custom home

Case Study: A dream home for a single family.

The GIS Advanced Building Methods allows homeowners to build on a picturesque mountainside with jaw-dropping Views Of Bellevue Below

A couple purchased gorgeous acreage east of the hustle and bustle of Bellevue. Their dream home presented a challenge: for a new home to take advantage of the remarkable views, it would have to be built on a steep slope and over challenging terrain. Most builders are out of their element working on sites like theirs. They needed someone to truly take in their needs and goals, while balancing their wants with the budget.

What Were They Concerned About?

They knew many builders with expertise, some that even specialized in commercial building, though they were needed a builder who could handle building their dream home. Learning of GIS’s expertise in environmentally sound and sustainable building practices they were excited to work with GIS. One concern they had is that they may need to compromise some comfort and convenience when they chose to build a sustainable, energy efficient home. However, as they told our GIS team about their vision and what they wanted, they were thrilled to learn that the GIS team could make an energy efficient, environmentally low-impact home while providing them with all the comforts and conveniences they’d hoped for and then some.

We began with their goals in mind, and then took them through the building process. Not only our did we have the ability to create a comfortable, environmentally responsible home, we can also deliver luxury and smart features that serve to highlight the home’s elegance.

This Family Loved Our Ability To Integrate The Building With The Environment, And Deliver All The Modern Advantages Luxury Home Building Can Provide

GIS offers the unique combination of the most modern, technologically advanced building techniques while rigorously adhering to an environmentally-focused process.

What challenges are owners having before they came to us?

While they are familiar with building and construction, they focused on commercial buildings. They know and can identify quality building when they see it, but they also realized they were not familiar with the nuances of residential buildings, styles and trades.

They Wanted To Preserve The Natural Habitat During The Building Process While Staying Within Their Budget

They also wanted to preserve the environment around their future home. The area also was habitat for fauna and wildlife that they greatly hoped to have surrounding their home. This meant that the builder would need to properly assess the land and take all necessary precautions to avoid disruption of the wildlife – without having a negative impact on the project budget.

They Wanted A Design That Accentuated The Views

The homeowners wanted their new home to dramatize their views of the lakes and mountains around the Seattle area.

The Process:

Throughout the due diligence and site preparation process, GIS conducted site surveys, feasibility studies, and all additional steps required for development. The result is to accelerate the pace and efficiency of those initial steps in the custom build process.

Maintain The Natural Environment:

GIS followed best practices in working with the land to preserve and maintain the natural habitat so that the home became a part of the natural site instead of removing and replacing the foliage and fauna in the area.

The Foundation:

At GIS our expertise allows us to regularly build where other contractors cannot. Based on the site surveys, soil testing, and measurements of the slopes, our engineers determined which foundation to use – comprised of pilings, piers, and a shoring system. This allowed the home to be placed at the precise location near a stream and keep the home on a firm footing while allowing the views from the home to feature the surrounding environment.

The Design:

Our design team worked seamlessly with the technicians and engineers to create a home that takes in the breadth of the views of Bellevue and Seattle, and the forests, lakes, and far off Puget Sound. Each of the floors of this over 5,000 square foot home includes a walk-out deck, and each has a luxurious finish, state-of-the-art smart technology and warm living spaces. The entire home functions on green building principles, with sustainable design and smart energy programming that set the standard for new home construction.

The Outcome:

This home is a prime example of what modern sustainable technologies and an adherence to the finest building practices can achieve.  Best of all, while the home is certainly one-of-a-kind, we can employ our expertise as we create other new homes for our future inspired homeowners. Whether you already have a location selected, or if you just have a dream of a new home with gorgeous views of the Seattle area, we can help you at any point along the way.

The Result:

The family LOVES their new home. They are amazed by how much the home fits with the context and surrounding environmental features and by how much nature is a significant part of their lifestyle.

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custom home

Eastside development company ramps up with Bellevue, Kent projects.

An Eastside development company that was on an upward trajectory before the recession with tower projects in Seattle and Bellevue has re-emerged.

The principals of GIS International Group want another crack at a Seattle tower, and as they wait, they’re under construction on two developments, including its downtown Bellevue headquarters, GIS Plaza.

The six-story project, which also has retail and 16 residential units, is rising where GIS planned a condo project, European Tower. With its one-home-per-floor design, it got a lot of buzz before the recession.

GIS also is under construction on Madison Plaza, a seven-story, mixed-use apartment project in downtown Kent near the Sounder station.

“The walkability there is amazing,” said GIS Principal Ryan Grams, who added that some units in existing apartment buildings near the train station “are getting Bellevue rents.”

GIS, which has its roots in Russia, has quietly become a full-service real estate development, general contracting company with design, 3D visualization and other services.

“We decided it was a good time for us to follow in our father’s footsteps and start our own construction company,” said GIS CEO Eugene Gershman.

The family moved from Moscow to Bellevue in the 1990s, and he and sister Tanya have been running GIS for 16 years. She married Grams, who grew up in Bellevue.

The Gershmans’ father Igor still runs the GIS concrete plant in central Russia, making products for projects in far-flung locations with extreme environments. In the Puget Sound region, the company is applying that knowledge to build mostly custom homes on sites with steep slopes and other challenges.

“When we first look at a project that would have to be set on pilings — one most builders would look away from and not ever come back — to us it’s like, ‘Well OK, we’re going to have to drop some piles in the ground. We’ve done that before,’” Eugene Gershman said.

GIS no longer owns the Seattle site at the southwest corner of Stewart Street and Minor Avenue, where they had planned a 25-story hotel/residential tower.

“We still want to do a tower (in Seattle),” Ryan Grams said, adding it’s a medium-term goal. “Short term we’re hoping to capitalize on a few more projects (the size of Madison Plaza) and just keep going.”

GIS International Group

Real estate development services company

  • Founded: 1992
  • Employees: 15 in the office and a handful in the field
  • Past projects: Custom homes, historic preservation work, 12-unit town-home project in Bellevue


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The Importance of Realistic Designs and Earnest Budgeting.

Clients come to us regularly with a disconnects between what they want versus their preconceived budget. It’s our job to wade through the wants, needs and absolute must haves. We must also be respectful to their financial realities.

We sometimes say jokingly that sure we can build your house at X price, but it will be the size of a shoebox. In all seriousness, we’re noticing a trend a fair amount, and that is the notion that we can make any scope meet any budget expectations. In other words we’re so good, and have the best connections and subcontractors we know you guys can make this happen for this price. We believe that we can always reduce some of the costs of things, however many designed elements cost what they cost. A new cost increase due to code changes a lot of projects are facing are storm water retention systems. While we take this sentiment as a compliment, we do not set the market prices of things. We do for sure operate efficiently, and help folks get what they need.

We’ve adopted a philosophy over the years and that is either your scope dictates your budget or your budget dictates your scope. Meaning, we will either have to save on the cost of the land, the amount we dedicate to design and development, or the more common option reduce the scope. We’ve never worked with anyone that has an “open wallet” wherein money is no object. Rest assure that we can help.

Unfortunately, there are many predatory contractors in the construction industry. There are also others that simply do not have the skill set to estimate and properly budget your scope of work. Yes, there are market fluctuations for the pricing of many materials. Believe it or not several materials like steal, lumber, concrete and hardwoods fluctuate all the time. This is why we believe in setting adequate contingency budgets. We can always work to reduce the overall cost, once a reasonable budget has been established through value engineering and realize savings.

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