Enfort Homes is a family-owned boutique spec home building business in Kirkland. Small but hardy, the company is big enough to accomplish its ambitions, but nimble enough to leverage the benefits that come with an organization its size. This is all according to the plan of its owners, Greg and Gina Lynch. Greg says that as the company grows, he wants it be steady and from a position of strength.
Greg and Gina and their family have lived in the South Rose Hill neighborhood in Kirkland for the last six years and are building a new family home in the Bridle Trails area of town, with the aim of completing construction by the end of 2020. They have three sons: Blake, 6, is in first grade at Ben Franklin Elementary, Cooper, 3, is enrolled at City Kids School, and Ryder, 1, stays busy trying to keep up with his older brothers.
Greg and Gina met while attending Northwest University. They graduated together and got married the following summer. Greg studied business and finance, and Gina studied communications but later got a degree in design. As Greg describes it, they are both “type A personalities with a lot of drive and a never-stop mentality.” This drive showed up early in Greg’s life, as he started a graphic design business in high school and continued to develop it in college, working 60+ hours a week out of his dorm room. While his schoolwork may have suffered a bit, “a whole lot of real-world business experience happened.”
After college, Greg went to work for a Fortune 500 company in Seattle, where he made his way up through management positions before deciding to pursue real estate full time. Gina worked in both marketing and executive assistant roles at local tech and real estate companies before becoming a full-time mother and interior designer.
In 2010, having saved a bit of money, Greg and Gina started thinking about what to do with it. Greg’s grandparents, who were pastors their whole lives, owned a handful of rentals, so they decided to follow that example. The couple bought their first rental duplex in Lake Stevens. Admittedly, Greg said, “We didn’t have a clue what we were doing, so we bought several books on property management, created our forms and, amazingly, rented the units quickly. Fake it till you make it, right? We were hooked!”
Venturing into the rental market led them to the world of foreclosure auctions. “Some homes we came across were extremely distressed, but we saw past that,” Greg said. “We believed we could give a house new life with some elbow grease, and back then we did the work ourselves!” For five years, along with their now head of construction, they would buy rentals and flips at auction, work their professional day jobs, and “burn the midnight oil at the house projects.” They did this throughout the year. “It was a blitz, but so gratifying and we learned a lot,” Greg said. “In our years at this, we have turned over 100 homes.”
They still have that original duplex, and have added 18 rental properties throughout the Tri-County area to their portfolio, but new home construction was always on his radar, Greg said. Over the last few years, Enfort has fully transitioned to new home construction. “I personally like new construction much better than renovations because you are not trying to fit square pegs in round holes with renovating an existing structure,” Greg said. “Instead, you are able to design exactly what you want from day one without the limitations of existing structures.” The company currently has 19 homes in the pipeline either in active construction or planning/permitting in Kirkland.
The company’s goal is not to be a developer of subdivisions. Instead, they focus on spec-built homes that are customized to what they believe would-be buyers in the area will want. Each home starts with a floor plan that is scrutinized and refined throughout the development process. Do the windows maximize the view? Can a covered porch be reoriented to offer greater privacy? Will a dog enjoy this yard? No detail is too small to consider because the Lynches design houses as if they would be living there themselves.
“We value beauty and aesthetics,” Greg said, but functionality is just as important. “Our construction manager is as much of a perfectionist as I am. Pair that with Gina’s dynamite design, and you get a very special house that everyone who walks through falls in love with.”
Each Enfort home is unique, but the company’s modern farmhouses tend to garner attention, Greg said. “We have been doing this style even on remodels since 2014, before it was trendy. It’s one of our favorite designs, and we are constantly evolving and tweaking it so it stays fresh and current.” Indeed, Greg admits to spending a good deal of time online researching homes around the country in their price point to see what buyers want.
To some extent, the design is dependent on the lot. “Due to Kirkland’s topography, lot sizes and building code, the predominant style is a modern ‘box’ house,” Greg said. “This style is not our favorite. Sharp, boxy lines without warmth and texture feel cold and not welcoming. Whenever the lot and code allow, we prefer to build modern farmhouse, Cape Cod, or Pacific Northwest craftsman style.”
What is Pacific Northwest style, one might ask? Greg said it could be described as “organic modern” where “white and grey tones serve as the backdrop for natural elements (wood, brick, marble) and tons of texture is integrated to provide a cozy mountain house feel. Exposed ceiling beams and white oak flooring are usually found in a PNW house, as well as ample lighting and, of course, an open floor plan.”
Overall, there are three important characteristics to any Enfort home, Greg said. First and foremost is quality. “We wouldn’t put a home on the market that we wouldn’t live in ourselves.” Second is design. “We believe our cutting-edge creations capture the emotion of buyers. Our designs are incredibly thought-out, and we believe we have a good feel for what this city loves.” Third is functionality. What is important in a home and what really matters to the owner? “We have taken these answers to heart and integrated buyer feedback into the homes we build, such as including an en suite on the main floor or covered outdoor living areas with heaters.”
No building project comes together without the contribution of numerous participants, and Greg recognizes that to build a great house, it takes a lot of great people. “We carefully select each sub, and treat them like a partner,” Greg said. “We value their opinion, we treat them right, we communicate well, and we pay fast. In turn, we create an extremely tight bond with our trades people because they trust us, and they want to do the right thing for us. It has to be a win/win, otherwise it doesn’t work.”
Credit must also go to Brooks Josephson, the company’s construction manager, “whose fantastic eye for detail embodies the Enfort culture to a T,” Greg said. “He is on job sites day in and day out with the rest of the Enfort team of superintendents and carpenters to ensure each project exceeds all expectations.”
Rewards and Relaxation
There is a reward in seeing a project realized, and this is part of the satisfaction of homebuilding. “There are not a lot of jobs where you get a tangible product as the result of your work,” Greg said. “We are lucky to be in one of those fields. Getting to see the completed project and the incredible energy at an open house is always a surreal moment.”
With three young children and a business, relaxation time is at a premium. When time allows, you are more likely to find Greg at the golf course than a campground; he’s played golf since he was a kid. Family outings include summer weekends at Lake Chelan or rooting for Blake’s American Little League team, which Greg has helped coach the past couple of years.
When asked what he is looking forward to in the coming year, the answer is not surprising: more completed projects! “We have some amazing projects in the pipeline to start and complete in 2020,” Greg said, “and we are super excited to see them to fruition.”
For more information, visit www.enforthomes.com.