Van Metre works to build Community with a capital ‘C’

This content is sponsored by Van Metre Homes.

Whether you have lived in the Washington, D.C. area for decades or just recently moved here from a different part of the country, odds are you have heard of Van Metre Homes, the real estate company that builds homes across Northern Virginia.

But there is more to Van Metre than meets the eye.

The company has enhanced the region through extensive fundraising efforts and charitable work, donating enormous amounts of time, energy and resources.

“Yes, we build communities but we really try to stay active within those communities,” said Kevin Rabil, the executive vice president of Van Metre Homes. “We literally are neighbors to our customers.”

The company was launched 65 years ago, initially building homes in the Alexandria area.

It has since played a major role in developing Northern Virginia as a whole, marching through Fairfax County and beyond.

“As of now, we’re the top builder in Loudoun County,” Rabil said.

Philanthropic work is nonstop

The company has used its prominence as a force for good, taking the lead on a long list of philanthropic projects that have helped to enrich the fabric of the community.

It formed “The Van Metre Companies Foundation” as a way to seek out non-profit initiatives that help educate young minds, shelter the homeless and care for individuals and animals in need.

One of the latest initiatives called “A Year of Giving” is now in its third year. For the first 250 homes sold each year, the company has donated $1,000 per house to local charities focusing on health care and hunger relief efforts.

“It’s really brought home all of our charitable initiatives and rallied people around the idea of giving back,” said Rabil.

Van Metre Homes partnered with HomeAid Northern Virginia, an organization that builds and renovates homeless shelters at little or no cost to the groups that operate them.

To date, HomeAid has completed more than 118 projects in Northern Virginia and many more nationwide, saving shelters about $8 million in construction costs.

“We’re in the new construction and renovation business,” Rabil said. “It allows us to take our knowledge and expertise and directly apply it to a community that needs it.”

Fun efforts to help the community

While charity work led by Van Metre Homes is serious business, many events feature fun and engaging activities.

The company hosts an annual 5K run which directly benefits Children’s National Hospital in D.C.

“It is a longstanding annual tradition and to date has raised more than $2.5 million for the hospital,” the company noted on its website.

In 2010, the hospital dedicated “The Van Metre Companies Cardiovascular Surgery Operating Room,” a state-of-the-art surgery suite directly funded by money generated from the 5K.

Another exciting annual event is the “Van Metre Cornhole Challenge” in which players compete against each other, trying to score points by tossing bean bags into a hole.

Money raised by the players has benefited numerous non-profit organizations, including HomeAid Northern Virginia, the Children’s Science Center and the YMCA Loudoun.

Building houses in a sustainable way

Traditional new home construction sites can create a significant environmental footprint, but Van Metre Homes limits their impact by using unique and innovative methods.

Instead of actually building on-site, the company builds large portions of its homes in factories and ships the units over individually.

Two years ago, the company built a whole house using that formula.

“We built the entire structure in a factory including drywall, cabinets, flooring and appliances,” said Rabil. “Everything was built in the factory and shipped out and we assembled it on-site in one day.”

The company plans to continue that effort through an initiative named “POWERhaus.”

A whole three-story townhouse with solar panels is currently being built in a factory with the goal of making it a net-zero energy home, meaning it would produce as much renewable energy as it consumes throughout a year.

“It’s really exciting and has allowed us to continue to push new and improved ways of building,” said Rabil.

Construction sites can have a negative effect on local wildlife, and Van Metre Homes is working to address that issue through a new partnership with “Tanya’s Turtle Project,” a group that preserves box turtles in Northern Virginia.

Teams will head to sites where homes are being built and ensure that any turtles in the area are healthy and not being disturbed.

“It’s a fun initiative in the community and it’s going to be something where employees and families can walk these sites and help,” said Gretchen Carswell, the creative director at Van Metre Homes. “We’ll open it up to have more and more people as we get further into it.”

Keeping everyone ‘in the loop’

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, Van Metre Homes strives to include the whole community in its success, from using local McCormick Paints in its homes to urging homebuyers to utilize the local JK Moving Services when they relocate.

It even hosts a blog called “Van Metre Life,” meant to seek out and highlight interesting stories and members of the community.

Within the company itself, there is an effort to bring in more ideas and individuals through its Women’s Leadership Group which promotes the role of women in the home building industry.

And Van Metre launched a a 13-member panel that works to recruit, support, retain and advance talent from diverse backgrounds.

“The purpose of the council is to make sure that everyone knows that they’re valued and have a voice,” said Carswell. “We want to make sure we’re involving as many different races and backgrounds as possible.”

Customers who purchase a home from Van Metre get a firsthand look at its focus on inclusion and community as Van Metre’s customer care team is just a phone call or email away, ready to answer questions and champion the homeowner’s point of view.

“It’s our uniqueness as a builder and developer,” said Rabil. “We do make a commitment to our customers that we are going to be around.”

That is how Van Metre makes the home buying process more of a bond than simply a purchase.

“Everything we do is locally-based,” Carswell added. “It’s really important to us because we really want to make sure that we are building an amazing product but also providing back to that community for generations.”

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