Both sum up his work succinctly.
A Chicago native, Greg has been designing, building, and remodeling commercial and residential spaces for 30 years. His award-winning Olympia company does custom jobs that range from starting-from-scratch designing and building to remodeling baths, kitchens, and other spaces in need of a makeover.
Now 60, Greg moved to Olympia sight unseen when he was 27. He followed his brother, Brian, who had moved out first. Greg was happy to escape Chicago’s extreme summer heat and winter cold, not to mention the constant traffic snarls.
After years of working on commercial jobs and moving into the design and drafting side of construction, Greg decided to break out on his own. “My brother Brian was going to be in the business with me, but in the end he just gave me the cash to start it.”
“I started my company as Amendala Brothers Construction back in 1991 with the purpose of building and selling spec homes,” he says,” but when I saw how people build spec homes around here, I decided I couldn’t build to their cheap standards.”
Greg built a couple homes for a realtor, but then went strictly into remodeling for the next 8 or 9 years. “I began to pick up design work while doing remodels for the clients,” he says, “and I had people start asking me about designing homes and building them.”
“I basically did custom homes from the time I opened until the end of 2007, when the economy dropped off the map,” says Greg. He then went back to remodeling, and now works in all three areas: designing, building, and remodeling.
A quick glance at Horizon Homebuilder’s website shows the high quality of Horizon Homebuilders’ custom work.
“I like learning the client’s ideas, then turning those into the reality of what they want,” Greg says.
He knows his company succeeds or fails on his reputation.
“If I do a remodel or a new home for you, you’re going to get everything that we write into our specifications,” Greg says. And those specifications are very detailed. Greg doesn’t go into a project with blanket allowances for cabinets, floor coverings, plumbing fixtures, and such. He has clients meet with his subcontractors to pick those things out first.
“Because you can sit and talk about wanting a medium-priced cabinet,” he explains, “but do you like it medium rare, pink in the middle, or well done? There’s a very wide price range.”
In fact, Greg says he won’t work with clients who aren’t willing to do their homework. “I want them to go and pick things out,” he says. “And I’ll go with them, if they want. If they want me, they’ve got me.”
Horizon Homebuilders is a small company: Greg, his wife Denise, and his nephew Brian Amendala. The rest of his team is made up of trusted, vetted subcontractors.
“They’ve been working for me for a long time,” Greg says of his subcontracting team. “I give them standards they have to meet. When they think they’re done, they’ve got a checklist to go over before I come out.”
Greg’s system works well for his clients – and for his company. He gives meticulous plans to each subcontractor, so they have a blueprint for exactly what needs to be done. Once the electrician, for instance, has everything roughed in, Greg comes on site to check that everything is where it needs to be.
Greg’s approach to design is unique. “It’s a process,” he says. “I want you to go online and look at different floor plans. If you like a certain kitchen, show it to me. If you see a window bank you like in a magazine, cut it out. Think about how you’re going to use each room. And when you’ve given that some thought, then let’s sit down and go over it.”
The more a client brings to the table, the better Greg’s design will meet their expectations.
“And because I’m not an architect, I’ve got no ego to stroke, so I want to get really in tune with my clients when I’m designing and be able to bring it forward just like they want it,” Greg says.
Greg works with a computer design program called Chief Architect. “I’ve been using it for 15 years, and I’m good at it,” he says, with a laugh. “When clients sit here and watch me, they say it’s like watching a video game.”
Greg stresses that, although 85 percent of the work he does is high end, a custom home doesn’t have to be expensive. Going with a custom home simply “means you’ve not found a cookie-cutter home that meets your standards,” Greg explains. “You want some things different.”
“I built a house for a couple that was only $150,000. It was a small house, 1,500 square feet,” Greg says. “They wanted hardwood floor in the family room, but everything else was pretty basic.”
Greg doesn’t set out to design and build the most expensive houses. “But I have a tendency to draw clients who want that type of work,” he says. “They see my website and they say, ‘Yeah, let’s get a hold of this guy.’”
8047 Ellison Loop NW
Olympia WA 98502