Ernie Martinek, Martinek Custom Homes Interview
Ernie Martinek builds luxury custom homes that exceed their customers’ expectations. Tell us, how did you come to get into the luxury custom home building business?
We started back in 1979 as far as building custom homes. My family has been in the construction business since before then and I’ve worked with different relatives in building cabinets and trim. I decided after building cabinets and trim to build my own home and we started building custom homes for other people since that time.
Tell us about the types of homes that you like to build.
We typically build larger homes anywhere between 3000 – 8000 sq. ft. The homes that we build are typically not starter homes. We build more for people in the moveup market.
So who is your ideal client?
Well we deal with a lot of professionals. Doctors, lawyers, dentists and corporate executives. Also professional athletes and anyone that wants to possibly show off their stature through the type of home that they live in.
Okay. How is your approach to building luxury custom homes different from what other builders do?
We build homes with people and not for people. I think that’s one of the big differences that we do in our business. It is to help the customer feel comfortable in the process itself. In doing that it doesn’t put a lot of stress on people. So many times we hear from people that it is so stressful to build a house. We try to take that out of it.
So looking back over the most recent homes that you built, what do you think your clients will say when you asked about the experience they had with Martinek Homes?
They’ll probably say that it’s more than they expected. It was easier than they thought it would be. Because it wasn’t stressful and the personal attention that was given by myself and my wife Jennifer who really decorates all of the houses and takes care of the customer from day one. That is typically what they will probably say. The experience is very pleasant.
Great. Can you give a couple of examples that illustrate how you try to exceed your clients’ expectations?
In working with the customers we take ideas that they may have, pictures and things like that. We are actually able to match those pictures in a way that they see there dream of that area of the house becoming a reality. A lot of times they said that they did not really think that it will look that good. “Wow you did a great job.” The wow factor is what we really like to have people say when you walk into one of our homes.
What do you like best about being in the luxury custom home building business?
The fact of being able to be creative and what that converts to is being able to satisfy people’s expectations and help other people realize their homeowning dreams. The things that they want in a home. Depending upon that lifestyle is how those homes are featured.
Okay. If somebody wants to work with you what should they do is there a process that you take them through? Do you have guidelines or a questionnaire? How does that work?
One of the things that I encouraged people to do is to call our previous customers. That’s one of the first things that we like for them to decide that they want us to build their home. Then the next step will be getting pre-qualified. So that we have a starting point of knowing what they can afford, what type of house they want and then we’ll take it into the planning stage. So that we do not design a 5000 sq. ft. house and they really just need a 4000 sq. ft. house.
Usually how long does it take between the time that someone first contacts you to getting to the point where you’re ready to launch the project. Does it vary or is there a time-frame that people can expect?
The amount of time that it requires to get the ball rolling and get the house under construction depends a lot upon the customer. At is as far as how quick they need to move. A lot of the things that we are not in control of is the financing, the power companies. But from the point of getting plans done and pre-qualifications, usually about 60 days is what it takes for it to get the ball rolling
The actual time to build the home obviously is going to depend upon several factors but as a general rule what can someone look forward to in terms of a time-frame? Three months… six months?
Basically what I tell people it would take somewhere between 4 to 5 months on a smaller home a smaller home being around the 3 to 4000 sq. ft. range. When a large of homes 8 to 10,000 sq. ft. Of course it’s going to take 12 to 16 months. Some of it depends upon the weather but typically that is the time-frame. Once we have the foundation poured it runs pretty fast. That is about the time-frame that we can work with.
Okay, how does a client know that the people that you utilize to build their home reliable professional and competent?
We use the same subcontractors that we have and have had for the last 15 to 20 years. Times change and things do happen where we can’t use the same person but we do not switch subcontractors to find the cheapest person. We deal with the best subcontractors that we can get for the money. Within the guidelines of what we expect. A lot of subcontractors that we used again had been working with us for years and they know what I expect from them and they know what they expect from me. That is getting paid on time. Paying the bills is one of the factors that the customer will also have to look at. Is that the builder financially stable to do so and will do so.
When someone is considering using a builder what are the due diligence steps that they should take to make sure that that builder is going to deliver as promised.
I think the main thing that that person should do in vetting a builder is to call his previous clients. The ones that have worked with them over the past year. That through a big chunk out of their life and time but also the bankers, the suppliers and they will tell you a lot about how a homebuilder does business. So that is who I would call. It is the customers even a banker and the suppliers.
So you have some video testimonials for people to go and check out as a preliminary indication of how your previous clients appreciate what you do. How they feel about the work that you’ve done and how happy they are so that’s one thing that people can do. Another thing is that you have a list of references that you give to people if they want. To see who you’re working with and so forth. To check out your bankers and check out your situation. To make sure that you are the right builder for them.
Yes we have a reference list that we offer to people and encourage them call our previous customers, the bankers and suppliers. That’s one thing that sets us apart from other builders… is that our customers are always 110% satisfied. We truly do give them more than they expect.
Right now they seems to be a shortage of existing homes and many people are looking at building custom homes. Do you believe now is a good time to consider building a custom home? To save you the time of looking around for an existing home that may or may not need your needs? When you could have a custom home that is built to your exact specifications. Is it now a good time to do that?
Now is a great time to build a custom home. The things in the marketplace such as lower interest rates, supply of quality custom homes out there and the costs of building. It makes it a great time to build a custom home that a person will want to live in. To design for themselves.
How can people get a hold of you what is the best phone number to call you?
Unlike other builders I want to be accessible at all times with the customers. So I want to give my cell phone number. Which is 214-325-9087. I will answer the phone and you’ll be able to get a hold of me at any time.
Any closing thoughts?
Well what we like to do is that we like to give people a home not a house. We are in the homebuilding business not the housebuilding business. Jennifer and I believe that good homes build good families. They contribute to the overall well-being of the community.