R.J. Miller Custom Homes LLC
R.J. Miller Custom Homes builds homes that balance efficiency and luxury.
By Alan Dorich
When R.J. Miller Custom Homes LLC builds a home, it brings a unique combination of energy efficiency, luxury and value, President Bob Miller says. “I build every home as if it were my own home,” he states.
Bob Miller founded his Vienna, Va.-based custom homebuilding company in 2012. Previously, he was vice president of purchasing and product development at a regional builder. At the time, he recalls, the teardown market had been very strong and the demand for high performance homes was on the rise.
“I saw an opportunity that aligned with my personal values,” he continues, noting that his new company also allowed him to work closer to his own home, wife and three children in Virginia. Today, R.J. Miller Custom Homes is a one-man operation, with Bob Miller subcontracting out to vendors and trade partners.
“My business model has always been that I personally oversee all aspects of the process from design and product selection through construction service and warranty,” he says. “I feel the level of homes that I’m building warrant that quality of care.”
R.J. Miller Custom Homes builds two to three homes a year in Vienna, Va., Bob Miller says. “I limit the number of ongoing projects so I can devote the necessary time to each one,” he says.
Belief in Green Building
R.J. Miller Custom Homes’ focus on high-performance homes reflects Bob Miller’s own background in green building. “It’s something I strongly believe in,” he says, noting that he earned the designation of a Certified Green Professional from the National Association of Home Builders.
But green elements cannot just be tacked onto a home, he asserts. “I also believe strongly that every component of the home needs to be selected carefully so everything works in harmony,” Bob Miller states.
“Green building goes beyond just energy efficiency, it also focuses on healthy homes and a sustainable lifestyle,” he explains. “The thing that sets my company apart is that I provide the most energy efficient homes available in the Vienna, Va., market combined with a higher specification level than is typically seen in this market’s custom homes. And every home is truly custom and unique as they are designed to fit specifically for each lot.”
The company’s homes typically earn Home Energy Rating System Index ratings of 48 and are Indoor airPLUS certified. “They are also certified at a Silver-level through the Home Innovation Research Lab’s National Green Building Standard,” Bob Miller says.
As a testament to the level of energy efficiency in these homes, R.J. Miller Custom Homes has been awarded The Town of Vienna Green Home Builder every year since the company was founded.
R.J. Miller Custom Homes often works with subcontractors and vendors with which it has established relationships. “The key is to maintain a respectful and collaborative atmosphere,” Bo Miller says, noting he holds high standards for trade partners.
“It’s all about the commitment of the company and people you are working with,” he says, noting that he prefers to partner with companies that do not view challenges as something negative.
One example, he notes, is designing an HVAC system that is fully contained in conditioned space. This is something he has done in every home built since the company’s inception.
“Every detail, from floor joist spacing, to plumbing, lighting, and even the HVAC ducts themselves must be carefully coordinated up front,” he says. “The type of trade partner I end up working with would find that challenge to be exciting rather than a bother.
“At the end, we’ve created a home and design that we’re both proud of,” he says. “I think that establishes a stronger relationship.”
No Turning Back
Bob Miller is proud of R.J. Miller Custom Homes and how it has not sacrificed its core values. “I went into this with a plan to build these highly efficient homes with associated value,” he recalls. “It can be easy, as a business owner to try to cut costs.
“I’ve maintained what I set out to do,” he asserts. “I do not cut costs to save money just for the sake of saving money. Spending where it matters creates more value for the home and its owners.”
The company will continue pursuing ways to make its homes more efficient, Bob Miller says. In addition to the already standard specifications of highly efficient HVAC designs and equipment, and closed cell spray foam, R.J. Miller Custom Homes recently begun using insulated ZIP sheathing and tankless water heaters. “I think products like that will take a stronger foothold in the market,” he predicts.
“Right now I exceed current codes,” Miller continues, adding that stronger sustainability codes will be established in future. “I don’t see the market ever turning back on this.”