Marshall Saul, a native Atlantan who went to Greenfield Hebrew Academy and Riverwood High School, now works as a realtor with Atlanta-based boutique brokerage Beacham & Company. He is constantly evaluating property and opportunities for himself and his clients with a discerning pulse on what local markets have to offer. Wife Terri, a project manager with an architectural signage company, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. They now reside in Chamblee with their 2-year-old daughter Olivia and wheaten terrier poodle, Jozy. “We’ve experienced a depressed amount of inventory over these last several years that still continues today,” Marshall Saul said. “However, Atlanta remains full of great, transitional neighborhoods that offer young families the opportunity to purchase a home suited for tear-down, hire an architect and work with a custom builder to develop their dream home. Buyers are essentially concluding if they can’t find what they are looking for in a resale home, why not just create it themselves?” He does go on to caution, “Of course, like most things, easier said than done.”
Saul made the bold decision at 27 to purchase a vacant lot in Brookhaven for the purpose of building a custom home for him and Terri. He quickly became immersed in all aspects of the design-build process and although challenging, ultimately decided this was a professional niche he wished to carve out. Saul has since aligned with several builder-developers on speculative and custom homes. His current main area of focus is the Chamblee-Brookhaven market.
“Sexton Woods, Ashford Park, Drew Valley and Nancy Creek Heights, among other well-established Chamblee-Brookhaven neighborhoods, all make for attractive locations for young families looking for new construction,” he said. “There are multiple parks, trails, good schools and these areas are centrally located close to nearby retail and dining. The Chamblee-Brookhaven corridor has shown a significant amount of commercial development over the last several years and residential new construction has been quick to follow.”
In 2017, Saul struck out to build again and approached architect Brant Goodman (Goodman Design) to consult and design a home to best use his new lot’s site conditions. “Brant is an extremely knowledgeable architect with exceptional attention to detail,” Saul said. “His professionalism and confidence gave us a great sense of ease in the early planning stages and continued throughout the project.”
Goodman recalled, “There was initial conversation about creating a welcoming sense of place and allowing the house to be a reflection of the way the Sauls live.
The keeping room off the kitchen allows for a great place for kids while parents are nearby; and the open concept along with lots of windows to the rear yard provide good visibility. We strove to establish good indoor/outdoor connections to allow for an abundance of natural light. It is always important for architecture and nature to work in harmony.”
Saul shared, “We designed the home in the midst of the Chip and Joanna HGTV craze, so we couldn’t help but be inspired by the modern farmhouse look with some added elements of coastal inspiration. We went for clean lines and transitional details, utilizing a neutral color palette along with light and airy flooring, materials and fabrics.” Saul shared the importance of collaborating with an architect and designer who can help execute a clear-cut vision and maintain design fluidity throughout. “The overall goal was to ensure a seamless blend between the architectural details and finishes with our own vibe of furniture, art and interior design.”
Saul believes this goal to be similar to that of many young families when developing their own plans for new construction. “Typically, at least four to five bedrooms total and additional flex bedroom-living space on the main level are preferred. This has everything to do with how we now naturally interact and entertain. An open space that can easily transition from kitchen to family room is essentially a must for the ideal new construction home. Home offices and covered outdoor patios or porches are becoming standard to show up on most new floorplans as well,” he said.
“Some people truly enjoy the process of designing and building their home and appreciate living in a home they have customized for themselves. However, there’s no doubt building a custom home requires a ton of work with hundreds of steps and decisions to be made along the way. That being said, if you educate yourself, assemble the right team (more specifically the right realtor) and remain realistic with your expectations, building a custom home can be an extremely rewarding experience.”