Overview

It’s amid tough competition that design-build professionals, no matter their pedigree, set up shop in the breakneck Las Vegas home-building industry. Even during market downswings, one can find home price tags in the stratosphere. And extreme wealth isn’t the only thing the Vegas market has going for it. It’s also a magnet for the most passionate, driven, and dedicated artisans anywhere, many of whom have spent years dreaming of the chance to break ground in some of the most picturesque settings in the country. All of this would make ranking design build firms in Vegas pretty hard, and it was. The grading done here came down to levels of expertise: which firm took on the most challenging projects and which had the resources to offer clients a home build like no other. Still, the lines are blurred. Difference in firm size and revenue will seem like petty calculations when one compares them to the posh homes these pros consider a routine project. Although the firms have been ranked by “best-in-class” order, not one of them can do a bad job.

Top Custom Home Builders

9
Pinnacle Homes

Principals:
Frank Wyatt
Danny Martter

Address:
9225 W. Flamingo Road #190, Las Vegas, NV 89147

Contact:
702-228-0720
info@pinnaclelv.com

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About Pinnacle Homes

The energy-efficient custom homes his firm builds in the Mojave desert are better for the environment, says Frank Wyatt, founder and president of Pinnacle Homes. Wyatt’s been a luxury home builder for 25 years. He founded the firm in 1992, 18 years after earning a degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. The next year co-owner Danny Martter came on board. Martter had owned a concrete contracting firm that worked on complex high-rise structures from Nevada to Florida. Over the past decade, the two have become known for a design technique that merges energy efficiency and aesthetics. By insulating a roof’s underside and exterior wall frames, and using a sealed HVAC duct system, energy gets trapped in the home rather than seeping into the attic. This cocoon-like design not only helps the environment, it also lowers a homeowner’s utility costs. In 2016, Wyatt was president of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association.

Featured Projects

Pinnacle is known for its two-story estates in Northwestern Las Vegas’s gated communities. A typical design at the Villaggio Estates has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths in 5,640 square feet of space that also includes an oversized media room, home office, bonus room with covered deck, and two covered patios. A floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace is built into a great room that features a soaring volume ceiling. Coffered ceilings and dramatic crown molding run throughout the kitchen and formal dining rooms, which are connected by a wet bar/butler’s pantry. Just under $1M are the Skyline estates on Skyline Point Drive and Bright Angel Way. These four bedroom, three-and-a-half bath homes have elegant interiors shaded in chrome, white, and gray. A 27 x 20-foot great room is connected to a 13 x 15-foot dining area. And there’s even a walk-up bar on the first level and an epoxy-covered floor in the garage.

8
JKL Development

Principals:
Jeff Lewis

Address:
12065 Cielo Amber Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89138

Contact:
702-803-9322
http://jeffjkldev.houzz.com/contact

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About JKL Development

A 23-year resident of Las Vegas, JKL Development’s founder, Jeff Lewis, spent 15 years learning the homebuilding trade before starting this firm in 2008. Lewis earned two degrees in industrial design from Arizona State University. From there, he gained hands-on experience with two prominent construction companies in Vegas: the Pulte Group, where Lewis was a project manager, and then at Toll Brothers, where he served as assistant vice president from 2001 to 2008. JKL is a full-service design-build general contractor that does most of its work in Las Vegas, Spring Valley, Summerlin, Summerlin South, and the Henderson/Green Valley communities. In addition to building custom homes, it also handles renovation, architecture and structural engineering, and structural modification projects. JKL’s work was featured on one of HGTV’s Kitchen Crashers episodes in 2015.

Featured Projects

Between 2015 and 2017, JKL completed several spectacular whole home remodels. For a 5,687-square-foot home in Evergreen Creek’s Red Rock country club community, the firm built a new patio cover and master deck, a climate controlled wine room, and an elaborate cantilever steel stairway fitted with custom wood rails. Custom fabricated cabinets and a main bar were built into the kitchen, along with ceiling tray lights and Quartz marble tops. A Spanish Hills remodel, costing between $200k and $500k, required three new fireplaces, a new kitchen, and four remodeled baths with porcelain wood tile. A remodel in Summerlin included Georgian-styled crown molding on a fireplace mantle. And a two-story, 5,000-square-foot Vineyards home remodel featured added a master bath with steam shower and a covered patio designed as an Italian loggia.

