Ever since the Queen City’s real estate market started booming in 2016, homebuilders have enjoyed a long-awaited revival in their trade. Home values are rising. Charlotte Magazine reported that the median sales price went up to $185k in 2016 for the first time, and over 42,000 homes were sold in the Charlotte metro area, producing high sales not seen in 10 years. These are welcomed statistics for residential contractors who specialize in custom home builds, especially since market analysts are not expecting another crash anytime soon.
The 15 licensed contractors that made this list lead the Charlotte building industry in several ways. First, they erect more luxury dwellings in pricey neighborhoods like Myers Park, Foxcroft, Ballantyne, and Eastover. Second, they’ve garnered more critical acclaim – from local and national press outlets, professional associations, and wealthy clients. Finally, each of these contractors has captured the essence of Charlotte – its rich country clubs and golf communities, equestrian tradition, waterfront settings, and acres of trails for outdoor zealots – whether their builds are in trendy new townhomes or picturesque tree-lined neighborhoods.
Top General Contractors
15. Ashland Custom Homes
Featured Professionals: Ed Riesmeyer & Howie Webb
Address: 834 Wismar Court, Charlotte, NC 28270
Ashland Custom Homes’ website describes the company’s approach as building “real homes for real families.” Ashland is quick to point out that it doesn’t erect mass-produced, cookie-cutter McMansions. Rather, it constructs signature homes that directly reflect the personality and taste of each individual client. Ashland is uniquely focused on making each project an enjoyable and stress-free customer experience. They achieve this intimate process by remaining intentionally small, which allows each client to work directly with Principals Ed Riesmeyer and Howie Webb.
Ashland was recently featured in Charlotte Luxury Home Magazine’s article on a new community of custom homes in picturesque Stevens Grove in nearby Matthews. Ashland is one of three custom homebuilders selected to construct a total of 46 homes in the scenic setting. Among its other accomplishments is receiving the Best in Philanthropy Award at the 2015 Building Communities Home Tour in Charlotte.
Riesmeyer studied at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Webb obtained his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from West Point Military Academy. Webb founded the company in 2003 and was joined by Riesmeyer as a partner in 2005.
14. Patrick Joseph Distinctive Homes
Featured Professionals: Michael and Jim Salvoy
Address: 20600 North Main Street, Cornelius, NC 28031
This Mecklenburg county contractor, in business since 2001, is known for Nantucket-style estates straddling the shoreline of Lake Norman. The homes typically feature clear cedar ceilings, shiplap walls, and airy open floor plans with oversized islands. This Charlotte general contractor is also known for creating dramatic great rooms with circular staircases, gourmet kitchens fitted with top-of-the-line Thermador and Wolf appliances, and double barrel ceilings. They also have a reputation for their incredible wine cellars, theater rooms, limestone fireplaces, quatrefoil pools and spas, and private suites for the in-laws.
Amenities such as these explain why founding brothers Michael and Jim Salvoy easily fetch multimillion-dollar price tags for their designs. They’ve also raked up an impressive list of awards, such as the North Carolina Stars Award for Best Custom Home over $1M, the Carolina Home Builder Association’s (CHBA) Best Home in Charlotte over $1M, and Lake Norman Home Builders Association’s (LNHBA) Best in Show awards.
The brothers settled in Charlotte after successful homebuilding stints in Vail, Colorado; and Boca Raton, Florida, where the average cost of their structures ranged from $2M to $10M. In a recent Charlotte Business Journal article, Jim Shalvoy said the company has built more than 45 estates valued over $125M. Shalvoy is on the Cornelius Land Development Code Advisory Board and the Board of the Peninsula Community Foundation.
13. Alair Homes
Featured Professionals: Duane Johns, Roger Ketchum
Address: 3926 Miriam Drive, Charlotte, NC 28205
Barely 20 years old, Advanced Renovations has established quite an impressive track record: 12 CotY awards from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) of Charlotte, and four Best of the Lake awards from the LNHBA. The group was also inducted into Remodeling Magazine’s Big 50 List of Remodelers. And perhaps the greatest professional boost for partners Duane Johns and Roger Ketchum came when they were asked to join highly acclaimed Alair Homes to form Alair’s “Charlotte Custom Home Builder Team.”
Johns got his start in construction by working on oceanfront estates in The Hamptons on Long Island. He moved to Charlotte in 1996, opened a local remodeling company, and then teamed up with Ketchum to form Advanced Renovations. Ketchum, also from New York, learned the construction trade by working on log cabins in upstate New York. The team’s historic renovation of a Myers Park build won the Connie Brown Preservation Award, and a Carriage House project in Myers Park was written up in Urban Home Magazine.
