Q. Tell us about AR Homes.
AR Homes by Arthur Rutenberg is a network of independently owned and operated franchise luxury custom home builders. Arthur was an industry pioneer who started building homes in Florida in 1953. Today, there are 40-plus AR franchises. My dad, Andrew, started the first one in the Midwest, in Cincinnati — Andrew Arthur Homes, LLC.
Q. You are a third-generation home builder. How long have you worked in the industry?
Yes, my grandfather worked with Bill Ryan at Ryan Homes back in the day. My dad worked for several homebuilders and later started Oakmont Custom Homes and Andrew Arthur Homes, and now I’m here. Third generation it is! I’ve been on the construction side for about 10 years, and on the homebuilding side for seven.
Q. Does AR have its own set of plans?
AR Homes Corporate has a huge library of plans — more than 300 award-winning, fully customizable designs ranging from 2,000 to 7,000 square feet. They regularly update their plans to make sure customers are offered the latest contemporary looks.
Q. You’ve seen trends come and go. Tell us about some of them.
Yes, in just seven years I’ve seen a lot of trends. When I first started, the standard, traditional, box-on-box house was popular. Now, the modern farmhouse look has taken over and is big for a lot of builders. We’re building a few right now, and our home at Homearama has a contemporary farmhouse look.
Q. Supply chain issues have affected everyone. Do you try to have everything buttoned down with your customers before you break ground?
Ideally, but it is a custom home so some things may change. Some customers know exactly what they want, others don’t. Changes may slow the process, but customization is key. We try to have everything signed off 99% of the way before we break ground. Of course, there will be a change here and there because not everything that’s in the plan happens in the field. A plan may look great on paper, but once you get in the field it may need to be adjusted.
We try to get everything nailed down and signed off so we can get everything ordered, especially in these times. The past few years have taught us which things need to be ordered ahead, and it is still a learning process. Before COVID everything was there when you wanted it. We continue to figure out what helps us move forward and move quicker.
Q. Do you prefer to build in certain areas of Cincinnati?
We have the model in Carriage Hill, so the vast majority of our homes are there. Now that that’s sold out, we’re spreading out in different areas. Loveland is becoming more popular, so we’re spreading out there as well as building on customer-owned lots. We are building mostly in Butler County, some in Warren County. We try to stay around there because it allows us to get to sites quicker, which is important to us. We want those eyes on the job.
Q. Do you have a dedicated designer?
We have an in-house designer and a design center. The first two or three meetings are six- to seven-hour sessions where we try to determine 90% of a customer’s selections. We want to get our customer’s vision on paper, and be as organized as possible from the beginning.
Q. Do you ever go beyond what you offer at your design center?
“Custom” doesn’t begin to describe the customization we do. If a manufacturer creates a product and the customer wants it, we’ll figure out a way to make it work. When it comes to something that is hard to find, it’s more difficult. However, our customers are great and very understanding.
Q. Have most of your customers built before?
It’s about 50/50. Building is not as intense an experience as it is for those who have never built a custom home before. First-time builders learn is that it is an extremely hands-on process from beginning to end.
Transparency and open communication with our customers are important. We send out weekly updates to keep them informed of what is going on. We provide firm pricing at the start. First-time builders have a lot of questions, and we enjoy answering them, going through the process and delivering the excellent product they’re expecting.
Q. What is your favorite part of the homebuilding process?
My favorite part of the process is designing; sitting down with the customer, going over the plans and seeing it all come together. Watching a piece of ground become a beautiful,
finished custom home … going from a snapshot of nothing to a complete house … it’s a great feeling.