Anthony Serpa fell in love with construction as a child. Today, he builds custom homes and relationships with his clients.

By Stephanie Whittaker


Some careers exert a magnetic pull on us from childhood. For Anthony Serpa—founder and owner of Serpa Design Build—his career in the construction industry began early. “I’ve been around construction all my life,” Serpa says. “My whole family was in construction; my grandfather and dad were bricklayers. I used to work with uncles on job sites during the summers. I started with tile-setting and had a passion for it.”


As a child, he spent Saturday mornings watching home renovation programs on television. “I was fascinated by it,” he says. He studied business at Seneca College and York University, but discovered his true passion was in construction. After university, he returned to the construction milieu. However, focusing solely on one aspect of construction—tile work—left him wanting more. “I couldn’t get the satisfaction of seeing a project from beginning to end,” he says. “Through a family friend who wanted to renovate his house, I transitioned from tile-setting to general contracting. I did renovations in his home. I also did a program in computer-aided design. It was very fulfilling.” Serpa had discovered his true calling. “Delving into general contracting and design, I found my happy place. It was the first time I could contribute to a project from inception to completion.”


He established his own general contracting company, acquiring as much knowledge as possible. It led him into commercial jobs, and as the business grew, he acquired staff. But in 2017, he wanted to return to the residential sector. Then, serendipity occurred. “An opportunity arrived,” Serpa says. “Someone called me who wanted me to build a custom home for him. I’d done other work for him and he knew I’d never built a house. But I knew I could do it.”


He had contact with the trades—plumbers, electricians, carpenters—and could read architectural drawings. “This was the beginning,” he says. “It made me realize that building custom homes was for me.” It was the work that he’d been craving all along.


One day, while working in the house, he saw a woman across the street putting a variance sign into the ground. “She told me she was going to build a home on the site and needed someone to handle it.” Once again, Serpa was hired to build a custom home. Through a family friend, he was introduced to another client who hired him to build a house in Stouffville. And it continued from there. As he infused an exceptional level of quality and care into his work, word of mouth became his most powerful business tool.




Serpa’s business model is somewhat different from that of other builders. “I act as project manager and the client pays the trades directly, for the sake of transparency,” he says, adding that he maintains the company as a “boutique” firm, with an annual ceiling of about six builds. “I’m not into volume. We look for the right projects and the right clients, people I relate well to,” he says. “Our model revolves around quality over quantity with a focused and meticulous approach.”


Serpa still loves working at building sites. Every detail, regardless of size, is within his purview. “That gives me satisfaction,” he says, adding that his brother Michael works with him in the company. “Michael has become a vital part of the company, taking on a role of overseeing particular builds,” he says. “I work with tools less than I used to. I love being involved with the owners. I guess you could say that these days, in addition to building homes, I’m building relationships.”