12. Salins Group
Featured Professionals: Ben Collins
Address: 1125 E Morehead Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
A typical job for Ben Collins, owner of the Salins Group, can run up to $5M. Collins received a Bachelor of Science in Business from the College of Charleston. Just out of college, he worked in sales, eventually becoming a sales manager for FedEx Custom Critical. His next job was as vice president and partner of IMI Resort Properties. By 1998, Collins left corporate America to pursue his passion for homebuilding. He’s been president and owner of Salins Group, since 2001. By 2007, he was pulling in $6M in revenue, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.
The company works primarily in Charlotte, Matthews, Myers Park, and Pineville. Collins, a former chair of the Remodeling Council of the Home Builders Association of Charlotte (HBAC), is known for his uncanny attention to detail. Clients of his multimillion-dollar projects praise him for understanding how to deliver a product that meets their needs, stays under budget, and offers maximum value. In March 2015, Salins Group was featured on the DIY TV show Fix It & Finish It. Collins’s work has been featured in local business magazines and trade journals.
11. Andrew Roby
Featured Professionals: Trent Haston, Travis Haston
Address: 2000 West Morehead Street, Charlotte, NC 28208
In 1950, Hungarian immigrant Andrew Robicsek set up a small handyman service in Charlotte. Sixty-seven years later, Andrew Roby General Contractor is one of the region’s largest residential remodeling firms. Roby’s longtime partner, Glenn Haston, became the sole owner in 1976. The company remains under the Haston family’s management.
Current CEO Travis Haston studied construction management and industrial technology at East Carolina University, became vice president in 2003, and runs the company with the help of a CFO, a COO, two senior directors, seven project managers, a director of production, and six executive superintendents. His brother, Trent, is President / CEO of the Roby Family of Companies, which includes this firm, electric contractor Roby Electric, commercial contractor Roby Commercial, and maintenance services provider Robee Handyman. Trent graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This residential contractor has created a diverse and extensive portfolio, building signature homes and performing award-winning remodels in Charlotte, Fort Mill, Lake Wylie, Matthews, Myers Park, Pineville, and Belmont. Andrew Roby is a member of the Custom Builder Guild in McLean — an upscale community along Lake Wylie just minutes from Uptown Charlotte. Besides their Charlotte office, the firm has an office in Boone, NC.
The firm has partnered with a local radio station (1110 AM WBT “Charlotte News Talk”) to broadcast a weekly radio show devoted to home topics, called, “At Home with Roby.” Andrew Roby has been honored with the Charlotte Business Journal’s Family Business Award in 2016; Charlotte’s Best of the Best awards in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016; and the Best Home Builder of 2015 Award from The Charlotte Observer.
10. Copper Builders
Featured Professionals: Wade Miller
Address: 1235-E East Boulevard #155, Charlotte, NC 28203
A Charlotte native and former Eagle Scout, Wade Miller graduated top in his class from Purdue University. Miller took his degree in mechanical engineering back home and settled into a career in new home construction for high-end builder Ryan Homes. He soon co-founded his own building company, Bellamy Homes, flipped it to his partner, and then in 2013 laid the groundwork for Copper Builders.
How can a firm that’s barely five years old compete with contractors who have decades of experience? Well, Copper Builders might be young, but it’s quickly attracted serious attention — and a little envy — from the Charlotte business community. Copper has already built luxury homes in prestigious Charlotte communities such as Easton Park, Lumina, and Cherrytown.
Now, Miller and his group are developing a luxury townhouse project known as “Waldron Grove,” which sits near the intersection of Rea and Pineville-Matthews roads. The project will consist of 24 townhouses over a 4.5 acre site. Each two-story unit will have full brick exteriors, spa-like bathrooms, and enclosed courtyards. Miller was listed in the Charlotte Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40. He was also featured on the TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
9. Everett Custom Homes
Featured Professionals: Eric Brown
Address: 1408 Tarrington Way, Indian Trail, NC 28079
Everett Custom Homes recently celebrated 10 years in business. Its founder, Eric Brown, started the company in 2007. The homebuilding knowledge he picked up as a kid from his carpenter grandfather has helped him design homes beyond compare. Brown earned degrees in architecture and design from the University of Minnesota, then spent a decade as a high-level sales professional before deciding to focus on homebuilding. Everett builds custom homes throughout Myers Park, Marvin, Wesley Chapel, Weddington, Mint Hill, Indian Trail, and Charlotte.
In 2014, Southern Living decided that Everett’s proven design-build track record had qualified the company to join the prestigious Custom Home Builders program. Everett homes are praised in professional homebuilding circles for builds in the Charlotte metro area, such as a 6,000-square-foot rustic contemporary that features American Black Walnut floors, stacked-stone fireplaces, and a chef’s kitchen with high-end appliances. Another Everett residence, built on 15 acres, offers 6,000 square feet, rare American wood floors, alder doors and cabinets, and dramatic vaulted ceilings.
