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Meet the Builder: Matt Sneller, Sneller Custom Homes and Remodeling

Sneller Custom Homes and Remodeling is the general contractor behind the beautiful addition to Mario Lopez’s sister’s house in this My Houzz episode. Here owner Matt Sneller shares his building philosophy, the trend he’s most excited about right now and some insights on the My Houzz project.

What got you started in your career? Early on, I knew I wanted to own my own business, but I also knew I needed quite a bit of experience before that could materialize. Right out of college, I worked for a commercial construction company first building a large apartment complex, and then a hospital. The knowledge and experience I gained from that was incredibly valuable, but I realized pretty quickly that my heart wasn’t in it. I wanted a more personal interaction with customers, and a more direct correlation between the work I was doing, and the impact it had on people’s lives.

I made the move to a national volume builder and had the opportunity to learn residential construction. Again, I felt the pull for more challenge, and I was soon hired on to join a custom Builder in the Houston area. The six years I spent there was incredible, and I thrived in the constantly varying world of custom homes and remodeling. In 2011, my wife Jenny and I started Sneller Custom Homes & Remodeling.

What is your building philosophy? I’ve always loved the idea that what I design or build for someone can actually affect their life in a noticeable way. Our tagline, “Live in a Home Your Love,” was birthed from this very concept.

I see every project we take on as an incredible opportunity to help someone create their favorite place in the world – the place they’ll come home to after a long day of work, the place their friends and family will spend dinners and holidays, the place their kids and grandkids will grow up remembering. It’s really a privilege to get to influence people’s lives in this way.

Where is the most unexpected place you’ve found inspiration? Nature and travel are big inspirations for me. I love the outdoors and am constantly inspired there.

Traveling someplace new always opens my eyes to a different way of doing things, a fresh style, or a different building technique. It had been several years since I’d been to California, so when we visited Los Angeles to meet with Mario Lopez for the “My Houzz” project, it was very cool to be reminded of the difference in architecture and landscape on the West Coast. It made me start thinking about elements we could bring back to Houston to add to what we’re doing.

I also enjoy going to building shows across the country and having a chance to walk through projects that other builders are doing to get fresh ideas.

What trend are you most excited about right now? The trend to TRULY customize your house to fit your life is exciting to me. It’s so fun to talk with people who are embracing their their own style, preferences, and life and breaking the “rules” a little bit. Swapping out the traditional formal dining room for a conversation/wine/coffee lounge space, going bold with favorite colors on walls and cabinets, and coming up with brand new specialty rooms that are unique to them are all things we’re doing a lot of right now.

We just recently finished a home addition for a client who wanted to merge their love of hunting and entertaining, so we created a trophy room/entertaining area/wine room. On another project, we’re working with a pair of doctors that often work night shifts, and want a very small but nicely finished home that allows them to sleep during the day when work demands their night hours. They want a home that will serve them, not the other way around. It’s exciting for us to be involved with such a huge range of requests for people’s wildly different lifestyles.

What do you geek out on when it comes to design/construction? I get all geeked out when building science, efficiency and design all come together. Every project has unique constraints, and I love the process of trying to put the pieces of the project together in the best possible way, within those constraints. Thinking outside the box to come up with non traditional solutions and trying something new is exciting!

What’s your favorite building or space in the world? There’s no place like home!

What is your favorite part of the design/construction process? I love the process of getting to know our customers and helping them think through their unique needs in the functioning of a space. I’m constantly challenging myself to think what new products and ideas we can incorporate that will actually translate into ease and function for that particular customer’s daily life. If someone travels a bunch, what can we design that will allow their coming and going easier? For frequent entertainers, what unique needs do they have to allow guests to feel at home? With large families, how do we build in areas for both kids and adults alike?

I also like to bring in a cool factor whenever possible. Sometimes that’s as easy as some extra lighting to make something pop, or an unusual ceiling treatment. Cool factor is that little something that makes people stop and notice, and anytime we can do something like that, I’m all in.

What is your favorite element in the space from the “My Houzz” renovation? How do I choose just one?! I obviously really love the big dance mirrors and ballet bar because that’s truly the heart of how this room started. Mario wanted to give his sister a place for her family to do something they all love so much. But I also really love how the room is so multi-functional. Cindy from Chairma Design Group did a great job helping us design the room so it could morph however they want it–movies, dancing, workouts, meditation, parties, sleepovers–it can all happen here! The electronic TV lift was pretty fun too, that’s a first time we have custom built one on site.

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