In geographic terms, “key” comes from the Spanish word “cayo,” which means “small island,” and the Sarasota region of Florida’s Gulf Coast has a wealth of them with appealing monikers such as Longboat, Siesta, Bird, Lido, Casey and Manasota.
With sandy beaches at most a brisk walk away if not outside your door, and the sparkling city of Sarasota possibly within biking distance, these keys are arguably the most desired places to domicile in the Sunshine State.
Only others have gotten there first. Google an aerial view and you’ll find few, if any, buildable lots in these keys or on the coastal mainland of Sarasota and Manatee counties. But should you have the ways and means, you just might be able to buy someone’s home, demolish it and put up something completely to your liking.
That job could be entrusted to Perrone Construction, a high-end Sarasota-based home builder that rarely strays far from water’s edge.
“We’re in our 37th year and we’ve only built six or seven homes that weren’t waterfront,” says Ricky Perrone, vice president of the company that his father, Richard, started in 1980 after honing his construction smarts with a builder in Vero Beach on Florida’s East Coast. “We are truly a waterfront specialist.”
A single standard
Perrone Construction has settled in on a sweet spot of roughly eight to 10 customized houses in the course of a year, a number that allows the company to laser-focus on a client’s every wish. It’s an approach foreign in mass production, semi-custom and sometimes even in the custom industry. But these aren’t ordinary houses; they average 5,000 square feet with some in excess of 20,000 square feet, highly detailed, always architecturally designed and often not occupied year-round.
“We’ve gotten to work with some incredibly talented architects and interior designers,” says Perrone. “We take each new experience as not only a chance to learn from these talented people but bring the breadth of our previous experience to benefit the current project.
“Our only criteria is that it’s a home that we’ll be proud to have built. We’re very conscious of that.”
Perrone has most recently completed two homes as part of a family compound in Sarasota’s elegant gated community, the Concession Golf Club that gets its name from Jack Nicklaus graciously conceding a 2-foot putt to his friendly rival Tony Jacklin on the last hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup in Britain.
One is a 3,800-square-foot guest house to complement a bigger home within the compound while the other is a main house for another member of the family. The homes are well detailed but different in terms of architectural styling, one being decidedly French and the other an Italian palazzo.
“Since its inception and first project, our company’s goal has always been to provide our clients with extraordinary value, a great experience and a true sense of pride of ownership that is maintained in every facet of the homes we build,” says Perrone.
“Our team takes incredible pride in each of our projects and it shows in the process, the care of our job sites and the finished product. It’s a tangible, truly superior sense of quality that’s evident to anyone who takes the time to tour our homes at any stage of construction.”
There’s also value in the price. When such homes are architecturally designed and extremely well built, they may outpace the market in terms of appreciation in value. The company is also LEED-certified and claims to have built the region’s largest LEED-certified house, on Bird Key, no small feat considering its over 8,200 square feet and adherence to stringent Miami-Dade standards.
Home away from home
Perrone chooses not to identify his clientele, saying the company respects privacy and if any VIPs want to be identified with their new Gulf Coast manses, it’ll be up to them to spread the word.
He will say that most clients are corporate titans rather than celebrities or sports stars, and that the company is well-versed at completing houses for people who aren’t around for consultations. Perrone Construction has developed specialized systems allowing for efficient communication and use of a client’s time wherever that man or woman may be.
“We’re very efficient with their time and keep them informed throughout the entire building process,” he says. “And while it takes a while to build these houses, this kind of high-end process is very labor-intense. If you were to come by one of our sites, you’d see 15 to 35 guys, or more, out there every day.”
Just 34, Perrone used to be one of those guys. As was his brother Ryan.
The brothers were still pre-teen when their father put them to work at building sites. Toiling five days a week under what can be a merciless sun, the boys initially did odd jobs before being trusted with more responsibilities with each succeeding summer. By the time the brothers were in their late teens, they were trim carpenters and then assistant superintendents.
Ryan Perrone has since started his own construction company called Nautilus Homes. Ricky Perrone chuckles when remembering how soon after his father secured his contractor’s license, he built a lavish home for a friend on Siesta Key in 1982. One year later it sold for $1.8 million, then a record price for Sarasota area residential properties. “My father really set the bar,” says Ricky.
The bar keeps rising and often it’s Perrone Construction doing the heavy lifting.
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