Case Studies

Villane Building and Development LLC

Four generations of bringing home ownership dreams to life

For generations, Villane Building and Development LLC (Villane Building) has been bringing homeownership to life for thousands of families. The New Jersey-based builder, developer and construction manager takes great pride in this line of work because for Villane Building that’s what business comes down to: family.

“We’re not a cookie cutter or strictly custom homebuilder,” explains Don Villane, owner and chief financial officer. “Villane Building is a happy medium of both, but the big thing about this company is we’re all family.”

True to family and time-honored traditions

The Villane building tradition began with Don’s grandfather decades ago. “My grandfather, Dominick, was a mason by trade when he started out locally in Westfield, N.J.,” recalls Don. “My father and uncle worked in the business and my father went on to become an engineer. My grandfather passed away in 1964, when I was just 5 years old, but he built up a little empire of properties.”

Don and his brother and business partner, David Villane, originally started D. Villane Construction LLC in 1996 as a tribute to their grandfather’s company that they remembered as children. In 2006, the company became known as its current designation. “David was working as a mason and I was living in California working for a geotechnical inspection firm,” recalls Don. “I moved back to New Jersey and started working for my brother’s masonry company. We began buying and developing some of the properties my father and uncle owned then began purchasing a great deal of valuable knock-down sites for people looking to build bigger and better on the same land.”

Don goes on to explain that he and David have other brothers who also work at the company. Furthermore, Don’s two sons and his son-in-law have joined the family tradition as project managers.

“My daughter and I are also licensed Realtors and handle the marketing,” Don continues. “Actually, the only person who works for us who’s not family is our bookkeeper and she is almost family, because she’s been a family friend for over 30 years.”

Don and David started their first team effort nearly 20 years ago. “It was on a piece that my father and uncle owned, but there were wetlands that had a negative impact on development,” details Don. “This was a challenge that David and I took head on. We hired the right professionals, had a successful LOI from the DEP and laid out a three lot subdivision. It was a good first accomplishment in the sense that we turned something considered to be of little to no value into a viable property. We spent many days painstakingly laying out the property lines to maximize the curb appeal for the new properties, which is David’s biggest concern, to get the right look for a home. Our name and reputation is on every home we build and we are very proud of all our projects.”

Just as the housing market was heating up in late 1990s, David and Don began putting up 18 homes in Villane Building’s Clarence Street Development (Clarence Street), which is located behind the family’s childhood home. “We grew up on Austin Street, near a wooded area where we used to build tree forts when we were kids,” recalls Don.

Things began to take off for the brothers and Villane Building shortly thereafter. Many knockdowns, rebuilds, as well as smaller subdivisions, remodeling projects and a six-unit townhouse complex followed Clarence Street.

Taking the guesswork out of custom homebuilding

With Don’s real-estate know-how and David’s seasoned building expertise, the pair makes an expert building and development team. “David heads up concept development, implementing homeowners’ wish lists and personal ideas into exceptional architecture,” shares Don. “By fusing classic styles with contemporary construction, David constructs homes accordant with the character of the neighborhood that never fail to inspire pride in ownership.”

Bringing a long list of homeowners’ visions to life is no small task, but Don says Villane Building is taking the guesswork out of the process by implementing a 3-D BIM design. “We’re currently working with an area architect in the design of a custom home,” he notes. “The software enables us to take the client on a virtual walk through of the house as we’re progressing, viewing everything from furniture to trim details.”

Improved design technology has helped Villane Building target a more high-end audience in New Jersey. “We have built a design center and we’re still working on putting it together,” reveals Don. “It’s all part of an effort to be more of a one-stop shop. We’re trying to get as many samples and information in-house as possible, from plumbing fixtures to tile, cabinets and granite. It’s a good way of doing business and I see us putting more homes together in the future in this fashion.”

As a member of the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA), Don says Villane Building looks to the organization for industry news and training. “I need to work on using NJBA to the full potential, because it offers a great range of benefits,” he explains. “I’ve taken some classes and I’m having my children take training and classes through NJBA, as well.”

Lean and mean

Staying well connected and conservative has helped Villane Building stay afloat through a volatile housing market in recent years. “When the market started to tank, I had a relationship with a really good Realtor and he showed me where prices were going,” recalls Don. “I saw the quality of work from other contractors and knew our quality could blow it away.”

When other companies were having trouble making payments, Don says Villane Building had cash on hand and a strong relationship with its bank to buy at newly reduced prices. “Everything fell from the $2 million-plus mark to more in the $800,000 range,” he recalls. “We were buying at lower prices and had lower profit margins, but we made it and what we didn’t sell we hung onto for investment. Growing up in a large family of eight boys taught me how to appreciate a small piece of pie versus none at all.”

Don goes on to explain that there might be something bigger looking out for the company. “Sometimes I think my grandfather is guiding us, because most of it is about timing, and we always seem to be in the right place at the right time.” he continues.

According to Don, the company is back on track. “I know this year is going to be a boom year,” he ensures. By focusing on the values of family ownership, Villane Building and Development LLC is furthering a longstanding tradition of high-quality homebuilding.

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Spring 2018



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