Four months after meeting, one June day back in the early 90s, Ben and his wife Christel tore down their first house together. With some weekend help from a few friends armed with little more than sledgehammers, the couple took their Arlington, Virginia, fixer-upper down to its foundation, and built a completely new home in its place.
The success of your first fixer-upper often determines whether or not there will be a second. For Ben and Christel, their success prompted Ben to pursue building full-time.
It wasn’t all by chance, though. Ben and Christel shared common ground in real estate development – Ben in residential, and Christel in commercial – and Ben’s grandfather, a career construction man, may have helped inspire Ben at an early age.
After ten more years in D.C., the couple moved to Atlanta in the early 2000s where they took on everything from Section 8 housing to luxurious Buckhead area projects. All the while, Ben and Christel paid visits to the Destin area – a place Ben came to know during his tour at Tyndall Air Force Base in nearby Panama City, Florida – and began investing in real estate there.
Homes in Atlanta were being built to be lived in. Renting a home – even long-term – carried a stigma, and with it, the potential for depreciated value. The couple quickly noticed quite the opposite in the Destin area, where the short-term rental market was shaping homes being built at the beach, which occasionally forsaked function (and style) for capacity.
Each new project Ben and Christel took on together was an opportunity for the couple to refine their product and deliver more of what buyers in the market were looking for. And, as their business model continued to change, from fixer-upper to a more ground-up approach, they welcomed aboard Christel’s brother, Chad Wandrick. A licensed general contractor, Chad, along with his family, live a few doors down from Ben and Christel, who made Destin their home in 2010.
Now, Ben’s penchant for functional planning, Christel’s eye for design, and the team’s willingness to try something new is taking shape in an entirely new way – one that is redefining a prominent part of the Destin landscape.