G.J. Gardner offers new custom home options for Auburn

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Real Estate Editor
-A +A
Looking to build that custom home, but feel it’s just out of reach? G.J. Gardner Homes is here to tell you it’s not. Thursday afternoon the latest Northern California franchise of this Australian-based worldwide builder celebrated its grand opening at 660 Auburn Folsom Road in Auburn. Owned by home builder Chris Hewell, this Auburn franchise of G.J. Gardner Homes offers potential buyers the ability to pick from multiple different home designs that run the gamut in price from the $200,000s and beyond, and modify them as they see fit. What sold Hewell on becoming a G.J. Gardner Homes franchisee was the company’s business model that passes savings onto consumers. Because the company is a worldwide builder, the company can negotiate with suppliers and sub-contractors as one entity instead of bunch of little ones, thus getting the price breaks of larger tract home builders. Then, the individual franchisees can pass these savings onto their customers. “As a seasoned builder, I saw the benefit of the business model,” said Hewell, who’s been a contractor since 1989. “The benefit is, I now have the ability to collectively bargain with all my sub-contractors and suppliers. “We collectively bargain — that’s the key. As a builder on my own, I never had that advantage.” Because of this, Hewell and G.J. Gardner claim that they can build a custom home for as little as $100 per square foot. Other homes, which come in at 2,500 square feet and above, can cost as little as $124 per square foot, and they can build a home from 1,200 square feet all the way up to 8,000. “It brings a custom-built home in a cost-effective manor,” said Auburn G.J. Gardner Sales Consultant Jeff Gibson about the company’s business model. Along with being able to build a custom home based off hundreds of plans, customers can also customize those homes even more. Want to add a study? No problem. Another bedroom? Again, it can be done. And these additional designs can be accomplished without cost to the buyer; G.J. Gardner absorbs the cost as it has in-house draftsmen that can adjust the home plans to fit a buyer’s unique needs. However, if you wish to have an outside draftsmen or architect design your home, G.J. Gardner allows this, and will build the home to those specifications. G.J. Gardner Homes, which was started in 1983 in Queensland, Australia, has built more than 30,000 homes worldwide and has franchises in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Europe and the United States. There are 12 in California alone, and two here in Northern California — the other franchise is in Folsom. “What our goal is, we are trying to find the local builder with a good reputation. By joining forces with Chris, we get the benefit of a good local builder and he gets a worldwide company,” said Greg Dettwiler, G.J. Gardner Homes’ corporate representative for California. Hewell, an Auburn resident, has done work throughout the region, including already constructing one G.J. Gardner Home in Sacramento. He now represents the Placer/Nevada county region. “He’s an excellent craftsman, he’s just a great contractor — on time, good work,” said Ed Cardona, real estate and lending director for NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center in Sacramento. “We’ve used him on a couple of projects in Sacramento. We’re proud of his finished product.” Along with having the ability to offer customers a more cost-effective way to build their own custom home, Hewell and his current four-person staff, which includes his mother Donna Hewell, are able to show what the inside of a customer’s home will look like thanks to the showroom. Inside, customers sample everything from cabinetry to granite counter tops, flooring and roofing. A stark change from how Chris Hewell used to do business. “I don’t have to work out of my pickup truck anymore, he said.” The Journal’s Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at, or post a comment online at -------- G.J. Gardner Homes Auburn Where: 660 Auburn Folsom Road, Suite 102, Auburn Contact: (530)888-7490 Web: