October 2015

THE LIGHTHOUSE AWARDS: Lowcountry Homebuilders’ Night to Shine

Author: Kitty Bartell

Materials used in constructing a 1,700-square-foot, single family home: 9,726 board-feet of lumber; 4,614 square feet of sheathing; 243 square feet of plywood; 55 cubic yards of concrete; 2,528 square feet of exterior finish; 1,992 square feet of shingles; 2,500 square feet of insulation; 6,484 square feet of gypsum wall board; 90 linear feet of ducting; 55 gallons of paint; 302 pounds of nails; 750 feet of wiring; 280 feet of copper pipe; 100 plumbing fittings; 170 feet of plastic pipe, plus 70 fittings; 12 windows; 10 interior doors; 4 exterior doors; 1 sliding glass door; 2 bathtubs or 1 tub and a shower stall; 15 kitchen cabinets; 1 range; 1 range hood; 1 refrigerator; 1 dishwasher; 1 garbage disposal; and smoke detectors.

Experienced home builders are likely to know this list inside and out; however, contenders for the 2015 LightHouse Awards, would certainly say these materials only scratch the surface of what is required to build a home worthy of the Lowcountry’s most prestigious annual building awards. Honoring area home builders for excellence and quality of craftsmanship in the construction of homes throughout Beaufort and Jasper counties since 1999, the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association is celebrating their 16th Annual LightHouse Awards, sponsored by SunTrust Mortgage of the Lowcountry, with a black-tie gala on Friday, October 16, 2015 at the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island.

New Home Custom Category, RCH Construction, Inc. Living Room

“It’s like the Academy Awards for builders,” said Patricia Strimpfel of Reclamation by Design, Ltd. and former president of HHAHBA. Patricia and Ron Strimpfel have won numerous LightHouse Awards in the 10 years they have entered the competition. Focusing on material reclamation, the passion for what they do is reflected in the award-winning excellence of their projects. “We like to use as many reclaimed materials as we can for various reasons. First, these materials would be going to a landfill. Coming out of old textile mills, and barns, and industrial buildings, they have character you can’t create with new material. There’s an environmental aspect to it, but there’s also this neat connection that people have; it reminds them of something. It’s interesting the connections people have to the material itself.”

The LightHouse Awards are presented to winners in several categories, including new homes, remodels, kitchens, baths, exteriors and use of space. Builders compete within categories based on home price. The judging panel consists of builders, remodelers, architects, designers, and other industry professionals. Ken Rogers, St. Simons Island builder, and owner of The Rogers Company and Rogers Construction, Inc. was on the panel from 2009 through 2014, and says the process is a whole lot of fun, educational, and very rigorous. “It’s a three-day, all day, work session. We start at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 6:30 p.m. Each judge scores every house. We’re given a driver who knows the area. We may judge a house on Daufuskie Island and then one in Beaufort. We eat a box lunch in the car while we’re tallying our sheets.” Rogers is not on the panel for 2015 due to an on-the-job injury, but hopes to be invited back for 2016.

New Home Custom Category,H2 Builders Kitchen

“They’re really good at keeping things unbiased,” Brian Quinn said, of the judging process and judging criteria set up by HHAHBA. He and his wife Heather, owners of The Twelve Oaks Group, have four entries in this year’s competition: one partial renovation, two full renovations, and one new construction. “We usually walk through the house with the judges, talk a little bit about the project, show the features off, and talk about the whole process and how it went together,” Quinn said. Quinn and The Twelve Oaks Group’s commitment to excellence garnered them five marble obelisk LightHouse Awards in 2014.

With multiple awards since their first entry in 2010, Brian and Leslie Esposito of Esposito Construction, Inc. know how important creative thinking is to winning renovations. “We worked with a homeowner who had a 6-foot by 6-foot cedar walk-in closet that was adjacent to a large second floor screened porch that the homeowner only had access to by going through a guest bedroom. The closet was at the top of the stairs, and it made total sense to convert that space from a closet that was very seldom used into a wet bar and entry to the exterior living space of this home. We ended up putting a 6-foot long wet bar with an under-counter refrigerator, a dishwasher, and a wine cooler, plus decorative glass cabinets above; then we took out the window that was looking onto the porch and put in a doorway. It really completely changed the function of the home,” Brian said.

The entire Esposito team will be attending this year’s gala. “It’s important for us to share the recognition with our guys who are out there making it happen,” Brian Esposito said. “I always say, it’s my responsibility to take the blame and to share the credit. It’s wonderful to see the pride in your employees when we get an award for a project they worked on and let them go up there and be the ones to accept the award from the presenter.”

New Home Custom Category, Randy Jeffcoat Builders, Inc. bathroom

This year’s gala promises to be an elegant affair, with possibly a hint of masquerade ball thrown in. The attire may be black tie, but for an industry where the uniform of the day trends toward well-worn jeans, dirty boots, and baseball caps, the attendees may need to look closely to identify each other. “It is funny to see some of these good ol’ boys in black tie,” Quinn said. “We’re used to seeing everybody covered with mud and dirt and driving pick-up trucks… at first we walk right past each other. Awards aside, it’s a great evening. I like meeting everybody’s wives and families—seeing what’s behind these companies.”

Relative newbies to the LightHouse Awards, Scott and Ann Middleton, owners of Southern Coastal Homes, first entered the competition last year, winning Best Overall New Home. “It’s the highest honor you can get as a local home builder,” Ann said. “We’re really proud of it, and last year’s gala was so much fun.”
The 2015 LightHouse Awards Gala is shaping up to be quite a night. 

For more information on the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association or the LightHouse Awards, call (843) 681-9240, or visit hbahh.com.

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