Q. Your portfolio encompasses traditional, transitional, contemporary, and modern farmhouse. Do your customers typically come to you with plans in hand or do you help them design a plan?
We prefer to be involved from the very start of the process by helping customers find the lot, connecting them with one of our preferred architects, and then helping them through the whole design process.
One issue we see is that customers often come in with a grand idea, and the architect will draw exactly what they say they want — and they’re a half-million dollars over budget. So, the plan has to be scaled down and redrawn to fit their budget.
Q. Are you directly involved with each of your projects?
As we’ve grown, I’ve assembled a team of individuals who care about our customers’ experiences and are passionate about building people’s dream homes. I am still intimately involved in every build, but I count on the team to handle the pieces of the project they’re equipped to do.
Q. Do you have a typical number of homes you build each year?
The number of homes we build each year varies with the market and the types of projects we have coming down the pipe. Some larger projects may involve more site work to get the lot ready. Projects with a larger budget need extra time and dedicated personnel to get the jobs done right.
Q. Do you have a dedicated design center?
As technology has evolved, and as customers have gotten busier, we’ve tried to have everything in-house, at our office. We have a big showroom with plenty of selections that customers can see and touch. They can also see how items work using a computer. There may be cases where a customer
visits a vendor to see a door or a light fixture, but they don’t have to shop at 10 to 15 places. We have found that today’s buyers can get that done through technology.
Q. It used to be our homes were our retreats from our jobs. Now, with so many people working from home, are you seeing more people wanting dedicated workspaces?
Yes. In fact, we’re seeing an increasing desire for his-and-her offices. Working couples want two separate workspaces. It’s a major trend. In 2020, our Homearama house featured a large office with a desk, seating and bookshelf on each side, so it offered a his-and-her space but in the same room. It was a unique use of space.
There are a lot of creative ways to give people comfortable and functional spaces for living and working in their homes.
Q. Do you have preferred areas where you like to build?
Back in 2010 when the market was not solid, I saw a big push for the urban areas, and that’s where I started my company, in Columbia-Tusculum. The location was driven by the market more so than my preference. Although, that is where my wife and I built our first home, so we certainly love the area! There are unique challenges to building in urban areas. However, that is where Sterling’s niche emerged, so from there we started building in surrounding areas like Hyde Park and Mount Lookout. We now have a huge presence in that area. As the market shifted and the company grew, our geographical footprint also extended to Indian Hill, Montgomery, and as far as Lebanon, Morrow, Landen, and up that I-71 corridor as well as a little bit of I-75 in Glendale. Anderson, where Homearama was this year, has been a popular spot.
Q. How do customers’ changes affect a Sterling Homes building project?
I think it’s most important to be transparent with the customer regarding any changes they want to make. We use Builder Trends, an app that tracks every job and its costs. Say the framing cost is $100,000 and a customer wants a $1,000 change — they sign off on it, and that automatically changes the price. The transparency is there, they know what the cost is, and they can think about it a little bit before they say, “Yes, do that.” It’s a great app and has been a valuable tool.
Q. What inspired you to become a home builder?
When I was 13, my father worked for a builder in West Chester. I would ride the bus after school and get dropped off at his job sites. I’d sweep down houses. When he started his own company, I helped with odds-and-ends jobs. I later had my own cleaning crew.
Next, I framed houses for four or five years. I moved up to a project management role with my father’s company. After I did that for a few years, I decided to start my own company when I saw an opportunity in the urban areas closer to downtown Cincinnati. I have experience in just about every aspect of the building process. I started at the bottom, so I understand and appreciate the hard work that goes into building a home.