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Amsted Design-Build is Building for the Future

Architecture and construction are like Steven Barkhouse and Kirk Haw, co-founders of Amsted Design-Build: they’re stronger together than apart.

That’s how the former explains his relationship with the latter: “Business is tough,” says Barkhouse, “especially our industry. Working together, Kirk and I were able to help each other through the tough times and stay true to our values. Our commitment to our customers and our craft brings us great satisfaction and is what has consistently endeared us to our clientele.”

Not to mention such organizations as both the Ontario and the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Associations, which have showered this innovative company with awards,including both Ottawa and Ontario Renovator of the Year several times over. As its hyphenated name suggests, Amsted Design-Build both conceives and constructs, a unique distinction that eases the burden on homeowners in search of a major renovation or custom home. “Both Kirk and I have a background in architecture,” explains Barkhouse. “Although we started the company as construction only, we quickly realized that clients wanted more. They were frustrated with being caught in the middle and suffering the challenges of combining the very different worlds of design and construction. We wanted to solve that for them and provide peace of mind.”

 

Amsted has been doing just that, servicing Ottawa and the surrounding areas, since 1989. That was a tough year to be a start-up. The money-mad 80s had come to a crashing conclusion, forcing companies old and new to innovate or liquidate. “We were heading into a recession,” Barkhouse remembers. “24% interest, high unemployment, businesses failing…it forced us to provide a higher level of service to stand out, which is what wins over customers. We were lucky because we found talented people who believed in our vision and values and who were able to provide this high level that we knew was needed. We would not be where we are today if the first few years had been easier and the talent pool smaller.”

That pool has grown from two to fifty and counting. Amsted’s happy, experienced in-house team is made up of some of the most skilled professionals in the industry: architectural and interior designers, estimators, project managers, carpenters, and more. They all work collaboratively to facilitate the renovation or custom home in question from end to end. It’s a seamless process from concept to completion—better still, it comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s a combination of people and process the company rightfully calls ‘The Amsted Advantage.’

That advantage is reflected in Amsted’s own offices. The company’s headquarters in Stittsville, as well as its four satellite offices across Ottawa and one in Brockville, resemble family living rooms. Each is designed in a different style, showcasing a variety of design trends and a diehard devotion to detail. “This idea also enabled us to become members of the community, and to better understand the needs of the areas we serve,” Barkhouse elucidates. In savvy addition, these “Living Rooms” (as they’re officially called) are also investment properties, with rental units integrated into each one.

In 2022, Amsted merged with Precision Contracting, a reputable, longstanding entity in the Brockville area that had always shared the now parent company’s values. The merger not only facilitated the growth of its workforce and additional stability and longevity for its clients, it garnered Amsted yet another award. That same year, Amsted was voted one of the best places to work in the greater Ottawa area. “We provide a service that impacts the biggest investment people will make and the most emotional attachment they have,” says Barkhouse. “The only way to do that at a high level with the respect it deserves is with ‘A’ players. And ‘A’ players want to work with other ‘A’ players, so it self-fulfills and is way more fun.”  And there’s another milestone on the way: this year, Amsted Design-Build will mark 35 years in business—as well as a passing of the torch. “Kirk and I knew we wanted the company to succeed beyond us one day, so we’ve been planning this for a while now. With our vision, mission, and core values as guideposts, we hired, elevated, trained, and supported our new Leadership Team, who will take us through our next 35 years!”

Of all the things Amsted has designed and built over the years, their greatest might well be their legacy.

Amsted’s Leadership Team from left to right, Lindsay Haley, Stephanie Haw, Mary Campbell, and Nathan Dunlop, will succeed founders Steve and Kirk (bottom), who have supported each executive in their new role over the last 5+ years.

 

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