IN MID-SEPTEMBER, two very newsworthy developments surfaced. One was Emaar, John Laing Homes' parent company, had created a new company known as EJL Homes to scoop up some of John Laing's assets as part of its Chapter 7 liquidation. The other was that Tony Mon, former CEO of the now-bankrupt TOUSA, and three former division presidents from Beazer Homes were launching a new multi-market home building company called Citizens Homes.

The irony was that not only did these two developments break as the BIG BUILDER staff was completing the final stitches on this feature, which profiles executives from eight newly minted home building enterprises, but also that they were flip side to two of the stories included in the package. Funny how one common event can send two people off in completely different directions, but doing very similar things.

Who would have ever thought that Emaar's billion-dollar deal to acquire John Laing would end in a complete disintegration of the company and its management team, with Emaar's Robert Booth building a new company out of the John Laing wreckage and former John Laing CEO Larry Webb starting a separate company from scratch? Or that roughly 18 months after TOUSA filed for bankruptcy, Mon would be back in the home building business at precisely the same time that Lonnie Fedrick, who originally seeded the TOUSA brand with the sale of his Newmark Homes Corp., would be using the TOUSA failure as a platform to restore the Newmark name?

But this is home building, where disaster and opportunity can mean the same thing.

The scores of home building companies that have gone under and the acres and acres of land that have gone back to the banks through foreclosure mean there's a lot of available dirt to be had for a steal. While for some who've managed to remain intact through the downturn, it's an occasion to refill their lot pipelines with less expensive land; for others, it's a chance to start something new, completely unburdened by old baggage.

These pioneers in the brave new world of home building post housing bubble burst have got passion for what they do, excitement about the future, and faith in their abilities to succeed. Their enthusiasm is contagious, even if the hurdles are tangible.

There's uncertainty as to whether the new-home demand that's been building over the past handful of months will be sustainable into next year. There's fear that home prices may take another leg down if foreclosures keep up pace. And with the credit markets locked up tight, getting both seed money and access to working capital has started and ended at the same place: equity.

But even so, seemingly every day there are new home building enterprises cropping up like crocuses in the snow, the first signs of spring after a long winter. They emerge from the wreckage of failed companies, they develop as bolt-ons to existing companies, and they sprout as organic start-ups. Whatever their roots and whatever their fate, they are, in their infancy, home building's next generation.

Opportunity at the Door

A new generation of home builders both emerges from wreckage of failed companies and sprouts as organic start-ups.

The New Home Co.

  • Larry Webb, former CEO of John Laing Homes, is doing business his way with the launch of The New Home Co.—focusing on people, customer, and brand.
  • New Home secured a fee builder slot in the Irvine Co.'s “executive builder program.”

Piedmont Realty & Construction

  • Drew Holzwarth, who resigned from NVR in early 2007, is combining public builder balance-sheet management with private builder attention to detail and flexibility in his “new co.”
  • The Charlottesville, Va., builder says he can do 60 homes a year with his current staff.

Mercedes Homes

  • CEO Keith Buescher says the new Mercedes after its bankruptcy reorganization will be “leaner and greener.”
  • Mercedes plans to build homes “on demand” and to grow on pace or slightly ahead of the economy.

Five Point Communities Management

  • Out of the LandSource Communities bankruptcy comes Emile Haddad's Five Point Communities Management, in which he had to invest $1 million of his own cash.
  • Five Point will manage Newhall and four other properties Haddad formerly shepherded for Lennar.

Newmark Homes

  • Mike Moody (pictured) and Lonnie Fedrick, co-founder of Newmark Home Corp., snapped up some TOUSA assets in Houston that were being auctioned off through bankruptcy court.
  • By mid-September, the “new co” closed on its first home and had roughly 100 contracts in hand.

Wellington Homes

  • Rick Dalton, who has been in the home building for more than 25 years, left Taylor Morrison to start Wellington Homes.
  • Dalton and partner Dale Dubberly had 13 lots locked up in a 500-unit community and three homes under contract at the beginning of August.

Trumark Homes

  • Co-founders Michael Maples (pictured) and Gregg Nelson waited 15 years for the right time to start a home building company.
  • The company is on track to do about 60 closings in 2010.

Landon Homes

  • Former co-CEO of Meritage Homes, John Landon is back in the home builder game in North Dallas' Frisco School District.
  • Landon is focused on the right product for the right price in the right location.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.