One of Modern Home Builders’ top mid-Atlantic luxury builders of the year, Marnie Custom Homes (MCH) is a custom homebuilder with impeccable craftsmanship, innovative designs, and the capability to successfully deliver luxury properties. Headed up by Marnie Oursler, Founder and President of MCH, and based in Bethany Beach, Delaware, the business specializes in unique, high-end beachfront homes that seamlessly blend interior spaces with nature.
Since we last spoke with Marnie in 2022, her team has delivered a handful of luxury custom homes and won Custom Home Builder of the Year for 2022, a notorious achievement for more than one reason. Awarded by the National Association of Home Builders, the award is not only prestigious, but Marnie is the first woman to ever receive the award, as well as the first ever Delawarean.
“We were absolutely thrilled to be nominated, so to win the award was absolutely amazing and such a privilege for the business,” Marnie begins.” “It’s an honor to hold the title and definitely our most notable achievement of the year, if not within our history.”
However, Marnie’s journey to receiving the award and entering the homebuilding industry in general has been far from plain sailing. Inspired by her father’s work as a builder and developer, Marnie started out doing jobs on his sites, which is when she realized her dream to live in (and build) a beachfront property.
“As my father was a homebuilder, I grew up surrounded by all things construction and homebuilding,” Marnie recalls. “My grandfather and my great-grandfather were homebuilders too, so there was definitely a legacy to continue, although I never thought I’d become a business owner.
“I did not enjoy working for my father in the field, sweeping houses, picking up trash, and building decks, and I was always the only woman on site,” Marnie says. “It’s not necessarily a glamorous business, especially during high school and college when most of my friends were working elsewhere, but something I needed to do for the money. After college, I started working in real estate with no real intention of staying in the industry, but as I researched and learned more about real estate, I realized my goal of investing in property, ideally located near the beach.
“I worked multiple jobs to save up enough money to purchase my first project and fix it up myself, maxing out credit cards along the way,” she laughs. “I loved doing it on my own and making all the decisions. Although I thought I’d learned so much from growing up under the expertise of my father, this first project taught me more than I could’ve ever imagined. I eventually sold the house and made a great profit, which enabled me to purchase the next house, and so on.
“In 2007, I left my job in real estate to establish and work full-time for my own company, MCH,” Marnie adds. “For the first seven years or so, I was the sole employee, so I’ve personally gained a strong, positive reputation in the industry and maintain business relationships, many of which date back to when the company was just me. It’s been such a fun journey so far, and definitely a learning curve.”
When asked to summarize the company’s operations so far this year, Marnie replies: “Fantastic and inspiring. As a team, we are not only inspired by each other, but also by each of our customers. We’ve implemented a new company structure to incorporate more frequent departmental meetings and various team training sessions.
“We’re continuing to inspire each other every day, as well as finding inspiration in our designs. I have such a wonderful team of people behind me, which enables us to deliver projects, concepts, and designs that I could never do by myself,” Marnie says. “To have that group of people who genuinely believe in the company, have so much passion, and can trust each other is amazing and something I never take for granted.
“Our number-one priority is creativity with our clients; it’s been my steadfast goal since I started the business,” Marnie reveals. “We try to perfect the design and creative processes year-on-year, as well as enhance our team, to constantly maintain our status as a great custom homebuilder.
“Working with clients is the highlight of my role. It’s amazing to bring our customers’ visions to life, taking their inspiration and hopes to eventually deliver a dream beach home that caters to their lifestyle and exceeds expectations. Equally, it’s rewarding to see my internal team develop, grow, and learn new things as a collective and as individuals,” adds Marnie.
“I try to empower everyone I work with and encourage people to push themselves further, from my employees to contractors and vendors. We have an excellent working relationship with our vendors, many of whom I have worked with since very early on in my career, which has enabled me to build more of a personal relationship over the years. I value such relationships, and this is reflected by the companies who have a strong loyalty to me, and we’ve worked together through various difficulties,” says the custom homebuilder. “It’s important that we stick together and facilitate open communication, even when the conversations are tough, to solve problems with the best possible solutions.”
As our conversation draws to a close, thought turns to the future. “Our biggest concern at the moment is the ever-increasing interest rates,” Marnie suggests. “The constant concern over prices will have a long-term impact on the entire homebuilding industry, but we’re working tirelessly with both our customers and suppliers to mitigate price increases wherever possible.
“We have some really exciting builds in the pipeline for 2024, so we’re looking forward to another positive, stable year. We’ve just started work on a range of houses that will be finished for the summer, and we’re working on several complicated, but stunning oceanfront properties that are highly creative,” Marnie says.
“I’m always excited for work to commence on new properties, as we spend so long ensuring the design is perfect. It’s fun to see different elements and design features come together, as well as the finishing touches being added.
“Further afield, we’re looking to continue to grow and deliver exceptional quality homes that are visually stunning,” Marnie concludes. “We’re always motivated to build amazing, creative homes with concepts that have never been delivered before. To ensure we meet these objectives, we’re constantly improving our processes and systems to be excellent custom builders.”