About Us

Steve Brenner, President of Solaris Inc., has been the leading Kiawah Island builder since 1982.

 

Solaris Inc.continues today building the Charleston area’s finest custom luxury homes with more than 150 satisfied client homeowners. We value our reputation of deep experience and exceptional quality and promise this to every client for their own custom luxury home.

 

Solaris homes are built utilizing cutting edge technology and construction techniques. Clients can have the architecture of historical reproduction with the advantages of today’s technology.

 

A team approach for every home includes our client, their architect and our exceptional builders coordinating to build the finest home possible.

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KB-19

An Interview With Steve Brenner

Can you share a little about your firm and how it has evolved?

As a freshman in college in 1979, I invested my then life savings of $18,000 on a piece of property on a little known, newly formed development named Kiawah Island. That is when it all started! 35 years later and 150 very personal and unique projects we come to present day. My first project was a $150,000 custom project which is still a beautiful home today. My company has grown at a steady yet remarkable pace similar to Kiawah Island and Historic Charleston, voted the number one travel destination city in the U.S. Three years in a row. There has been incredible growth both in the number of families wanting to live here but also in the caliber of clientele and their dreams of creating a very special home. From impeccable historical restorations in Historic Charleston to extremely unique and personal custom homes on Kiawah Island, Solaris has evolved into the leading choice of luxury design and construction companies in the southeast. Our projects run the gambit from million dollar renovations, to multimillion dollar historic restorations and custom homes. We do not discriminate based on cost. Every project has it’s own unique challenges. The synergy and lifelong relationships we build is the driving factor in all of our projects. It’s imagination and passion that makes a house a home.

What project (or projects) is most notable to you and your firm?

We have many notable projects we have become synonymous with in this area. On Kiawah, there are so many I could mention. One in particular and extremely specific to our clients needs for a generational home that would be around for decades so that several generations of their family can enjoy it. The challenges of building this home were so rewarding. It took the effort of several design professionals working as a close knit team too offer the best they had to offer and too create the perfect, client specific home. The team work, camaraderie, and selfless attitudes of everyone led to the most enjoyable, fun and exciting project we have ever worked on. This effort combined with the skills of hundreds of talented contractors made this home a dream come true for our clients. Another incredibly rewarding project was a top to bottom historical restoration and renovation of a landmark property in Historic Charleston. The skills to perform the types of challenges on this project serve us well in all aspects of our construction business. Taking a dilapidated, 8500 square foot, 220 year old home from ghost house to family home was one of the most rewarding and challenging moments in my life. Every aspect of this unusually large property was addressed. It was the second home I had built for these clients and with out their energy and willingness to do a very special,project, this home would not have turned out as well. The finished product is amazing and one of the finest examples of A Charleston Single (architectural style from the 18th and 19th centuries) in all,of Charleston. It has all,of the charm of a 220 year old home with all,of the conveniences of a 21st century home, stealthily incorporated not to disturb the natural character of the home.

Describe the style of your work. What is your approach to creating homes?

First and foremost is the respect I have for my clients and their approach to something as important as a custom home. Every client is different. Some enjoy the challenge, some are afraid of the process, some just want to let the team run with it and show them the results. What ever the situation, respecting the style and personality of our clients comes first. We have lengthy conversations about the make up of the team, everyone’s roles and involvement, the clients desire for a fun, stress free process while at the same time having the very best, most owner specific product produced. My style is to work within a tight knit team of architects, landscape architects, interior designers and most importantly our clients. The goal is for everyone to provide their best efforts and skills by working together regardless of artistic control or egos. To design the finest home for our clients is job one. It is through this process that you get a seamless start to finish experience that is thorough, fun, rewarding and complete for everyone. What could be better than to have a team of professionals all with their own unique skills working together for the finest home for their client?

How did you become interested in home building? When did you discover you had a passion for it?

I was headed to law school or music school after college and was put in a position to act as project manager on my parents home on Kiawah. The year was 1982 and I was 22 years old. I made all sorts of mistakes but learned so much from that experience. I knew then and there what I wanted to do with my life. 150 beautiful homes later, I am still as enthusiastic as I was 32 years ago when I first started in the business. I feel that I have more passion than all of the builders I compete with in this area. It is the satisfaction of a job well done and the friendships I have built that last a long time after the money is earned. Driving my children, friends and future clients past dozens of beautiful,projects and introducing them to our our client/friends is very rewarding.

Who/what are your greatest influences?

I built a home for one of the largest, most successful contractors in America in 1994. I spent many hours with him at his operation in Washington DC. The most important things I learned and that are still with me today are that you show your clients everything available and potentially pertinent regardless of cost, time or effort. No client wants to finish their home only to find out that there was something beneficial they could have had. Giving your clients the information they need to make decisions is so important. They will tell you if they want it and that they will,pay for it or they will reject it. Either way they were given the options and information to make a knowledgeable decision. The second item is that you can’t let the difficulty, time or expense to do the right thing keep you from doing the right. It is so so simple but most builders shoot themselves I. The foot on this philosophy of building. My team knows this and it has become our culture. Do the right thing always and you will have clients for life. Communicate everything with your clients. There are going to be trying moments but open lines of communication are so important in keeping your clients informed and comfortable.

