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B: Bars, Boats & Basements

Sand Dollar Customs

“We always say to trust your gut instinct when choosing a contractor,” says Steve Bobola, co-owner of Sand Dollar Customs. “It’s important to feel comfortable with a company’s professionalism, work ethic, style, and most importantly, their integrity.”

With over 30 years of experience, Bobola partnered with Rob Warren in 2017 to create Sand Dollar Customs. A custom home building firm, Sand Dollar Customs combines the expertise of these two professionals, each having owned and operated their own construction firms for many years, into a fresh new entity. “All I’ve ever done is construction,” says Bobola, “and when I met Rob, it just made sense to collaborate.”

With Sand Dollar Customs, Bobola and Warren have tapped into a community of homebuilders across the Cape and Islands, often working on projects for other professionals in the industry. “I think that really speaks to our company,” says Bobola. “When we do a project for another builder, they recognize the expertise we have—the time, the knowledge and the foresight that we put into our work.” Sand Dollar Customs, has also had the opportunity to work on a number of unique projects; in fact they pride themselves on creating custom, “flavorful” builds as Bobola refers to them.

“One day, one of our homeowners asked to meet with us, and when he pulled up, he was towing a boat behind his car—barnacles and all,” laughs Bobola. That homeowner had a bold idea—a basement bar created from the bones of his beloved motor yacht, the Start Me Up. The 42 foot boat would find itself a new home, away from the trials and tribulations of life on the seas, but still serving its purpose as a place of enjoyment. 

“The whole concept was so different that the overall project felt special from the start,” says Bobola about re-purposing the vessel. “Phase one was to cut the boat into manageable sections. Then, we had to figure out how to put it back together and scribe it to the wall seamlessly. You don’t get a second chance to get something like this right.”

With a project like this, every step presents a unique challenge, from electrical integration to allow for a functioning bar to fiberglass work to make the structure look seamless—like it belongs. For instance, scribing the boat to the wall, Bobola had to decide where to cut the vessel to best fit in the space—a task made even more difficult by the paneled windows on either side of the cabin. “We had to get it exactly right, so you wouldn’t be looking through half of a window,” explains Bobola. 

The finished product is a fully operational bar with two kegs, flat screen televisions and a dishwasher. A doorway in the basement leads into a hallway that accesses the rear of the bar, so rather than having a traditional counter flap hinge that might break up the allusion that Sand Dollar Customs created in this basement, the entryway to the bar is in the back. White leather barstools surrounding the newly-painted transom complete the nautical look and wood paneling along the wall adds rustic style to the room. Guests will surely be tempted to sit and stay awhile, and why not? The boat’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Now that the project is complete, the transom has been amended to read “Therapy,” a fitting nod to the healing properties of time with friends (at a bar, of course). “A lot of people sit at the bar for some therapy after work,” says Bobola. “That was the whole premise behind it.” There’s even a sauna in the basement to really bring the relaxing vibes of the space full circle. 

“This was such an enjoyable project for me because I got to exercise my mind,” says Bobola. “Being a builder, you get to a point where you can build a house in your sleep, so the real fun is when somebody asks you to do something cool and you can use your brain.” Bobola also explains that they like to ensure their projects fit the lifestyles of the clients they work for, and for this fun, seafaring homeowner, Sand Dollar Customs certainly hit the mark.

“As a company, we like the obvious things,” says Bobola, “to have good customer service, to be on budget and on time, and most importantly, to interact with customers and build a personal connection.”

For more advice, tips and tricks, check out the rest of the alphabet here!



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