By Susan Roush: 2017 May/June Issue Pages 18-24 –
A day without wearing his work belt is nearly unimaginable to Tom Suriano. “I am a hands-on builder,” he said. He has been building full time since high school graduation, beginning the journey with framing and masonry. Tom said, “It just turned into my passion.” In the intervening thirty years, he has established Suriano Homes and compiled an impressive portfolio of custom homes that he has built in his native New Jersey, along the Grand Strand, and recently into Brunswick County, North Carolina. Suriano Homes is a featured builder in the Waterbridge and Waterway Palms Plantation communities within the thriving Carolina Forest area. His wife Paula has been in real estate for nearly 20 years, and besides being a talented design consultant and coordinator to Suriano Homes’ clients, she oversees the financial side of the business. They combine their distinctive strengths to serve their clients in a thoughtful and rewarding manner.
Besides Tom’s on-the-job presence, there are other distinguishing elements in the construction of a Suriano home. Tom uses Douglas fir instead of pine studs. He prefers it because it is stronger and straighter. Though more expensive than pine, he passes savings on through volume ordering. He added, “All my sheetrock is glued and screwed [as opposed to nailed]. The entire house is 12-gauge wire, and we do the Taexx® built-in pest control system exclusively through Home Team Pest Defense. I also install a centrally located Wi-Fi box.” Other materials that are standard to Suriano Homes, often considered an upgrade, include Pella or PGT windows, Typar house wrap and synthetic roofing felt that offers more durability and protection. A minimum 3000 commercial concrete mix adds strength and crack resistance over the typical residential-commercial mix. A good quality Sherwin-Williams paint primer is also used. Building codes require Energy Star ratings, but Tom boosts the code by using R38 insulation instead of the minimum R30. Tankless water heaters are the norm, and Tom offers the option of a gas furnace that will automatically kick in when the heat pump cannot keep pace with frigid weather.
Suriano Homes has an in-house CAD designer for creating or modifying floorplans. Many buyers come in with plans and clear ideas. “This [Waterbridge] is an upscale community and most of my clients want this type of package,” Tom said, referring to their model home. To make it easier for people to compare builders and keep track of their notes, Tom created a buyer checklist that breaks down exterior and interior structures, materials and options, “So they can compare apples to apples.”
Of the homeowners Building Industry Synergy spoke with, all of them had done their due diligence, including builder interviews, before deciding on Suriano Homes. Common themes emerged among them about Suriano Homes: accommodation; communication; quality and value.
Elise and Michael Zebrowski recently moved into their Waterbridge home. Tom Suriano was the last builder they interviewed, and as Michael said, “It was meant to be.” Turned out they were all from the same hometown and went to the same high school though they had not been in touch for decades. After their meeting, Tom came back with a plan and Elise recalled, “It had everything we said, so we felt he really listened to us.” Elise added that she has a hard time visualizing things and Tom was very good at helping her visualize an outcome. Michael has been in construction and engineering for nearly 30 years on large-scale projects. He was an Engineering and Facilities manager of a 6.2 million square foot hotel/casino – so building a 2,700 square foot home was not that daunting to him. Michael said, “I have to tell you what a pleasurable experience it was working with Tom and Paula and their staff. They were very receptive to our needs and desire to achieve the house we wanted. It was always about what we wanted.” One of the things they wanted was a stone hood on the range. Another architectural feature was a squared off turret off the front corner house, which is where the master bath shower is located. The Zebrowskis love their new house. Michael especially enjoys a cigar on the upstairs wrap around deck while he looks at the lake. “It’s like I’m on vacation every day. I didn’t know what I was missing all these years!”
Gary and Terri Johnson know exactly what they will be missing when they finally live fulltime in their home. Gary explained, “Our plan is to leave the heavy taxation burden and the cold winters of the northeast and make this our permanent home.” For now, it is their second home. They bought their Waterbridge lot over 10 years ago and decided to have Tom build the house after talking with local folks and several builders. Gary said, “When I talked with Tom Suriano, I just had a high confidence level in terms of how he builds and his level of communication. What really sold us on Suriano was the customization that he offered, his portfolio of work, the quality of work, and the ease of communication. It really was collaborative and it made the process fun. I don’t know that Tom ever told me we couldn’t do something; he would tell me about the pitfalls or challenges, and he would suggest how to do something that would be economically and structurally sound.” Gary’s favorite feature of their house is, “My custom bar right off the living area that we use when entertaining people, or even to have breakfast and catch up on news.” Terri likes mornings and late afternoons on the screened lanai that faces the lake. Gary summed up, “The key part is they spend time before and during the process to really make sure the final product would meet our needs. We walked away feeling we have a custom product versus an off-the-shelf product.”
The living room & custom bar area in the residence of Gary and Terri Johnson in Waterbridge.
Whereas the Johnsons built the house remotely relying on a constant flow of milestone reports, photos, phone calls and emails, Sal and Patricia Martelli were already living in Myrtle Beach. Sal said, “Every day my wife and I were here checking it out.” They bought their lot in 2007 and waited until 2013 to build. Sal said, “Tom was one of the first original contractors; at the time Waterbridge only allowed five. He was the most reasonable contractor, gave me a decent price, plus he’s an honest man. He’s always on top of the people he has working for him and he stands by what he says.”
Jay Deutsch has been on site every day, too, “with a zillion questions and ideas.” He has gotten to know the construction crew during the build. Jay said, “His workers are excellent – Jim, James, Q and Vladimir are excellent. Tom is a hands-on builder. He’s there every day and he’s watching what is going on. Jay added, “Paula is very cooperative with assisting with décor and design decisions. She is right there if you need her professional opinion. They’re just good people. Not only is he my builder, but I consider him my friend.” It turned out that Tom was the last builder Jay spoke with, “I was just very impressed with him as a person, and I looked at a couple of homes he had built and just thought I would get the best value for my money.” During the building process, Jay has also appreciated the open communication. “Tom tries hard to please and will listen to your comments and adjust as needed. You call him he picks up; he’s always there. With some builders – oh my gosh – it’s almost like making a dentist appointment!” The Deutsches expect to move in by July. Of the house Jay said, “It’s all beautiful, inside and out, absolutely gorgeous.”
Not surprisingly, a good deal of business comes to Suriano Homes through word of mouth and their model home. Perhaps the biggest compliment is when other homeowners, who do not have a Suriano-built home, recommend Tom to their friends and associates. From the early days of framing and masonry, Tom appreciates the progression of his career and craft. “I never wanted to do 1500 homes a year. I was always more into the custom, one-on-one with the clients.”
You can visit the Suriano Homes model located at 1131 Fiddlehead Way, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579. This is in the Waterbridge subdivision of Carolina Forest. The model home is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM. For further information call Suriano Homes @ (843) 796-2146, email SurianoHomes@Gmail.com or visit www.SurianoHomes.com.