Spec Home Developer Scott Gillen Shares Malibu Construction Trends

Spec Home Developer Scott Gillen Shares Malibu Construction Trends
The Who, a home in Malibu built by Scott Gillen.

Scott Gillen
Unvarnished Co.

Homes built and sold: 26
Construction pipeline: 8
Focus AREA: Malibu 

Before developing spec homes in Malibu, Scott Gillen was a stunt driver on “The Dukes of Hazzard” when he was only a teenager.

He eventually went on to direct car commercials and while on hiatus flipped a home. From there, he went on to develop high-end homes in Malibu.
He recently launched a luxury brokerage division of his company in partnership with Side Inc.

Before developing homes, you were a stunt driver and a director. What made you want to shift gears?
I don’t really want to work for people and be told what to do. I wanted the freedom to create. … I directed for 17 years, but the climate had changed in respect to budget and agency, and when that changed, I went into houses and did my own thing.

Why focus on Malibu?
I’ve lived here for a long time, for 10 to 12 years prior to getting married, and when I got married, I came back to Malibu. … It’s a great place to live. It’s a great place to raise a family, and the environment is nice. There’s not a lot of competition. People are terrified of Malibu (because) our building process is pretty complex and lengthy.

You launched a brokerage arm last year. How has that been?
We get to host our own listings, and those listings are houses that I’ve designed, and that’s worked out well. We get a very good connection with the end-user and get to speak directly to a person looking for a home and hear what their needs are and respond directly without an agenda. A lot of agents or brokers will tell you whatever to get the commission.

The Malibu market has been doing really well. Why are so many interested in the area now?
It’s the space; it’s the views; it’s the minimal amount of people. We had a very, very low impact on Covid here. … Malibu has always done great over the years, always exceeded year by year, but I think the virus pushed a lot of people out of the city.

Have natural disasters like the Woolsey Fire affected your approach to building in Malibu?
The Woolsey Fire was horrific. I stayed here the whole time … but almost all of Malibu evacuated. … The building process to rebuild your existing home sounded like it was going to be really good — they thought they had a great plan — but I don’t think they had a great plan. The process is pretty horrific and hard for most … even though the city has waved a certain amount of the permit fee and the place check fee, it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to hire all these consultants. … Our code is very stringent, and people get burnt out.

How do you deal with the building codes in the area?
I’m one of the only spec builders in Malibu. … I’m the leader of the pack. I don’t just build a house; I’m building homes. I design the homes and I strive for epic homes and epic designs. … I fight the fight for the artist in me to create a home. … I build at the highest level, and it keeps it exciting for me. I don’t have clients, and I build what I like.

Are there any exciting projects you are currently working on you can share?
I just finished my Paradise Cove project. It’s pretty nice. It’s a quintessential beach house. … The Case is pretty much my focus right now — building five houses at The Case simultaneously right now. They are homes that Malibu has never seen before and will never see again. … We will come to market with these three in the next 60 days. The vibes are epic.

— Hannah Madans

Keep reading the 2021 Who's Who in Real Estate special report.

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