With over 100 celebrated luxury homes built up-and-down Coastal Orange County, Bryan Burkhart of Burkhart Brothers Construction takes craftsmanship, timeless design, and innovation to the next level. From contemporary, to transitional, to mid-century modern, Bryan works directly with clients to make their dream home a living masterpiece designed to transcend time. Backed by a team of industry veterans, including his brother Mark Burkhart, Bryan and the team have broken sales records and dropped jaws with their masterful projects, and next-level digital technology that allows clients to be a part of every step of the building journey. Transparency, trust, and craftsmanship is how the Burkhart Brothers redefine the luxury home-building experience. Elevated was excited to connect with Bryan to talk trends, inspiration, and the present and future of custom home building across Orange County and the entire Gold Coast.
Burkhart Brothers have been making a name for themselves in the Coastal Orange County luxury home scene for quite some time. What inspires you most about your environment?
It’s hard to say—there are so many different elements that make working in Coastal Orange County interesting and fulfilling. I will say that in this environment, nothing is ever the same—it’s always changing and it’s always different. Just when I think I’ve done it all, something new pops up. There’s so much interesting and dynamic architecture throughout Newport, Laguna, and Monarch Beach, it’s easy to get inspired. I started out in the wine business, and there’s a lot of history and creativity when it comes to wine. When I transitioned to building, it felt similar—there’s history in homes, and I enjoy the creative element of building something out of nothing.
You pride yourself on your ability to turn your client’s imagination into an actual home. How are you able to interpret vision and deliver form and function?
It’s definitely a process. Most clients don’t know exactly what they want right from the start. I find that through the building process, my clients start to become more familiar with their vision. It’s through the process and the job walks that a project takes life and becomes “owned.” Most clients don’t understand things on paper, so we make changes as we go—that’s when they get a feeling for what they want. Architects may give them a style, but as they see it being developed, the style and vision changes. The ability to adapt is what creates something special.
You’ve worked with Drew D’Angelo and Hoda Hajirnia of “The HD Team” on a number of high-profile projects. What do you find most appealing about working with two of O.C.’s top real estate agents to bring your projects to market?
Working with agents like Drew and Hoda is great because they already know what the clients want. They have great style and a fantastic eye, so it makes our job easier as far as design is concerned—especially in the spec homes we’ve built for them. Anytime you have someone building a home and selling it, it makes for a streamlined process. Plus, Hoda and Drew know exactly what the house needs to create value. One particular home on Cliff Drive in the heart of Newport Beach sold within hours for $6,000,000. That’s how you know you’ve made the right choices.
There’s a ton of buzz surrounding the record sale of 2404 Cliff Drive. Give us the BTS of that project and why you think it was so appealing…
The homeowners covered every single base on that project and it’s really well done. That house had a ton of love poured into it. From truly next-level finishes, ceiling and wall treatments, custom tile work, massive retractable doors and of course, views on views on views. To wake up and enjoy views of Catalina Island and Newport Harbor on the daily is the quintessential “ SoCal living” dream. Every detail is synergistic of the builder-client relationship, enabling us to create unique, impeccably constructed homes throughout the area.
Tell us about some of your other favorite projects?
Lately, I’ve been working on a lot of modern contemporary style homes, which is fun. One in particular, a cliff-hanger on Skyline Drive in Laguna, is my recent favorite. It’s built 50 feet deep into the cliff, required 56 caissons, and took a year just to build the foundation. It has everything imaginable, insane indoor/outdoor living elements and jaw-dropping views. The complicated ones are fun—until they’re not!
Many people still live in the “Dark Ages” when it comes to building their own home. So, lay it out—How hard is it to build your dream luxury home in Coastal Orange County in 2021?
Right now, a lot of what’s going on with city ordinances is making things a bit more difficult. They make the rules a little more complicated, so the building becomes a little more complicated. For example, now we have to add solar to structures. On top of that, materials are going through the roof—lumber, steel, copper. The pandemic shut down factories and now they’re trying to catch up. There isn’t a shortage of materials, they just didn’t produce enough for the demand. Once that settles down, everything will be right back to normal. It takes a year to build a home on average, and the average house we build is 5000 square feet. You can’t take your eye off the ball in this industry—that’s why it’s important to choose the right builder right from the start!
So, what’s the best advice you could give someone who’s looking to build their own home from the ground up?
Start with your builder, architect, and designer early on. I think it’s important to choose your contractor first, because architects don’t draw plans based on pricing. That means clients come to me with something that can’t be done in their price range—and then it’s back to the drawing board. I’d say 4 out of every 10 homes designed first by an architect don’t get built because of that problem. $1 million can become $2 million very easily. You have to get the builders involved immediately—you can’t wait on that. With us, we’ll help you find the architect—we’ll even help you find the land and tell you what you can and can’t do. Going to the architect first is the long way of doing things.
What do you find most satisfying about building custom luxury homes?
The happiness my clients exhibit once they move in. I love the “forever” aspect of building. I can drive through Laguna and Newport and see the hundreds of homes I’ve built—that’s deeply fulfilling. My brother and I work and live here, we’ve raised our kids here, we see and know everyone! It’s a small town feel and it’s always a great feeling to run into someone you’ve built a home for!!
If there is one timeless design element you would advise your clients to incorporate into their home, what would it be?
For me it’s all about the lines… “la ligne”. I don’t do a lot of curves in houses—clean lines are timeless. Building elements change and styles come and go—the materials may be different, the cabinets may be different. Mediterranean was all the rage for awhile, now that’s out and mid-century modern is the big thing. But clean lines never go out of style and they can never be overdone!
Buy a luxury Coastal O.C. home or build a luxury Coastal O.C. home—What’s a better investment in 2021?
Simply put, you get exactly what you want when you build a home yourself. When you buy someone else’s home, they’ve built it for themselves or they’ve built it to sell, or they’ve redesigned it to their liking. You may purchase a home and find you only use three out of the seven rooms—that’s because it wasn’t designed specifically for you. Some people want wine cellars, huge bathrooms, etc. If you’re investing in overall satisfaction and a tailored living experience, then you can’t beat building your own home.
You have $5M to build a home anywhere in California. Where is it and what’s its defining feature?
Newport Beach. On the water. Mid-century modern. Clean lines. Minimalist. With $5 Million, you could build just about anything you want!
To build your ultimate dream with Burkhart Brothers, feel free to reach out to Bryan Burkhart @ [email protected] or visit burkhartbros.com.