Sven Gustafson comes from a long line of builders. His great grandfather built barns by hand throughout Wisconsin. His grandfather Harry was an early developer and builder in Southwest Minneapolis and Edina, and Gustafson’s father, Jeffrey, gave up a promising career as an attorney to pursue his passion for homebuilding.
“My father started to remodel the family home when he was in law school and soon discovered that building homes was more rewarding than school,” says Gustafson. “He left school and started building homes full time. I spent a lot of time on his jobsites growing up and saw my father as an artist, as much as a homebuilder.”
Like his father before him, Gustafson also chose a career in homebuilding after attending school at St. Olaf, in Northfield, and working as a software developer for a few years. In 2000, he joined the family business.
“The quality of work we were doing at that time attracted high-end buyers, and soon we were building larger custom homes on Lake Minnetonka,” he says. Today, Wayzata-based Stonewood builds 10 to 12 upper-bracket homes each year throughout the Twin Cities, with a primary concentration in the west metro.
The firm, which employs 11, not only excels in creative, quality construction, but it also offers a streamlined process through construction management software that Gustafson developed.
“The cloud-based system we developed is being used by hundreds of builders in 23 countries,” he says. Not only does that illustrate how well the award-wining homebuilder is managed, but the proprietary system also ensures that the process of building a home runs smoothly for homeowners by managing all aspects of the project and giving the homeowner 24/7 access to all of their project’s documents.
Like his father, Gustafson is passionate about building homes and the process he employs. “It’s really the most meaningful, key difference between custom homebuilders,” he says. “We all build a nice home. My competitors and I use many of the same trades and suppliers. So it comes down to how well we manage the process, control the schedule and budget, keep the client informed, and meet expectations that matters.”
Gustafson doesn’t begin the construction phase of a custom home until all of the decisions have been finalized. “When we break ground, we want to have a solid budget that includes all of our client’s selections,” he says. All materials to be used in the home are selected prior to construction, and the project budget is based on this information.
“It’s really the only way to deliver a project on-budget and on-schedule,” he adds. “We’re small enough that I can be personally involved in all of our projects but large enough to get the attention of and favorable pricing from trades and suppliers. Our employees treat each project as if it were their own. Our trades are the best in the business and passionate about the work that they do. We really do offer a fun process for all involved.”
By Fran Howard
Photography by Meghan Doll