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Best Design-Build Firms & Custom Home Builders in Boston

19 Min Read

Overview

Design-Build custom homes offer an opportunity to engage just one team to take their dream home from planning to completion. The full-service option is popular with clients in some of Boston’s most expensive neighborhoods, where listing prices have topped $18M and homeowners are investing in big budgets, ground-up estate builds, and historic renovations. Out in Gloucester and on Cape Cod, both city slickers looking for a getaway and year-round residents are partnering with design-build firms to make their own mark on New England’s architecture. The firms listed below are ranked according to the scope of their work, the awards they’ve received, and their notable presence in the community.

Top Firms

Adams + Beasley Associates

Principals:
Eric Adams
Angus Beasley

Awards:
NARI Contractor of the Year,
Silver Awards

Address:
669 Bedford Road, Carlisle, MA 01741

About Adams + Beasley Associates

Founders Eric Adams and Angus Beasley connected in middle school at Buckingham Browne & Nichols in Cambridge and remained friends throughout college. The two eventually bonded over their individual experiences in construction, and in 2004, after earning degrees from Colby College and Yale University, the two partnered to form Adams + Beasley Associates. The firm designs and builds around Eastern Massachusetts, earning honors such as a National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Contractor of the Year Gold Award in the Best Remodeling/Restoration Under $250K Category, and Silver Awards for the Best Remodeling/Restoration over $750K, and Best Project under 5,000 square feet with a budget over $1M.

Featured Projects

Adams + Beasley Associates brought their design-build skills to a two-story, 4,000-square-foot unit in Beacon Hill. Carefully selected and installed finishes set the elegant penthouse apart from the rest. Playing off of the steel, wood, and glass of structural balustrades, the firm installed a wet bar with a backlit, onyx backsplash and a Calacatta marble-topped counter. The bleached walnut cabinetry is among other warm woods spread throughout the house. Just northeast, in Back Bay, the firm renovated a historic brownstone. The European oak parquet floors were restored and framed with period-specific trim. Period light fixtures and stained glass complete the refined look of the classical building. Adams + Beasley Associates also removed any design elements that had accumulated over the years that conflicted with the home’s origins or evidenced unskilled work. The ultimate showstopping feature is a solarium framed in dark, polished mahogany and lit by a stained-glass skylight.

Architectural Design, Inc.

Principals:
John Adrian Ingwersen
Peter Haig

Address:
62 Route 6A, Orleans, MA 02653

About Architectural Design, Inc.

John Adrian Ingwersen, AIA, and Peter Haig, AIA, met while working with architect Benjamin Thompson, who designed Boston’s famous Quincy Market. Since partnering to found Architectural Design, Inc. in 1986, the partners and their team have worked on more than 500 residential projects around Cape Cod, each home a response to the desires of an individual client and site, right down to built-in furniture solutions that maximize on scenic views. Proficient in the planning and construction of both contemporary and traditional homes, Architectural Design, Inc. has grabbed the attention of Boston Design Guide, Cape Cod Life, Home Remodeling, and Cape Cod Home.

Featured Projects

Architectural Design, Inc. completed a full home remodel in the town of Mashpee on Cape Cod. Instead of altering the footprint of the existing structure, the firm opted to add height to the property, increasing the square-footage with a two-story addition. The addition’s vaulted ceilings create space for full-height windows and french doors to the terrace off of the ocean-facing master suite. Down the new, spiral staircase, a mezzanine overlooks the double-height family room. Interior white cladding brightens the home and complements the shingle wrapped exterior. What began as a partial remodel in Chatham evolved into a full home rebuild when Architectural Design, Inc. encountered limitations in the original structure that would prevent the homeowners from creating their dream home. The result is a coastal bank residence with a timeless design. The home’s traditional features include a shingled exterior, a grand front entrance, and an interior spiral, wood stair at the center of the home. Amenities like the master bath, which sees a glass-tiled spa tub set back under a generous arch and lighting tucked into crown molding, add a contemporary touch.

