Quality over price tag has been driving the housing market in North Carolina’s largest and most vibrant commercial hub in recent years. This is a part of America where grand oaks still run up and down neighborhood streets. Still, as the country’s second largest financial center, Charlotte has caught the luxury home-building bug that’s ripped through every other up-and-coming metropolitan center in the US. And that brings us to this list of design-build firms. Every one of the homebuilding designers mentioned below is first-rate, in experience, customer service and client satisfaction, and overall competence.
10) Henderson Building Group
Featured Principals: Brooks Henderson
Address: PO Box 1409, Cornelius, NC 28031
By the time Brooks Henderson opened his own firm in Cornelius in 2008, he had spent over a decade in the home improvement industry. For five of those years, he worked for one of the most prominent luxury home builders in Charlotte. Since its founding, Henderson has built over 200 homes in the Charlotte and Lake Norman areas. In 2015, he was honored with the STARS Award for Whole Home Renovation under $1M from the North Carolina Home Builders Association. That same year, he also received the Lake Norman Homebuilders Association “Best of the Lake” Design Award for an existing home renovation in the $276k to $500k category. In 2017, Henderson became president of the Lake Norman Home Builders Association. The group is a Lead-Safe and certified green professional.
An elegant entrance was built for a custom home in South Charlotte: dark wood floors, a grand foyer, a spiraling staircase, and a crystal chandelier. More chandeliers were added to the vintage white, wood kitchen that features custom cabinets with inset doors and decorative wood patterns on a built-in range hood. The alternating black and white tiles on a covered patio, which houses a brick fireplace, offer a classic look. An award-winning rebuild in Lake Norman showcased a traditional exterior made extra elegant when a pale-colored stone arch was built around a dark wood door. The interior has a beautiful contrast of soft, warm walls and luxurious, dark wood cabinets and doors. A custom home build in Mooresville featured 2,600 square feet with four bedrooms and three baths. The great room was designed with a vaulted ceiling. The main level has both a master suite and a suite for the in-laws. There’s also a butler’s pantry and a state-of-the-art kitchen with a bonus room on the upper level. The home even has a covered porch in the backyard.
9) Distinctive Design Build
Featured Principals: Vince Busby and Erin Dougherty
Address: 338 S. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, NC 28211
Principal Vince Busby is a certified remodeler and general contractor with over 30 years of hands-on homebuilding experience. Busby learned the trade with his father, who built apartment complexes in Florida and New Mexico. Vince was later recruited by a Sherwin Williams executive to work at the company’s international paint division. This led to Vince starting his own painting company in Charlotte and, by 1997, he was ready to branch out into his own residential construction and remodeling company. In 2013, he teamed up with award-winning design coordinator Erin Dougherty to form this Charlotte-based firm. Dougherty is a certified kitchen & bath remodeler with experience working on dream teams with engineers, carpenters, electricians, and architects. Busby’s building know-how is so well respected in Charlotte that he has been retained as an expert witness to testify in lawsuits relating to construction matters.
Distinctive won a CotY award in 2012 for its kitchen remodel in a 1930s Eastover home. A cramped space was opened by tearing down a load-bearing wall, which created a spacious galley kitchen that Distinctive equipped with high-end Wolf and Subzero appliances. The cabinets were painted and glazed, and fitted with inset doors and drawers. A professional, vented range hood is hidden in the cabinets and an arched opening was designed for an elegant entrance to the breakfast room. Distinctive handled another stand-out kitchen remodel, this time for a homeowner in Mooresville who needed extra space to cook for her large extended family. A corbel ceiling created a special pattern that became a focal point of the room. It had been crafted out of Venetian plaster and its polished look added a luxurious touch. Gap joints were routed into the cabinetry and end panels were added to an island to create a clean, simple line. The stain on the ceiling beams matched the Knotty Alder cabinets.
8) Everett Custom Homes
Featured Principals: Eric Brown
Address: 1408 Tarrington Way, Indian Trail, NC 28079
Founding Principal Eric Brown started Everett Custom Homes in 2007. He grew up in a homebuilding family; his grandfather had been a carpenter and taught him at an early age that nothing can substitute for precision when it comes to careful home design. Brown studied architecture and design at the University of Minnesota and then spent 10 years working for Trek, a leading bike design company, where he says he got first-hand experience in supply and demand, quality assurance, customer service, and high-level business practices. Soon after he established Everett, the owner-operated firm began to collect awards for its high-end homes in the Charlotte metro area and the surrounding suburbs. The firm was chosen in 2014 by Southern Living to contribute to its Custom Home Builders program.
