Richard Perrone founded Perrone Construction in 1980 after having worked as a superintendent for a luxury oceanfront builder. Today, Perrone Construction is among the most trusted custom homebuilders in Florida and is often sought after for its waterfront expertise. The company’s project “The Bonaire” in Sarasota earned it a 2014 Red Diamond Achiever Award from Integrity – and we connected with Richard to learn more about his company, its unique expertise and more.
Perrone Construction is often sought out for its waterfront expertise and experience. What are some key factors that you always take into consideration when building for coastal areas?
RP: Yes, we are sought out for our waterfront expertise. The very first home Perrone Construction built was a very nice project on Big Pass [in Sarasota, Fla.] in 1980, and we’ve made it a priority to learn and develop some very nice systems and techniques for building homes that stand up to the harsh waterfront environments we build in.
Some key factors include not using any materials on the exterior of a home that could rot or rust, and here I am not just talking about the things you can see. All the way down to the screws we use to hold the sub fascia on, we are very selective in our materials and of course the process and procedure we use to install them. Very early I learned the extreme importance of waterproofing our homes at the highest levels, and we developed systems and techniques that waterproof them extremely well. I would say that our success building in coastal areas comes from our ability to construct homes that stand up to the harsh waterfront environments. It’s one thing for a builder to construct a home that looks great on day one – but to build a home that looks great five years later takes a builder that really understands the environment he is up against, and that is where we shine. This is what we have been perfecting for 35 years.
In addition to the threat of major storms, what are the greatest challenges you face when building for coastal areas? How do you overcome them?
RP: Yes, of course major storms are always a threat, especially in the summer months. We have processes to minimize these threats during design and construction. We work with some of the best engineers in our area, which is one of the best ways to minimize the threats of a major storm damaging the home. We use tested and proven materials and take the time to study and understand them. Our building envelope [comprising the components that separate conditioned areas from unconditioned ones] is of the utmost importance to us, and there is nothing left to chance when it comes to the very important components that make up that envelope. Windows, doors and roofing are some of the most critical components, and we have had great success in partnering with companies that really get these products right. Marvin and Integrity produce a stellar product that we have used for many years, always affording us peace of mind.
Last year, Peronne Construction received a Red Diamond Achiever Award for work on The Bonaire. What do you believe helped The Bonaire rise above the rest?
RP: Design – we spent a lot of time and effort to make this home special. We studied the architecture of the West Indies, in the West Indies, traveling the islands of the Caribbean to truly understand the architecture we were attempting to replicate. We traveled to three other communities in Florida which had some examples of Dutch West Indies architecture for a sense of what architects were doing with a more contemporary take on this old world style.
During the design phase, we went through several iterations of the plan, tweaking it to get it just right. We went for a very old-world style on the exterior and contrasted that with a very contemporary-yet-warm style on the interior. We brought together a team that had passion for the project, and it really helped to enhance what had already been accomplished on paper.
I believe that when you have passion and enjoy a project, it truly shows in the finished product. With the Bonaire, I believe it’s part of what makes the home so special.
Beside The Bonaire, what are one or two additional accomplishments that you are particularly proud of? Why?
RP: Well before I get away from the Bonaire, I want to mention one more thing about it. The Bonaire was entered in the Sarasota Home of the Year competition and won. One of the things I always tell people when they talk about building a home is: If you’re ever thinking about trimming the budget anywhere, DO NOT do it on design. This was a small but incredibly beautiful home, what we term as “Jewel Box” construction.
One other thing that I am very proud of is that to date we have built the largest LEED-certified home in Sarasota at 8,200 square feet under air. An incredible Italian palazzo home that is 75 percent clad in Syrian Ebla Limestone. You would look at it and think it could never achieve a LEED Silver rating. It’s a huge, beautiful residence sitting on 57 pilings. It’s not your typical LEED home.
When working on a new project, what are some initial areas you tend to look to for inspiration?
RP: We really have a lot of fun in developing the character of the homes we build. It really depends on the style of the home, but we really like to look at the classic masters of any style for inspiration. As I mentioned earlier for the Bonaire, we cruised from island to island taking photos for inspiration of Dutch and British West Indies residences. We read about why certain building techniques were used, and we looked at examples from the old world and how those were adapted to the conditions in the Caribbean.
The Bonaire has true classical architecture with real roots, and each overhang, each scroll cut into each cedar rafter tail, was very carefully considered. We are very detail-oriented. The gable end wall at the front of the home was built three times the thickness of a standard masonry wall because when we were researching the style we found examples where that was done. Now, not a lot of people will notice this outright but I guarantee you if we hadn’t have done that, the home would not read the same and there would be a sense that something was missing. That’s one of the chief differences, among many, between our firm and many other builders.
We pay attention to all of the details, even the tiniest ones. I guess the shorter answer would be that we look to classic examples of the architectural styles we are building for inspiration.
What is the one building trend right now that most excites you?
RP: I’ve seen some really beautiful homes come across my desk in the past year, and we have some really incredible projects coming up that our team and I are really proud to be a part of. These homes incorporate some of the trends in the construction world right now – I see it as evolution and it’s always exciting; our world is always improving.
I’m a little bit old-school in the sense that I don’t really like to get caught up in trends; there is always evolution. We are seeing LED light fixtures now, we are seeing a prevalence of home-automation systems, we are seeing extremely efficient HVAC systems. Our homes are always evolving and getting better, but we are not what you would consider a trendy builder. Our homes for the most part are built to be timeless and we think we do a very good job in achieving this. If I were to pick out a trend that would excite me it would be what I perceive as a general willingness once again to invest in quality architecture.
Why do you choose to use Integrity products?
RP: We have used Marvin products for many years and have always received great support and superb products. The Integrity product is no different in that sense, and we always feel very well-taken-care-of, and the product truly provides us with peace of mind. In addition to that, there are plenty of really great design options with the Integrity product, and anything that isn’t available in Integrity can be purchased in the more custom Marvin product. The value of the product design choices, the support and the peace of mind are the key reasons we use Marvin and Integrity repeatedly.
How important is the placement of windows in the design of a home in coastal areas?
RP: We really let view and architecture take the lead on this. Since each and every one of our homes is custom and each site we build on is unique, we evaluate the positives and negative attributes each property has in our view studies, maximizing the good while minimizing/eliminating the bad.
Architectural aesthetics are of equal importance. The shape and scale of each window is carefully considered. Occasionally we even put a window or two where they may not be needed for light or view but where they are important for aesthetic continuity on the exterior.
What three words would you use to describe your expectations for the summer building season?
RP: Fast-paced. Busy. Enjoyable.