Carpenter & MacNeille

Principals:
Terry Carpenter (†2007)
Robert S. MacNeille
Tad Cunningham
Michael T. Gray

Awards:
ASID New England Design Excellence,
Custom Home Pacesetter Award,
Chrysalis Award,
ICAA Bulfinch Award

Address:
106 Western Ave Essex, MA 01929 (Main) // 445 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA 02481 (Branch)

About Carpenter & MacNeille

Founded by Robert S. MacNeille, AIA, and the late Terry Carpenter, in 1996, Carpenter & MacNeille has grown to a team of over 30 collaborators. MacNeille is design principal & president of the firm, which has earned a Design Excellence award from the American Society of Interior Designers New England, the Custom Home Pacesetter Award, the Chrysalis Award for remodelers, and an Institute of Classical Architecture and Art Bulfinch Award. The leadership team also includes Tad Cunningham, CSL, MA, head of construction, and Michael T. Gray, AIA, LEED AP, senior architect, managing director. Over more than 20 years in operation, the firm has diversified to operate other businesses, including a custom cabinetry and millwork shop.

Featured Projects

On Massachusetts’ picturesque North Shore, Carpenter & MacNeille reimagined the Marblehead Neck house. What began as an update of a mid-century kitchen became a full restoration of the 1870 home’s interior and the exterior landscaping. New England Home profiled the home, which gained a stylistically integrated addition, a three-car garage, and a new terrace. The firm also added a new driveway and a pergola between the garage and house that creates a functional courtyard. North Shore Magazine and Architectural Digest covered the firm’s Selkirk Ledge project in the quiet, waterfront town of Annisquam. The team restored a dilapidated, shingle-style home for European clients. Interior highlights include wide-plank floors, detailed molding, and a living room fireplace with an oversized mantel. Carpenter & MacNeille also added square-footage to the house. Numerous windows and an expansive, second-story terrace make the most of the seaside cliff location.

Cutting Edge Homes

Principals:
Sean Cutting
Anu Shah

Awards:
Contractor of the Year Silver Awards

Address:
100 Waverly Street, Ashland, MA 01721

About Cutting Edge Homes

Cutting Edge Homes is a family-run company that has been designing and building homes throughout Eastern Massachusetts since 2004. President Sean Cutting and Chief Operating Officer and Chief Designer Anu Shah lead the firm’s three offices in Boston, Cape Cod, and Ashland. Cutting has a background in business, and Shah is an alumnus of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. With other company leaders and a dedicated staff of designers and project managers, Cutting Edge Homes has won Contractor of the Year Silver Awards for a residential exterior project and for the renovation of an entire home with a budget over $500k. Boston Magazine, Cape Cod Home, Design New England, and Architectural Digest have published pieces on Cutting Edge Homes and their work.

Featured Projects

The renovation of a home in Newton earned Cutting Edge Homes a Contractor of the Year Silver Award. Besides redesigns of the exterior and interior — which included upgrading the home’s kitchen, bathrooms, roofing, and mechanical infrastructure — the firm increased the property’s square footage with a 16-foot x 36-foot, single-story addition. Cutting Edge Homes was also able to fulfill the client’s desire for a grand entry to the home while staying within proportions appropriate to their neighborhood. Another full home renovation, this time in West Newton, called for the redesign of a more than 100-year-old home. The plan centered around reorienting the kitchen and family room to create a warm living space for a growing family and their guests. The team relocated a service kitchen in order to add a connection between the family room and the yard, all without making changes to the original, exterior structure. A terrace off of the master suite and a stone patio add to an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.