7
Arx Engineering

Principals:
Ryan Briggs

Address:
3413 Carolina Moon Avenue, North Las Vegas, NV 89081

Contact:
702-279-5329
info@arxengineering.com

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About Arx Engineering

“Arx” in Latin means “fortress” or “stronghold,” and it was not by accident that Ryan Briggs gave his structural design firm such a telling name. Briggs started the company in 2009 — as many sectors of the US economy were tanking — but he hasn’t had a bad year yet. And that, he says, proves the company lives up to its name. The list of services he provides ranges from decks and patio covers to trade show signage. And with two degrees in civil engineering (a bachelor’s and master’s) from Brigham Young University, few doubt his structural design expertise. Already licensed in California, Colorado, and Nevada, Briggs is planning to expand his licensing throughout the western regions. In 2006, 2009 and 2012, he’s been a member of the structural committee for Southern Nevada’s Building Official IBC Code amendment and adoption processes.

Featured Projects

A typical design-build project by Arx is known as the “Cougar Residence” in Vegas. The one-story home features a full 4,000 square feet of living space. The walls are tall, the ceilings vaulted, and there is an entry tower for a grand lobby. The front porch wraps around the home, and pocket sliding glass panels flood the kitchen and living rooms with natural light. The garage for the Schultz custom home, with 5,900 square feet of living space, was built to house an RV. The courtyard is gated and the living room’s full-height ceiling and oversized windows were designed to offer its owners panoramic views of the Las Vegas valley. The Madrigal Home, a 6,300-square-foot, single-level structure, was built to face west so the owners could enjoy the valley’s stunning sunsets.

6
Hoogland Architecture

Principals:
Harry CJ Hoogland

Address:
8728 Spanish Ridge Avenue, Suite 100, Las Vegas, NV 89148

Contact:
702-343-1850
info@hooglandarchitecture.com

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About Hoogland Architecture

Harry CJ Hoogland III, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), specializes in architecture and design at his Las Vegas-based firm, where a typical job starts at $1M and many go much higher. Hoogland earned his bachelor’s in design and architecture at Arizona State University and his master’s, magna cum laude, at Rice University. He interned at design firms in Phoenix and Houston before serving as project manager for the Assemblage Studio in Las Vegas. Hoogland went on to spend almost two years as a project architect with Carpenter Sellers Del Gatto before starting his own company in March 2011. His approach to architecture is modern and, he says, “functionally poetic.” He currently holds a certificate from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Hoogland is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional.

Featured Projects

A 2013 custom build that Hoogland calls “Casa Sombra” (Shade House), was designed to shield the homeowners from the desert’s unforgiving blaze. To achieve this, the firm put large window openings on the exterior, which surrounds an internal courtyard featuring floor-to-ceiling glass. It also built a shade canopy that was fitted with a digitally generated light-filtering pattern to allow seamless lighting transitions between the exterior and interior areas. The Arroyo House is a modernist desert, cast-in-place concrete, and corten steel-sided structure that Hoogland says makes the home feel as though it has “aged in place.” The spectacular Zealandhaus in The Ridges has a design that reminds one of a split rock which conceals crystals. A facade of smooth stucco was built over burnished copper with rich patina. Screened copper provides just the right amount of privacy.

5
Christopher Homes

Principals:
Christopher Stuhmer

Awards:
Builder Hall of Fame for Design Excellence,
National Association of Homebuilders National sales & Marketing Award,
Builder Magazine Award

Address:
10161 West Park Run Drive, Suite 150, Las Vegas, NV 89145

Contact:
702-360-3200
https://www.christopherhomes.com/contact/

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About Christopher Homes

In the three decades since luxury home builder Christopher Stuhmer has owned this high-end design-build firm, he has been honored with more than 150 awards. An article profiling Stuhmer that appeared in Builder Online noted his discerning eye for quality construction: “You can’t just put in gold-plated fixtures and call it a luxury product,” he said. Stuhmer’s particular brand of home luxury is dotted throughout Las Vegas’s most exclusive communities, including MacDonald Highlands and Boulder Ridge. Most recently, Stuhmer’s attention has been on the Vu, a prestigious townhouse area with hillside homes that offer unparalleled views of the Vegas skyline and mountains. Builder Magazine has called Stuhmer one of the best home builders in the country. In 2007, he was inducted into the Builder Hall of Fame for Design Excellence.