8. New Old
Featured Professionals: Mary and Troy Ludemann
Address: 936 Market Street #105, Fort Mill, SC 29708
Mary Ludemann started New Old, a spectacularly successful design-build business in both the Carolinas. She inherited a passion for meticulous craftsmanship from her dad, custom home builder Tom Murtaugh. Though it operates out of Fort Mill, South Carolina, New Old Custom Home Builder puts up sophisticated builds throughout Charlotte, Myers Park, Dilworth, Lake Norman, Lake Wylie, and Union County.
Prices for a New Old structure start at $950k but can climb to over $5M. Mary runs the company with her husband, Troy, who also learned homebuilding from Mary’s father, and who brings a real estate background that guides New Old’s land development acquisitions.
The company’s designs are often featured in the local press and national design magazines, such as its “Fifth Street Cottage” and “Chrys Home” projects, which graced the covers of Better Homes & Gardens magazine in 2014 and 2015. In January 2016, Mary became a contributing editor for Charlotte’s Urban Home magazine. In May 2016, New Old won the Major Achievement in Marketing Excellence Award for Custom Home of the Year and Custom Home Builder of the Year by the CHBA.
7. Artisan Custom Homes
Featured Professionals: Jay Johnstone, John Shryock
Address: 21016 Catawba Avenue, Cornelius, NC 28031
This Cornelius-based general contractor in Charlotte was formed through the partnership of lead developer Jay Johnstone and construction manager John Shryock. Johnstone offers 25 years’ experience in residential construction, coupled with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Catawba College. Shryock’s background is in civil engineering, with a degree from North Carolina State University, and in homebuilding, through his work framing houses in the 1990s in Raleigh. Both men possess North Carolina Unlimited General Contractor licenses.
Johnstone and Shryock prefer the small-team approach to homebuilding, which they believe offers clients the most intimate design experience. Artisan specializes in building custom homes in upscale communities throughout Lake Norman, Mooresville, Huntersville, Cornelius, Denver, and Davidson.
The homes reveal the company’s diverse portfolio. For example, Artisan’s builds in Davidson Wood, a picturesque neighborhood near Davidson College, are priced between $650k and $1.5M. A typical Artisan home in Davidson might boast Nantucket-style architecture with a French Country stucco and brick exterior, or embody a vintage European farmhouse with rustic beams and vaulted ceilings. Typically, an Artisan home will also feature large covered verandas, oversized gathering rooms, media centers and bonus rooms, and lofts built around extravagant balconies.
6. Shea Homes
Featured Professional: John F. Shea Jr., Gil Shea, Ed Shea, Mike Shea
Address: 8008 Corporate Center Drive, Charlotte, NC 28226
The Carolinas Division of Shea Homes was founded in 1994 by cousins John F. Shea Jr., Gil Shea, and Ed Shea; Mike Shea later joined the team. But the company’s roots go back much further, to 1881, when John F. Shea started a small plumbing business in Oregon. Since then, the company has grown exponentially into other states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington. Despite its growth, its leadership has not changed; the company has been managed by four generations of the Shea family.
Shea Homes is now one of the largest privately-owned luxury contractors in the nation. The company has more than 4,000 homes throughout North and South Carolina to its building credit. The operation based in Charlotte works in all the city’s neighborhoods and throughout the towns of Belmont, Denver, Fort Mill, Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville, and Waxhaw.
The company created a Custom division in the 2000’s, which has also built a reputation that has won awards, such as the 2016 NARI Contractor of the Year (CotY) Award for residential kitchen between $60,000 and $100,000, Excellence in Remodeling Gold Award by the HBAC in 2013 and the Contractor of the Year (CotY) Whole House Renovation Award in 2012, to name a few. However, Shea Custom has recently announced that it realigned its focus to new home building, building custom homes on their customers’ homesites. Shea Homes continues to offer homes throughout the Charlotte and Greensboro areas, with prices from the high $200’s to over $1 million.
5. Thompson Custom Building Group
Featured Professionals: Ted Thompson
Address: 1310 South Tryon Street, Suite 103, Charlotte, NC 28203
Charlotte resident Ted Thompson tells his clients that their home should be “timeless and tailored” to their lifestyle. He believes the best way to achieve this is through the collaboration of the homeowner, architect, interior designer, and builder. It’s that approach, he says, that makes the homes built by Thompson Custom Building Group so successful among the upper crust in Charlotte. The homes range from 4,000 to 24,000 square feet and cost over the $1 million.
Ted Thompson came from a family of builders and engineers. He started the company 10 years ago and holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science in Construction Management from the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. Thompson builds throughout the Charlotte metro area, Lake Norman, and Lake Wylie.
