Market watchers in 2018 are predicting a boom period for the Vegas home construction market. That news is a far cry from where things stood in 2008, when the financial crisis hit and the Vegas homebuilding industry checked out. As Sin City’s builders recovered from the housing bust, many used their newfound spare time to reinvent their business models.
They ditched the old-school project delivery system that separated home designers from builders in favor of today’s design-build process, which integrates design and construction. Once the economy roared back and homebuilders sported a new form, competition between them intensified. This is good for consumers, but challenging if you need to come up with a list of the best residential contractors in this young town.
In the end, the 15 firms chosen for this list show innovation and craftsmanship that easily meet the highest standards of homebuilding excellence. They are then rated by skill, industry recognition, and customer service. Top honors went to an award-winning builder that consistently turns out architectural masterpieces while keeping design and build under one roof.
15) Custom Home Life
Website | 702.227.8989 | 10795 W. Twain Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89135
Michael G. Hutchings started his construction career in 1988, after leaving the United States Marine Corps. He learned the construction trade while serving as a realtor for industry giant PulteGroup. Hutchings now is the principal of Custom Home Life, a residential licensed brokerage and Las Vegas general contractor firm that designs, builds, sells, and lists high-end new construction.
The firm was founded in 2016 when Hutchings combined his brokerage, realty, and general contracting firms — formerly under the name “Meridias Custom Homes” — which had been active in the Vegas homebuilding market since the 1990s.
Custom Home Build handles every aspect of the design build process, putting up more than 25 homes in the affluent neighborhoods of MacDonald Highlands, Seven Hills, Red Rock Country Club, Lake Las Vegas, and The Ridges. Hutchings has received numerous industry awards, such as the Pinnacle Award for Design. He has been profiled by several local media outlets. In 2016, he was the subject of an article in the New York Times.
14) Level Builders, LLC
Website | 702.889.9834 | 4070 N. Tee Pee Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89129
The father-and-son team who run this home improvement contractor operated a successful paint and drywall company in Vegas for 10 years before branching out into home design. Dan and James Kohl kept Kohl Painting & Drywall, as an affiliate company when they established Level Builders in 2007. They are licensed general contractors known for taking on projects of all sizes.
The firm’s up-and-coming status is all but confirmed by a recent build in the prestigious Clark County development, Ascaya. The luxurious enclave will showcase more than 300 custom-crafted estates with a total elevation of 3,000 feet above the Las Vegas Valley floor. It is the site where the biggest names in Vegas homebuilding will showcase their masterwork.
In March 2016, Level Builders received its permit to build in Ascaya. Eight months later, the firm completed a 6,500-square-foot home priced over $2M. The home features clean lines, enormous glass expanses, an infinity pool, and a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living. The firm serves Henderson and Spanish Trails.
13) American West Homes
Website | 702.308.1746 | 250 Pilot Road, Las Vegas, NV 89119
American West Homes has built luxury estates in more than 100 Las Vegas communities. The firm is one of the largest locally owned homebuilders in the country and one of the Top 100 Builders in America.
The construction company was established in 1984 by Larry Canarelli, who was raised in a migrant worker’s shack on a dairy farm in San Joaquin, California. In the 1970s, Canarelli moved to Vegas and learned the construction trade while working for Metropolitan Homes. He is prominent in the Vegas homebuilding industry. Canarelli twice received the General Building Contractors Association’s (GBCA) Award for Construction Excellence (ACE).
In 2014, he was honored with a Lifetime Achieve Award from the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association (SNHBA). He also served as president of the SNHBA in 1987 and was recognized as one of Ten Legends of National Housing by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Recent builds by American West Homes have been in Coronado Ranch, Silverado Ranch, and Highlands Ranch. The homes are between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet and range in price from $300k to $500k.
12) Westpoint Development
Website | 702.739.9033 | 6350 W. Cheyenne Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89108
Repeat clients have been the backbone of this high-end luxury homebuilder’s business for the past 30 years. Owner Steve Yanke’s family have been contractors in Vegas since 1952. Yankee received an associate’s degree in architecture from the Phoenix Institute of Technology. He opened Westpoint Development with his wife, Cindy, in 1988.
