Celebrating the best in design and business

Place a pile of photos of custom homes in front of architects and builders and ask them to begin critiquing what they see, and you won’t have to ask them again. The judges of our 2007 Excellence Awards jumped right into the stacks of entries submitted by readers of Residential Design & Build, and didn’t finish until every last detail and was scrutinized.

After sitting in a room with our judges all day, I have a new appreciation for the creativity and attention to detail that makes an average home average, and a winning design a winner. The experience reminded me how tough it can be to not only survive in the custom home market, but to excel and be noticed. It takes close collaboration among the entire design and build team to create the stunning projects such as the one seen on our cover this month, and the many winning projects beginning on page 20 of this issue.

If would have been beneficial — and possibly a bit painful — to some of the entrants to have stood behind a two-way mirror and listened to the judges comment about the projects they were judging. The judges’ comments, while sometimes harsh but always honest, could have served as motivation to some of the entrants to exert just a little more effort here or there to turn a good project into an excellent contender; so many were close.

While this is the fifth year of our awards program, 2007 marks the first year design awards have been presented. Until now, the winners were determined based on excellence in business. In this year’s business categories, you’ll read about three custom home firms that exemplify the best practices commonly associated with success.

Edgewood Log Structures in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, created a marketing campaign that transformed the builder from one of many custom home firms in the area into one of two that serve the highest level of upper echelon clients. Another firm, Building Specialists in Roanoke, Va., influences public policy, raises design standards and improves its community through tireless charitable work under direction of its generous leader. If that isn’t enough, Horizon Builders in Crofton, Md., contributes both time and money to numerous charitable groups, including one that uses horses for the rehabilitation of physically challenged kids.

It’s my privilege each year to read about all the excellent business practices and design work taking place at custom home design and construction firms. Hopefully it’s a rewarding process for you as well to read about the best of the bunch in this month’s issue. Congratulations to the 2007 Excellence Award winners.