Many of us envision our dream homes even before we have our first jobs. We sometimes settle on the amenities and location of our primary home because it’s most likely tied to our jobs. But people are more intentional when it comes to their second homes. Those who want to build a second home, but don’t want to go through the hassle of hiring builders, architects and designers on their own, turn to the experts.
Founded in 2020 by New York City-based developers Pelle Hamburger and Joshua Gelb, in partnership with INC Architecture & Design, NevelHaus has created a home-building platform that allows users to customize luxury home designs to fit their specific needs and design aesthetics. INC is the award-winning group behind One Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, New York.
NevelHaus has built 24 homes, all in upstate New York, at price points at around $2 million. Rather than rely on traditional advertising, Nevelhaus has gotten most of its buyers via social media, which the company says allows buyers to get more involved in achieving the exact vision they want of their home including interior design elements, finishing touches and even the exact parcel of land where the home is built.
The Escape Home’s Joelle Anselmo spoke to Hamburger about NevelHaus’s home building platform, his outlook for the sector in 2023 and misconceptions about buying a new house instead of renovating an existing home.
The following has been condensed and edited for clarity.
EH: What’s the story behind NevelHaus and how does your company make the process easier?
Hamburger: If you work with NevelHaus, a high-end design is included in the price. So instead of having to pay six figures for an INC designed home, it’s part of the purchase price. We took off-the-shelf components, but then made them seem customized. … So you’re getting standard window packages, standard flooring, standard materials, but with a unique design behind it.
We handle everything, soup to nuts. They can be as involved or uninvolved as they want to be.
EH: NevelHaus is geared toward second-home buyers. Would you ever consider expanding to the primary-home market?
Hamburger: Our homes are built to be used as primary or secondary residences. They have all the amenities that you need to live there full time. Still, the majority of our homebuyers are city residents who want an escape. But they don’t want to be in the Hamptons, they want the mountains instead of the beach.
EH: You recently partnered with Pacaso which is a San Francisco-based platform that allows shared ownership of vacation homes. Why did you make that move?
Hamburger: We were approached by Pacaso because they were looking to expand their business into the New York market. Pacaso felt that our design aesthetic matched what their platform offers their buyers. We use a lot of sustainable materials, which high-end buyers find attractive. We also design the home to fit into the landscape, which is different from the way a lot of homes in upstate New York are designed.
EH: What misconceptions do buyers have about newly built vs existing homes?
Hamburger: The housing stock in upstate New York is antiquated but a lot of people fall in love with the romance of buying an old existing farmhouse and renovating it. They assume it’s less expensive and less stressful to renovate than to build a new house from scratch. But once they get into the nitty gritty of renovation, they often discover it’s more expensive to renovate than they imagined. Using a platform like NevelHaus is stress free for them. We take care of everything, all the hard parts, and they just get to enjoy home at the end of the day.
EH: What do you see for the industry in 2023?
Hamburger: The post-pandemic world has seen an incredible surge in demand for second homes along with a new mentality around the idea that these homes are also investments. In addition to utilizing a second home to suit one’s lifestyle preferences and accommodate remote work, many see second homes as a way to earn additional income by renting it out on platforms like Airbnb. I can’t speak for the rest of the market, but I think now that people have become a little bit more comfortable with slightly higher mortgage rates, they are looking to buy a second home. The macroeconomic factors that influence sales of second homes aren’t as dire as people expected, at least not in the upstate New York market.