Everett considers the Carroll residence to be an example of his distinctive contemporary rustic style. About 6k square feet of this home is heated, and 8,900 square feet are under the roof. A distinctive feature is a barn with v-groove 2 x 6 interior walls. Locally grown American Black Walnut was used for the wide, random floor planks. Oversized fireplaces were built with stacked stone, and a gourmet kitchen is fitted with Wolf Subzero appliances. The Thompson residence also bears a rustic touch. The 6k-square-foot home is on 15 acres. Its main floor pattern is uniquely designed with random 8-10-12” runs of American Black Walnut flooring, which Everett says is “extremely rare.” Knotty alder trim and doors run throughout the rest of the home. The cabinets, front door, and garage doors were all custom built, as was a double-groin vaulted ceiling.
7) Guthmann Construction Inc.
Featured Principals: Rich Guthmann
Address: 10720 Carmel Commons Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28226
Based in Charlotte, Guthmann Construction has over 25 years of experience in design-build throughout the metro area. The firm is a member of the Charlotte Better Business Bureau, the National Kitchens and Baths Association, and the National Association of Home Builders. The firm was founded by Rich Guthmann in 1992, right after he acquired his general contractor’s license. Soon after, its client base expanded into Myers Park, Foxcroft, Dilworth, Montibello, Providence, and Piper Glen. In 2015, the firm shifted ownership to production manager Rick Haase and architect Tony Gray. Among the firm’s numerous awards have been multiple Contractor of the Year and Excellence in Remodeling from the National Association of Home Builders. Guthmann has also won seven People’s Choice Awards in the Southern Living Home Shows. And The Charlotte Business Journal has chosen Guthmann as one of the Charlotte area’s Top 25 Remodelers each year since 2003.
A custom Guthmann home was featured in a 2016 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Highlights were its inset cabinet doors, built-in refrigerator, and slate counter tops in the kitchen. The remodel project required the firm to remove and relocate doorways that improved traffic flow between the central living spaces and kitchen area. Other special features were a cozy banquette, a second sink, and an extended island for a casual dining bar. Typical of Guthmann’s remodel projects is a Beverly Woods East Hall master bathroom with a double vanity, linen tower, undermount sinks, polished granite counters, and a design that continues into the walk-in shower. Highlights of a Landsdowne kitchen renovation included spaces dedicated for small appliances and a Wolf range surrounded by cabinets with pull-out drawers. Guthmann even designs home gyms, including one spruced up with sliding French doors at the entrance and athletic flooring with interlocking rubber tiles that keep noise to a minimum.
6) Artisan Custom Homes
Featured Principals: Jay Johnstone and John Shryock
Address: 126 South Main Street, Suite 2A, Davidson, NC 28036
This high-end design build-firm specializes in custom homes throughout the Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville, and Lake Norman areas. Their design portfolio is diverse. There are Nantucket-style homes boasting cedar shake and stone, French country estates with stone and brick accents, vintage European farmhouses, and the historic brick ranch style that Myers Park is known for. Partners and co-owners John Shryock and Jay Johnstone say they expect their homes to last for more than a century. They are especially proud that the company’s premier reputation comes from word of mouth and repeat customers, as they do little advertising. Any client who taps Artisan to build their luxury home can expect to work with a team of architects and home designers to create custom floor plans. Homes built by Artisan in the Lake Norman area range from $800k to $1.5M.
A traditional brick home by Artisan at 839 Hudson Place in Davidson has 4,400 square feet of living space. It features 6 bedrooms, 4 baths, an upstairs media center with an adjoining bonus multipurpose room, and a three-car garage. Next to the kitchen are a mud room and scullery. The rooms are large: a gathering room measures 19 x 17 feet, a covered veranda on the first floor is 18 x 13 feet, and the ground-level owners’ suite with an adjoining owners’ bath measures 14 x 17 feet. On the second floor are four bedroom suites, a bonus room measuring 19 x 17 feet, and a loft, all built around a stunning balcony. 812 Hudson Place in Davidson is the location of a stucco façade that contains 5,178 square feet of space and was built in 2016. There are six bedrooms and five baths. Unique features are a barrel vaulted foyer ceiling with wood inlay, custom doors into a walk-in pantry, and brick-flooring on a drop zone. A recent estimate for the house was over $1M.
