Chelsea Building Group, a residential builder headquartered in Matthews, was founded on a simple yet very radical idea: to build better homes.
“We had all been around the business, on many sides of the equation, from the trades through materials and finance, and we saw an industry that focused on size and appearance factors and placed very little emphasis on technical aspects that can profoundly impact the experience of living in a home. We decided to see if we could change that for the better,” says Marc Bickler, Chelsea Building Group’s CEO.
With that aim in mind, the company began operations at The Bridge at Sharon View, building custom homes, all with open floor plans, custom cabinetry, hardwood flooring, Italian tile and premium appliances, the things a high-end homebuyer would want and expect. The company then went about engineering the functional attributes that it believes will matter to the homeowners long after the initial heady days. According to Vice President of Construction Jeff Conger, the team started with a list of “benefits” like comfort, healthfulness and economy, then developed a strategy for achieving them.
“We had the idea of ‘the things you’ll thank us for later.’ These were things like walking barefoot on a floor that doesn’t feel cold, or not being awakened by a noisy garage door opener when someone has to leave early, or not being bothered by cooking smoke. We put them down on paper, and there were quite a few. Then we researched solutions.” –Jeff Conger
Chelsea works closely with its architect and engineers on the structural attributes, and also extensively with its subcontractors, to develop the right standards and practices to realize its goals. It then engages with third-party experts Top Build in addition to its own on-site supervisors to inspect the house at various stages of construction.
One of the main areas of emphasis is on the building envelope, which is the skeletal structure and skin of the building.
“It needs to be tight, to keep the elements out, but then it needs to breathe properly to maintain a healthy environment,” Jeff says.
Chelsea consulted with building systems experts to develop a system of framing, insulation, sheathing and HVAC to strike the right balance.
Upon completion, Top Build tests and certifies every home according to standards of efficiency and comfort. The top rating it issues is the Diamond, which every Chelsea home to date has met. This provides a real, tangible benefit to the homeowner in the form of a Comfort Guarantee, which states that the temperature in any room won’t vary by more than 3 degrees at any point. It also provides an energy cost guarantee, so the homeowner will know very specifically what their energy will look like going forward.
In the last few years, Chelsea has focused on bringing its unique philosophy of superior construction to its planned communities. At ReAlta, the company added solar power and digital control to its mix of amenities. The resulting homes feature striking contemporary detailing, most with rooftop decks, open floor plans and all the visual components that make new homes so alluring. They also realized some of the best HERS (Home Energy Rating System) numbers—the lower the better—ever recorded in the Carolinas. Combined with the solar power, the fortunate homeowners in these buildings will experience the pleasure of near-zero electric bills.
The company has several projects underway around Charlotte. All will be built to what the company calls “Chelsea standards,” which is to say beyond what is required by the code. They wouldn’t have it any other way.