Pam Sessions with Hedgewood Homes on Legends of Real Estate Series

Pam Sessions, president of Hedgewood Homes, joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast to discuss her professional experience in design, homebuilding and construction. Sessions joins host Carol Morgan as the 11th installment of the Legends of Real Estate series.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Sessions earned a degree in fine arts and moved on to pursue a career in art and photography. With her then-boyfriend (now husband) Don Donnelly being a home builder at Brighton Homes, Sessions became interested in the home building industry.

After having no luck trying to help some friends find a home in the area, Sessions decided to use the knowledge she gained from the sidelines to invest in rental property. Sessions built two rental houses and fell in love with the homebuilding process.

For three years, Sessions built on her own before joining forces with her husband in 1985 to create Hedgewood Homes – offering development and homebuilding services.

Sessions said, “My husband and I have always had an interest in houses!”

Still learning the ropes within the industry, Sessions knew she wanted to build strong customer relationships. In a time when buyers had little say in the building process, Sessions began to provide sit-down meetings with customers to learn what they were looking for in their new homes.

Sessions said, “I worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for seven years perfecting and working to learn.”

Meeting with customers every weekend, Sessions had back-to-back meetings with several customers to design their dream homes. Sessions built her business to the point where she could not handle it alone. She and her husband decided to create a business together, developing neighborhoods. Donnelly’s former employer believed in the duo and funded their first development, Highland Park in Fulton County.

Becoming a design-driven company, Hedgewood Homes focused heavily on how neighborhoods work for families. Wanting to provide families with an environment promoting freedom and spontaneity, Sessions and Donnelly took inspiration from Florida’s Seaside community. 

Sessions said, “When we took our two children to Seaside, the light bulb went off – it was remembering how we grew up. We had so much freedom that brought responsibility and enabled us to grow into adults.”

The couple assembled farms on either side of their property to begin land planning for a new development. Hedgewood Homes hired Andres Duany with DPZ CoDesign, who designed several Florida projects, such as Seaside and Rosemary Beach, to start the conceptual plan. Local planners came in the help finish the project that featured a village and YMCA in walkable proximity to the middle and high schools.

Starting in the late eighties, Hedgewood Homes has survived multiple recessions, including the Great Recession. Despite losing employees and half of its business, the development company remained afloat through returns, pay-outs and construction permanent loans. Since lending was not available, Sessions and her team used cash to build a limited amount of homes. When the market started to normalize, Hedgewood Homes was in better shape than most competitors because of the construction permanent loans assisting the continuation of the building process.

Sessions said, “At that time, we had a company of a hundred employees, 13 neighborhoods, we were building 350 to 400 homes a year and the valve just shut off. Overnight, we went from a hundred employees to three and it was really hard.”

Hedgewood Homes changed its business model after coming out of the Great Recession, causing the team to step back and focus on what matters most to the company – design, community and customers. The development company and its team members moved into the city to be closer to the customer and to allow the design aspect to thrive in an urbanized space. 

Sessions said, “We intentionally changed after the recession.”

Being a female artist that decided on a whim to become a home builder, Sessions has much to learn about the industry, leading her to the Greater Atlanta Home Builders’ Association (GAHBA). The GAHBA not only offers terrific educational opportunities, but it also provides networking opportunities with builders, designers, marketers and more. 

Sessions said, “The Greater Atlanta Home Builders’ Association is really important to me. I can’t say enough about it and would encourage anyone to get involved.”

Sessions eventually became president of the association and had the opportunity to put together a green buildings program. The GAHBA and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) partnered with Southface Energy Institute to create Earth Craft House. The company went on to set the building codes to an environmental standard. Sessions learned with the green buildings process not only how to build a home properly but also how houses work and how they can be healthier and more efficient environments. 

Sessions said, “Now Sustainability is on everyone’s topic list, but at that time it really wasn’t. It was great to be able to be a part of an organization that accepted that leadership role.”

The factor of home building Sessions loves the most is that you get to wear various hats. While this industry is challenging and requires hard work, it is enriching. Getting to work in multiple departments, home building and development allows entrepreneurs with several interests to work in processing, creativity, business strategy and so much more.

Sessions said, “I think this field is quite ideal for women. I felt from the very beginning, without trying, there was a great connection.”

With many achievements and successes that she is proud of, Sessions mentions that the most meaningful achievement is Hedgewood Homes being named the 2021 Best Home Builder by Atlanta Magazine. She also mentions her joy for the Earth Craft House project and its impact on the homebuilding industry. The female home builder is most proud of the Hedgewood Homes team. Hedgewood Homes pushes the envelope and prioritizes every detail because the company wants to be obtainable while being design-driven.

Sessions said, “Our subcontractors and trade partners could work anywhere and given that our work is not the easiest, I’m so proud that they choose to work with us!”

Hedgewood Homes is currently working on a large project near the Georgia State Stadium in Summerhill featuring approximately 115 homes. The homebuilding company also recently started construction on a new neighborhood, Delmont in Garden Hills in Buckhead and  Southerland in Lake Claire.

Visit the Hedgewood Homes website at and follow along on Instagram at @HedgewoodHomes. You can also follow Pam Sessions on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes content at @PSessions. 

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The Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio “Legends of Real Estate” segment, presented by Denim Marketing, highlights the movers and shakers in the Atlanta real estate industry – the home builders, developers, Realtors and suppliers working to provide the American dream for Atlantans. For more information on how you can be featured as a guest, contact Denim Marketing at 770-383-3360 or fill out the Atlanta Real Estate Forum contact form. Subscribe to the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast on iTunes, and if you like this week’s show, be sure to rate it.

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