Feinmann

Principals:
Peter Feinmann
Barney Meier
Tammy Russo

Awards:
PRISM Awards,
Chrysalis Awards,
Ragional NARI Award

Address:
27 Muzzey Street, Lexington, MA 02421

About Feinmann

President Peter Feinmann established Feinmann Builders in Somerville in 1987, originally working out of his own home. In 2008, the multi-million-dollar business moved from their office at 8 Lee Street to their current location in Lexington. Feinmann stewards the firm with Senior Architect Barney Meier and Project Manager and Home Crew Manager Tammy Russo. In their 30-year history, Feinmann has completed more than 1,200 projects for over 640 clients throughout New England. Among the firms honors are multiple PRISM and Chrysalis Awards, a Regional NARI Award, national NARI recognition for a historical renovation/restoration project in Cambridge, and more than 70 other accolades. For the hard work of their 20-person team, Professional Remodeler Magazine called Feinmann a Market Leader.

Featured Projects

The update of a Tudor in Newtown earned Feinmann a Gold PRISM Award Gold for Best Remodeling/Restoration Under $250,000. Without changing the exterior footprint of the home, Feinmann reorganized the floorplan for more open family space and room for cooking and entertaining. In the kitchen, the firm employed stainless steel appliances, Galaxy granite countertops, and vertical grain cabinetry to create a warm and modern aesthetic. The peninsula is stepped to provide surfaces for kitchen prep and homework, though the adjacent study has also been fully updated. Feinmann completely renovated a condominium in Beacon Hill. The redesign hinged on a new layout, which connected the once cordoned-off kitchen with the living and dining rooms. The kitchen is now brightened by skylights styled to blend with the original architecture. Where the kitchen had been, the team was able to add an additional bedroom and bathroom. All of the existing bathrooms were upgraded, including the master with its glass-enclosed soaking tub. Per the client’s request, builders also added a guest bedroom-cum-meditation space in the style of a Japanese Tatami room. The project earned Feinmann an Eastern Massachusetts NARI Gold Contractor of the Year award for Residential Interiors.

Lee Kimball

Address:
606 Main St., Ste. 3003, Reading, MA 01867

About Lee Kimball

Founded in 1940 by Lee Kimball Johnson and Donald Lee Bosworth, Lee Kimball is a modest, client-centered firm that offers design-build, interior design, and home maintenance services across the Boston area. The firm has been in business for three generations and has established a loyal client base: it is known for its creative, high-quality services. Bruce Johnson and Gregg Johnson continue the family legacy by preserving the client-centric mindset and the thoughtful process of the firm’s operations.

The firm has multiple awards and press features to its name. Lee Kimball won a design contest from the famed kitchen appliance manufacturer Sub-Zero, Wolf, and it has won awards from NARI, including the NARI Platinum Award.

Featured Projects

Lee Kimball’s portfolio is stylish and modern. The project in the photo is a high-tech family room interior that sports a chic, ultra-modern aesthetic. Minimal decorations and neutral tones define the space. Modern furniture completes the unique aesthetic and the appeal of the project overall.

Longfellow Design Build

Principals:
Mark Bogosian

Awards:
Cape Cod Magazine Best of Cape Cod

Address:
367 Main Street, Falmouth, MA 02540

About Longfellow Design Build

OOwner Mark Bogosian joined Longfellow Design Build in 2013, after obtaining a degree from Boston College. Longfellow Design Build is a family-run firm that has over 20 years of building experience. The company employs a team of senior designers and construction supervisors who, together, work with clients to realize their vision of Greater Boston and Cape Cod living.

The company also operates multiple bath and kitchen showrooms on the Cape — in Falmouth, Osterville, and Chatham. The Cape Cod Times, Southern New England Home, and The Cape Cod Chronicle have all published pieces on Longfellow Design Build and the firm’s meticulous work. One Longfellow Design Build project earned a Cape Cod Magazine Best of Cape Cod distinction.

