When Bellevue native Mike Stewart set out to continue his family’s reputation of Northwest home building, he decided to focus on a growing community of Indian transplants.
Auspicious Homes, Stewart’s new company, aims to bring Hindu buyers on the Eastside homes that reflect the principles of Vaastu, a set of guidelines intended to bring harmony and spiritual nourishment to a home.
Vaastu homes base their architecture and style off of traditional Hindu beliefs that are intended to integrate nature, symmetry, and directional alignment with the structure. Stewart draws the comparison between Vaastu and Chinese feng shui, but he recognizes the need to design homes that are functional for an Indian family in the Pacific Northwest. Stewart discovered Vaastu while touring Indian cities during a study-abroad semester with the University of Portland.
Auspicious Homes isn’t his first crack at homebuilding. He is the son and grandson of Eastside homebuilders, and he developed a passion for the craft when he began working for his father, Rob, at Greacen Homes.
“It was the first job I ever had where I was able to use both sides of my brain, to do something both creative and analytical, and I fell in love with it,” Stewart said.
His travel experiences inspired him to stray from the family business, though, and focus on Vaastu design.
“You’re interpreting all of these different cultural dimensions and applying them to a home while still trying to stay true to the Vaastu principles,” Stewart said. “People have to cross old boundaries to include others and recognize the need to coexist.”
Stewart plans to implement some new business practices. He will give customers abroad the option to buy remotely using software that cuts down on paperwork.
“If you end up choosing an option on the software that’s more expensive than your budget allows, everything updates in real time through the platforms that connect to your cloud,” said Stewart. “The goal is real-time communication.”
Stewart emphasizes the need for remote home building and purchasing, as well as the fact that high-end Vaastu-designed homes may become more in-demand in the foreseeable future. There are about 15,000 Asian Indians living in Bellevue, according to the American Community Survey, and that number will certainly grow as tech companies continue to look for Asian workers through H-1B visas.
“The market is changing,” said Stewart. “A lot of the area’s home buyers are tech people, and they expect builders to provide tech solutions.”
Stewart wants to further support the Asian Indian community on the Eastside by sponsoring a youth cricket team, an effort that he’ll get off the ground with a sponsored cricket camp he has planned for September.
Auspicious Homes’ unusual business plan is without precedent in the area. To build credibility, Stewart plans to outsource the construction on his first five homes to his father.
“When you start selling homes that are $1.5 million and up, you have to be able to ensure a certain quality level,” said Stewart. “The goal is that it’s perfect for each family.”
While Stewart may have his work cut out for him, he’s not letting that slow him down.
“I just figured I’d jump in and figure it out as I go,” he said. “Nobody else is doing it, so why not?”