Featured Projects

Boulder Ridge estates at the gated Summerlin community typically offer four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, and a three- to four-car garage, and come in single- or two-story designs. Square footage ranges between 4,363 and 4,778. The kitchens are top-notch: maple veneer cabinets with roll-out and adjustable shelves, granite slab tops, an island food prep center built to the owner’s specifications, an eating bar, and Sub-Zero/Wolf stainless steel cook tops, refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, and warming drawers. In 2017, Stuhmer began developing the 40 acres of hillside land he had purchased in 2005 with the idea of someday erecting homes that enjoyed views of the Vegas Strip few have experienced. A single-story plan that provides two or three bedrooms can fetch over $900k, but some homes are over $1M. Features include a guest bedroom as luxurious as any at a five-star hotel, and dining space not usually seen in homes this size.

4
Adapture

Principals:
Jason Strodl

Address:
817 S. Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Contact:
702-629-7222
https://www.adapturedb.com/contact

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About Adapture

Desert Companion’s annual issue in 2011 dubbed Jason Strodl as an “architect to watch.” Strodl, AIA, is a UCLA graduate who earned a master’s in architecture and urban design and served as an adjunct professor at the school for eight years. Before starting his own firm, Strodl did an eight-month stint as project manager for architecture giant Gensler. He holds a B-2 general contracting license in Nevada, where his staff builds some of the most unique luxury homes in the Vegas metro area. The firm employs a licensed interior designer, who also happens to be Strodl’s wife, Amy. The April 2016 issue of Architecture Las Vegas magazine featured Strodl among the seven architects it believes will shape the landscape of Las Vegas in the future.

Featured Projects

A $1.5M to $2M project was the “Joshua Tree House,” built for a client who wanted a modern ranch. Adapture complied by offering a 6,500-square-foot build that maintained the general style of the Foothill homes surrounding it. The spine of the house connected a master suite to a home office, and also to a kitchen and bedrooms for the kids. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors were put on both sides so the home’s interior and exterior could blend seamlessly. Strodl calls “The Pavilion” a true experiment in indoor-outdoor living. The pool house is almost hidden in the manicured landscape. The expansive outdoor view is enhanced by a cantilevered roof and pocketing glass doors that extend the full length of walls. The limestone floor runs into the pool deck. Outdoor seating is under a private roof deck, where guests can enjoy views of the Redrock mountains and desert.

3
Merlin Contracting

Principals:
Bart Jones
Steve Jones

Awards:
NAHB Excellence in Home Design Award

Address:
6408 Arville Street, Las Vegas, 89118

Contact:
702-257-8102
merlincontracting@gmail.com

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About Merlin Contracting

The price tags on custom homes in this firm’s portfolio start at $1M and go up to $25M. That says almost as much about Merlin’s designs as does the more than 300 newspaper and 70 magazine articles written about them in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, and the Chicago Sun Times. Merlin’s principals are two brothers, Bart and Steve Jones, whose family came to Las Vegas in the early 1930s. In the 1970s, Steve began learning the custom home construction trade from a local builder, until he secured a general contractor’s license and started his own company in 1989. About 10 years later, brother Bart returned to Vegas after spending close to 20 years managing agricultural businesses in the tropics. Bart joined the company and later became CFO. The firm has built sprawling estates for the owners of several Las Vegas casinos.

Featured Projects

A Tournament Hills build features an 11,537-square-foot structure boasting the architecture style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Merlin contracted with 25 stone masons to set 2,000 tons of mortar and quartz stone into making the towering walls that are more than two feet thick. Every window and door was hand-made. Installation of the interior’s millwork was so meticulous that not one nail is visible. For another project, Merlin garnered a bit of fame for its New American Home, which became the official show home of the 2004 International Builders Show hosted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The roof system is elaborate — insulated concrete forms and structured insulated panels were capped in copper — and received an award in home energy efficiency from the EPA. There is a deck spa on the second floor and an elevator that makes three stops. The Building Systems Council of the NAHB gave Merlin its “Excellence in Home Design Award” for this one-of-a-kind residence.

