Robert Lucke Homes: Pella's Greater Cincinnati's Leading Influencers in Custom Home Building

Robert Lucke Homes: Pella's Greater Cincinnati's Leading Influencers in Custom Home Building

Q. How many homes do you build a year?

A. We build 15 to 20 homes a year, mainly million-dollar-plus custom homes. One of the challenges of building luxury custom homes is that there is so much involved in one house. Fifteen to 20 homes a year is manageable. It’s hard to find an experienced subcontractor base, so at that number, we are able to keep our family subcontractors and focus on the quality of a custom home.

Q.How do customers’ changes affect the building process?

A. That’s probably the biggest challenge we have when building a custom home. Changes happen all the time. Right now, it’s very difficult to effectively make a change happen quicky, so the biggest thing is making sure people’s expectations are realistic. We tell them “You need to make selections now, and here is why” because, ultimately, any change will affect their timeline.

That’s one of the misconceptions people have about building a custom home, that a change, no matter what it is, shouldn’t affect the build. But even the littlest change makes a difference, increasing the time it takes to get the house completed. Each change affects something else and draws out the process. It snowballs.

There will be unexpected delays. They aren’t all due to customers making changes, of course. Material delays, for example, have been a big issue recently due to supply chain challenges. 

What sets apart from other custom home builders is that we might be one of the only custom home builders that carry the construction loan. That way, if I’m late, I’m paying for it. So, you better believe I want to get a project done.

Q. Do you have a dedicated design center? 

A. Yes, we have a 1,500-square-foot design center and an on-staff interior designer who helps keep the process moving. Having a full-time designer on staff significantly helps the soft time of getting a home started. I’d say about a third of our customers bring in their own designer.

Q. What are two or three realities customers need to understand before building a custom home?

A. Number one, understand the timelines. There are a lot of important decisions to be made. Building doesn’t start the minute you sign the contract. Our designer knows how to guide customers in making important selections, but they need to be made in a timely manner. 

From signing the contract to breaking ground is a three- or four-month process.

It will take a lot of time. It will require a lot of your attention, and there are a lot of decisions to be made. Building a custom home is not something homeowners can just fit in before or after work.

Q. Are there specific areas where you prefer to build?

A. We tend to build in Indian Hill, Montgomery, Loveland, and Symmes Township. I was born and raised here, and I like to work in a central location because I like to have eyes on my projects

Q. What are two or three trends you have seen in Cincinnati in the last few years?

A. Some people call it the COVID effect — customers want separate spaces for kids to hang out, get-away spaces for themselves. Sports courts, golf rooms. Basically, creating areas for parents on one side of the house, and for kids on the other. 

Outdoor living spaces for entertaining, covered porches, all-season rooms with fireplaces for when it’s 30 degrees outside have all been popular.

Q. What is your favorite part of the process?

A. Helping people with their vision; meeting customers on the lot, helping them understand all that’s involved; giving them the needed information so they can make the important decisions. Helping customers understand how what they want fits into their budget. It’s challenging, but also rewarding.

Q. Why did you want to become a homebuilder?

A. My grandfather was a builder; he started the business. He was a people person; my dad was more business oriented and the most detail-oriented person I have ever met. My grandfather was always helping people understand the building process. They both inspired me and made me the person I am today. I grew up working for a lot of the project managers and got hands-on experience at an early age. 

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