Why Not Both?
Custom or spec? Meet the Houston homebuilder offering the best of both.
There are “custom” homes and there are “spec” homes, and nothing in between — right? Well, not exactly.
Enter Elevated Custom Homes. According to the luxury Houston-based construction firm, there is a sweet spot between “custom” and “spec” where homeowners can get significant savings on the build price without compromising on that luxury look and feel.
Custom doesn’t always mean custom. It’s a hard reality to accept, having finally taken the plunge into the new construction market, but this is how it is for many in the process of building their own dream homes. The plans are in motion and suddenly they find themselves constrained by the creative limitations of their builder.
This was the first problem that Henry Kahn, VP of business development and operations at Elevated Custom Homes, set out to address.
With their origins in interior design, the company places a premium on creative possibility and current trends. Long before they broke ground on their own construction projects, they would advocate for their design clients in planning meetings with custom builders.
“It was always so hard to persuade builders to break out of their comfort zone, to do anything more than what they had always done,” explains Kahn. “The reality was that our clients were paying for custom homes and receiving spec homes. We knew we could do better.”
Twenty-five years since they first began helping clients dream up more beautiful interiors, the signature “Elevated” process was born. Now dreaming is the first step of a bespoke service that results in a truly custom home, both inside and out.
"Dream it. Build it. Love it." As a tagline, it’s simple, but it encapsulates how Elevated Custom Homes has streamlined and simplified the process of helping clients turn their vision into reality.
So what can you expect from this one-stop shop for custom homes?
With representation from every step of the build process on the management team, their in-house experts help you to refine your ideas, either by starting from scratch or by browsing their gallery of existing plans.
Next is evaluating suitable lots, acquiring land, and securing all the relevant permits so that construction can begin.
Throughout these various steps, you can expect full transparency and frequent communication — again, one of the many ways Elevate outclasses its competitors.
Finally, those carefully considered interior selections and designer features fall into place. This is the moment when what could be “just” a solidly built house is transformed into an exquisitely finished home.
Is this where the “love” comes into it?
“Honestly, yes,” says Kahn. “Because of who we are and where we have come from, our workflow encompasses so many of the things that make a real difference to how a home looks, but more importantly feels. Whether that’s furniture that fits or wall-to-wall design, this is what our clients tell us they enjoy most about the experience of working with us.”
“Design is in our DNA.”
But what if you need a little more help with ideation? The designers at Elevated Custom Homes have what they describe as “custom” spec homes, too: a turnkey, move-in ready home with a luxury look and feel.
Take 1509 Story Street, for example, listed by NextGen Real Estate.
The lot has been acquired, the permitting secured, and construction is well underway. But instead of the “builder grade” and “upgraded” options for would-be homeowners to pick from, Elevated has curated design packages from a range of affordable, high-end suppliers.
“We are continually revising and refreshing our design specifications,” explains Kahn. “As a small, family-run firm, we have the advantage of moving with the times and staying current, as well as accommodating the input of our clients — even in a spec home. For many builders, this is the first place they will try to impose restrictions and pad out the profit margins, but design is in our DNA. We can’t and won’t compromise on that.”
Back when interior design was its sole concern, Elevated made a name for itself finishing custom-built homes to higher specifications — and for lower prices — than their clients were quoted by the builder.
Vertical integration was a matter of time. What began as Elevated Interior Design became Elevated Custom Homes, and has blossomed into Elevated Investment and Construction, which oversees various forthcoming new developments around Greater Houston.
An elevated experience
Elevated Custom Homes has identified the pitfalls of the existing model and “elevated” its offerings accordingly. As a boutique company with its origins in design, they pay particular attention to client experience.
These terms of engagement were immediately recognizable to Julia Wang, CEO of NextGen Real Estate.
“From their website to their social media presence, I knew that Elevated was a custom builder with a difference,” reflects Wang. “They were focused not just on the deliverables, but on the experience, and that really resonated with me and what I believe is important about doing business in real estate today.”
NextGen is no stranger to creativity and innovation, not to mention challenging industry norms. As the fastest-growing boutique brokerage in Texas, Wang’s 2020 start-up has made convincing moves into a number of markets once dominated by the big box brokerages, including commercial and luxury residential real estate.
Recently ranked the overall No. 1 Realtor on Instagram, Wang communicates in an authentic voice that the next generation of buyers finds compelling. And it is this exposure — this hotline to the homeowners of tomorrow — that Kahn believes will help get the word about his “custom” spec home product.
“The type of homes we typically build — ultramodern, all-stucco, with high-end contemporary finishes and fixtures — are very attractive to buyers looking for luxury at a reasonable pricepoint,” he says.
It’s a story not often told: a neighbor falls so totally in love with the finish of your home that they ask to “cut and paste” it into the home they are buying around the corner.
But that is exactly what happened when the would-be owners of 6622 Saxet Street, another Elevated property listed for sale with NextGen, laid eyes on 1509 Story Street.
Originally conceived as having a contemporary Shaker design package, the buyers saw the proposed spec of the neighboring property and requested a wholesale switch — something that Elevated Custom Homes was delighted to accommodate.
And it is easy to see why these buyers’ heads were turned: The kitchen and bathrooms are a top 10 of everything that is trending right now, with black and gold hardware, Calacatta quartz, full-glass wine room, and European-style flat front cabinets. The matte-finish oak floors throughout bring warmth and dimensionality, as does the textured accent wall and tub surround in the primary suite.
Contemporary but not cold, high-end yet packed with personality — these are the delicate balances that only a designer can strike.
“I love it when a deal has a backstory like this,” enthuses Wang. “And I love it even more when it comes together so seamlessly! There aren’t many builders who would see these accommodations as acceptable, let alone desirable. But at Elevated they are designers first, builders second. They just get it, and that is everythingin this business.”
Elevated x NextGen
And there are more stories to tell, such as 920 Patterson Street: a brand-new Rice Military townhome with those signature Elevated design features, plus a roof terrace, artificial grass, and an outdoor kitchen.
Or 7206 Dearborn Street, where the tech specs are top-notch and the design elements are everything you would choose if you could design the home of your dreams (and you also had exceptional taste).
When two challenger brands unite is where the magic happens.
With a mutual focus on delivering this boutique experience and demanding better industry standards overall, the Elevated Group and NextGen Real Estate have doubled down to level up their offering of beautifully imagined and well priced homes throughout Greater Houston.
Contact Julia Wang and her team to tour one of the properties discussed in this article, or to secure a premium lot to build your dream home with Elevated Custom Homes.