The firm fully integrates all facets of the design-build process, as all of its services are done by an in-house team. It’s known for Tuscan estates with stacked stone exteriors, oversized gathering rooms on the first level, floor-to-ceiling windows, and captivating master bedroom and bathroom suites. Some feature glamorous theaters with velvet drapes, game rooms with bars, and media rooms. Many have a backyard oasis with an infinity pool, outdoor kitchen, and multi-level decks that offer views of the Strip.
A Contemporary-style estate is likely to feature gourmet kitchens with Carrera stone center islands and Wolf appliances. Upper levels feature spa-like bathroom retreats made of marble and a library with dark-stained tray ceilings and custom-crafted trimwork. The general contractor in Las Vegas builds in Henderson, Paradise, Spring Valley, Summerlin, Summerlin South, and Sunrise Manor.
Website | 702.629.7222 | 817 S. Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Jason Strodl is the principal of this part architecture, part design-build firm that has just celebrated 10 years in business. Adapture holds architecture, interior design, and general contractors licenses. Strodl received a Master of Architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. Four years later, he was a project manager for Gensler, the billion-dollar architecture firm based in San Francisco.
In 2008, he made big changes when he became a professor of architecture at the University of Nevada and opened Adapture. Strodl built mid-century modern style-homes with a distinctive touch and garnered critical acclaim almost immediately. In 2011, Las Vegas Magazine said that Strodl was “a new architect to watch.” In 2017, he won the Americas Property Awards for a Single Family Residence.
Adapture does architectural design, custom homes, and remodeling of any kind. New homes are designed with green technology, using horizontal lines for shade from the desert terrain. They cost between $750k and $1M. Strodl’s firm serves Paradise, Spring Valley, Summerlin, Sunrise Manor, and Summerlin South.
10) Elegant Homes of Las Vegas
Website | 702.341.7437 | 9225 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89147
Homes by this general contractor in Las Vegas are priced at $1M and up. One was featured on the TV show Cribbs. Two were built for NFL stars Steven Jackson and Brian Kelly. The talent behind Elegant Homes is founder Ranny McKee, who started the company 25 years ago — after recovering from a traumatic injury that almost left him a quadriplegic. By that time, McKee had been building for 10 years, garnering local recognition for custom builds of about 2,500 square feet. By 2017, he had completed his 50th luxury build, with many of the homes averaging 15,000 to 20,000 square feet.
McKee credits his success to his relentless pursuit of new building technologies that enhance the final product. He also caters to the client’s every wish, even if it means building an elevator so a client can take his car to his bedroom at night. Elegant Homes of Las Vegas has been profiled in Modern Builder Magazine, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun. It serves Henderson, Spring Valley, Summerlin, and Summerlin South.
9) Raftery Homes
Website | 702.242.4475 | 3030 South Durango, Las Vegas, NV 89117
Jack Raftery established Raftery Homes in 1994. He is a graduate of the University of Nevada at Reno, from which he received a degree in real estate financing. A new home by Raftery was the Wall Street Journal’s House of the Day in 2002. Another of the firm’s projects was honored as a Home of the Year by the Wall Street Journal in 2010.
This residential contractor’s numerous prestigious awards include several of the NAHB’s Best in American Living Awards and a Street of Dreams Award. All of its homes are priced well over $1M. Notably, Raftery Homes has worked on many projects with esteemed Vegas architect Henry Hoogland, American Institute of Architects (AIA) who has called Raftery one of the best builders in the Las Vegas Valley.
Typically, a Raftery home will feature 15- to 20-foot ceilings made of oak, and floor-to-ceiling glass that connects the interior with nature. The homes have plenty of flashy entertainment rooms and wide-open floor plans that connect multiple rooms and flood the home with natural light. They also abound in rustic reclaimed wood ceilings, lots of natural stone, and heavy oak entry doors. For one home, the firm crafted an entry out of pure copper.
