Masada Custom Builders: A History of Artful Excellence

It’s no secret that the real estate field is full of big personalities, big ideas, and an even larger amount of fast action that culminates in larger than life results. We love it when these dynamic professionals come together because they easily facilitate in-depth discussions that let their true and genuine brilliance behind their work shine through. Our very own Mike McCann “The Real Estate Man” recently met with Philadelphia real estate powerhouses Isaac Ohayon and Naomi Alter-Ohayon of Masada Custom Builders to talk about the brilliant history of their organization as well as their extraordinary, quality-focused, and client-centric business practices.

Mike McCann: So, my first question for both of you is, how did this company come to exist?

Isaac Ohayon: It’s a long story…the work that we do now, the high-quality design services that we offer, dates back many, many years in the history of my family. My father is an extraordinary master carpenter, and he started his work in Morocco where he did a lot of work for the King there. The King required that the work have artistic elements in order to create the beautiful finishes he desired. This is how my father earned a living in Morocco. I learned carpentry and design from my father, and I treat my work with the same artistic consideration he did.

Of course, when I started my own business it went in a very different direction. We build modern houses, but I always strive for a high level of quality and customization in the design, workmanship, and materials we use in every home that we build.

Mike McCann: Very interesting. Your father did all of this artistic carpentry for royalty which obviously required a great deal of detail and quality, and you, in turn, keep that level of quality, those principles and skills that your father taught you, and apply them to your modern projects. Amazing! How long have you been in business?

Naomi Alter-Ohayon: We formed Masada officially in 1990, and became incorporated in 1998 as we began to take on larger jobs. Fortunately, our business just continues to grow!

Mike McCann: Can you tell me about your day-to-day operations? What does a day in the life of Masada Custom Builders look like?

Isaac Ohayon: Because of the high-end finishings we do, I’m at every job site from beginning to end, on-site every day, and involved with every element of construction and design. I handle the original design of our properties: the interiors, custom finishes, design, cabinetry, shelving, appliances, and so on. A big part of the quality that we provide has to do with our materials – we build relationships with companies that supply beautiful, imported, one-of-a-kind, exotic materials. My brother and I do most of the finishing work by hand – this is the effort that we go to in order to make these quality homes unique.

Naomi Alter-Ohayon: The two of us handle everything. I’m involved with picking materials, managing the job sites, running the office, all administrative work…a little bit of everything! We give our clients a lot of attention – they deserve it! I think in turn we have formed long lasting relationships with all of our clients and they appreciate the attention that we give them.

Mike McCann: What is your favorite part of running Masada Custom Builders?

Isaac Ohayon: Well, this is a passion for us, an art form. Take, for example, the church we completed on Lombard Street. We took a dilapidated church and turned it into one of the most beautiful homes in the world, a project that earned us the Grand Jury Award from The Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

Naomi Alter-Ohayon: This was a historical church from 1848 that was part of the Historical Society. We had our eye on it for 15 years. When we finally bought it, it was completely run-down and falling apart.

Isaac Ohayon: When we bought the church, we had several meetings with Historic Commission and they provided the earliest pictures they had of the property from 1900, and we tried to match what we saw. We are very proud our work and are very honored they gave us the Grand Jury Award.

Naomi Alter-Ohayon: That was really our baby – it’s absolutely gorgeous. The exterior was preserved to it’s original design and we kept many original elements of the interior of the building, preserving the history and dignity of the building while making it modern, livable, and luxurious. We loved the history behind the site – it was part of The Underground Railroad!

Isaac Ohayon: This is us. We care about preserving the history of the city. We really care about the details, about creating a piece of art, and adding value to the community.

Mike McCann: That is absolutely phenomenal! While we’re on the topic, what other types of community engagement are you involved in?

Naomi Alter-Ohayon: We are involved with all the local neighborhood associations. We respect our neighborhoods and their history. We listen to what people have to say. We respect the communities and aim to bring high quality to these areas.

Mike McCann: Great! What makes Masada Custom Builders different from other builders?

Isaac Ohayon: Well, we are on-site daily for one, and I think our customized work speaks for itself. We are involved in the design and material selection from beginning to end. Our client relationships are extremely important to us. We create long-term clients that really enjoy working with us and do so over and over again.

Mike McCann: Can you talk about some of the other jobs that you have done throughout the city? Some of your favorites?

Isaac Ohayon: We’ve taken projects from all over the city. We did a very prestigious custom home at 24th and Manning in the Rittenhouse area. We completed several houses in Society Hill’s Delancey Court development, Logan Square, and many different townhomes and condominiums all over Center City.

We also did several homes in the up and coming Pennsport neighborhood. These homes were built at a more approachable price point and we featured beautiful design with high-quality materials. I had a vision for Pennsport to help create a new area and build a community.

Mike McCann: Why do you guys choose to work in Philadelphia?

Naomi Alter-Ohayon: We started here. It is a beautiful city with so much character and wonderful architecture. It is such a walkable city, so much to see, so much detail, different neighborhoods, amazing restaurants, amazing music… Even though it is a city, it still feels like a small neighborhood – we raised two kids here in the city. We walk down the street and see people we met 20 years ago!

Mike McCann: Awesome! Amazing! I really appreciate this interview. I never knew the history behind your organization and I am just blown away, and completely inspired. The work that you do in this city is just unbelievable.Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us.

The love that Isaac Ohayon and Naomi Alter-Ohayon of Masada Custom Builders have for the work that they do is undeniable, as is the great pride they take in their craft. They genuinely appreciate their clients and their community, which is why Masada Custom Builders Inc. continues to maintain such a powerful presence in Philadelphia through their unwavering devotion to creating homes with a truly supreme level of quality. The McCann Team is proud to call these influential and dedicated professionals our friends, and we look forward to see what the future holds for their ever-growing contribution to our city!