Whether your house needs a “facelift” or you are starting from scratch, CS Custom Structures, Inc. is ready to meet your architectural design and construction needs. With 125 years of combined experience in the architectural profession, they strive to offer unique, diverse and “one of a kind” craftsmanship—never duplicating a design.
“There is no other company like ours, that [has] the architect and builder under one roof,” said Ron Driskill, vice president and architect. Unique from most competitors, CS Custom Structures offers a “one-stop shop” approach.
“Most of our work is custom high-end homes and light commercial projects,” Driskill said.
Started in March of 2003, founder C. Scott Elliott’s goal was to bring “good” architecture back to the community. With Elliott’s father’s father being a builder, and his mother’s father an artist, Elliott wove together his passions, which were influenced by his grandfathers.
“The big thing with this company is its design capability,” Driskill said.
“We’re known for our unique design.”
On the residential end, clients are often looking to remodel their kitchens, basements or other living spaces. Having both the architects and builders on site allows clients to simply walk through the door, and everything they need for planning is conveniently available.
“Our typical client is someone who doesn’t want to buy a spec house,” Driskill said. “They have a piece of property, and they want something that’s designed around their lifestyle and their entertainment options.” Aside from residential work, they also undertake various commercial assignments, which now consume a significant amount of their time.
“We do a lot of design and construction work for physicians,” Driskill said. “They’ve been kind of the backbone of our work ever since we started.”
CS Custom Structures was not only responsible for the dramatic transformation of La Carreta on Timberlake Road in Lynchburg, they have also remodeled, designed and built many structures throughout the area. The fourth floor infill and rooftop observation gallery at the DeMoss Center on Liberty University’s campus was also their design. The infill consisted of 115,000 square feet of classrooms, lecture halls, offices, galleries and egress components. The rooftop observation gallery, which was designed to reflect a Jeffersonian style, was adorned with Tuscan columns and Chippendale railings.
“We’re pretty well known for our design capabilities,” Driskill said. “We get phone calls weekly from people who want a design, and that design often leads into the construction phase.”
Aside from residential and commercial, they also have experience working with historical properties. Prior to the company actually being established, some of the team designed work at prestigious historical places, such as the White House, Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg.
“Dealing with clients like that can tune you to a very sensitive and delicate eye for detail,” Driskill said.
Being an architectural design firm and general contracting firm makes them both unique and convenient for clients. Frequently, clients will know what they want in a house but do not have a design laid out. Offering several forms of visual images, including hand sketches, computer aided drafting, renderings and 3D models, the firm paints a picture of what the finished project will look like.
“We listen to the homeowners; we take that information, and we develop concept drawings,” Driskill said. “Once we get the concept where the owner says ‘yep, that’s what I like,’ then we’ll take it across the hall and take it to the construction side, and they will put a price on it for what they estimate the construction cost to be.”
If the price agrees with the client, and they are satisfied with the look, the project goes into construction documents, which is the final phase of the primary design process. Depending on the job, the design process for an average resident home generally takes 2-3 months, followed by up to 6 months of construction; however, it can be longer, depending on the house.
“We do a lot of design build, where we are designing and getting permitting while the construction people are out in the field doing stuff,” Driskill said. This approach is key, as it makes the whole process move along both quickly and efficiently.
“If there’s a problem in the field, we can go right on out,” said Joshua Moore, graphic designer and photographer.
During the process, clients have the opportunity to meet people from the construction department, providing them with the chance to look over the plans, give suggestions and make changes.
“When you’re working through the design process, it’s a lot of fun,” Driskill said. “We’re going to end up drawing everything you want, you’re going to look at it and say, ‘Yep, that’s exactly what I wanted, and it looks great.’”
Although Custom Structures offers comparably low prices, clients are welcome to pursue construction bids from other companies if they so desire.
“In most cases, when a family is building, the design process isn’t intimidating but finding the contractor is,” Driskill said. “So if you have this gentleman over your shoulder who is working with you to save money during that design process, more often than not, when we give them our bid to go get competitive bids, they say, ‘Nope, let’s start busting ground’ because they’ve developed that relationship with that builder during the design process.”
CS Custom Structures strives to make their work innovative and diverse, never duplicating their designs.
“We’re well known in the local area as a high end home designer builder, and the commercial side is rapidly growing,” Driskill said. Since the company’s founding with a mere three employees, they have now grown to employ over 30.
“It’s been constant,” Driskill said. “Even in 2008 when the turn in the economy took place, we didn’t see it as a hiccup, we just kept going.”
They are also branching out, pursuing jobs in Albemarle County, Lexington and the Smith Mountain Lake area. “We are trying to spread our wings to different localities,” Driskill said.
“If everything continues, I would say in the next 10 years we will have 70-75 employees instead of the 30-35 we have now,” Driskill said. Currently, they are working on several local projects, including wedding venue Bella Rose, the Porter House restaurant, St. Andrew Church, Piedmont Eye Center and many others.
Their mission is to create a balance of “impeccable design” and “exceptional craftsmanship.”
“We’re truly custom,” Moore said.
By Megan L. House