8) Gramly Construction
Website | 702.259.6659 | 4265 Butler Street, Las Vegas, NV 89129
When Mike Gramly started this firm in 1998, he was handling small remodel projects. Two years later, those projects had price tags running into the millions. By 2002, Gramly began to focus on building new homes, as the Vegas housing market boomed. Today, Gramly-built homes occupy five acres, cost $12M, and appear in Vegas’s most secluded communities. Gramly had been a contractor in his native California. When he moved to Vegas in the 1980s, he joined the select group of contractors honing their expertise under the leadership of famed Vegas custom home builder Doug Cornwall.
Gramly Construction specializes in new homes and is noted for its construction at Butler North Estates and La Madre North Estates. The firm is committed to sustainable building. In 2011, Gramly Construction was the first homebuilder to receive the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. That same year, Gramly Construction completed the Building Performance Institute (BPI) accreditation process, which reduces a home’s energy consumption.
7) Palazzo Development
Website | 702.401.3806 | 8560 S. Eastern Avenue, Henderson, NV 89123
This Henderson-based general contractor is run by Wayne Gazzo, who, by age 20, had established his own custom home company in Pennsylvania. After building more than 80 luxury homes throughout Pittsburgh, Gazzo moved to Vegas in 1998. By 2004, he had set up Palazzo Development, a boutique firm turning out products no one would mistake for cookie-cutter developments. Over the next 13 years, his team built more than 25 homes, some carrying $10M price tags.
Gazzo stands out among licensed contractors because he does not use the same design team on every project. Rather, he matches designers to a client’s particular tastes to produce a highly customized build. A Palazzo Development home typically offers a grand entry with a floating staircase, custom stone floors, intricately designed tray ceilings, and massive marble columns. Awards by the firm include the Parade of Homes and People’s Choice Award. Gazzo builds in Vegas’s most affluent communities, such as MacDonald Highlands, Ascaya, the Ridges at Summerlin, Anthem Country Club, and Seven Hills.
6) Element Building Company
Website | 702.685.4440 | 6100 Mountain Vista Street, Henderson, NV 89014
Luxury does not have to come at the expense of carbon footprints. Element Building Company can provide both. “It just requires more effort on the part of the builder,” said owner Josh Anderson to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in August 2017. Anderson was featured in an article on energy-efficient building in the once again booming Vegas high-end construction market.
Anderson’s company is known for energy-efficient builds that are cutting-edge enough to get noticed by the construction industry’s top tier. The NAHB selected Element Building Company to build the New American Home for its 2014 and 2016 trade shows — one of the highest accolades local contractors can achieve. Anderson delivered both years, with stunningly innovative products. The 2016 build even became the first New American Home to receive the Department of Energy (DOE) certification as a Zero Energy Ready Home. Anderson and the team receive much local press. The company has 20 years’ experience in the Vegas luxury market, with most of their homes built in Henderson. Their custom builds are in the $3M to $5M range.
5. Domanico Custom Homes
Website | 702.241.8585 | 3230 S. Buffalo Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89117
In 2010, this licensed residential contractor was selected to design and build the New American Home for the NAHB’s International Builders Show. This showcase build was a zero-energy home constructed with sustainable products and intended to serve as a model of green building technology. Two years prior, the firm established in 1979 by Ernie Domanico won the Best Builder Award in the Parade of Homes — for the third consecutive year. In 2003, Domanico Custom Homes became the first contractor in Nevada to be recognized as a Certified Green Builder (CGB). These accolades were just the latest in a string of awards for this high-end builder.
Since its founding, Domanico’s team has built more than 100 luxury homes ranging in size from 4,000 to 14,000 square feet, many with price tags over $10M. A typical build features hardwood hickory floors, custom interior doors, a full home automation system, an infinity pool, natural stone exteriors, and wood-stained pocket doors. Most of those homes are in the exclusive areas of Southern Highlands, Spanish Trails, MacDonald Highlands, and Red Rock Country Club. Its custom builds have been featured in Trends Magazine, Las Vegas Home & Design, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
4) Christopher Homes
Website | 702.360.3200 | 10161 West Park Run Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89145
In its over 30-year history, Christopher Homes has built more than 2,500 custom homes in every ritzy neighborhood between Summerlin and the Southern Highlands. Founder Chris Stuhmer studied architecture and engineering at the University of Arizona. He established Christopher Homes in 1981, first building homes on speculation in the $400k range, then moving on to multimillion-dollar builds. Christopher Homes has won more than 150 prestigious awards. Builder Magazine has dubbed Stuhmer one of America’s Best Builders and inducted him into the Builder Hall of Fame for Design Excellence.
