As a fourth-generation builder, Nick Yegge has established a company that allows him to do what he loves — design, build and remodel homes. Heartwood Residential takes a collaborative approach with its clients to create a remodel experience that is as smooth and stress-free as possible throughout the entire project. Headquartered in Los Gatos, California, Heartwood has been transforming houses into dream homes for clients in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley since 2012.
Yegge grew up surrounded by the construction industry. Following his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him, Yegge began working in the industry during summer vacations. While working for a high-end custom homebuilder, he learned the best practices across the trades from exceptional contractors. This experience inspired Yegge to create his own company that incorporated fine-tuned project management, processes and workflow.
When Heartwood Residential was branded and licensed, Yegge’s expertise and client network were already well-established and enabled the company to experience 400 percent growth in its first year alone. “It was actually a little too fast,” recalls Yegge. “We had to scale it down by about 50 percent after that first year. Since then we have tripled in volume and are growing at about a 50 percent annual rate each year.”
With each project that Heartwood takes on, Yegge works as the project manager, supervising all construction phases with each subcontractor. The company has established working relationships with quality subcontractors to whom Yegge is able to turn due to trust and proven competency. “I’ve been working with most of the same folks for four years now,” he says. “I do change it up sometimes because I’m always looking to improve our operation and make sure we have the best people on each job.”
While Heartwood acts as a general contractor, the company also incorporates a handyman division, providing follow-up service to clients and completing other jobs in the area. “We also have a ‘helper’ who I am in the process of teaching everything I know,” shares Yegge. “He’ll be a very competent lead carpenter and project manager in the near future.” Yegge’s wife, Michelle, is also a crucial member of the Heartwood team, as she is the office manager and heavily involved in the design process of each project.
With the numerous projects that Heartwood has completed in its short existence, Yegge recalls a beach house remodel in La Selva Beach, California, as a highlight that the company was recently involved in. Per the client’s desire for an open design, Heartwood eliminated a dividing wall between the bedroom and bathroom, as well as a glass wall in the upstairs loft area. The open space now permits visibility from the bathroom to the beach. “We dropped an entire floor and made it a wet room design that is completely open,” Yegge explains. “The whole floor was sloped and it had a walk-in curbless shower. That was definitely one of our favorite projects.”
As the demand for green building and sustainability practices goes up, Heartwood is able to fulfill clients’ requests for a finished product that is healthier for them and the environment. The company recently incorporated its green building techniques into the remodel of a townhouse in San Jose. Modifications to the home included low-VOC paint work, bamboo custom cabinets with a water-based finish, bamboo flooring and LED lighting. “We increased the heating and cooling efficiency of the home by insulating the attic with blown-in cellulose at R-40,” says Yegge. “This was definitely one of our more interesting green projects.”
Green building methods that utilize LED lighting, water-based finishes and low-VOC paint have become standard practices in California due in part to Title 24, also known as the Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings. Yegge says that with LED lighting as an alternative to some of the requirements of Title 24, the entire industry has been pushed into using high-efficiency lighting. “There are a lot of great vendors that have some really cool options,” he shares. “The demand for green building in the Bay Area is pretty high so the vendors are really catering to that.”
With cautious optimism about the economy and the construction industry, Yegge is looking forward to the increase in energy efficiency and green building requests from clients seeking a remodel of their home. “As prices drop on the sustainable products and they become more available, people will be looking for those long-term energy savings,” says Yegge.
As Heartwood continues to grow and establish itself in the green building market, Yegge is looking to remain a small firm and focus on providing clients with high-quality remodeling solutions. “Ninety percent of operating a successful business is doing what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it,” he shares. “That may seem pretty simple but when you have so many things going on it can be a challenge.”
Sticking to that philosophy has paid off for Yegge and will drive Heartwood Residential into the future as it remains a premier home remodeling contractor of the San Francisco Bay Area.
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