Various television shows have lampooned the hapless do-it-yourselfer who digs himself into a home repair hole. Certainly there are homeowners who get in over their heads. But there are also plenty of truly handy men and women, who manage to build very nice houses for themselves. They might start with a plan or kit, but they always improvise and redesign. They research, they ask for advice, and then, just to be sure—they overbuild.

Because it’s their own home they’re working on, they want to make sure the job is done right. They buy the best materials they can. They take care with every decision. And they learn from their mistakes. These DIYers aren’t working on multiple projects (unless you count their day jobs). And they aren’t pushing a timetable through, no matter what the cost to the quality of the project. The only thing that stands between them and the best result is the limits of their abilities—their craftsmanship skills and their trajectory on the learning curve.

What sets them apart from many professionals in the business is their passion and their personal stake in the outcome. And when the project is complete, they feel a tremendous pride in their accomplishment. Their house is almost like a child they raised from infancy. They understand its flaws, of course, but the satisfaction of having made it with their own hands is still palpable.

This may feel familiar to you, as well. In fact, many custom builders fell in love with the job by first constructing their own houses. And for them, the joy is still alive, no matter how many headaches punctuate it along the way. For this kind of builder—just like the handy DIYer—just good is not good enough. They are compelled to build as best they can.

That’s the story behind our Custom Builder of the Year, Jim Murphy & Associates. Even when their clients assure them the work is fine, they push to make it better. They aren’t just pushing to finish the job, they’re driven to perfect it. They want happy clients in the near term and for the long term. And they want to apply what they’ve learned on the journey to the next project they accept. They are the passionate DIYers, but with the skills and experience to knock it out of the park.