Seattle’s premier high-end home builder, Merit Homes, redefines contemporary living on the Eastside with new approachable cottage housing 

Based in the Seattle Eastside neighborhood, Kirkland, Merit Homes has been a forerunner of high-end property development for over 20 years. The company creates homes of enduring value within existing communities across the region, as Owner and President, Josh Lysen, details: “Our process starts with the land. We distinguish ourselves by our ability to figure out the best possible use for a piece of property. We are an infill builder, which means we build in established neighborhoods and suburbs. Because the company specializes in larger family homes, we try to build in developed areas where people can find jobs and put down roots. Our job is to optimize the potential of a lot, so often we will build multiple homes in the same space. 

“Once we’ve decided how we want to use the land, we will begin putting our plan together. That includes architecture, site layout, design and finishing touches. We

Josh Lysen

finance the build ourselves, using our own equity as well as finance from traditional lenders. We then go through the entitlement process and get it permitted. We oversee the building process and use subcontractors for the technical work. There’s usually two or three of our people on site at any given time — superintendents and members of our field team. They supervise the trade personnel, who are there to work on framing, electricals, plumbing, and so on.   

A luxury touch 

“Once the homes are built, we then start putting them to market. We have an in-house sales and marketing team that will sell the home upon completion, or occasionally up to 90 days before we finish. Our homes are move-in ready by the time the owners get the keys. Everything is included in our signature homes, that’s the beauty of it. We include high-end, luxury finishes such as air conditioning and heated tile floors. These amenities are traditionally installed as later additions with other builders, but our homes come with them included, making the process much easier for clients.” 

Finding the right subcontractors ensures the quality of Merit Homes’ properties. As Josh explains: “We have a dedicated group of subcontractors that go from project to project. We like to maintain strong relationships with multiple local subcontractors, so we can choose the right people for each individual job. One of the challenges we’ve faced over the last few years is finding skilled laborers in specific trade areas. Less young people are choosing to learn the trades, which is something we have noticed over the last few years. To ensure we keep the best people working on our homes, we offer our subcontractors regular, reliable work. We build around 30 homes a year, which makes us an attractive partner for people in those trade sectors.”   

A blend of natural elements 

Combining expert craftsmanship with contemporary flair ensures the company’s ongoing success. Thoughtful, dedicated design work is at the heart of each Merit Homes property, as Josh discusses. “We’ve really established ourselves as the go-to home builders for Northwest contemporary style. We are known for bold exteriors, with beautifully crafted butterfly roofs and exposed wood beams. Inside, there are large floor to ceiling windows and skylights, which let in lots of natural light. In the Pacific Northwest, the weather is quite cloudy and so these design elements are included to maximize the amount of sunlight coming into the home.   

“Our kitchens in our signature homes are centered around gorgeous, oversized islands. These are big feature pieces, and people love them. Additionally, our primary suites are inspired by high-end spas. They have all the amenities you need to make your bedroom a sanctuary, almost separate from the rest of the home. The houses we build feel very contemporary, we like to say, ‘this isn’t your parent’s home’. It’s something new.”   

Broadened horizons 

With an established reputation for producing high-end housing, Merit Homes is now working to make luxury living more accessible, as Josh reveals: “We’ve recently branched out into more approachable luxury housing with our new cottage product, the Urban Series. While these are slightly smaller spaces, they still remain luxury minded. The idea is to make something attainable without comprising our signature design or floorplan function. We maintain a focus on natural light, with our signature floor to ceiling windows, and to blend the outdoor with the indoor we use earth tones and natural materials. The cottages are very soothing and social — they are full of open spaces that can be used to gather and entertain. In the primary suite we’ve maintained that spa-like feel, so people will always have somewhere private, just for themselves. It’s a really desirable product for a lot of people.”  

Looking forward to the future, Josh describes where he sees Merit Homes in five years’ time. “Our strategy going forward is a little bit different to others in the industry. I’m the sole owner, so I’m not looking to grow the business into building 100 homes a year. I want to maintain and protect what we have. It would be nice to see some steady, manageable growth. Merit Homes has a tremendous team behind it, so I want to keep investing in our people. Additionally, the company will continue to invest in our products to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary home design,” he concludes.