DESIGN VOICES – Winter
VAS Construction: Building Homes with Attention to Detail and Lots of Heart
By KLAFFStyle Editorial Staff
Photography Courtesy of VAS Construction
Choosing and working with a builder for new home construction, remodeling or renovation should be the best experience says VAS Construction founder/owner Vincent “Vinnie” Sciarretta, but it could be the worst. He started his Darien-based firm in 1983 and has completed award-winning projects of all sizes and types. KLAFFStyle sat down with him recently to get his insight to what goes into a successful building project.
First let’s talk about how you got started in the construction business.
I’ve been in the business since I was a kid. My father, Serverino Sciarretta, was a residential/commercial developer and I started working with him in the summers. He suggested I learn masonry and I apprenticed in the trade. I still remember the proportions of the materials that go into a good batch of cement. I cut my teeth finishing the interior of a 150,000-square-foot office building in the Shippan section of Stamford that, once leased, I subsequently managed. My father was from Italy. He was a great guy and my best friend. He gave me a vision of quality and an appreciation for old world craftsmanship. It’s really a pride in doing beautiful work. Of course, you must have the ability, the training and the experience to do that. Although I started with him in the commercial world, eventually I began doing residential projects and really loved it.
What is it about residential projects that you enjoy?
At VAS Construction we say that we build homes, not houses. What’s great about residential construction are the relationships we build along with the homes. We’re creating spaces for people, families to live and thrive in. It’s about making a home that’s comfortable and welcoming for them, that suits the way they like to live. It’s very personal and it puts us in a position of great trust. It’s important to us that a year or a decade later we can knock on the door and still have the bond we’ve built with our clients during the design and construction period. Our reputation means more to us than anything.
How do you distinguish quality construction?
Well, our definition is that everything has to be just so. It’s totally in using excellent materials and paying close attention to the details. And it’s about going beyond the basics and giving more than people expect. Whether we’re doing a large or a small project we focus on those ultra-quality details. For example, for one spec house we built in a Darien beach community we incorporated a golf cart garage in the design of the house. It seemed only reasonable to us that the house should come with a golf cart.
We do a lot of custom paneling, including tongue-and-groove ceilings, coffered ceilings and custom cabinetry where beautiful hand finishing is critical. The trim work has to be clean. And we like colors that feel warm. For renovations to a 1920s Revival home in Back Country Greenwich, we brought back to life all original hardware, doors and windows, including ordering new windows to match existing ones. We also added a putting and chipping green to the property.
What are the top one or two pieces of advice you would give about selecting a builder?
Beyond the obvious, that you want to use only licensed contractors, I would say that the builder should be able to take you to see past projects and let you speak with former clients about the work and the relationship. That said, you have to feel that there’s a good personal fit.
Second, keep in mind that when you hire a builder, you’re also hiring any subcontractors the builder uses. You have to ask about the subcontractors and vet them as well. A bad sub can really screw up a job. We use a handful of experienced and trusted subcontractors, no more than two or three in any trade. They all know each other and we all share a commitment to clean, quality work and to finishing on budget and on time. It takes many skills and talents to build a quality home and to the homeowner the process should be seamless. You only do it a few times in your life, so you want it to be a great experience.
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