Shelly Basso has been in the homebuilding industry since she was 19, and in 1993 she started her own custom homebuilding company: Aspen Homes Inc. in Pewaukee, Wis. For those who personally know Basso, a career in homebuilding had always been something of an inevitability. 

“Aspen Homes Inc. was built on a foundation of experience,” the company says. “Our family comes from generations of contractors and tradesmen who know what quality and hard work are all about. It’s about getting the job done right, and above all, exceeding expectations.”

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication for a contractor to remain in business for nearly 50 years, and those are the exact qualities that Alpha Construction Co. Inc. has brought to the Southern California market. Since 1965, Alpha Construction has distinguished itself as a respected and sought-after builder in numerous markets, but primarily focused on the affordable housing sector. 

President Irvin Laxineta says that even though the company faces some intense competition in Southern California, Alpha Construction’s collaborative approach to construction helps it stand apart from the rest. “A successful project is one that had a team effort between the designers, the owners and ourselves,” he says.

The new mantra of the retiring baby boomer has become “affordability.” In a conservative lending environment for retirement homes in Florida or Arizona, Northerners from states such as Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois are choosing the low real estate taxes in Crossville, Tenn., the absence of a state income tax and the region’s moderate climate. Helping them with that choice is Zurich Homes, which specializes in European-style custom homes with high-end features in a moderate price range.

“We really see ourselves as a niche builder that is developing a product that caters to this 55-plus buyer,” President and owner Isaac Zuercher declares. “They tend to be more demanding and know what they want. They have a whole list of things they need us to try to accommodate when we sit down and design a home.”

When Wes Hanson Builders Inc. constructs a home, it tries to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else. “We try to make our homes one of a kind,” owner Tom Hanson says. “We set a precedent.”

Based in Crosslake, Minn., the family owned company designs and builds custom homes for clients in the Brainerd Lakes area. Hanson’s uncle, Wes Hanson, started the company in Bloomington, Minn., in 1986.

At the time, Hanson operated it with his wife, Marilyn Hanson, son Todd Hanson, and nephews Tom Hanson and Brad Mytling. In 2007, Wes Hanson sold the company to Todd and Tom Hanson, who continue to run the company to this day.

Today, “We tend to cover the whole realm of projects,” Designer Matt Schmidt says. “We try to fit the need of our clients and anyone that’s out there.”

Some people don’t believe it’s right to throw away something that has value. For Ralph and Helene Belisle, that applies to houses, as well — and that’s why they started a home renovation company in their city, Vancouver.

In many ways, Vancouver is an exciting collision of contemporary and charming. One looks up at a downtown skyline filled with modern, Asian-influenced high-rises and down at cobblestone streets lined with brick buildings dating back to the Wild West.

But the Belisles were seeing too much of the old torn down to make way for the new. “I would fix almost anything before throwing it away,” says Ralph, a carpenter by trade. “Not only is it more ethical, I find it a lot more fun and interesting, as well.”

With its location on Massachusetts’ South Coast, the Bay Club offers the luxury and beauty of the state’s best-known coastal communities without the traffic and exorbitant housing costs. The residential and country club community in Mattapoisett, Mass., is within an hour’s drive of Boston, half-hour of Providence and close to beaches and recreational opportunities as a result of its proximity to Buzzards Bay, giving it a convenient location while also offering a getaway amid one of the nation’s most densely populated regions.

“Statistically, more than 40 percent of the population of the United States resides in the Northeast,” Bay Club Director of Sales Dave Andrews says. “What’s unique about this community is it is on the western shore of Buzzard’s Bay, a deep warm-water harbor. We have great boating, swimming and fishing opportunities and are connected to the Interstate highway system, making us easy to get to.

Southerland Communities doesn’t believe in buying and reselling just any open land for its own sake. The Spring Branch, Texas-based company takes a discriminating eye toward all of its potential acquisitions and looks for properties that possess special qualities.

Natural features, topography and locations in quiet, country settings that aren’t too far away from city settings all play an important role in the company’s decision-making process. “We spend a lot of time looking for the right piece of land, and we’ve turned many properties down before finding the right one,” CEO and founder Charlie Patterson says.

Most of the residential developer’s recent acquisitions are along creeks or rivers or in prime locations in Texas’ “Hill Country,” the region surrounding San Antonio and Austin. “We’re focusing a lot on that area right now,” Patterson says. “It’s such a great, beautiful area that many people in the state eventually look to retire and move out to. We stay pretty busy with projects out here.” 

When Ed Sadler started Sadler Building Corp. in 1987, he was the entire operation. Today, Sadler Building Corp. is recognized as one of the leading custom homebuilders in Virginia, known for building high-quality custom homes and diversifying into other areas of the homebuilding market. Having built the company up from a one-man operation into the regional powerhouse it is today means Sadler knows what it takes to stand out in the marketplace. “We really have to work hard to differentiate ourselves,” he says. 

Fortunately, Sadler Building Corp. has the experience and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of homebuyers in and around the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. Sadler began gaining that knowledge in the late 1970s, when he entered the real estate market after years as a high school teacher and coach. Sadler concentrated on selling new construction through the early 1980s, when the market took a downturn. It was during that time that Sadler was approached by a savings and loan he had worked with to finish development of a subdivision it had acquired from a developer who couldn’t finish the project. Sadler jumped at the chance to finish building the rest of the subdivision, and Sadler Building Corp. was born.

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