Arnold Brothers Construction
Arnold Brothers Construction’s owners follow in the footsteps of their ancestors while carving out their own path. By Jim Harris
Construction and property development are more than an occupation for the Arnold family – they’re a family tradition that stretches back more than 100 years.
The family’s building and real estate roots date back to the early 1900s, when Henry Arnold moved to California and established the Arnold Agency, a loan brokerage, development and real estate firm in Los Angeles. Henry Arnold’s son Max expanded the family’s reach when he moved to California’s Central Valley region and established a second Arnold Agency.
Max Arnold’s sons Red and Pat took the company beyond real estate development when they founded Arnold Brothers Construction in the 1940s. Pat Arnold’s son, Michael, worked for the Arnold Agency before moving to Santa Barbara, California. He is still active today with his real estate appraisal firm Hammock, Arnold, Smith & Company.
Mike Arnold’s sons, Nathaniel and Matthew, represent the latest generation of the family involved in the industry. “I worked as a real estate appraiser with my father, and Nathaniel had been involved in the building trades since high school,” Matthew Arnold says. “In 2001, we decided, because of our experience, to start working on spec projects.”
Building a Reputation
With the advice and financial support of their great-uncle, Red Arnold, the brothers that year established a new Arnold Brothers Construction in Santa Barbara. During their first seven years in business, the brothers worked on a number of spec custom home construction projects before the housing market collapse in 2008.
Although the economic downturn impacted its spec work, the brothers had gathered enough customer goodwill that it was able to shift its focus to remodeling and redevelopment projects for outside clients. The company today offers construction and pre-construction services. Arnold Brothers Construction’s projects include remodeling and restoring single-family homes and condo units. Its projects range in size from 1,000 to more than 4,000 square feet, and typically value between $500,000 and $2 million, Nathaniel Arnold says.
“We’re very proud of the reputation we’ve developed from the beginning, back when we still did spec work,” Matthew Arnold says. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done, the homes we’ve built and the relationships we have with clients, many of which we’ve done repeat work with.”
Arnold Brothers Construction built its positive reputation in part based on the close connections it establishes with clients. “For the most part, our clients are very involved in the design phase, and we will refer consultants to them,” Nathaniel Arnold says. “We have developed an elaborate pre-bid phase where we identify a scope of work that is more in depth than many other builders.”
The company retains a “bullpen” of qualified subcontractors from which it hires trades for its projects. Arnold Brothers Construction uses an in house project management system to communicate all client changes and requests to its subcontractors and other project staff.
Common client requests include sustainable building features and home automation systems. The company’s interior designs typically blend traditional and contemporary styles.
The company’s current projects include a new single-family residence on the Mesa, a restoration of a 110-year-old home on the Upper East, and a spec project of a remodel on the Riviera with a past client. A recent project of note consisted of remodeling and restoring a five-unit apartment building on Santa Barbara’s Upper East Side. Arnold Brothers Construction dramatically transformed the interior and exterior of the building, originally constructed in the 1960s, to give it the Spanish Colonial Revival look the city is known for. The structure was also made more environmentally friendly.
“This project is significant in that it addressed a common concern among area property owners – how to breathe new life into an outdated building without breaking the bank and overcoming schedule constraints without sacrificing the end product,” the company says.
Arnold Brothers Construction added Tecate-style exterior walkways and staircases with deco risers. Post and beam detail was incorporated into the first level arcade as a way to add style and dressing to the building without making significant structural changes. Other exterior features included a trash enclosure, a new patio, perimeter fencing and custom exterior lighting, Arnold Brothers Construction adds.
The building’s interiors were completely stripped and rebuilt, and all kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures were replaced. The company preserved and restored existing hardwood flooring as well as the building’s original beamed ceiling.
The restoration of the flooring and ceiling reflects the company’s commitment to green building practices. The company replaced 1800 square feet of non-permeable paving with permeable paving to allow for more natural water drainage, added high-efficiency forced air units to each apartment unit for efficient heating, and replaced cabinets with pieces made from formaldehyde-free plywood and painted with non-VOC paint.
“We completely transformed a bland, outdated building into a stylish, inviting and modern living space, ideal for young professionals and new families,” the company says. “Through the improvements made to the structure, the building is cleaner, more efficient and equipped to remain attractive and useful for decades to come. “
The Arnold brothers maintain close contact with its subcontractors and clients on all of its projects. “I touch every job site every day,” Nathaniel Arnold says. “I believe in quality control and maintaining the general attitude in our company that quality is expected and will be delivered.”