2015 Design Excellence in Architecture Award

jewel-box-hero

The project highlights with sculptural intensity the private domain and lack of views on the street side, while, through the use of near-total walls of sliding glass on the water side, opens the house on the private side to bay breezes and sunsets.

Location
Naples, FL

Program
Single Family

Status
Completion 2017

Project Team
David Poorman, Sabrina Rocha, Taylor Lichteberger

Award
2015 AIA Florida Southwest Award of Merit

How to Choose a Builder

From Naples Daily News, April 9, 2013
Blog by Ray Allain, President of the CBIA

This is a very common question for many of the existing and potential residents in Collier County. The vast majority of which are coming from different locales, each of which are as unique and different as are their projects, demands and expectations.

The decision is important for many reasons, but for the sake of this discussion I will focus on what I believe to be the three principle considerations. Cost, service and stress. Not surprising these three, are also typically very closely related.

What occurs in most building projects is sort of a marriage. I say this because the relationship will be very involved, at times very intimate, stressful, anxious, pleasant and at times distressing.

Choosing the person or firm you intend to “marry” is very important because you are making a commitment to each other that is not easy to terminate prematurely. The beginning of the selection phase would therefore be the dating portion. It is very important during dating that the client be honest with themselves as well as their prospective suitors.

As the dating begins, some people meet through friends, some from the internet, some prefer to leave it to random chance. A person can get lucky and unlucky by any of these methods. The advisable one, from my experience as both a client and a builder would be to go with a referral. If someone were to choose a different avenue for their selective suitors, everything beyond the selection should be the same.

The first date, conduct a personal interview. The second date, check verification of licenses and insurance. The third date would be to make a personal check of references. After the third date we usually have a pretty good idea if this match is good or if there is no point in pursuing further.

Unfortunately, what often happens is that there is a cursory interview, the anxiety and anxiousness caused by the impending decision induces a rash decision and people ignore some of their instincts, or fail to educate themselves thoroughly. When this happens the clients walk off with one impression while the builder/contractor walks away with another. A recipe for rough times.

So how does one avoid this and make sure that they and their builder are on the same plane? This is a much more complicated answer.

In my years of experience, I have had the opportunity to interview many, many clients. I have found that the fit has to work for both sides to ensure a successful project.

The owner has to trust the contractor to respect their wishes, be frugal with their expenses, and educate them about the difficult choices. Even if a choice could require spending more money or time, it’s the obligation of a builder to present it to the owner. While the builder has to trust the client to communicate effectively, listen to explanation, make timely decisions and pay promptly.

If an owner wants a top tier home with all the latest features and amenities, it is not in his interest to seek the lowest bidder without a detailed set of plans and specifications. If the client does not know how to make all of the decisions necessary to have a complete set of plans, it makes the selection of a contractor that much more important.

“I recently was talking to a friend of mine who wanted to build a cabana, deck, pool and outdoor living area. They selected a contractor based on price and finished their project. I happened to be with him on a trip out of town when his wife called to ask for instructions about how to turn on the spa for the pool. He spent about ten minutes trying to remember and communicate to her the positions of all the valves and switches necessary to use the spa. When they both got frustrated and hung up without him being able to explain it to her, I asked him why he elected not to put an electronic control system on the pool. He told me he wasn’t aware it was an option. He got exactly what he paid for, even though he would have gladly paid for the automated system.”

Very few people, in my experience, can bring themselves to accept the value in a complete set of plans and specifications. The time and cost of developing a thorough set, with no physically tangible product, such as brick and mortar, is very difficult for some to reconcile. Often they feel that they are being taken advantage of, or wasting time.

This coupled with the eagerness to “get started” is overwhelming. I always try to counsel them that a building project is no different from any other business venture. Good planning, good products, good decisions usually equals good outcome. Conversely, poor planning, cheap products and quick decisions… well you get the gist. This practice applies to all projects, and all contractors.

The first step in selecting a builder is that a person needs to be honest with themselves about a few issues.

Cost – What are they really comfortable paying in total, from the acquisition of the land to the last touches on the window treatments and furniture, as well as what it will cost to own, operate and maintain?

Demands – How much responsibility in this project beyond paying for it are they willing to accept, or do they want to take on?

Stress – What kind are their expectations both during construction and upon completion?

