A D-FW architect’s uncommon way of building homes with recycled steel

His company, Netze.Homes, wants to reduce emissions by building homes in small communities where infrastructure is already in place.

Brian Embery and Jessica Salazar Embery, a couple in their 30s, were looking to move from Seattle with their two kids to somewhere warmer. That’s when they found a modern, minimalistic house in Lewisville on Redfin with high ceilings and high-end finishes and appliances. They bought it for $650,000 and moved in at the beginning of this year.

It’s modern and minimal, kind of like a Tesla is one way I would describe it,” Brian said. “There are not too many buttons, but everything’s real sleek and modern-looking.”

But even with the striking look, there’s something fundamentally different about the Emberys’ new home than others in their neighborhood.
Their home is a prototype from Netze.Homes, a new company that plans to create small communities of steel-framed houses across North Texas. The company uses materials made from recycled steel in place of lumber to create resilient, energy efficient homes with high-end designs. “I thought it was really intriguing,” Jessica said. “Commercial buildings are all steel-framed, so it was definitely interesting, but in a positive way, that a residential home was going to be steel-framed.”

Netze.Homes is based out of a warehouse in Lake Dallas and also has an office in Lewisville. The builder chose North Texas simply because of the size of the region’s housing market.

A rendering of a 2,400-square-foot steel-framed home Netze.Homes plans to build in Corinth. (NetzeHomes)

The company plans to start construction on 150 homes in Corinth, Denton, McKinney, Van Alstyne, Krum and Mesquite this year and sell about 100 of them, costing $650,000 to $750,000 each. The sites are all in urban-infill locations, meaning places already equipped with infrastructure and within existing communities. Netze has laid foundations for several homes in a 3.6-acre community that willhave 17 homes along Tower Ridge Drive in Corinth. The builder’s goal this year is $5 million to $6 million in profit. In 2024, Netze plans to bring its factory to full capacity — which means being able to produce 300 homes a year from a 20-employee factory equipped with three metal-forming machines. It also plans to expand into Houston and Austin next year.

“Our goal is to do as many as possible,” said Nejeeb Khan, the company’s CEO. He formed the company in May 2021 with a goal of reducing carbon emissions in the building industry. He said his steel-framed houses produce fewer emissions than traditional homes, largely because of the lumber production process. As an architect, Khan was not focusing on the emissions issue until he worked on projects in Indonesia and the Maldives, countries especially threatened by rising sea levels. That’s when he decided to do something about it. “It’s real stuff, I’ve seen it with my eyes,” Khan said.

Khan studied at University of Colorado Denver and worked at Fentress Architects until 2006 when he founded a firm in India called KGD Architecture, which he sold to California-based Katerra in 2019. Netze framed the Emberys’ roughly 2,000-square-foot home with materials recycled from six scrapped cars instead of wood. Khan said the same home with traditional methods would take about 40 to 50 matured trees.
The company’s strategy of building in established neighborhoods helps to reduce emissions, said Anthony Tworek, a real estate agent with Century 21 Judge Fite Co. who is representing Netze. “The big homebuilders that do buy 100-plus acres of land, just imagine what they have to do with that land to build the homes,” Tworek said. “They have to clear all of the trees, put in all of the infrastructure, all of that is emitting immense amounts of carbon. “So by focusing on pocket communities where everything is present, that’s another way that they’re reducing [emissions].” The Emberys’ home was built in about five months, and it took about 30 hours to form the metal using a digital file of the home’s design. The goal for Netze is to eventually build the homes within 12 weeks and finish framing in three days. “We shouldn’t be spending nine months to build a home when we have so much demand,” Khan said.

Brian Embery and Jessica Salazar Embery bought a steel-framed house in Lewisville built by Netze.Homes. (Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

The homes have a mid-century modern, prairie style of architecture inspired by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, stressing an inside-outside relationship. “I like contemporary architecture, but mid-century modern is a really nice middle ground,” Khan said. Khan said the homes are stronger than wood-framed homes and are resistant to things such as termites and fires. They are also designed to be more energy efficient, with overhangs over windows to limit sunlight — which would be more expensive with wood-framed construction. Buyers get their own digital file showing details about every element of their home, from all the components of the foundation to the exact color of paint and where they can buy it. Khan said the homes’ added protection from the environment and the story of making them out of steel will give them a personal touch.

“It has to feel like a home,” he said. “It should have that emotional value to it.”