Kevin Casey – Founder, New Avenue Homes

Kevin Casey founded New Avenue Homes in 2009. New Avenue is the leading builder of healthy, financially attainable and socially connected homes in and around our cities. The company uses an innovative platform to build more efficiently and a 60-person team delivers all of the design, financial, and building services needed to create sustainable custom projects such as Accessory Dwellings (ADUs), new homes, and transformational whole-house remodels.

Casey lives in Berkeley with his wife and two sons, obtained an MBA from Berkeley, studied Anthropology at Fordham University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in community development.

How did the concept for New Avenue Homes come about?
I was studying at UC Berkeley 10 years ago and recruited a team of computer science, urban planning, architecture, and business students to research the future of housing. We went door to door to 300 homes and interviewed the owners. We found that 30% of the owners wanted to modernize their home to make room for family, an income producing apartment, working from home, or all of the above. It turns out they all were afraid to start the project because it is just so difficult to manage architects and contractors.

What was your marketing strategy?
Be transparent, do really, really, good work and then get word of mouth referrals. It worked!

How do you define success?
A super-short commute, a mortgage that isn’t a burden, and being home for dinner – this goes for myself, our clients, and the architects and contractors who work with us.

What is the key to success?
Planning ahead and making decisions that protect your time.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The institutional systems that we rely on can change – don’t take them for granted, and you can change them for the better.

What are some quotes that you live by?
“Go forth and set the world on fire.” – Jesuit named Ignatius of Loyola

“Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.” – C.S. Lewis

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I love seeing our clients and partners create something new that changes their lives. Whether it’s a contractor’s new business, an architect’s new practice, or an owner creating a new home, it is a privilege to be a part of their story.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Get a great foundation for the life you want to live first. Be a hermit in school, put your head down and study hard, get a job that teaches you a ton, and save every penny for years. Then, start when you’re in the position to commit for a few years.

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Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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