For Sebastian Kim, construction runs in the family. The founder and principal of Potomac Design Build grew up in the construction industry—his father owned a construction firm—and Kim’s first dream was to be an architect. He left the University of Maryland with an undergraduate degree in architecture but decided not to proceed: He was ready to get out in the world and start building. “I worked for other firms for a while, then about 15 years ago I started my own remodeling business,” he recalls.
Eventually, remodeling turned to custom building and Kim found a niche building homes in the $2 to $3 million range. “We were building two homes a year,” he says. Many of them were spec homes, which, with the economy’s downturn, became difficult to sell. These days, Potomac Design Build has come full-circle back to remodeling projects—again, a symptom of the economy. Either way, however, the company’s values are the same. “Because we’re a small company, we’re detail-oriented and provide close customer service,” Kim says. “I like to see what’s happening first-hand on my projects.”
With his architecture background, Kim takes a hands-on role in the design process. “I develop a concept of the project after talking to the client, then I approach one of the architecture firms that we work with for layouts and ideas,” he explains (he works frequently with DC architecture firm Studio Z, for example). “I then take the layouts and modify them according to the needs of the clients.”
During construction, Kim and his four-person team handle much of the work in-house, including finishes, millwork, baths and kitchens. The firm sub-contracts framing, roofing, siding and windows. Kim prefers larger projects because “I like the big vision of the home,” he says, adding, “We build homes that have architectural vision. I think that’s the advantage of working with us.”
Pictured are two custom spec homes completed and sold by Potomac Design Build in the last couple of years. Each was constructed using top-of-the-line building materials like copper piping and cast-iron drain pipe systems, instant hot water heaters and numerous high-efficiency HVAC units per home for zoned heat and air. Custom millwork and high-end finishes abound. “My philosophy is that homebuyers should get value for their money,” Kim says. “A $3 million home should be worth $3 million. I don’t cut corners.”
Despite the economy’s vicissitudes, Kim feels positive about Potomac Design Build and what the firm has been able to accomplish. “I’m very happy running this business,” he says. “It can be tough but it’s given me the freedom to achieve what I want to.”
Facts & Stats
Potomac Design Build handles custom home construction as well as remodeling projects.
Sebastian Kim emphasizes green design in his building practices.
Potomac Design Build, Inc.,
2832 A Dorr Avenue,Fairfax, Virginia 22031