A step through the double-windowed doors of the Miller home in El Dorado Hill’s Serrano community is a step into luxury. Antique wall panels from the 1900s function as art in the foyer. Reproductions of hanging factory lights illuminate the dining table. In the master bedroom, farmhouse windows turned wall mirrors reflect the backyard.
From the temperature-controlled wine room to the full bar on the other side with its own dishwasher, every detail of the 3,800 square foot home is the dream design of owners Steve and Tami Miller, brought to life from the ground up by ESI Builders and Remodelers.
Function & Luxury
Steve, a luxury real estate agent with Sotheby’s International, had a specific decor aesthetic and floor plan in mind for his custom home.
“I wanted to push the envelope of what was possible within this community,” he explains. “Serrano is known for Mediterranean style homes, but my vision was more contemporary, a revision of old: weathered white planks, stone, metal and glass.”
Working closely with ESI’s president and CEO Dave Sipes, the Millers created their one-of-a-kind, four bedroom, three-and-half bath home with energy efficient features including Photovoltaic solar, spray foam insulation and a whole house fan.
The overall design boasts both functional flow and the finer things in life.
Set in hues of gray, black and white, the great room connects to the bar on one side, the industrial style kitchen a second and opens to the patio and pool on the third, making the layout ideal for entertaining. Down the hall, bedrooms for two teenage daughters feature private baths, walk-in closets and a view of the backyard fire pit.
Steve and Tami’s own spacious master bathroom and dressing room are accented by chandeliers sparkling with hundreds of crystals. “I wanted the space to feel like a jewelry box for Tami,” said her husband of over 25 years.
Sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows incorporate the outside within the decor. The geometric wallpaper in the hall bathroom is custom designed. Bathroom drawers have drop-in outlets for blow dryers and curling irons. “I didn’t want anything to seem like an afterthought,” the anti-clutter Miller stresses.
Plan & Execution
To ensure no detail became an afterthought in the planning or execution, the Millers relied on ESI’s full-scale operation, which begins with the selection of a build site and continues even after the home is completed through ongoing customer support and warranty services. From the early stages, Steve could conjure images for the home in his mind. Tami looked to magazines and books for inspiration. Designer Miles Ostermann’s 3D renderings of their combined ideas helped finalize the plans.
With the design set, ESI handled the complicated process of nailing down permits, contracts, budgets and timelines.
Throughout construction, Miller says they benefited from working with a smaller company, noting communication was clear and frequent with weekly touch-base meetings to go over progress and budget.
Today, ESI goes beyond the weekly meetings with cloud-based technology. Clients can simply log on and view construction. These anytime updates allow the home owners to take vacations — a popular choice during remodels, additions or energy-efficient upgrades — and still check in from their phones and laptops. At every stage, the company provides real-time pricing data and ensures clients approve everything before it’s installed.
“At ESI, we have the mindset that the journey is just as important as the end result for the customer,” Sipes says. “We are focused on listening to what the customer has to say and working to achieve that goal rather than finding alternative ways to do things.”
Miller agrees. “ESI wants it to be a true custom experience and reflect the person, not the builder itself,” he says. “They exceeded my expectations. I would feel comfortable recommending ESI to Sotheby’s because like Sotheby’s, ESI is committed to exceptional value.”
This drive to deliver personalized communication and data helps the company head off delays and budget overruns, Sipes says.
From the time the Miller’s selected their half-acre Serrano property to the day they moved in, the process was just shy of two years. That was reasonably close to the initial estimate, Miller says. Of course every custom build is different, but ESI’s average timeline is from one to two-and-a-half years.
Tips & Advice
For anyone considering a custom home, Miller and Sipes share the same advice: Partner with a builder as soon possible. A good builder helps the client find the ideal property, allowing the vision to fully materialize within the confines of the area’s building restrictions and regulations. In other words, “Don’t manipulate your dream to fit the lot,” Miller says.
And while dreaming big, keep your feet on the ground you’ve chosen. “I think too many people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to timelines,” Miller warns.
Some delays are almost inevitable in a big construction job, but a company with a contingency plan can limit delays and the resulting headaches. Contingency plans ensure that should anything happen to the project foreman, another leader within the company is able to take over and fill those big shoes with the same quality of service.
Communication is key to any working relationship, and especially one with so many moving parts. Choose a builder with a commitment to clear communication and the guarantee of a point-person overseeing the entire project. “Dave was personally on the job site nearly every day,” Miller explains.
It doesn’t take a village to build a custom home or remodel but it does take a huge team. Pick a company like ESI that employs a rigorous vetting process for hiring all the consultants and subcontract workers involved.
Ask questions, check references, and make sure you feel completely comfortable entrusting the company with the blueprints to your future home like the Millers did with ESI. The Millers will recommend ESI to family and friends to complete your remodel and or new home build.
“If you have the money, it can be the most satisfying journey to build your own home,” Miller says. “The end result for us is better than we could have imagined it to be. We say we love our home all the time.”