Featured Projects

Longfellow Design Build converted a historic carriage house off of Shore Street in Falmouth. The red-shingle structure was originally built in 1895 by Boston dry goods magnate James Beebe. The firm carefully restored the building’s red brick facade and remapped the interior layout, with its 6,547 square feet of space. The five-bedroom, five-bath house hit the market at more than $2.9M. A quarter-mile from Falmouth Harbor, Longfellow Design Build created a new home with traditional charm. On the ground floor, an open-concept kitchen with stainless steel appliances, quartz-topped counters, and a center island has plenty of room for entertaining and cooking large, family meals. The adjacent family room is oriented around Shaker-style builtins and a gas fireplace with a classical mantel. The master suite is generously sized to include a walk-in closet with a center console, and a vanity with his-and-hers sinks. Delicate millwork, refine moldings, and white oak floors run throughout the home.

New England Design and Construction

Principals:
David Supple

Awards:
Eastern Massachusetts NARI Gold and Silver Contractor of the Year Awards,
PRISM Gold Award,
Boston Business Journal Fast50,
Qualified Remodeler Top 500,
Remodeling Top 550 and Big50,
GuildQuality Guildmaster,
DesignerBath Shine Award

Address:
103 Terrace Street, Boston, MA 02120

About New England Design and Construction

After fifteen years in existence, New England Design and Construction is one of the Qualified Remodeler Top 500 firms and the winner of Eastern Massachusetts NARI Gold and Silver Contractor of the Year Awards, a PRISM Gold Award, and Silver Contractor of the Year Award for the residential projects. A uniquely creative Architectural Design-Build firm grounded in sustainable aesthetics and luxury home design, NEDC recently began designing and retrofitting a client home to Passive house standards–a challenge that is groundbreaking even for Boston–a city known internationally for its willingness to push boundaries and innovate.

A multi-ethnic, young, talented team of creatives with diverse backgrounds stand proudly at the core of NEDC’s design team–many whose families immigrated to New England over the past few generations from a varied array of cultural backgrounds. These creative artists and artisans have since risen through some of Boston and New England’s top design universities and Architectural schools–they are now remaking environmental awareness and sustainable design standards. NEDC Designs are characterized by reclaimed wood, open spaces, natural light, and minimalistic beauty as they seek to reduce the carbon footprint and reverse the impact of human dwelling design on the environment while producing white-glove quality projects for their clients. Having designed and built multiple celebrity and high-end luxury homes in Boston, the demand for NEDC’s creative team continues to grow with a steadily increasing waiting list.

David is a graduate of Tufts University with a degree in Architecture. A standout Lacrosse player in college, David proactively took a job as a carpenter after graduation to round out his Architectural theory with an ability to actually build. In California, he further trained as an architect for three years, designing, directing, and managing 50- 100,00 square foot renovations. David founded New England Design & Construction in 2005 and the company has grown every year since. David’s mother’s family originally immigrated from Puerto Rico to outside New York. Raised in New England–David is now a proud father of two little ones of his own and has been directly involved in over 100,000 square feet of home design and renovation projects over the years in Cambridge, Wellesley, Back Bay, Brookline, Somerville, and throughout the GBA. These projects have been featured in local media, including Modern Luxury Boston Common, Remodeling Magazine, Boston Voyager, and The Boston Globe. A passionate humanitarian, David and NEDC’s recent caring community work in Boston during Covid has been featured on NBC10, NECN, and Boston25. NEDC was recently awarded a Guild Quality with Distinction award. David and NEDC do ample pro-bono work in the community

Featured Projects

This 7,246 square foot Colonial mansion was constructed in 2011 by MLB outfielder Carl Crawford during his unexpectedly brief tenure with the Boston Red Sox. The newly built five-bedroom, six-bathroom mansion in Wellesley included a game room, batting cage, and full home theatre. In a turn of fate, Crawford’s contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers midseason and the home was suddenly put on the market. The challenge suddenly became how to adapt this custom home to a proper family dwelling –now home to several small children.
NEDC and David Supple designed a custom home addition entrance that would step down as a gradual transition from the interior living spaces of the home into the tranquil sanctity of the landscaping while acting as a warm receipt point for guests and family entering the home. A custom upholstered banquette provides for a variety of functions from casual dining, and work from home to children’s play. The custom addition while smaller than the initial home construction footprint plays a prominent role in visitors’ initial view of the home. The barrel copper roof is a striking design feature and in keeping with the traditional Boston architecture of the home, reminiscent in a way of the Massachusetts State House–elegant yet warm and inviting. The cantilevered exterior roof is a rich mahogany.

