March 21, 2011
Nation's Building News

The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB

Business Management
Respect for Neighbors, Land Keys to Success for Custom Builder of Year Peter Polhemus
A house on Harding's Beach in Cape Cod, Mass., built by Peter Polhemus, exemplifies the builder's respect for its surroundings and neighbors.

Peter Polhemus, president and CEO of Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders in Chatham, Mass., and who was named the NAHB Custom Home Builder of the Year earlier this year, points to respect as the key to his company’s success.

“We separate ourselves from the competition by carefully managing our relationships with the public. Our project managers understand that our building sites provide an important interface with the public and they work with our trade partners to keep the sites neat and well-ordered,” Polhemus said.

The custom builder award, presented each year at the NAHB International Builders’ Show and sponsored by the Propane Education and Research Council, recognizes custom home builders who demonstrate skill and craftsmanship as well as outstanding leadership and business practices in their local market area as well as in the industry.

Polhemus’s design-build company completes seven to 10 custom homes each year, most of them in the 3,500-4,000 square-foot range. “We insist that each feels at once rooted in the architecture of Cape Cod but also unique to its owners and site,” he said.

The company also works on six to 10 renovations a year that vary in scope and range in price from $150,000 to $3 million.

“A number of these are renovations of. or additions to, historic houses that are beloved icons of Cape Cod’s past,” Polhemus said.

Before beginning any new-home or renovation project, the company sends letters of explanation to all the project’s neighbors.

“The letter comes directly from me as the president and includes my telephone number if they have any concerns. We then respond quickly if any problems arise,” Polhemus said.

“Our employees and trade partners are not only very good at what they do, they also are courteous and respectful of our clients, their neighbors and the sites upon which we build,” he added.

The company is also active in local community activities and charitable projects in the Chatham area. To help the community, Polhemus donated the design and construction of a public restroom in Gould Park, the site of Chatham’s band concerts and town festivals.

“The building is a contemporary interpretation of a temple set on the typical small New England town’s major public space. It may be small, but the image it projects and the enthusiasm with which it has been received are distinctively civic,” Polhemus said.

Peter Polhemus, center, of Polhemus Savery DaSilva, was named the 2010 National Custom Home Builder of the Year. He is flanked by Tracy Burleson, of the Propane Education & Research Council, and last year's winner, Mike Payne.

“The quality, variety and uniqueness of the projects that Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders designs and builds and the service it provides its clients makes Peter’s company stand out,” said Mary Schroeder, president of Miller Homes in Brookfield, Wis., and 2010 chair of the Custom Builders Committee. “In addition, Peter has donated his time to the local home builders association and has contributed work in other charitable efforts to make things better in his community.”

“We are honored to be the first company in New England and also the first truly integrated architectural and building firm to receive this prestigious award,” Polhemus said. “We thank our extraordinary clients for giving us the opportunity to do great work. I am very proud of our team and its profound commitment to excellence in design, construction and client satisfaction.”

How Does Your Business Measure Up?

The Cost of Doing Business Study, 2010 Edition,” available through, provides home builders with a rare glimpse at profitability, cost of sales and expenses from hundreds of home builders across the country.

Several categories — including volume, operation type and land vs. no land costs — are analyzed to help builders fine-tune comparisons between study results and their companies.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

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