Describe the style of your work. What is your approach to creating homes?

My style is one of inclusion and transparency. Every person involved in our projects is important. When every individual feels that they have a major role to play, no matter how large or small, they usually step and perform their best work. Money never motivates like the success of being part of a winning team and knowing you had a major role in creating something wonderful. Our clients are treated like family. We share everything, nothing is too much trouble and their happiness is all that drives us. I have instilled a culture of our standards should be much higher than even our clients standards and expectations. It has been proven over the years that our standards exceed those expectations of our clients. If they don’t, we have failed our mission, and we don’t fail!

What steps can clients take to make their home building experience more personally rewarding?

Chemistry and trust are so important when creating something so expensive and so close to a clients heart. A client must be comfortable to say whatever he or she feels and not be afraid to challenge or correct anything they don’t feel comfortable with. The team must project that level of inclusivity so that the client has trust that the team is there for their well being. Many times our clients have never built a custom home. It can be a Daughtridge task for them. I feel that having client provided information on not only what they like but what they don’t like is very important. Clients at some point have to take that giant leap of faith when designing and building a home. The best thing a client can do is to do their due diligence and base their decision on recommendations from third party people who might have other agendas. Speak directly to your builders customers. They will all say nice things but you should be able to learn the level of satisfaction they had and the pride they have in having their home and their builder. A client should have passion and really want a great home to get a great home. Enthusiasm and passion always create the best homes.

What are your favorite styles to work on and why?

I find all styles challenging and interesting. My company has the strongest base of architectural styles combined with historic experience in this part of the southeast.

What do your customers seek you out for?

In my opinion, my reputation for being their point person before, during and after the project is the main draw of Solaris. Our motto, ” Clients for Life” is one that I am very proud of. I have made more friends from my business and my clients than I have in my personal life. The fact that we have done multiple homes for many of our clients is a testament to our unyielding effort to provide the best product and experience for our clients.

What do you like most about your job?

Honestly, it is the friendships that I have made with my clients. The challenge of exceeding expectations and having my clients be so very proud to live in a Solaris Home. Its what we do, not what we say during our lives that makes a difference but what we do and how we do it. I really feel that we give our clients something more than a physical structure.

What is your creative process?

As a key member of any project team, my role in the creative process is to use my years of experience in luxury home design and construction to insure that our clients are getting everything they want and then some. I always like to present everything available that would make their home the best it can be. Regardless of difficulty,effort, time and expense, I believe every client wants to know what is in the realm of possibilities then make a final decision having all the information and knowledge available. In my opinion, finding out after completion that something wonderful could have been added or changed is the worst thing that can happen to a client. I try very hard not to let this event happen and give the client the opportunity to yes or no.

A well-designed/constructed home has to be…

A lot of things! In our world, the product we produce is like a finely tailored suit or dress. Every piece and part along with the form and functionality must meet the needs and dreams of our clients. Seeing to every aspect and variable possible for the benefit of the client is our charge and responsibility.

Is your work easily recognizable, why or why not?

Yes indeed! Everyone knows The Solaris Brand because of the incredible level of detail given to every component of a project. Our clients are proud to say they live in a Solaris Home and the name Solaris has become synonymous with the finest product possible.

What do you strive to create when you’re working on a project? What’s most important for you?

Other than the obvious mission we have on every project which is to exceed expectations, I strive to make the process fun, exciting and rewarding. Additionally, I understand that most of our clients have careers and families that must be attended too. I work hard to relieve any stress or distractions for my clients. My years of experience in properly preparing and running a project insures no last minute pressure or decisions forced on my clients.

What does the future of home building hold? (in regard to such variables as technology, sustainability, economy, design trends, craftsmanship, materials)

Style, practicality, longevity of materials, strength of structure are all variables that are continually changing. One has to be very careful,in experimenting with new construction techniques and materials. If it’s one thing history tells us, it’s that certain styles and materials always hold up to time. Additionally, while many new products are exceptionally engineered, the lack of longevity in the field makes choosing new methods difficult. One must do a lot of research before specifying something that has no history or track record.

Describe some of the latest home building trends. What materials and styles are your clients commonly requesting?

We are seeing everything you can imagine in our homes. Every client has their own interpretation of taste and design. The trends we are seeing are endless which makes my job that much more difficult. Being an expert on so many building trends takes tremendous research and education. I work very hard to stay on top of all viable trends that would interest our clients.

What do you regard as the greatest success in your career to date?

The construction business is famous for failure. Longevity is not often found in home building companies because of all the difficulties in economic conditions, quality of product and strength of reputation. My greatest success is that I built my company from the ground up, Its all I’ve ever done and for over thirty years have managed to be the areas best building company year in and year out.

Is there anything else we should have asked or that you want to add?

Yes. Do you end up being great friends with clients when your projects are complete? 90% of all of my friends are clients and we become very close because of the personal nature of our product. People put their trust and savings in us and we never abuse that privilege.