About Us

Meet Your Dedicated Builder

By choosing The Ernst Group, LLC, an independently owned and operated franchise of AR Homes®, you can create your custom luxury home with complete confidence in the quality of work and the integrity of the team involved in building your dream home.

Steve Ernst Your Custom Home Builder in Nashville and Knoxville

Steve Ernst

Franchise Owner

Steve began his building career in 1994 and founded The Ernst Group, LLC in 2000. Steve oversaw all phases of design and construction on many of the area’s finest homes. His attention to detail and commitment to delivering an exceptional building experience helped The Ernst Group, LLC become one of the largest and most reputable custom builders in the market.

Custom Home Builder in Knoxville, TN

Nelda Rabens

Vice President of Operations

Nelda has been with AR Homes for over 20 years, bringing in-depth knowledge of the homebuilding process and a longtime commitment to her customers. She has learned the business from the ground up, working with many AR Homes franchises as well as AR Franchising in multiple facets which set a solid foundation for her to operate a building company. Nelda brings a passion for excellence in the design and building of your custom home.

The Ernst Group Team Member in Knoxville, TN

Karen Cornwell

Director of Sales

Karen has been with the AR Homes family for 7 years. Before that, Karen worked in Design and Photography. She found her way to a career in real estate and was then selected to be the Lead Sales Consultant for an AR Homes Franchise in 2016. Her passion for design and attention to detail assists her customers in realizing their Dream Home dreams. When not at work, Karen enjoys cooking, travel and spending time with her 3 children and 2 fur babies.

The Ernst Group Team Member in Knoxville, TN

Whitney Spears

Sales Associate

Whitney is a Knoxville native and combat Veteran. She joined AR Homes® in June 2022 after working in the real-estate industry for 7 years. Whether you plan to build in a community or On-Your-Lot, her in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market, strong negotiation skills, and unwavering commitment to client satisfaction, makes her the ideal partner for your custom home journey. Outside of work, you’ll find Whitney trying new recipes or restaurants, relaxing on the water or planning the next adventure with her husband and kids.