5) Patrick Joseph Distinctive Homes
Featured Principals: Michael Shalvoy
Address: 104 Bridgeport Drive, Mooresville, NC, 28117
This Mecklenburg county firm was founded by two brothers, Michael and James Shalvoy, both of whom had extensive home building experience. Michael got his start early as a contractor in Denver, CO, before going on to build luxury homes in Boca Raton, FL. He spent years as a homebuilder with a Vail, CO company whose typical projects range from $2M to $10M. When Michael moved to Charlotte, he had the idea to start a design-build firm where the principals would be intimately involved with every detail of the construction and design phrase. So he teamed up with his brother James, who had 20 years’ building experience. The pair told the Charlotte Biz Journal, “We want to build homes that will be destined to be classics so that when people drive by, the brake lights go on.”
Perhaps the most talked-about project of Patrick Joseph is a waterfront Mediterranean-style estate on 1.4 acres in a gated Lake Norman community. The wine cellar would satisfy a connoisseur’s dream. The elaborate kitchen opens up to an expansive outdoor living space with doors that fold away. The meticulous, manicured landscape features a fireplace and waterfall infinity pool for ultimate relaxation. There is also a private boat lift, boat slip, fenced deck, floating dock, watercraft lift, hot tub, and inground pool. An estate at The Pointe features a colonial American-style black-and-white façade. Just inside the foyer is a steeple-like vaulted ceiling with magnificent curved walls, oversized windows, and skylights. The home is exquisitely decorated with a traditional white interior accented by antique gold. The architectural style features an open kitchen and casual eating area. A covered patio with gray stone tiles offers spectacular views of the waterfront. There is also a private boat dock.
4) New Old
Featured Principals: Mary and Troy Ludemann
Address: 936 Market Street, #105, Fort Mill, South Carolina 29708
This South Carolina-based firm was founded by Mary and Troy Ludemann, both of whom spent years learning the home-building trade from Mary’s father, custom home builder Tom Murtaugh. Troy has 20 years’ experience in home design and construction that started when he worked as a real estate developer in 2003. His passion for luxury homes pushed him to pursue numerous land development opportunities. Mary came to the business after having spent one decade as a designer of luxury homes. Her styles range from Farmhouse, Nantucket, and European to High Country and Coastal Cottage. The New Old design-build process centers around a team of architecture and interior design professionals. In 2014 and 2015, Better Homes & Gardens featured the firm’s “Fifth Street Cottage” and “Chrys Home” projects. The Charlotte Home Builders Association named New Old “Custom Home Builder of the Year” in 2016.
Although New Old is known for castle-like structures, they can also handle normal-sized home builds. One is at 795 Harvest Point Drive in Fort Mill, SC. The home features a mud room equipped with built-in lockers and a screened porch jutting out from a large family room. The lower-level floor plan includes a fireplace, a guest suite, and even “his/her pocket” offices. Thirteen-foot ceilings with exposed beams add a rustic touch to the master suite. The master bathrooms feature custom-built vanities and clawfoot tubs. There is even a children’s suite adjoining the master suite. New Old’s “Welsh House” was featured in a recent Charlotte Homearama tour. The classic English country estate provides 4,879 square feet of living space. It possesses every high-end luxury a custom home could have: a built-in dog bed, a family “control center,” and his/her dressing rooms in the master suite. There are Italian marble counter tops, a Parisian bathtub in the master bath, and French Oak floors throughout.
3) Classica Homes
Featured Principals: Bill Saint
Address: 2215 Ayrsley Town Boulevard, Suite G, Charlotte, NC 28273
The award-winning team that became Classica Homes was founded in 2010, largely through the efforts of CEO and President Bill Saint. A former Arthur Anderson accountant and auditor, Saint earned a bachelor’s in business from the University of Michigan, then became a licensed general contractor to pursue his love of beautiful homes. Classica features model homes that prospective clients can choose from. The homes are designed by nationally recognized designers and architects. Classica concentrates its projects around Riverchase Estates, a gated 2,000-acre community of estate homes along Catawba River. These estates are characterized by picturesque neighborhoods with old-growth trees. Chief among its long list of awards is the National Housing Gold Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in home building. Classica also won the 2017 National Housing Quality Award and the 2015 Best Architectural Design of a structure over 4,000 square feet.
