Ellis Construction works in the landsqueezed Boulder, Colorado, area, delivering custom homes.
FOR ELLIS CONSTRUCTION, building a new home or reimagining an existing one is just as much about the journey as it is the end result.
The goal for the award-winning Boulder, Colorado, custom builder is to create a special, rewarding experience for the buyer, owner David Ellis says.
“We try to drill down into what the clients are looking for,” Ellis says. “We’re not a quick, cheap fix for people."
“A lot of times, with remodeling projects, that’s what you get,” Ellis adds. “We’re interested in good projects and good people. We see homebuilding as an event, not a product.”
With a background in building, Ellis founded the company 13 years ago – the result of a passion for building and a knowledge that he could create a better experience.
“I spent my early years consistently delivering excellent projects to my bosses’ customers and learning from the shortcomings of their companies,” he says. “With encouragement from existing customers, I figured I could do this on my own and do it better than the average builder.”
There’s building the house itself, but it’s the process that ultimately matters. To that end, Ellis Construction goes through a lot of effort and energy to identify what the clients want, and the company won’t construct a project until it’s able to get that information, to put numbers to it.
“We want to minimize surprises for our clients,” he adds.
That process is controlled through extensive construction management elements, and the builder’s setup – carefully collaborating with architects and designers rather than acting as a design/build firm – helps keep costs in check, Ellis says.
“We try to control the process and spell it out as much as possible from the start,” he says. “By investing time and resources into the design and development phase of the project, we clearly uncover the needs and budgets of our clients and work diligently to ensure the project design matches both.
“We want to make it a special experience,” Ellis adds. “We know people are trusting their dream and vision with us, and we take a lot of pride in that.”
Ready for a Challenge
Among Boulder’s space-challenged neighborhoods are beautiful homes. Ellis works to preserve those.
“Here you have a large, outdated building stock: a lot of older homes with design deficiencies for the modern family, located in very desirable neighborhoods,” Ellis says.
For one project recently featured in Boulder Lifestyle Magazine, Ellis stripped a historic brick ranch to its original foundation and frames, removed a second level and roof and reinvigorated the home with a mountain contemporary style that highlighted breathtaking views of the Flatirons rock formation nearby.
“It was a very desirable neighborhood and property, and had some historical significance as it was the previous residence of a highly decorated bicycle racing family,” Ellis says. “My clients didn’t want to level it. They wanted to keep some of the charm and character of a 1920s house on a stone foundation. We shored up the existing
house and included new additions and energy efficient upgrades throughout.”
Ellis prefers unique and challenging projects, which often require significant structural modifications. A recent project had Ellis lowering an existing basement in a home to create additional quality living space for their client.
“Our clients love their house and neighborhood and didn’t want to move,” he says. “They had an existing 1,200-square-foot basement with a 6 ½ foot ceiling height, basically rendering it useless. We went in, shored the house up, excavated down 2 feet and under pinned the existing foundation. The clients ended up with an incredible new space, embellished with custom details throughout, and use the space on a daily basis. We’re not a kitchen-and-bath company. We like projects where there is going to be some heavy lifting.”
Functional and Delightful
In an environment where new homebuilding often is not feasible, homeowners are focusing on better – more energy efficient, higher quality and details that make the difference. “The idea of creating jewel boxes is one trend we’re currently seeing,” Ellis says. “People tend to be a little more resourceful here. There is almost no open space to build new homes. We do a lot of infill projects. People are trying to do higher-quality, smaller projects with nicer finishes.”
Green building in Boulder is a must due to strict local and county code requirements, but it’s also what the market demands.
“Average home projects here will be more energy efficient than the national average,” Ellis says. “We build houses that have tight building envelopes, high quality windows, upgraded insulation packages and high efficiency lighting and mechanical systems are all common details in our projects. They are well-performing houses.”
Thanks to responsive building materials suppliers, green no longer means compromise. Homeowners or transplants are willing to pay for energy efficiency and the opportunity to live in Boulder ? for its refreshing outdoor environment and booming economy, especially now that Google has announced plans for a 4-acre campus there.
The rush is currently so intense that people are putting houses on the market and getting full cash offers, or offers that are above asking price – hundreds of thousands above what they were a few years ago, Ellis says.