Building on a legacy

Fourth-generation residential homebuilder Leah England brings together a passion for homebuilding and a lifetime in the Industry as she hangs her own shingle.

By Ellen Linnemann

As a third-generation contractor’s daughter, Leah England has been in the building business her whole life. 

Officially entering the construction industry in 2012 (first working for a land planning and landscape architecture firm and then transitioning over to custom homebuilding in 2014) she notes that she’s felt a “nudge” to hang her own shingle for quite some time. With the pandemic, Leah noted, “that nudge became a shove” – and in October 2020 she launched Bellwether Design + Build – a homebuilding company promoting quality of life and human connection through thoughtfully designed and constructed homes in the Lowcountry.

“The pandemic forced me to slow down, and gave me the bandwidth to think proactively about what my business would look and feel like, how it would function and be structured so my employees and I could enjoy a more even swing of the pendulum between rewarding work and a life well lived with our families,” says Leah, who is known in the local building industry for her attention to detail, thoughtful planning, clear communication and sincerity. She has guided more than seventy families through design and construction in the area’s finest communities. “After a few weeks ruminating, I decided it’s now or never.” 

Jumping to the other side of the glass in a historically male-dominated sector, Leah launched Bellwether Design + Build in order to build homes that reflect the unique lives of her clients. She founded the company with Randy Bachman, who she notes is a “wonderful builder, mentor, and friend” – providing a new experience in homebuilding with unique floor plans, designer-curated finish collections, full customization, and transparent communication and advice to help clients create homes they love.

By launching Bellwether Design + Build, Leah has been able to offer clients a unique blend of generational experience that translates into a unique perspective in design and construction processes, as well as relatable expertise and what she has been told is emotional intelligence that you don’t often find in the building industry. As a woman business owner in the male-dominated construction industry, she says she has rarely experienced discrimination – further noting that since women readily enjoy their own agency in buying homes, designing spaces, planning a build and managing the build from the client’s side, it seems natural to consider a female-owned construction company as a collaborative partner in that process – and is happy to serve in that space for those planning to build in the Lowcountry. 

In addition to the opportunity for her to build spectacular homes through her company, Leah also stresses that what’s important to her is also being known for building meaningful connections that positively impact lives and the community.

“I grew up in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather (along with their wives) built homes, commercial buildings, churches, even bridges,” she says. “As impressive as those buildings are, and as special as it is to drive around town and see the tangible results of their careers, what impacted me the most was watching my family use the construction company as a way to meet needs.”

As Leah takes Bellwether Design + Build into the future, she’s excited to bring her longtime building experience, and lessons learned from her father and other builders in the Lowcountry. She envisions being an important resource for clients, trades and vendors alike, all while meeting the needs of all those she works with – and continuing to build on, and grow, her family’s legacy in the construction industry.

Key takeaways

Leah offers the following insights for those considering building and designing a custom home:

  1. Stress less about the floor plan, and concern yourself more with finding the right partners to execute your vision: architect, builder, designer, landscape architect, etc. 
  2. Your home should show and support the way you live, with enough flexibility to change and grow.
  3. Design and budget for as many windows as you can afford.
  4. Something will go wrong or not go as expected. Remember: the obstacle is the way.


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