At this point in their homebuilding careers, the Grabens have seen it all – every style and every size of home clients want. And yet, the husband-and-wife duo of Nathan and Heidi Graben are able to deliver custom-built homes that each has its own unique feel. 

“We’ve been in this business since 1983,” says Nathan Graben. “So we’ve built every type of home. We’ve built homes using different types of foundations and different types of construction. We are not rigid on doing any types of homes.”

Graben Construction Inc. officially launched in 1983, but Nathan Graben has been in the building business since he was a young boy, following after the footsteps of his great grandfather. Heidi Graben, with her knack for custom and luxury interiors and exterior details, complements her husband’s architectural and construction training. 

Building high-quality homes is front and center in Far West Industries’ operations. “We are not about having the lower building price per square foot,” says Scott Lissoy, president and co-owner of the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company. “Our homes are built in a way that is cognizant of our costs while focusing on quality materials and construction.”

The company foregoes many of the marketing-related bells and whistles of home selling such as large, well-appointed sales trailers or ornately-detailed sales offices, concentrating instead on acquiring and installing top-of-the-line finishes and materials in the model and production homes. “We’re more interested in spending money on permanent features in the homes than building temporary facilities on a construction site that you eventually remove,” he adds. “We won’t spend $40,000 on finished carpentry for a sales office that we know will just be ripped out in the end. That $40,000 is better spent on the level of the standard features of a Far West home.”

Aiming its luxury apartment developments at upwardly  mobile young professionals, Duke Inc. knows what a market will bear in terms of expenses, such as land costs. The company builds primarily in Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas.

“The last thing we can afford to do is go into a market that is overbuilt and overpriced,” Vice President Rob Stone says. “I see Dallas as both. There’s so much production going on.”

Stone uses his experience with a project in Dallas as an example. “I was able to offer $30 a square foot for an apartment site, and somebody came in and paid almost $50 a square foot for the dirt,” he recalls. “So do the math. That’s pretty aggressive, and the dirt is still sitting there. They haven’t done anything on it. I don’t know if they realized they paid too much. I’m just glad they were able to justify their number. I couldn’t do it. Timing is critical. If I had paid that much money and I wasn’t building on it soon after I bought it, I’d be looking for another line of work.”

Some homebuilders focus on the number of units they build each year, but not CarrHomes. Instead, Vice President Tom Avery says, the Fairfax, Va.-based homebuilder is more focused on quality. “When people hear our name, it’s associated with quality,” he says. “They all know if they walk into a Carr home, it’s going to be a well-built home.”

Edward R. Carr founded the company in 1925. Today, under the leadership of Principal Tom Jordan, CarrHomes has a high customer satisfaction rate. “More than 98 percent of the people who have built a home with us would recommend CarrHomes to a friend,” Avery says.

A premier custom homebuilder that has focused on high-end residential construction since 1977, Cahill Homes is currently building new homes inside the gates of Golden Oak at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  

“At Cahill Homes, we strive every day to be better than the day before,” founder and President Steve Cahill says. “We absolutely love building homes and we want everyone that we come in contact with to see that.”

Cahill Homes has built homes in exclusive neighborhoods in Central Florida for nearly 40 years. The Cahill Homes team’s focus on creative designs, unmatched building quality and the highest level of customer satisfaction has earned the company numerous accolades and awards such as the Master Custom Builder Council’s Builder of the Year.

Located in the Flathead Valley of Montana near Glacier National Park, Big Mountain Builders LLC has prospered even during the recession. It builds custom homes ranging in construction cost from $300,000 to $1.5 million, not including land.

The style of the homes sometimes depends on where the homeowner is coming from – literally. Clients who are new to Montana want a Montana-style home that resembles a cabin, with heavy use of wood and perhaps even logs.

The process of buying a new home can be emotional, a fact that Beazer Homes is well aware of, Chief Marketing Officer Kathi James says. “Unlike most purchases you make, buying a home is full of excitement, nerves and hope for the future,” she says. “Our new home counselors love to help consumers find the perfect home that will suit the way they want to live.”

Atlanta-based Beazer has a multi-century legacy of helping consumers finding those perfect homes. In 1696, founder George Beazer arrived in Marshfield, England, and established the company. Today, Beazer Homes is a top ten U.S. homebuilder, with operations in 16 states. “Since going public in 1994, Beazer has proudly provided more than 170,000 homes to discerning homebuyers, and I’m happy to say that the homes we are building today retain high-quality construction practices, giving tribute to our heritage, and are significantly more energy efficient than a resale and many other new builds,” James adds.

With a lifetime in the construction business, Vice President Bill Zach and his brother Matt, president of Zach Building Co., can deliver a custom home or historic renovation to customers that is cost-effective with energy-efficient innovations that pay back their cost in savings. 

“As builders, we always have to dance a fine line – cost vs. ROI, which is what we look at,” Bill Zach says. “When you start talking about green, to me there’s emerald green and then there’s pea green. It’s just a conversation you have to have with the client to find out what they really want to concentrate on, being more or less green in their home.”

Zach cites a “laundry list” of energy-efficient features on his company’s homes that are standard, such as spray foam in the walls, variable speed furnaces, a better house wrap, weatherstripping on the doors and gaskets on the light switches, electrical outlets and can lights. Zach Building is one of the few that has built LEED-Gold projects in its area.

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