With its strong reputation and experience in the industry, Boniello Development aims to take its homes to a new level.
By Bianca Herron
Gus Boniello Sr. created Boniello Development in 1938, building his first development in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. According to fourth-generation family member and co-owner Ryan Boniello, with no formal training, his grandfather depended on his instincts and work ethics in building his first homes. “There was also a huge need for homes to be built as well, especially after WWII,” Boniello says.
Today, the Katonah, New York-based company is approaching its 80-year anniversary in 2018. Although this is a huge milestone, Boniello Development isn’t making any grandiose plans as of right now, according to Boniello.
“This is still just a family business and we don’t think about it like that,” he says. “I’ve been with the company for about a year now and it’s been really cool to see the way my father, Jim, and uncles – Gus Jr., Anthony and Bobby – run the business. A lot of the influence still comes from my grandfather and the way he did things. So it’s been the biggest learning experience I’ve had.”
Boniello Development mostly builds in northern Westchester County, developing commercial, multifamily rentals, large custom luxury homes and speculative homes.
“We don’t do just one thing,” Boniello says. “We’re developers, so we will do everything from the engineering of the roads to the finishes of the home. We’re also just getting into townhomes, which looks like it’s going to be a huge market for us.” Boniello adds that there are many empty nesters in its area that are looking to downsize. In response, the company is developing Somers Crossing, which will feature 66 townhomes, all with geothermal HVAC.
“We’re planning on starting construction this spring and we are going to build essentially as fast as we can to keep up with demand because it is overwhelming,” he says. “So we think we’re going to be in and out of there in two to three years.”
Boniello Development’s 0-year tenure in the industry sets it apart from its competitors. “We’ve had so much practice and experience that many aspects of building we take for granted are often a challenge to other builders in the industry,” explains Boniello. “Even with our understanding of new construction, we continue to try new things. No one builds a house like Boniello.”
Though the company’s workforce includes laborers and heavy equipment operators, a large portion of its homes are the work of subcontractors – many of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years.
“We are mutually loyal to one another and have a great working relationship,” Boniello says. “Even as trends changed, we have found that they are always adaptable to using different materials, and implementing new technologies that benefit our customers and the environment.”
The relationships with its subcontractors are certainly a key factor in the company’s success, as a lot of them have worked with the Boniello family since they were young. “My father and his brothers actually grew up in this area, as did a lot of the subcontractors that work with us today,” Boniello explains. “So they’ve known each other 40 years, which is invaluable.”
Anthony Boniello is the architect responsible for designing both the speculative and custom homes. Boniello Development offers this in-house service as a courtesy to its customers.
“Very few contractors have this ability,” Boniello says. “We will also work with the client through the construction of the entire house, doing whatever is needed to give them exactly what it is they want.”
As a family business, everyone has an integral role in completing a project. The executive team includes Boniello’s grandfather and his father and uncles. “Gus Jr. does the initial planning and interfaces with our engineers and planners and obtains the permits,” Boniello describes.
“Bobby is responsible for all mechanical systems of the homes, including geothermal HVAC, as well as maintaining our fleet of equipment. Jim is in charge of interfacing with the customers and brokers, while Jared – my cousin who recently joined the company – is overseeing much of the construction of the homes, as well as the engineering aspects, including underground wastewater treatment systems as well as draining systems.”
Boniello says he looks for new design ideas, “working with Anthony to implement them. I also do technical support as far as web design, maintenance and advertising. Additionally, my 87-year-old grandfather, Gus Sr., still participates in many of the day-to-day decisions.”
All family members try to stay informed of current trends in the industry. “We’re finding the bigger the windows the better and that open floor plans are essential now,” Boniello says. “People want to be able to entertain in their home, but not in the formal living room, family room or a seperated dining room. They want big, open expressive features.”
Though not as universally requested as they would like, the company has been pushing green technology and sustainable products for quite some time now. “We wish more of our clients understood how important it is,” Boniello says. “Although we’ve been offering geothermal for 10 years, people are hesitant to make the purchase because the payoff is two years down the road. Yet, if they made the purchase they would save $10,000 annually. As we become more versed in the topic, we feel that more people will go that route because it is totally in their benefit.”
Ultimately, Boniello Development feels that a more modern, energy-efficient home is where the homebuilding industry is headed. This is why the firm has been offering geothermal HVAC but also LED lights, bamboo floors, low flow fixtures and spray foam insulation.
“It feels like it’s becoming the standard rather than the exception,” Boniello says. “We are striving with every house to decrease our environmental impact, that’s why with our latest project, which we completed in early August – a 2,800-square-foot transitional home – we wanted to continue to push the envelope of what is offered in our area and create a green home with an open concept floor plan. We browsed thousands if not tens of thousands of pictures before we began to piece together what the overall feel would be.”
The home features three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a roof designed to support solar, geothermal HVAC, high-efficiency windows, Nest thermostats, low-flow fixtures, a custom trellis over the front, walk-out basement with 10-foot ceilings and gigantic windows.
“We actually utilized reclaimed barn wood for this project from a property that we own that has a 19th-century barn on it,” Boniello says excitedly. “We cut the lumber ourselves, and made wall cubbies and shelving throughout the house out of it.”
What really makes the home special is the first-floor layout, according to Boniello. “We created these special floating stairs – there’s nothing underneath them and you can see these beautiful stringers that are right near these gigantic 15-foot windows,” he says. “That’s all within the main living space that’s divided by a free-standing fireplace. It’s just a gorgeous space to be in, which is why we’re further pursuing green building with each new project.”