After 60 years and the construction of more than half a million homes, Pulte Homes founder William J. Pulte, 77, has decided to retire from Pulte Homes on March 31.

"I was 18 years old in 1950 when I started construction on my first home, making 2010 my 60th anniversary in the building business," said Pulte in the announcement of his impending resignation from the company's board of directors. Pulte sold that house, built just outside of Detroit with the help of friends, for $10,000.

"Many people have heard me say that I never worked a day in my life because I so love what I do and the people I work with."

That said, Pulte decided now is a good time to officially quit the company he has been gradually seceding to CEO Richard Dugas. In 2009, the company became the largest builder in the country with the merger with Centex, a position it has held before since the company went public in 1969.

"With 2010 marking six decades in the business, with our merger with Centex complete and a great, proven leadership team in place, and, hopefully, with the worst of the housing cycle behind us, this feels like the right time to officially step away from the business," he continued.

Having watched the company cope with the worst economic downturn in its history and emerge on top of the industry clearly gave Pulte the confidence to turn over his namesake company.

"One of the things that has thrilled me most over the last few years is working with the people who are now in place and running Pulte Homes. This is particularly true of Richard Dugas, who has become a great leader for this company. I plan to remain a large shareholder of Pulte Homes and have never been more confident in the leadership and future success of the company."

Pulte now builds in 59 markets, 29 states and the District of Columbia. It remains headquarters in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Pulte's home town. Soon the company's name will change to Pulte Group, to reflect the multiple brands it has developed in the wake of the Centex Merger.

Pulte's position on the board will not be filled, reducing the board size to 11.

Following his retirement, the company said Pulte will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus and serve as a key advisor to the senior executive team and board of directors under a two-year consulting agreement with the company.

While William Pulte has resigned as an employee from the company effective March 31, he'll keep an office, an administrative assistant, and a paycheck from Pulte for two years under an independent consulting agreement.

A company SEC filing on Tuesday, Feb. 16, said Pulte will be paid a lump sum on April 1 "in connection with his termination" of $3,265,0000. He'll also start drawing his consultant fees of $1.5 million a year, divided into equal monthly payments.

In return, Pulte has agreed to be available to consult with for Pulte's CEO and other company officers for no more than 75 hours during a calendar quarter. That's apparently 20% less than the average level of services performed by other company consultants in the three years before April.1.