While all three of these criteria are distinct and different they also are critical in selecting a contractor/builder. In an attempt to explain this theory I will reduce contractors into three different categories. Economy, Typical and Custom. This is not to suggest that any given contractor cannot do more than one category. It is just that most, after a time in the business, tend to gravitate toward one more than the others, as they develop the different skill sets and networks required by the respective categories.

The Economy Contractor
An Economy contractor is one that predicates their pricing on a relatively rigid set of criteria, with more basic materials and methods, and tends to focus on simple projects. This type of contractor makes their living on rapid turn around of relatively straightforward projects with much less detail. Their bids will not provide a lot of time for interaction with the client, or for complicated problem solving. They will require a lot more time and supervision from the client if problems arise, because there is no provision for this scope of services in an economy bid. If a client wants to be on the job daily, have interaction with subcontractors, and make many of the routine decisions their best choice would be an Economy contractor.

The Typical Contractor
This is the category that the majority of contractors fall under. The Typical contractor is one who invests more effort to understand the needs and desires of the owner and does his best to represent what is asked for and will do an acceptable job at a fair price. Given that a Typical contractor will spend more time on each job than an economy contractor, he must charge more to cover his overhead. They will usually still require more involvement than a custom contractor, meaning direction and supervision from the client. They will also have more flexibility and time to spend solving problems than an economy contractor.

The Custom Contractor
This is the contractor which has been through the process many times and realizes the value of their own experience. They have worked for demanding clients, with complicated and or expensive products. They have to deal with a different caliber of subcontractors and vendors because many of the products and methods are atypical, obscure or new. They also realize that while they may be placed in this category of “expensive” related to the other types of contractors, they will invariably understand the expectations of the customer as well as have an empirical understanding of the finishes and costs commensurate with the type of project. The value in a Custom contractor is not to be quantified in the dollar value of the initial bid alone. But in the breadth of experience, the understanding and time that is allocated to each project, and the ability to counsel clients about the implications of complicated decisions. This is with regard to cost as well as convenience and satisfaction upon completion. The custom builder will have the time and ability to educate the clients about smart decisions and options of amenities and features that may not have been offered or even considered at the inception of the project. They also have the flexibility and time to help eliminate duplicate efforts when things aren’t well thought out or missed during the planning phases. A Custom contractor’s value is in their experience and in the time they spend with each project.

In summary, be honest with yourself, understand your limitations and expectations, and pay attention to your instincts.

Also, don’t forget the old adage “You get what you pay for,” is also true with builders/contractors. Our business is, contrary to common perception, all about service. As long as you are aware of what you are paying for, you are much less likely to be unhappy with what you are getting.

It’s Your Business: Allain Elected CBIA President

By Naples Daily News on December 27, 2012

Ray Allain of Acadian Builders of Naples has been elected president of the Collier Building Industry Association for next year. Other association officers installed at its annual awards banquet at Olde Cypress Country Club in Naples this month were:

  • Bob Imig (Past President) | Stock Development
  • Greg Ulrich (President-Elect) | KGT Remodeling
  • Allen Foy (Past Associate President) | Fenton Davis Painting
  • Robyn Bonaquist (Associate Vice President) | B-Squared Advertising
  • Eleanor Taft (Secretary) | Eleanor W. Taft, PA
  • Terry Kelly (Treasurer) | Surety Construction

The 2013 Board of Directors installed:

  • Laura Johnston | WCI Communities
  • Bill Fenno | GL Homes
  • David Graham | Pulte Homes
  • Mike McLeod | GreenLeaf Homes
  • Thomas Lykos | The Lykos Group
  • William Spinelli | Titan Homes
  • Larry Berg | Waste Management
  • Kevin Deardorff | Hill, Barth & King
  • Curtis Hancock | Hancock Plumbing
  • Ron Waldrop | Waldrop Engineering
  • Terrilyn VanGorder | South Bay Realty

Some Buyers Discover Satisfaction in Restoration of Historic Homes

By Naples Daily News on February 27, 2005

The scarcity of building lots in Olde Naples has prompted many buyers to purchase older homes and tear them down in an effort to build new residences designed to meet today’s standards of style and convenience. There are, however, some buyers discovering that restoration of these “older” homes offer a different level of advantages.

According to Bob Devlin, FEMA coordinator for Naples, historic homes are not necessarily subject to certain newer code restrictions, such as a lot elevation.

“Someone interested in purchasing an historic home for restoration and renovation would first need to present their concept to the Naples building officials for review and permitting.” Devlin said. “The exterior of the property must maintain much of the original look. Internally, however, the home must be modified to be code-compliant.”

