Ken Garland Custom Homes

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Ken Garland Custom Homes’ reputation is its biggest asset.

By Chris Kelsch

Ken Garland Jr. grew up around the homebuilding industry, working various jobs including cleaning up construction sites. So when he took over the business from his father, Ken Garland Sr., in the mid 1990s, he already had a solid foundation in knowing how to build luxury custom homes in the Memphis area. 

Though the company had started out building houses for middle-class homebuyers in 1965, it slowly evolved into a luxury homebuilder, typically focusing on building homes in the $1 million to $3 million-dollar range. Today, the company builds four to six homes a year with an average price tag of $1.5 million.

Repeat Customers

Garland notes that operating in this sector requires being flexible enough to meet a demanding client base whose tastes have evolved in recent years. “Since the downturn of ’08, people are more conscious of size,” Garland says. “Though they still seek the same quality from their earlier purchases, some may now be empty-nesters. Whereas they once wanted homes of 6,000-8,000 feet, they may now seek homes of 3,500-4,000 feet.”

In addition to changing size demands, Garland must also deal with the unique challenge of customization. ‘There’s a lot of customization on-site for these types of homes,” Garland says.  “Typically a lot of the decisions are made after the drywall process.”

Garland uses one main method to meet the various needs of his clients: communication.  “I’m always on site, always on the job – that really helps,” Garland says. “I try and stay in constant contact through texting. I’d rather give too much information than not enough.”

Those open lines of communication have allowed Garland Custom Homes to flourish.  The company typically receives a majority of its business from architects as well as customers that have used Garland before. It has also resulted in much repeat business: Clients that have used Garland before in building large homes may now find themselves as empty-nesters, but still looking for higher quality as they downsize.

In addition to being well known by his clients, Garland’s experience has led to strong working relationships with architects, trade guilds and subcontractors in the Memphis area.  “Typically, the subcontractors have all worked together for years, so there’s no need to train them and most problems can be solved on site as the project progresses,” Garland says. “Every house is treated as if it were my own home.”

Get What You Pay For

Garland does not believe in cutting corners when it comes to price.  “My experience is if you make a decision based on price alone, you will most likely get what you pay for,” he notes. What Garland has tried to do instead is find the ideal balance between price and quality.  He continues to look for the highest amount of quality at the most reasonable price.

That philosophy carries over into selecting green materials for Garland homes. “We use a product called TechShield Radiant Barrier Sheathing, which is plywood designed to lower the temperatures of attics by as much as thirty degrees,” Garland notes. “That can make a huge difference in how well air conditioning units function, given how hot attics can get.”

Garland has also taken to using Hardie board siding, a concrete-based siding product. Because there is significant expansion with wood materials due to the humidity in the South, Hardie board typically lasts longer and comes with a 50-year warranty.

Inspiration and Perspiration

Garland takes a simple approach to finding inspiration. “I usually let the client inspire me,” Garland says.” That has allowed Garland to expand his design range from English to French and from Mediterranean to French Country.

Garland’s reputation extends to decorators as well, giving him access to some of Memphis’ finest decorators as well as architects. Given his strong standing in the community and industry, it’s easy to see why some clients use him for a second or even third time with their homebuilding needs. 

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