Crafted Elegance: The Art and Heart of Brantley Construction
The world of Brantley Construction; where custom lakefront homes are crafted with precision, passion, and a personal touch transforming clients into life-long relationships
Brantley Construction, a family-owned business, has been sculpting the landscape of South Florida for nearly three decades, specializing in constructing custom lakefront homes. With a portfolio that boasts an impressive range of homes, from grand 11,000-square-foot abodes to cozy 3,000 to 4,000-square-foot retreats, Brantley Construction has carved out a niche for itself in the market, catering primarily to weekenders from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Naples, and Fort Myers.
Bill Brantley, the mastermind behind this thriving enterprise, shares, “We’ve been in business for almost 30 years and specialize in lakefront homes, the market I was fortunate enough to start in.”
The homes crafted by Brantley Construction are not just structures; they are sanctuaries that provide a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Each home is meticulously designed to harmonize with the breathtaking landscape of Lake Placid, ensuring that residents can fully immerse themselves in the beauty and serenity of their surroundings.
In the custom lakefront homes market, the client’s vision is paramount. Brantley Construction prides itself on a client-centric approach that meets and exceeds expectations. This approach is evident in how the company has adapted and evolved over the years, catering to its clientele’s changing demographics and needs.
Brantley shares, “Most of my customers are referrals or from clients that have been coming to the area and seeing construction that we have done over the past several years.” This word-of-mouth marketing speaks to the quality and craftsmanship of the homes built by Brantley Construction.
The company has a unique market, with clients often returning as their life stages change. “When they were younger and had kids that wanted to come up and ski and have the lake lifestyle. Those kids move and go off to college, and then now those kids have kids, and now I’m having the same clients come back as grandparents and wanting to have the same experience they had with their kids on the lake with their grandkids,” Brantley says.
Navigating the Post-Pandemic Construction Landscape
Like many others, the construction industry has faced its share of challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ripple effects of the pandemic have been felt far and wide, with macroeconomic factors such as inflation, labor shortages, and rising material costs impacting the sector. These challenges have necessitated a shift in approach and strategy for many businesses, including Brantley Construction.
“We had a huge Covid influx here in Lake Placid, Highlands County. We did not shut down for Covid. We did not quarantine,” Brantley says. This decision to remain operational during the pandemic proved to be a pivotal moment for the company, as it attracted a new wave of clients seeking a weekend retreat away from the locked-down South Florida. “This past January 1st, I believe we had 18 homes under construction. This coming January 1st, we’ll probably have six or so, which is back to the normal amount of homes as far as custom homes.”
Brantley also reflects on the construction cost changes: “Prior to Covid, our average cost per square foot was in the $95 range. Now, we’re in the $165 a square foot range.” This significant increase has prompted a change in the company’s operations. “We’ve had to change some of our procedures regarding how we order things. Now, once we sign the contract, we have to order everything immediately,” he explains.
The labor shortage presents a significant challenge, particularly in rural areas where skilled labor for upper-end lakefront homes is scarce. Brantley often finds himself waiting for specific subcontractors whose quality he trusts. Furthermore, Brantley emphasizes his hands-on approach to the business, serving as owner, contractor, head supervisor, and foreman. This allows him to oversee multiple jobs within a five-mile radius daily, ensuring the quality clients have come to expect from a Brantley home.
Innovative Building for Modern Living
In an ever-evolving world, the construction industry is constantly adapting to meet the needs and expectations of its clients. This is especially true in green building and sustainable practices, where homeowners are increasingly seeking options that are not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective.
Brantley explains, “Most of my clients aren’t concerned with solar panels and things like that, but we provide a very well-insulated home.” He details the various measures taken to ensure energy efficiency, such as using solar ply, insulated windows and doors, and energy-efficient air conditioners.