Stephen Fleischer was looking for a property that offered such an opportunity – a prime Old naples location with a solid structure that would support renovation and restoration. He found and purchased 132 10th Avenue South, a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Interior View of 10th Avenue South

According to Fleischer, this house has “great bones.”

“It’s only one block to the gulf beaches and just a few blocks to Third Street South and Fifth Avenue. It’s a great setting and the neighborhood homes have all been well-maintained.”

Built in 1927, the two-story property at 10th Avenue has a list of notable owners. E.W. “Ed” Crayton, hailed for his watchful growth and development of early Naples, was the original owner. Crayton and a group of fellow businessmen from Ohio purchased the Naples Co. from pioneer Walter Haldeman, who built the Naples Hotel in 1890.

In 1928, Leila Bryant moved to Naples as one of a handfull of schoolteachers who relocated to Naples in its early years. She later met and married A.E. Canant, then manager with Florida Light and Power. In a recent interview with the Naples Historical Society, Mrs. Canant said that after they rented the home from Crayton, who was nicknamed “the boss,” Crayton came to her husband and told him, “Canant, you should buy this house.”

“My husband made very little money, like us school teachers back then,” said Mrs. Canant. “We couldn’t afford to purchase the home, but ‘the boss’ told my husband that he would apply the rental payments as our downpayment so we could buy the home – so we did.”

Fleischer is the managing director for SRF Realty Associates Inc., builders in New York, Massachusetts and Naples. His most recent development in Old Naples is Parkside Off Fifth.

“I fell in love with the charm of Old Naples and have lived here for many years,” said Fleischer. “Having restored a home built in 1710, in Stockbridge, Mass., I’ve come to appreciate the great satisfaction of saving a historic property. For me, this is a ‘labor of love.’ A project of this magnitude, however, requires a team effort.”

Fleischer first learned of this property from Realtor Virginia Wilson, a broker associate with Premier Properties of Southwest Florida Inc., Realtors. Wilson is the listing agent for Parkside Off Fifth, which is currently under construction.

“After learning of Stephen’s interest and background in historic properties, I introduced him to the property on 10th Avenue South.” said Wilson.

“There is definitely a rewarding feeling to saving a piece of history. Clearly, however, one must thoroughly research an historic property, weighing not only the pros and cons of restoration, but the financial considerations, as well. Stephen was well positioned by virtue of his past experience in this area and immediately realized the property’s potential.”

James P. Johannsen, president of U.S. Trust in Naples, in another valued member on “the team.” U.S. Trust has financed many projects with Fleischer over the years.

“Our innovative mortgage financing helps clients maximize liquidity and take advantage of opportunities,” Johannsen said. “We take pride in personally working with each of our clients in a relaxed and friendly environment. As a past president of the Historic Home Foundation in Louisville, Ky., I have a personal interest, from a historic perspective – in this endeavor in Old Naples, as well as the pleasure of working with Stephen on this project.”

Fleischer worked with The Vintage Group, the general contractor for Parkside Off Fifth, to assist him in the initial stage of restoration. According to Carl Nagel, restoring an historic property presents some inherent challenges as well as benefits.

“Obviously, you have to work with great care not to disturb the exterior of the home,” said Nagel. “It’s like discovering an old buried treasure and cautiously shedding unwanted layers. As one example, we are reclaiming the yellow pine floorboards, which are now quite rare, from the upstairs and installing them into the living area downstairs.”

As his final team member, Fleischer called upon architect Mark Leonardi to draw the plans for the renovation and the addition. Fleischer and Leonardi, working with designers experienced in vintage properties, continue their research into architectural elements and design to insure a seamless blend of the charismatic details found in historic homes with the luxury features demanded in today’s upscale homes.

“This is truly a one-of-a-kind home.” Leonardi stated. “The original structure, along with the property’s setting inspired the new design. The southern exposure is ideal for the pool area and the west facing bank of windows will allow natural light into the rooms.”

The National Register of Historic Places maintains the official listings of sites and properties throughout the United States that reflect the prehistoric occupational and historical development of our nation, states and local communities. Criteria considered for evaluation includes sites, buildings, structures and objects considered to have significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and/or culture.

Working within the parameters set by the National Register of Historic Places, Fleischer and his team will continue to preserve the history and recognition of 132 10th Avenue South.