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Ralph Cataldo | Cataldo Custom Builders

Sustainable Living by the Sea

In the tight-knit community of building professionals on the Cape and Islands, it can be a challenge to stand out in the crowd. Ralph Cataldo and his team at Cataldo Custom Builders have found a way to do just that by building outstanding one-of-a-kind custom homes throughout Cape Cod and along the waterfront from Bourne to Chatham. Cataldo Custom Builders limit the number of projects undertaken in a year, so each new home or renovation project can receive the utmost care, professionalism, and commitment.

This philosophy has helped establish Cataldo Builder’s sterling reputation as industry leaders over the past 25 years. The company’s mission for each customer is, “On Time, Every Time” and the firm has the results to support that mission, including President Ralph Cataldo’s designation as one of three of America’s Best Builders by Builder Magazine in 2011.

Sustainable Living by the Sea

Before entering the building world, Ralph Cataldo was immersed in the high-tech industry for 12 years, where he developed the necessary skills that would make him one of Cape Cod’s top building professionals. During his stretch in the corporate world, Cataldo was employed at Digital Equipment Corporation, Wang Laboratories, and Honeywell Information Systems. His positions included senior manufacturing engineer, senior project engineer, and facility manager.

Perhaps even more important than the business skills he developed, were the people skills he built as a young man. During college, Cataldo’s father got him a job assembling cameras on a high volume assembly line at Polaroid. This was a deliberate move by his dad, who hoped his son would learn something pivotal for anyone in the business world—the value of the “little guy.” Cataldo continues to believe that the little guy is just as important as any manager or supervisor, and that it isn’t the position that an employee holds, but the work they do that should garner respect.

One of Ralph Cataldo’s main areas of expertise is in waterfront construction and over the years he and his team have learned the ups and downs of living and building on the water. The biggest hurdle in building on the water is getting through the red tape. “The permit process takes longer, but with an experienced permit team with a good leader, most projects can be permitted if the regulations are satisfied,” says Cataldo. “Building and environmental codes have become stricter and require better building methods, techniques, and materials. The structural codes and wind load requirements make designs much more challenging for architects.

Sustainable Living by the Sea

“Fortunately for us, the better architects have always designed well above the code for many years, so we are familiar with many of the best practices. You really have to go the extra mile when you build on the water. If you invest up front, it will save you in the future, especially in the area of maintenance expenses.”

On the positive side, waterfront living has almost limitless pluses. For families, it is the ultimate way to spend time together in a beautiful environment. “A waterfront home attracts friends and family to stay together and look forward to the next trip to the Cape,” says Cataldo. Whether it’s fishing off the dock, or from the back of a boat, throwing a family reunion clambake in the backyard, or just sitting together on the porch watching the sunset, a waterfront home allows for unique and incredible family memories to be made from day one.

An old adage about land is that “they aren’t making any more of it,” which makes waterfront property a solid investment. Cataldo notes that not only are you able to capture family memories in the moment, but you will leave a legacy for future generations. “If you design and build the home right, it usually always goes up in value,” says Cataldo. “On the other hand, you can easily devalue a property by not maximizing the potential of each site. In the case of waterfront construction, you clearly get what you pay for. With such a project, it’s important to have your A-team—architect, engineer, builder, landscape architect, and interior designer—on board from the beginning. They should be your team of ‘trusted advisors’ that you can count on once you define your goals.”

Cataldo has a strong reputation for collaborating with some of the best professionals on Cape Cod and from the Boston area. A local engineer offered testimony on Cataldo’s behalf saying, “He is always on his game and one of the best. He is extremely organized, consistent, always focused, and knows how to get the job done.”

One of the most frequent questions Cataldo is asked is whether a home should be torn down or renovated. He says this is often an extremely tough decision, especially if his clients recently purchased a home at market price. This is where a team of trusted advisors, including an experienced real estate broker familiar with waterfront properties can help. Once a spreadsheet is developed that outlines the estimated market value after spending “x” dollars renovating at twice that cost, versus building a new home, a decision for new construction is often made. “It’s not always a dollars and cents decision, but a family decision made for the long term,” says Cataldo.

A  client of Cataldo Builders in North Falmouth—who has built two waterfront homes with the firm—anticipates that once he has finished customizing his home, and as the housing market continues to climb, his property will soon be worth more than what he paid into it. “In the meantime, our entire family will enjoy it,” he says,

Cataldo says he has been blessed to live on the waterfront for almost 30 years with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and he wouldn’t change the location of his home for anything. The people lucky enough to live on one of America’s most heralded coasts in a beautiful, customized Cataldo Builders home no doubt feel exactly the same way.

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