Buyers watch their new homes being built at password-protected Web site. By Christina B. Farnsworth

David Weekley Homes' new-home buyers can scrutinize their homes under construction and show them off to family and friends, no matter where they are. The key is the password-protected Web site, launched in November 2001. On the site, buyers see digital photos of their home's construction process taken every two weeks during each of the home building phases. They can also quickly communicate with their "personal builder," the superintendent, and sales consultant, whose photos appear on the site with their e-mail addresses.

"We understand that choosing a home is a very personal decision, and home buyers want to be as involved as possible during the construction process," says David Weekley, chairman of the Houston-based company. "However, most consumers are extremely busy and may not always have the time to drive out to the site. One of our buyers is a couple from Taiwan. They have never been here and communicate totally through the site."

Illustration: Daisuke Morita/Photodisc

The site features an electronic version of the selected floor plan and a copy of David Weekley Homes' Homeowner Portfolio. The portfolio provides a step-by-step guide to the home buying process, expectations of the buyer and the builder, as well as company facts and background information. In addition, buyers can refer to the Web site for helpful moving tips and links, seasonal home maintenance advice, and information on home appliances and systems. Once the home is complete the information morphs into the warranty system, Weekley says. "The feedback we've been receiving from our home buyers regarding the new site is extremely positive. For example, one buyer was so excited about his new home that he logged on to 164 times in a little over a month to show it off to coworkers and family members," comments Weekley. "The site is quickly becoming a tool that home buyers turn to for updates on the progress of their home, and that's our No. 1 goal."