News | ‘Green’ Colors Frankel Building Group’s Homes

June 01, 2015

By Kathy Bowen Stolz | Metropolitan Builder 

Although Frankel Building Group custom homes come in many colors, all of them are built “green” to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified standards by the United States Green Building Council.

According to Kevin Frankel, principal, Frankel Building Group (FBG), the company’s first LEED certified house was a spec home constructed in 2009.

“Because of the economic outlook at the time and because conventional wisdom dictated cost-cutting, no one was building spec homes. Even though green building was considered an expensive luxury, I advocated building a LEED-certified spec home on a lot we owned. It was very successful and gave us a jumpstart on competency in green building,” said Kevin.

The recession also changed FBG’s business approach in another way. “When the downturn was evident, we changed our focus from custom homes on our lot to custom homes on the customer’s lot.

“Now we exclusively build LEED homes. Both of these strategies were major improvements that helped us differentiate during the downturn, and we believe they are a key to success in a more stable economy.” FBG typically builds 30-40 houses each year, with each at least 3,500 square-feet. Their prices begin at around $900,000 (including the lot). Homes smaller than 10,000 sq ft take eight to 12 months to complete, although many variables play into that time frame, Kevin explained.

Kevin, along his father Jim and brother Scott, lead FBG and its 25 employees, which include builders, designers, realtors, accountants and field personnel.

The on-staff custom home designers draw custom plans so each home is unique. The company is able to streamline the design/build process by creating a 3-dimensional model of each project. The construction team is able to solve problems before field work begins, shaving weeks off the building process. Staff members 11 assemble site plans and electrical layouts and more while awaiting engineering plans so they can apply for permits as quickly as possible.

The company offers the 3,000 square-foot FBG Design Studio, bringing 60 vendors under one roof to simplify the selection process for its clients and their interior designers. Opened in October 2012 and expanded in April 2015, it is located in the LADCO Washington Park Design Center.

Jim, the president, founded the company in 1989. A Graduate Master Builder, Jim was one of the first builders in Cinco Ranch and specializes in blending large custom homes into established neighborhoods.

Scott, also a Graduate Master Builder, oversees the company’s operations and construction. He was only the second builder in the country and the first in Texas to become a Master Certified Green Professional.

Kevin, who earned an MBA from the University of Houston, worked in commercial real estate during graduate school. Now he oversees much of the “numbers” part of the family business, although he said he really likes working constructively with the entire team at FBG, regardless of the department.

“Clients, lenders and good business practice require far more reporting and accounting than when I started with FBG in early 2006. This part of the business is under my purview. Cash management, fulfilling lending covenants, sales reporting and all related accounting require fulltime supervision. Getting the work done is easy, but forecasting and analysis has become a challenge for the past three years. I believe it is a challenge that we have successfully overcome.” 12

In the next five years Frankel Building Group plans to tackle some new markets and continue to strengthen its custom design/build program, according to Kevin.

FBG markets its business with a combination of public relations, web content and lead generating software, Kevin noted. “Obviously custom home building is a referral business, but we want to feel in control of our message. The avenues we’ve chosen give us that control.”

All three Frankels are active in the Greater Houston Builders Association, with Kevin currently serving as the president. Scott has served three years on the Sales & Marketing Council board of directors. Jim is an Honored Life Director and past president of the organization. In addition he served on the executive committee as well as the board of directors. He was a founding member of the Custom Builder’s Council and chair of the education committee.

The family is also active in helping the community. Kevin and Scott led a team that renovated space for SEARCH Homeless Services as part of the GHBA’s HomeAid Care project. Kevin and his wife focus on helping the Houston Zoo, while Jim works on behalf of Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston Ear Research Foundation, Kinkaid Alumni Association and Tulane University.

The Frankels continue to make their mark in building. FBG is currently developing and building projects in the new gated communities of The Woodlands Reserve and the Lakes of Shadow Creek. Additionally they are building custom homes all over Houston, including Tanglewood, Memorial, The Heights, Southampton, Bellaire, Montclair, Sunset Terrace and West University.

FBG’s work has been recognized with the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Prism Award for Green Building Single Family Project of the Year, the 2012 Prism Award for Green Building Advocate of the Year, the 2010 Greater Houston Builders Association Award for Green Home of the Year in  addition to Houston’s Best Custom Builder, multiple Custom Builder of the Year awards and various state and local awards.

You may contact Frankel Building Group at 5701 Woodway, Suite 200, Houston, TX 77057 or 713-623- 4646 or info@frankelbuildinggroup.com. You may learn more about the company by visiting its website, www.frankelbuildingroup.com