As one steps into the home, the beautiful curved plank ceiling is highlighted by a stunning light fixture reminiscent of a starry constellation. The stone parquet floor tile is elegant and lends beauty to this transition space as one enters the home. Tall windows fill the exterior walls, flooding the interior with natural light and giving one a glimpse of the external beauty and tranquility the property affords.

Placetailor

Principals:
Travis Anderson
Evan Smith
Steve Daly
Miriam Gee
Declan Keefe

Address:
103 Terrace St., Boston, MA 02120

About Placetailor

Placetailor offers architecture, construction, and development services. Declan Keefe, LEED AP, CPHC, established the firm, which now employs a staff of about 7 designers, project managers, and carpenters. Production Manager Evan Smith — skillfully supported by a team of carpenters — works closely with Design Director Travis Anderson and Architect Miriam Gee, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. The Placetailor team are experts at designing and building high-performance energy efficient, residences that adhere to stringent limits on a home’s energy consumption. As owner and strategic director, Keefe has led the firm in sustainable, residential builds that have drawn attention from Low Carbon Productions and Remodeling Magazine.

Featured Projects

A Placetailor remodel project, Thornton Manor is a townhouse notable for its aesthetic and its efficiency. The Roxbury home offers three-bedroom units with open floor plans, master suites with custom baths, and custom milled details that add traditional charm. Exterior white cladding blends the structure into its Highland Park neighborhood surroundings, while one volume wrapped in a medium gray nods at the more contemporary interior. A wraparound, natural wood deck is topped with a pergola to shield the homeowners from direct sunlight. Despite the home’s comfortable spread, heat recovery ventilation and triple-glazed windows will reduce energy consumption by up to 80 percent. In nearby Jamaica Plains, Placetailor converted a century house into an eco-conscious, family home. The abandoned structure, which was previously a corner store, required major changes to its layout. The home is eye-catching with aluminum and wood exterior cladding in complementary tones. Inside, bleached wood ceilings and matte black floors intensify the contrast. Some of the home’s most impressive features, though, aren’t visible. The air-to-water heat pump generates heat and hot water without a traditional furnace, helping the home to maintain a comfortable temperature even in the New England winter.

Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects & Builders

Principals:
Peter Polhemus
John R. DaSilva
Aaron Polhemus

Awards:
National Custom Home Builder of the Year Award

Address:
157 Route 137, E Harwich, MA 02645

About Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects & Builders

Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects & Builders was founded in 1996 by Peter Polhemus, AIA, when he left his position as lead architect with a local firm to partner with their chief of construction in their own venture. John R. DaSilva, AIA, a New England Design Hall of Fame inductee and a graduate of Princeton University and Yale University architecture programs, soon joined the firm as design principal. The firm is now led by Polhemus and DaSilva, and President and CEO Aaron Polhemus, who has previously served as vice president and president on the board of the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Cape Cod. The firm has earned the National Custom Home Builder of the Year Award, and Cape Cod Magazine listed them among their top architecture and top contracting firms.

Featured Projects

Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects & Builders earned a Bulfinch Award and a Gold BRICC award for their Champlain’s Bluff project. The 6,900-square-foot house combines the aesthetic of an English cottage with contemporary comforts and its seaside setting. The center of the house is oriented toward the waterfront, with two wings extending on angles from the main house to capture harbor views and changing daylight exposure. The property opens on a winding driveway through a generous garden up to the front of the house. Inside, the homeowners enjoy a library and a formal dining space, and the outdoor patio is framed with pools and terraces. Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects & Builders also created the 2016 Boston Magazine Design Home, a 4,427-square-foot house framed by a columned front porch and an oceanfront deck. The home — which was used to host fundraising events and was later put on the market — helped generate more than $80k for Boston Children’s Hospital. Fine details, like porch brackets and shutters with a pine cone motif, respond to the woodland setting and complement the shingle-style design.

