry, but he needed to learn about the short-term rental industry to ensure the success of his property.
A washer and dryer, a private entrance, parking space, an outdoor hot tub, a hammock, and a fire pit are also included in each cabin. With his construction experience and success at Live Oak Lake, French will undoubtedly leave his mark in the country’s luxury hotel industry. Take a virtual tour of this tropical haven: