Lessons From Homebuilding

Excalibur built this custom home at The Bluffs on the Waterway.

Excalibur Construction broadens its skills and outlook to serve the South Carolina Lowcountry’s commercial market

At a Glance

Location
Myrtle Beach, SC

Founded
2000

Employees
5

Specialties
Custom homebuilding, renovation work, and commercial construction

Over the course of a decade, Edward Friend built Excalibur Construction Inc. into a standout homebuilder in the coastal town of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At its height, the firm was building more than a dozen homes a year—with some valued at well more than $1.4 million—and establishing a strong presence in the community at the same time. So, when the housing bubble burst, the strong relationships Edward Friend had built with his clientele continued providing valuable opportunities to diversify his business. And today, despite the economy, Excalibur Construction is a more versatile builder, adding commercial projects such as restaurants and medical office buildings to its repertoire along with the familiar custom home construction and renovation projects.

“We had former customers that owned businesses who came to us asking us to help them with buildings for their business,” Friend says. “There are more regulations to comply with in commercial construction, but most of the time there is less finish work than in a home. The fact that we had great attention to detail as one of our primary focuses made moving into commercial work relatively simple.”

Lulu’s Cafe was Excalibur’s first foray into commercial construction, and it helped the firm open up a second revenue stream to supplement its residential work.

Excalibur’s first foray into commercial construction was Lulu’s Café, a retro diner-style restaurant that opened in 2010 on Myrtle Beach’s famed Ocean Boulevard, and from there the firm looked for other ways to break into the market on its own terms. “Opening up the commercial division has opened a second revenue stream for the company,” Friend says. “We’re not looking to build high-rises, but we want to specialize in commercial projects under $2 million in multifamily, small restaurants, and tenant upfits.”

Expanding into commercial work doesn’t mean Excalibur has left behind its roots, either. In fact, as residential construction rebounds, Friend’s team is making strides in building energy-efficient homes. Excalibur Construction is the exclusive builder for Assembly Lakes, a development in The Reserve at Litchfield, and the community of Lowcountry homes will be built to the strictest energy-efficiency and green-building standards. Excalibur recently completed a pilot project in the neighborhood, a LEED Gold-certified home that will serve as a model for the development’s remaining 45 lots. “The developer came to us looking for a way to make this neighborhood stand out and be different,” Friend says. “This will be the first all-LEED-certified single-family neighborhood in Georgetown County.”

The first home is 2,150 heated square feet, and it’s packed with energy-efficient features and water-conservation amenities that make it appealing to buyers. “We think LEED construction and green building is where all construction is headed,” Friend says. “This particular model home is 32 percent more efficient than a standard code-built house.” One of its key features is a rainwater-recovery system that funnels rain from the gutters into a nearby lake. The home then uses water from the lake to irrigate the landscape. A device monitors the lake level to ensure water levels are adequate for irrigation.

Excalibur’s homes may be luxurious in size and detail, but the firm is now working to ensure that they’re energy-efficient as well. Excalibur recently completed a LEED Gold-certified home that will serve as a model for future homes in South Carolina’s Assembly Lakes development.

Excalibur also recently completed another green project, a major renovation of a home in The Dunes Club development, just minutes from the beach. “This was a major renovation to a home that was only eight or nine years old, but the home had major moisture and foundation problems,” Friend says. In the process of making the repairs, the owners chose to renovate the entire home, taking it down to studs, fortifying the foundation, and adding new bedrooms and baths and a bonus room over the garage. An outdoor covered porch and an English-style conservatory were also added and connected to one another, and solar panels and recycled finish products were incorporated for additional sustainability.

For Friend, the growth of Excalibur has been welcomingly remarkable, and it offers a compelling argument for the power of business referrals. “When I first went out on my own in 2000, I started out building decks, doing additions, small homes, and anything else I could,” he says. “I worked in the field digging footers, framing and trimming all my jobs. Now we have five projects underway, including a nearly 6,000-square-foot, $800,000 custom design-build that is truly amazing.” ABQ