4. Simonini Homes
Featured Professionals: John Tammaro, Alan Simonini
Address: 501 East Morehead, Suite 4, Charlotte, NC 28202
This Charlotte-based construction company has been in the Simonini family for three generations. It was started by Illinois-born Alan Simonini after he graduated from Arizona State University and relocated to Charlotte, where he turned his childhood passion into a career.
Simonini was inspired by the “New Urbanism” visions of a Miami architect Andres Duany. He hoped to bring Old World architecture to Charlotte’s residential communities. When Simonini founded Simonini Homes, he had one recipe for success: combine architecturally precise designs with skilled craftsmanship and unparalleled customer service, and people will notice. And they did.
Simonini’s groundbreaking designs — consistently featured in the local and regional press — have also captured awards such as: the 2009 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Silver Award for Best Single Family Home; the HBAC 2012 Award for Excellence in Remodeling; the 2013 NARI awards for new kitchen and bathroom, and three CotY awards in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, Simonini Homes was named one of America’s Top Remodelers by Professional Remodeler magazine. The company offers services in architecture and design, construction, and remodeling through Charlotte, Cotswold, Foxcroft, Davidson, South Park, and Myers Park.
3. Whitlock Builders
Featured Professionals: Scott Whitlock
Address: 8101 Tower Point Drive, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28227
When Scott Whitlock was still in high school, he became a carpenter’s helper in the business his dad Hubert started in 1957. He then received a business degree from East Carolina University in Greenville, and returned to Charlotte to run the family business.
Today, Scott serves as president of Whitlock Builders. He and his brother, Steven, continue their father’s tradition of building exquisitely crafted homes that run along the most affluent of Charlotte’s tree-lined neighborhoods. The Whitlock team consists of nine professionals, including four project managers and a vice president of production.
A typical Whitlock home — priced well over $1M — might be an elaborate retreat in Lake Norman, a stately mansion in Morrocroft, a stunning Tudor in Eastover, or a modern build in Lake Wylie. The Whitlocks have Unlimited General Licenses in both North and South Carolina. Scott is a member of the NAHB Remodelers Council and the NARI. Whitlock Builders was added to the list of the 101 Best Companies to Work for in Residential Construction by Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler magazines.
2. Jas-Am, Inc.
Featured Professionals: Sajjan Dhaliwal
Address: 5113 Piper Station Drive, Suite 201, Charlotte, NC 28277
Sajjan Dhaliwal received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manitoba, then moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in business at Memphis State University. In 1985, he started Jas-Am Group and earned licenses in both North and South Carolina.
Jas-Am Group quickly established a reputation for constructing homes with unparalleled luxury, often with Mediterranean, Italian, Colonial, and French Country themes, and mostly in Charlotte and its neighboring suburbs. Dhaliwal attributes his success in home design not only to his technical training and business acumen but also to his habit of personally overseeing each project the company undertakes.
Dhaliwal is most proud of the “Bachelorette Home” featured on the hit reality TV show The Bachelorette in 2012. The mansion, which sits on five acres in one of Charlotte’s most exclusive gated communities, features 12,000 square feet of living space, six bedrooms, a grand ballroom with 20-foot ceilings, marble fireplaces, and gold-glazed mahogany trim throughout. He is equally proud of a Palm Beach-style mansion crafted out of Macedonia limestone and stucco, with a pool pavilion and full-sized basketball court. The home’s garage fits eight cars, and its balconies are made of glass.
1. Kingswood Custom Homes
Featured Professionals: Peter Leeke
Address: 115 College Street, Pineville, NC 28134
By the time British-born Peter Leeke transplanted his family to the United States in the 1990s, he’d already established himself as a builder of luxury homes in London. In 1996, Leeke founded Kingswood Custom Homes, and he hasn’t stopped erecting mega mansions and custom homes in affluent communities around the Greater Charlotte and Lake Norman areas. His offices are in Pineville, NC and Kiawah Island, SC.
Since then, the firm has racked up more than 30 awards, starting in 1998 with the HBAC’s “Excellence in Home Building Award.” In 2005, the Lake Norman Home Builders Association awarded Leeke’s team first place honors for a 4,000-square-foot custom build.
Kingswood built the sprawling estate for NFL star Greg Olsen, and it was featured in the March 2017 issue of The Quintessential Charlotte Magazine. The lakeside home boasts 10 by 13-foot vaulted ceilings, a craft room for kids, a linear crystal fireplace, gold hardware, floating antique silver beams, a cedar shake roof, and vanilla-colored stucco. Kingswood’s creations have been featured on the cover of Charlotte Business Journal, Charlotte Living Magazine, Charles Style & Design, South Park Magazine, and Great North American Homes Magazine.