THIS LUXURY CUSTOM HOME BUILDER CRAFTED HIS BUSINESS ON THE POWER OF A PERSONAL TOUCH
BY ERIK SCHONING • PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
The Greek word “halcyon” denotes an idyllic and peaceful past. When it came time for luxury custom home builder Devin Bouton to launch his company, his mind went straight to that concept. Halcyon Homes took off in 2015, and while the world of custom home building requires a herculean amount of planning, work, and effort, his idea was that, for his clients, the end result would bring utter tranquility, a small slice of paradise they could call their own.
Bouton launched Halcyon Homes in the Rumson and Fair Haven areas, two famously high-end townships with competi-tive housing markets. The venture was the culmination of a lifetime in the building world, stretching all the way back to Bouton’s school days. His father, an investor in real estate projects in Staten Island, would bring Bouton to job sites, where the builder-to-be would pick up tricks from an estab-lished master.
“The guy my father partnered with, he was brilliant,” Bouton said. “Every time a delivery came, we would count every single piece to make sure everything was there. He taught me if you look after the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves. I would just hang out and learn from him.”
Years later, when Bouton graduated college, he started building homes in Staten Island. By the time he relocated to Monmouth County and launched Halcyon Homes, he already had the knowledge and experience necessary to compete in a crowded field. The housing market is dominated by major players who are able to build entire neighborhoods in one go, and Bouton knew he could never compete on volume. But by keeping a small portfolio with a focus on ultra-premium custom homes, Bouton has been able to build a name for himself through his keen attention to detail.
“Because my houses are very high-end and each one is one-of-a-kind, I’m not a factory for houses,” he said. “I try to never have more than four or five projects going at the same time. If you walk into one of the big company’s houses and then you come into one of my houses, it’s a night and day difference, even to somebody with an untrained eye.” These days, Bouton builds about 20% of his homes on spec, though since the housing market skyrocketed in late 2019, he said he rarely completes a spec build. Usually a buyer is on board by the time his team has broken ground. Most of the time, he’s building a home to match a client’s vision. Working closely with the architecture firm Feldman & Feldman and Designer Touch Interiors, Halcyon Homes is all about making clients’ visions reality. In today’s design land-scape, where trends are constantly shifting, that can often be a massive undertaking.
“Because of the internet, Pinterest, and social media, it’s very different these days,” Bouton said. “Trends change almost annually. When I was a kid, it was the same style for ten years before things would change. Now you have to be on your toes. You have to do a lot of research.”
Here is where Bouton’s small portfolio offers a true advantage: he’s able to work closely with each client and pay attention to the details. Bouton is intimately involved in every step, from the initial meeting, permitting, and paperwork to breaking ground, sourcing and supplying materials, and the entire construction process. Rather than have to bounce his clients from contact to contact, he is able to address any issues or concerns personally.
In the custom home world, nothing goes perfectly, and being flexible and attentive makes all the difference. “My customer service is something that I take pride in,” he said. “Because I don’t deal with a lot of people, I take pride in the fact that if someone texts me on the weekend or a holiday, I’ll always answer. If they send me a picture of something they want to add to the house, I always respond. I try to make myself as available and accommodating as possible.”
With almost ten years in Monmouth County, Halcyon Homes has made a name for itself as a bespoke builder for those seeking a personal touch. Bouton sees himself as a guide through the building process, which can often be rife with anxiety, even when things are going according to plan. Through his work, Bouton has been able to build meaning-ful relationships with clients. Today, for example, he is building a custom home on the Navesink River for clients who bought one of his spec homes a few years ago. In building, as in any business, a repeat customer is the highest compli-ment.
Even amid ample success, Bouton has no plans to change his business model. Keeping a small team, building long-term relationships, and delivering a quality product got him where he is today, and Bouton sees no reason to mess with a winning formula. “I like that it’s not redundant work,” he said. “It’s nice every morning to get to the job site and see accomplishment. And then when it’s over and we sell the house and we close, we start all over again.”