Building custom homes since 1989!


Michael began his career in construction in 1985 building Post Offices in rural towns mainly in central California.  He was hands-on in the majority of the construction phases.  A few years later Mike had the opportunity to move to Seattle and go to work for a home builder as a project manager building custom and higher end spec homes.  Eventually Mike started his own general contracting company in Utah, then later in California building custom and spec homes, commercial offices, restaurants and developed residential subdivisions. He moved from Northern California to Las Vegas in 2008 and went to work as Director of Construction for a large retail group servicing resorts and casinos, where he worked until we brought him onto our Construction Team here at Merlin Custom Home Builders.

Merlin Custom Home Builders’s Employee August Anniversaries:
Nate Ballard (1 yr):  The level and quality of work we see at end of Nate Ballard’s first year with Merlin Custom Home Builders lives up to our high expectations.  Nate has grown into his job and deserves the responsibilities he now has.  The diversity of skills Nate has acquired and the confidence our team leaders have in his abilities makes for a very successful year.  Good job Nate!

Nina Kelly (12 yrs):  For the past twelve years Nina Kelly has been the anchor in Merlin Custom Home Builders’s office that keeps us pointing in the right direction while holding us in place when conditions get rough.  Steve, Bart, every superintendent, the entire office staff and all our subcontractors owe Nina a debt of gratitude for getting the hard work done, while gently guiding our clients and the Merlin Custom Home Builders Team through the minefield of communicating the challenging budgetary expectations that are so often part of building our luxury custom homes.  Thank you Nina for twelve great years!

Gary Millar (7 yrs):  Gary is retired from the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, but still works part time for them as well as providing Merlin Custom Home Builders with courier services.  He is full of laughter and always brings in new jokes for all of us to enjoy.  We enjoy having him on the team for the past 7 years.

Or buy my own carpet… Builders get these questions a lot. Here’s why a Yes answer is seldom in the homeowners’ best interest.

It’s not unusual for new-home clients to ask their custom home builder to use a trade contractor with whom the clients (but not the builder) have an established relationship, or to let them buy their own plumbing fixtures or other items. Most builders won’t agree to this. Sticking to familiar subcontractors is a policy that’s in the best interest of the builder and the homeowners. The reasons have to do with the business relationships between builders, suppliers, and subcontractors.

Purchases from approved suppliers

Let’s start with purchases. Allowance selections and purchases are made from approved suppliers, and for good reason. The custom home builder who agrees to use unfamiliar suppliers or owner-sourced products in critical applications can’t guarantee the reliability of those products, can’t stand behind the warranty, and risks problems with the schedule and budget.

For example, imagine that the homeowners order carpet from a non-approved carpet supplier, then find out that the carpet they chose is made in Europe, only comes in widths of three meters (instead of the 12 feet that the carpet allowance was based on) and is a special order that takes 20 weeks to deliver. Will the schedule accommodate that delivery restriction? Can the builder trust the vendor’s assurance that all seams will “disappear”?

Builder-selected Subcontractors

There are even more compelling reasons for using regular subcontractors. Custom home builders depend on subcontractors as much as they depend on employees—trade partners are an integral part of the builder’s team. Thus, custom builders tend to award major contracts (the wiring of a custom home, for instance) only to subcontractors that have proven themselves. With proven trades, accurate bids can be assembled quickly, and the builder understands and trusts the quality promised by those bids.

Most builders test out new subcontractors on small jobs and then evaluate their work over time. Do they consistently produce work that meets the builder’s quality standards? Do they work well with the builder’s project managers? Do they know how to bid accurately? How quickly do they respond to service calls? Does their work stand up over three or four years? Yes, it can take several years to determine whether a trade partner can be trusted with minimal supervision on a large and complex job. Sometimes the custom home builder is impressed with a sub on the first job only to be disappointed on later projects.

In fact, the builder who agrees to use unvetted subs risks losing control of the building process. The painting crew that is doing just one job for the builder may not be as conscientious as the crew that relies on the builder for a majority of its work. Even if the homeowner agrees to take responsibility for the end result, any problems will reflect badly on the builder’s reputation. And remember—that good reputation is a factor as to why the clients hired the custom builder in the first place.

The point is that in a building project, relationships are key. Good relationships between the custom home builder and the trade partners are what make projects successful. Part of maintaining those good relationships is treating subcontractors well, including paying them fair prices and not squeezing them out of major contracts they have earned a shot at.

This pays off when the inevitable problems arise. For instance, when schedules change because of a weather delay, subcontractors that have been treated well are more likely to change their schedule and do whatever it takes to keep the project on time and on budget. After all, everyone’s on the same team.

Warm Regards,



Steve Jones & Bart Jones
Merlin Custom Home Builders
6408 S. Arville Street
Las Vegas, NV 89118

702.257.8102 – Phone