2
Blue Heron

Principals:
Tyler Jones
Steve Jones

Awards:
PCBC Gold Nugget Grand Awards,
PCBC Gold Nugget Awards of Merit,
Best in American Living Awards

Address:
Villa Barolo Avenue, Henderson, NV 89052

Contact:
702-531-3000
info@blueheron.com

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About Blue Heron

A typical build for this firm runs between $1.2M and $6M. This giant among luxury home companies was founded in 2003 by Tyler Jones, who’s lived in Nevada all his life and learned the building trade from his dad. During high school, Jones worked at architecture firms, and when he moved to Colorado, he studied architecture at the university there. His passion has paid off: Blue Heron has been honored with more than 30 prestigious design build awards. It was even chosen by the National Association of Homebuilders to serve as the architect design-build team for the International Builders Show in 2013 and 2015. Blue Heron is committed to green building and is a certified green professional. In 2013, Jones received NAHB Emerald Certification and LEED Platinum Certification.

Featured Projects

A New American Home design at the Marquis Seven Hills has a sunken living room outside by the pool that also offers a swim up bar and fire pit. There’s also a rejuvenation room nearby. The master suite is designed as an indoor-outdoor retreat. The second floor has a loft and game room, and views of a galley-style great room. Another standard Blue Heron design is a $2M modern build in the Summerlin Ridges community. Standout features include a courtyard with views of the City of Lights’ Strip. The master bedroom has been covered in dark glass to reflect off the mountains and sky. Steel panels with oversized glass windows create a distinctively modern look. Blue Heron is also building Midtown Modern Estates in a neighborhood that Jerry Lewis and Howard Hughes once called home. A singular design focus of these structures is to preserve the historic setting of this famed neighborhood just off Charleston Boulevard.

1
Sun West Custom Homes

Principals:
Cynthia Coletti

Awards:
Southern Nevada Home Builders Association Silver Nugget Awards

Address:
6675 S Cimarron Road #100, Las Vegas, NV 89113

Contact:
702-363-8060
info@sunwestcustomhomes.com

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About Sun West Custom Homes

Sin City’s top design build firm had humble beginnings in Florida when Cynthia Coletti began designing homes in 1978. Cynthia later moved to Las Vegas. Her son, Daniel, learned his mom’s trade and blossomed into the award-winning designer he is today. He’s also the president of Sun West Custom Homes, which has created dramatic mansions and chateaus for millionaires who live in Nevada, Colorado, and Florida. The firm’s builds also reach into Southern California. The executive team for every home build includes a project manager, interior designer, project coordinator, and onsite superintendent. Sun West has received four of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association’s Silver Nugget Awards, which honors top achievements in the local industry. Sun West’s builds are often featured in local and national business journals and publications such as the Los Angeles Times.

Featured Projects

A typical Sun West residence in the exclusive MacDonald Highlands reveals the firm’s tendency to build a home’s central living spaces around a command center-type kitchen. The main feature is seamless construction, which means it’s almost impossible to see the separation between appliances and cupboards. And while many luxury homes offer pricey Sub-Zero refrigerators, the ones designed by Sun West have fridges that you can literally walk into. But it’s in his more elaborate structures that Coletti crushes his competition. For example, not many builders could savor hefty residential listings in the still sluggish homebuilding market of 2012. But Sun West did. A 10.7k-square-foot mountaintop home the firm built in Las Vegas was priced at $13.9M, the most expensive real estate listing in the state. Described as a “luxury dreamscape,” the home features colossal walls made of glass with hewn stone. It offers almost no end to views of the Strip. Seventeen cars can fit in the garage. The massive pool measures 2,700 square feet. There are separate rooms for two dogs, and the home is protected behind four security gates. The LA Times said that if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby owned a home in Vegas, this would be it.

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