At a Glance
New construction and renovation of upscale residential homes
Building two-story Southern-style homes with pitched roofs and a combination of colonial and modern American elements has served Frank Uhlhorn well. The owner of the self-named construction company in Germantown, Tennessee—an eastern suburb of Memphis—says he builds home with an understated elegance, and the practice has led not only to significant revenue but also multiple awards.
Uhlhorn founded his company in 1976 in Midtown Memphis, doing renovations and remodeling before branching out and building new homes in Germantown around 1983. A mix of 80 percent new construction and 20 percent remodeling and renovations has worked well for the firm since then. “[Germantown] was an area that was growing, and it’s still the premier residential area in the county,” Uhlhorn says.
Uhlhorn is a sole proprietor, and he says he’s developed a full staff of subcontractors over the years. He has used around 100 subcontractors for framing, slabs, foundations, concrete and sheet rock, electrical engineering, plumbing, and heating and air-conditioning. “Through trial and error, I look for subcontractors who do quality work at a reasonable price and have a good work ethic and honor a tight schedule,” Uhlhorn says.
The company now completes about five to six projects per year, the homes typically taking five to six months to build. The firm is currently one of four builders working on the Enclave, a subdivision of homes with zero lot lines in Germantown. The company is building two homes there, both of which are pictures of subtle, traditional elegance.
“We’re not over the top with any one thing,” Uhlhorn says. “We pay attention to detail, but we’re not too pretentious.” His simple design philosophy must be sound because his company has garnered numerous awards over the years in various categories and price ranges from the Memphis Area Homebuilders Association. “The traditional-style home is always popular,” he says of his award-winning homes, “and seems to be what the customer still wants.”
The homes Frank Uhlhorn Construction typically builds are 3,600–4,000 square feet with zero lot lines—the small yards desired by empty nesters. Homes generally sell in the $500,000–$750,000 price range with amenities such as 10-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, elaborate trim packages, crown molding and baseboards, upgraded appliance packages, and furniture-style vanities. Homebuyers sometimes like Uhlhorn’s designs but want the home modified for their preferences. These changes might include enlarging a kitchen, redesigning a bath, or adding a playroom or media room.
In 2010, Uhlhorn displayed his full remodeling abilities when he restored the historic Carrier Hall (once the home of lumber baron Robert Carrier) after buying it in a foreclosure sale and rescuing it from being torn down. The 9,000-square-foot residence, currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is built on 1.5 acres in an exclusive area of Midtown Memphis.
Uhlhorn says the home was transported to Memphis from England and assembled from a number of other structures. “[Carrier] decided he wanted to take the best of a number of old classic structures in England and bring them here and reassemble [them],” Uhlhorn says. “It took seven cargo ships.”
Uhlhorn restored the main residence and the 2,500-square-foot guest house and a swimming pool Elvis Presley built for relatives. Although the home was as “magnificent and sturdy as it ever had been,” all the mechanical systems had to be updated, and the home needed repainting and a thorough cleaning.
“It took over a year, and it’s really a fabulous house,” Uhlhorn says. Now, the builder is waiting with pride for the right buyer to come along, one interested in an upscale, urban southern lifestyle. He knows it’s only a matter of time before the home’s classical charm catches someone’s eye. ABQ