Stack + Co.

Principals:
Joshua M. Brandt
Andrew Wade Keating
Catriel Tulian

Awards:
Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award

Address:
555 East, 2nd St., Boston, MA 02127

About Stack + Co.

Stack + Co. is a design-build firm with 10 years of history and offices in Boston and Rhode Island. Three principals — founding partners Joshua M. Brandt, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), and Andrew Wade Keating, American Institute of Architects (AIA) member, as well as partner Catriel Tulian, LEED AP — lead a team of about 15 designers and project managers on design and build projects throughout New England. Look for Stack + Co. projects in Design New England, Architectural Record, The Boston Globe, Green Building + Design, Dwell, and Boston Magazine. The firm has also earned a Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award and produced work profiled in pieces by NPR and the Huffington Post.

Featured Projects

Stack + Co. revived an 1826 townhouse in Beacon Hill. Collaborating on the design with neighborhood firm Frank McGuire Architects, the team brought major upgrades to the reproduction Georgian-period home. The modernized kitchen places white, Shaker cabinets and stainless steel, chef’s quality appliances against a backdrop of custom, black walnut flooring. Subway tile backsplashes and glass shelving add a refined air to the traditional setting. The master suite is an equally nuanced environment, with arched entries to the bedroom and dressing room, and seamlessly integrated casework. In the suburb of Wellesley, at 17 Caroline Street, the firm completed a custom build in a decidedly contemporary vernacular. The flat-roofed, steel and wood frame home consists of two stacked volumes. The lower floor is mostly opaque on the public-facing side, while the back wall features floor-to-ceiling glazing and a view of the lush property. The upper floor, with its more private living spaces, is wrapped in wood cladding and set back windows that allow the homeowners to take in the view without being seen or overwhelmed with glaring sunlight.

The Holland Companies

Address:
519 Albany St., Ste. 200, Boston, MA 02118

About The Holland Companies

Standing on over a hundred years of combined industry experience, The Holland Companies is a family-owned company offering design, engineering, and construction all over urban areas in Boston. Michael Holland, Sr., founder of the company and patriarch of the Holland family, is a licensed architect and first-generation immigrant from Ireland. John, Joseph, Michael, and Paul Holland currently serve as principals and partners of the firm.

The firm’s residential and commercial work gained a loyal following in sought-after and difficult building environments like the Back Bay, South End, and Beacon Hill.

Featured Projects

The firm produces elegant and sophisticated projects. The townhouse in the photo is a posh and stylish residence packed with darker tones and high-end decoration. There is a centerpiece piano that matches the chandelier and oil painting. Clean furniture matches the floor-to-ceiling window that completes the eclectic atmosphere of the townhouse.

Author

  • Jake Gustafson

    Jake has served as Senior Editor at Boston Architects and brings a wealth of experience rooted in his passion for building. Holding a degree in Construction Engineering Management from Oregon State University, he actively engaged in industry-related activities, including membership in the Associated General Contractors of America student chapter and participation in the Associated Schools in Construction student competition. Previously, Jake served as a project engineer for a prominent general contractor in Portland, where he played a pivotal role in various aspects of construction projects, from pre-construction to subcontractor management. His expertise extends to working on innovative projects, such as North America's largest CLT commercial building. Expertise: Commercial Construction, Commercial Remodeling, Home Design and Build Key Highlights: Editor at Boston Architects, Project Engineer for Portland-based general contractor, Field Engineer for the largest CLT commercial building in North America Education: Oregon State University, Degree in Construction Engineering Management