One of the firm’s crowning achievements came in 1992, when it built the New American Home for the NAHB’s program that showcases the latest trends in building. A recent project has been the Vu, a master-planned community of unique luxury townhouses at MacDonald Highlands, with spectacular views of the Dragon Ridge golf course and mountains. In 2017, the project received the NAHB’s Gold Award for Best Architectural Design of an Attached Community. Stuhmer is often profiled in Luxury Las Vegas, High Rise Life Magazine, Vegas Magazine, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
3) Merlin Contracting
Website | 702.257.8102 | 6408 Arville Street, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Custom homes by Merlin Contracting have been profiled in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Chicago Sun-Times. The firm holds one of only three contractors licenses in Nevada, allowing the holder to build homes without cost, height, or size limits. Such favored status is just one of the qualities founders Bart and Steve Jones are known for.
Merlin Contracting was founded by Steve Jones in 1989. Brother Bart, who had spent 20 years owning and managing businesses in Hawaii, joined in 1994 as CFO. Homes by Merlin Contracting are typically 10,000 square feet and can cost up to $25M.
A home in Tournament Hills featured walls of Quartzite stone over two feet thick, which required 25 stone masons and 2,000 tons of mortar. A Mediterranean-style home in Eagle Hills has vaulted, 20-foot ceilings, a theater, an indoor basketball court, and recessed wine grotto. Among the firm’s numerous awards are the NAHB Excellence in Home Design Award for Outstanding Systems Over 2,200 Square Feet, the American Concrete Institute’s Excellence in Concrete Award, and the No. 9 ranking in 2015 on the Vegas Inc. List of General Contractors.
2) Blue Heron
Website | 702-529.0928 | 1320 Villa Barolo Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89052
This family-owned residential contractor has been credited with helping develop the modern style of home building in Vegas. Las Vegas natives Steve and Tyler Jones are the father-and-son team behind Blue Heron. Steve has built exceptionally crafted custom homes in Vegas for more than 30 years. He has run Merlin Contracting since 1989.
Blue Heron opened in 2003, when son Tyler joined after receiving degrees in architecture from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Most notably, Blue Heron was selected to build the New American Home in 2013 and 2015. The company was chosen to act as architect, designer, and builder for the New American Home — the first firm in the program’s three-decade history to have that honor.
Steven and Tyler Jones have graced the covers of Builder, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Luxury Las Vegas, and many local, regional, and national publications. Other accolades have been Gold Nugget Grand awards for Best Custom Home, the NAHB Emerald Certification, LEED Platinum Certification, and the Dream Home Awards Gold for Green Home Project of the Year.
1) Sun West Custom Homes
Website | 702.363.8060 | 6675 S. Cimarron Road, Las Vegas, NV 89113
Sun West Custom Homes was founded in Florida, but if Sin City had a homebuilding icon, this firm would be it. Founder Cynthia Coletti built her first home on a one-acre plot in Florida and sold it for $10,000. She continued to build homes and has won awards for them. In 1982, she expanded the business to Colorado. By 1989, she had added a third location in Las Vegas, and son Daniel had joined the team. Under Daniel’s leadership, Sun West Custom Homes has built more than 150 luxury residences in the Las Vegas Valley alone. Its numerous accolades have included the Silver Nugget Awards for Home of the Year.
A typical build will boast waterfalls of entries, glass walls that disappear into living spaces, decks running through the length of infinity pools, and wine racks extending from the ceilings. In 2012, Sun West completed a highly publicized 10,700-square-foot home with a 17-car garage, a 2,700-square-foot infinity pool, and glass walls. Offered at $13.9M, it was then the most expensive piece of real estate in Vegas.