Dubbed the “Providence Retreat,” this 3,470-square-foot estate features four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. The exterior architectural style is traditional. An open floor concept allows easy traffic between the kitchen, dining area, and family room. A bonus room is upstairs for family entertainment. But activities in the room won’t compromise peace and quiet for sleeping: the upstairs bedrooms each have an entrance vestibule which keeps noise out. Another of Classica’s popular models is known as the “Pasadena,” an estate that the company says provides the most versatile floor plan, as it allows buyers to choose a first-floor study or a guest room. The standard layout is for 4,190 square feet of living space that features five bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths. The Pasadena also has an open-living design between the main areas – kitchen, dining, and living room. An added bonus is a “multi-generational suite” that allows private living, bedroom and bath, along with a mini kitchen.
2) Arcadia Homes
Featured Principals: Michael L. Salamone, AJ Foard, and Jeff Ecleberry
Address: 6428-A Bannington Road, Suite A, Charlotte, NC 28226
Arcadia Homes builds some of the state’s most high-end luxury structures. The firm opened in 1994 and is run by a team of top-notch professionals. President and managing partner Michael L. Salamone has a bachelor’s in business from the University of South Carolina and an MBA in Finance from Seton Hall University in New Jersey. He spent years trading on Wall Street before moving to North Carolina and jumping into the homebuilding industry. Managing partner AJ Foard began a career in residential construction after graduating from Clemson University. Foard manages the construction, estimates, and sales. Jeff Ecleberry is a managing partner and graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in architecture, then spent years learning engineering and project management skills. Arcadia Homes is an Accredited Master Builder by the North Carolina Home Builders Association.
Arcadia’s “elegant country estate” was featured in the 2016 issue of Luxury Home Magazine. This Lake Norman property features a stucco front, a Europe tile roof, and a grand marble foyer with Greek columns holding up a second floor balcony that runs the perimeter of the entryway. An elaborate staircase spirals up to the upper level. “Spectacular” is how Luxury Home Magazine described a magnificent Lake Norman property which allows views of the lake from almost every room. The five-bedroom home is situated on a deep water cove. There is a private boat lift and pier. The home’s nearly 7,500 square feet of living space takes up three levels. Special features are a gym, sauna/steam room, wine cellar, outdoor kitchen with entertainment area and fireplace, and a spa with water/fire facilities. An Arcadia home at 160 Attleboro Place in Mooresville boasts a classic French provincial architecture style. Special features of the five-bedroom, seven-bath home are a walk-in attic, tray ceiling, garden tub, walk-in pantry, and open floor plan with kitchen island and breakfast bar.
1) Augusta Homes
Featured Principals: Ken Wrench and Ron Talbott
Address: 10602-B Bailey Road, Cornelius, NC 28031
Augusta Homes is known throughout North Mecklenburg and South Iredell counties for building castles. Principals Ken Wrench and Ron Talbott had intended their design-build firm to remain “boutique-sized,” as the goal was to offer red-carpet service to just a few clients each year. Talbott came from Southern California where he learned homebuilding as a frame contractor and worked his way up. Miami, Florida-native Wrench started out in marketing and sales. They build most of their homes near high-end golf courses and in Lake Norman’s waterfront communities. They’ve recently branched out into Southern Charlotte. Their design-build process emphasizes the team concept. Every project has an architect, engineer, residential and interior designer, and, of course, the customer. Every one of their homes overflows with world-class luxury.
Augusta built a Southern charmer in Hunterville’s Meadowbrook low country. The home features 6,234 square feet of heated space with another 8,231 square feet tucked under the roof. There are five luxurious, king-sized bedrooms, six baths (four are full), a four-car garage, a custom-built dog area, and a family bonus (multi-purpose) room. One of the home’s three porches is a front-facing veranda. Especially exquisite details come from granite, marble, and tile trimming throughout the structure. An outdoor pavilion separates the home from six acres of lush green acres. When a New Jersey couple was relocating to Mooresville, they tapped Augusta Homes to handle their luxury home build, which was completed in 2009. Highlights of the project included the trim of the 8,200-square-foot home being sprayed with oil-based paint to provide a fine furniture-type finish. Natural stone, stucco, and copper accents give the home a French country feel. The rustic great room has exposed beams and a stone fireplace. But the living and dining rooms are French elegant-style formal. A refrigerator in the gourmet kitchen was made to resemble an armoire. Warm weather entertaining is no problem, as there is a summer kitchen built at basement level that opens onto a stone patio.