Case Studies

Denver Design Build

Urban living in the city of choice

It’s not just because the company he co-founded built the development where Jeff Ayres resides that makes his home so appealing.

The Vrain Street duplexes in the Mile High City’s Berkeley neighborhood bring out all the amenities of urban living with a healthy mix of privacy. Residents may forget they’re within walking distance of where they might work, shop or recreate.

Just two blocks away from this Denver Design Build project is the hustling and bustling Tennyson Street commercial district. Not too much farther in another direction, the West Highland commercial area. Two public parks, Berkeley Park and Rocky Mountain Lake Park, are within walking distance. In another direction, national shopping chains.

Denver Design Build – Jeff Ayres and Jeff Gates

And the residences themselves: New Zealand-inspired duplexes, they’re called; two-stories and tastefully built on spacious lots off narrow tree-lined streets, with private backyards that create a sense of outdoor and indoor living, as well as all kinds of energy-saving accessories.

“Urban living in a city where everyone wants to be,” says Ayres, and judging from social media, many would seem to agree.

How the stars align

There might be a multitude of reasons why Denver Design Build registers five stars of approval on Facebook, Houzz, Google and other online reviews, where other homebuilders typically garner just a few.

The company, co-founded just eight years ago by Ayres and Jeff Gates, is filling a need in Denver, where a very desired demographic—young and midcareer professionals—can find themselves frozen out of a housing market where demand exceeds supply. Stringent local and state laws only seem to worsen the situation. More on that later.

Hence, the need for housing that, while not carrying the “affordable” tagline, may not break the budget of a reasonably well-to-do working person. Indeed the 30- to 50-year-old demographic is Denver Design Build’s prime market. While the company has won accolades for its custom-built homes, it’s also building the very townhouses and condominiums that are in such demand within Denver proper.

Denver Design Build – Jeff Ayres and Jeff Gates

“What differentiates Denver Design Build is we are made up of likeminded, progressive individuals who have identified a need and take steps to solve it,” says Ches Arms, the young general manager and marketing director who came aboard in 2015.

“We’re agile and forward-thinking, with an average age of 35, that puts us in tune with the city’s present and future.”

While the company’s projects are diverse, they tend to share the amenities of Vrain Street’s duplexes. That is, tasteful living near commercial districts and recreational facilities, and access to bus service or light rail.

Of course, not all folks want to live in townhouses and condos, and Denver Design Build accommodates them, as well.

Many locals consider Washington Park to be the most desirable part of town, being blessed with two small lakes and ample flora and fauna on over 150 acres. On its perimeter you’ll find several of Denver Design Build’s custom luxury homes.

They know the score

Residential construction will always be Denver Design Build’s main business, but the company will tackle commercial projects, including some in the city’s most prominent facilities. Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the 76,000-plus seat home of the Denver Broncos, boasts multiple examples of the builder’s versatility. While Denver Design Build can’t take credit for the stadium’s existence, it has completed office space for the team’s executives and remodeled restrooms.

As Gates explains, these tend to be smaller projects in the $15,000 to $20,000 range, but they’re fun, display civic interest and also helped keep Denver Design Build going during a most challenging period that just happened to coincide with the company’s founding.

Denver Design Build – Jeff Ayres and Jeff Gates

It took some faith, Ayres acknowledges, back in 2010 when Denver Design Build opened their doors. while other such companies were paring their work force, if not shutting their doors. But, they accurately reasoned, recessions come and go, and the need for housing rebounds. Particularly so in a locale as desirable as Denver.

Though young men, Ayres and Gates were old hands at construction, each having owned their own company while sharing the same subcontractors. It just made sense for them to join forces, and soon after, the construction industry was picking up, with Denver Design Build in an advantageous position, while older companies were playing catch-up.

To be sure, there were plenty of relatively modest projects Denver Design Build initially relied upon to keep the lights on, but in the process they built a fine reputation that continues to ease Arms’ marketing responsibilities.

“There’s nothing like word of mouth in this industry,” Arms reminds. “Our greatest driver of business might be our outdoor signage. That and our social media. The developers know what we’re capable of as a general contractor.”

In growth mode

The company’s growth continues, with Ayres anticipating its annual revenue of about $15 million doubling in a couple of years. It might  even be higher, he believes, if builders could get some relief on the legislative front.

Builders of multifamily properties have long faced a particular issue in Colorado, where so zealous is the concern of substandard construction that many developers would rather not undertake the risk, given that litigation has become the default mechanism for resolving disputes.

Denver Design Build – Jeff Ayres and Jeff Gates

As the Denver Post editorialized last year, no one advocates that shoddy builders be let off the hook or that condo buyers should lack recourse. It’s just a matter of making sure that justice works equally for all.

There’s legislation pending at the state capitol to mitigate this situation, which Ayres believes would give a needed jolt to the kind of condo construction sorely needed in Denver, as well as other Colorado communities.

Reputable builders, after all, should not suffer for the shortcomings of others. And if anyone doubts Denver Design Build’s reputation, they’ve only to look the company up on social media, which can be a very unforgiving place for companies that don’t perform—and a very rewarding one for those that do.

Published on: May 7, 2018

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