In addition to building sustainable homes, Brantley also discusses the role of real estate in their operations. “I’ve been a realtor for 30 plus years, since I was 18, and my wife is also a realtor. So we often handle the property sale before they start the construction process,” he shares. This unique position allows them to offer a comprehensive service to their clients, from selling the property to constructing their dream home.
Fostering Relationships in Construction
The construction industry is often perceived as transactional, with contracts, blueprints, and timelines taking precedence. However, at Brantley Construction, relationships are the cornerstone of their business, shaping how they interact with clients and, ultimately, their final product.
Brantley emphasizes the importance of relationships in his business. “A lot of the clients I’m dealing with become friends, and we often hang out and do things together socially,” he shares. This approach extends beyond the completion of a project, with Brantley often visiting clients long after their homes are built, whether it’s to help replace a light bulb in a 20-foot ceiling or to catch up.
This relationship-based approach also plays a significant role in a project’s design and planning phase. “When people come to my office, we can find a plan they like. If it were built a year, two years, or ten years ago, the client would let me come see the house and show the homeowner the house in person,” Brantley explains. This hands-on approach ensures that clients can fully grasp the design and layout of their future home, making the process more tangible and less abstract.
Brantley Construction adopts a practical approach when it comes to the interior design of the homes. “We don’t have any design firms up here,” Brantley says. Instead, they encourage homeowners to take pictures of designs and colors they like, which are used as references throughout construction. “A lot of times, we’ll have pictures posted in the home that’s under construction to say, ‘Hey, this is what it’s supposed to look like.’ So there’s nothing lost in translation,” he adds. This method, while simple, ensures that the homeowner’s vision is accurately translated into reality, resulting in a well-built home and a true reflection of the homeowner’s taste and style.
Embracing Tradition in a Technological Age
Technology is rapidly transforming industries, and the construction sector is no exception. Various technological tools, from drone footage to artificial intelligence, enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction. However, at Brantley Construction, a more traditional approach continues to be favored.
Brantley explains, “I’d rather take them to the house during construction. If they like a certain type of flooring or cabinets, I’ll take them to a house we finished, and they can see it in person.” This hands-on approach ensures that clients can experience the quality and craftsmanship of Brantley Construction’s work firsthand, providing a tangible understanding of what they can expect for their own homes.
When it comes to administrative tasks, Brantley Construction also opts for simplicity. “Our construction contract is three pages. And then we have a spec sheet, homeowners selection sheet and the plans,” Brantley shares. This straightforward approach starkly contrasts the complex and often cumbersome processes that can be found in the industry today.
Brantley further emphasizes the importance of maintaining good relationships with homeowners, especially in small towns. “Word of mouth is everything. When dealing with a small town environment and community, all they have to do is eat breakfast at a restaurant, and somebody will tell them if you have a bad reputation.” This commitment to building and maintaining solid relationships underpins the company’s success and longevity.
Charting the Course Ahead
As the world of construction rapidly transforms, the ability to adapt and evolve is crucial. For Brantley Construction, the past two years have been a whirlwind of activity, with the company taking on more projects than ever. As the dust settles, the focus is on returning to a more manageable and sustainable workload.
Brantley shares, “The next 18 months, we plan to get back to doing our normal. We normally build 6 to 8 homes at a time. Last year, we had 18 plus at a time, which wasn’t where I wanted to be from a sustainability standpoint.” This shift will ensure that each project receives the attention and care it deserves, which is at the core of Brantley Construction’s ethos.
Looking further ahead, Brantley is excited about his two sons joining the family business. “I have two sons that plan on going into construction. One is currently a firefighter, and the other is attending firefighting school. They’re both going to be firefighters, and on their days off, they’ll help in the company and get more involved in the future.” This addition will bring fresh perspectives and ideas and continue the legacy of Brantley Construction, ensuring its continued success in the years to come.
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AT A GLANCE
What: Custom lakefront home builder specializing in properties ranging from 3,000 to 11,000 square feet
Where: Lake Placid, South Florida