Its nickname might be the Garden State, but most of New Jersey’s communities today bear little resemblance to the state’s rural past. In fact, the latest census data once again puts New Jersey on the list of wealthiest states in the nation. Its median household income for 2015 was $72,222, and close to 40 percent of New Jerseyans hold a bachelor’s degree. Much of that wealth is clustered in three counties: Hunterdon, Bergen, and Monmouth. Within those counties are lush and leafy suburbs that have become hidden enclaves for many of the state’s most well-to-do inhabitants.
Many of the homes in those affluent communities were built by a firm on this list. As a whole, the residential contractors here create homes that reflect New Jersey’s urban flavor; much of the state borders metropolitan New York. The builders are ranked by longevity, training, recognition, and craftsmanship. Top honors belong to a firm that consistently excels in every one of those categories. That contractor has refused to compromise standards, and, as a result, it turns out one architectural masterpiece after another.
14) Jack Finn & Company Building Contractors
Since 1980, Jack Finn & Company Building Contractors has been based in the trendy Essex County hub of Montclair. The team includes a CFO, three project managers, and seven full-time carpenters. Project Manager Ken received a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction from Virginia Tech. Lance, also a project manager, received his bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering and Computer Aided Drafting & Designing (CADD) from Trine University’s Allen School of Engineering. Added to this mix of credentials are founder Jack Finn’s decades of local home building experience.
The New Jersey custom home builder has received US Green Building Council (GBC) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. Recognitions include the 2012 Downtown NJ Excellence Gold Award Winner for Built Projects. Projects by the firm have been featured in the New York Times, Montclair Magazine, and The Montclair Times. A luxurious Florham Park estate featured a gated and heated motor court and pool pavilion with a stone fireplace. A Mediterranean Villa in Upper Montclair has a 2-inch, white oak, engineered end grain wood floors. This builder works throughout Montclair, Florham Park, Short Hills, Glen Ridge, and Essex Fells.
13) Heritage Manor Homes
Website |908.464.1035 | 68 Debbie Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
Northern and Central New Jersey are the target regions for Heritage Manor Homes, a construction company that has been based in Berkeley Heights for more than 30 years. The principals are Rich Bower and Bob Rau, and each has brought decades of experience to the business. Rau was raised in a carpenter family. He is a councilman in the Borough of Fanwood and serves on the board of directors for the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA). He has been recognized as a lifelong member of the Community Builders Association of New Jersey (CBANJ). Bower, a lifelong resident of Berkeley Heights, has been an EMT with the Volunteer Rescue Squad for 40 years.
The more than two dozen awards that Heritage Manor Homes has received include CBANJ’s Builder of the Year in 2007 and the 2005 President’s Award for Bob Rau’s work on behalf of the building association. As a result of the high-quality craftsmanship that goes into their homes, Bower and Rau have also received more than 10 awards for Best Custom Single Family Home. The team also serves Morris, Somerset, Essex, and Union counties.
12) Merrick Construction
Website | 732.758.0404 | 524 Prospect Avenue, Little Silver, NJ 07739
Timothy Merrick Cross was born and raised in Middletown, NJ. In 1989, as soon as he graduated high school, he made his childhood dream of being a professional home builder come true by opening Merrick Construction. It was in the middle of a recession that hit the custom home market in New Jersey especially hard.
From the start, Cross promised the affluent clients in Little Silver that he would be the most “highly detailed” residential contractor around. To make good on that promise through the years, he assembled a team that includes licensed architects and interior designers. The pay-off has been huge. His firm’s name is synonymous with affluent homes that easily command price tags of $5M.
Cross and his team build throughout the ultra-rich areas of Atlantic Highlands, Avon-by-the-Sea, Holmdel, Little Silver, and Rumson. Press coverage has been local and national, with numerous features in Remodeling Magazine and The Journal of Light Construction. Among the firm’s awards have been Remodeling Magazine’s Big 50 Winner and a Guild Master Award for customer service.
11) Byron-Hill Homebuilders
Website | 732.823.1400 | 42 Stouts Lane, Monmouth Junction, NJ 08852
The low-end prices for all custom homes by Byron-Hill Homebuilders start in the millions. The builds have been lauded by publications like Builder|Architect as “fairytale and castle-like” structures that redefine grandeur. Since 1994, the firm has been run by founders Luther Gueyikian and Greg Sarkissian. It is a subsidiary of the multinational Byron-Hill Group, which holds substantial property assets in the US and Europe. To New Jersey real estate industry watchers, the founders are regarded as experts on the luxury estate market. Gueyikian is a licensed professional engineer who has done residential construction for four decades.
This team is known for exteriors reminiscent of 17th century Colonial New England or French-inspired Romanesque architecture. Dramatic great rooms become a home’s centerpiece, with marble-clad, three-story foyers; private courtyards; floor-to-ceiling glass; hidden tunnels connecting walk-out basements; and fireplaces fashioned out of cultured stone. “Architectural symmetry” is how Builder|Architect summed up a recent Byron-Hill Homebuilders project, noting that its exterior “could rival the chateaus of France.” The firm builds in the most exclusive communities of Marlboro, Holmdel, and Colts Neck.
10) D.L. Miner Construction & Property Management
Website | 609.624.8222 | 11 Clermont Drive, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
Bayfront classics and stunning beachfront luxury homes are what this custom builder in New Jersey is known for. Don Miner started the business in 1984 with one truck. Today, the firm has two locations and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It is also a New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (NJDCA) Registered Builder and Home Improvement Contractor.
Over the past 30 years, the company has built more than 350 luxury homes, mostly throughout the upscale areas of Cape May Court House, Ocean View, Marmora, Rio Grande, Strathmore, and Stone Harbor. Recently, Brian Stuart has taken over as president. Stuart is a University of Delaware graduate, who worked for a large developer in Florida. He serves on the Zoning Board in Wildwood Crest and the Cape May County Environmental Commission.
The company’s homes have been featured in House & Home and Design New Jersey. In 2016, the firm completed work on a wood-shingled Jersey Shore home that was named on Philly Magazine’s “The Best of Philly 2016.”
9) Joseph Di Staulo Homes
Website | 201.816.8009 | 196 Vaccaro Drive, Cresskill, NJ 07626
The current owner of this Cresskill-based residential construction company learned the construction trade from his dad, Joseph Di Staulo, who established the original company in 1957. After Joseph Jr., received his Bachelor of Science cum laude in Construction Engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University, he worked alongside his dad, learning every phase of the business. By 1989, Joseph Sr., handed the company over to his son, who has run it solo since 2001. Since then, the firm has opened another office in Alpine, one of the wealthiest counties in the country.
Custom builds by Di Staulo’s team appear often in the local press, where they’ve been praised for setting the standard for opulence in the Garden State. A spread in Classic Properties featured a mansion by Joseph Di Staulo Homes in Rio Vista. The home’s 23,765 square feet of living space is spread over three levels with 12-foot ceilings. It includes two wardrobe rooms adjoining the master suite, six fireplaces, a ballroom, grand gallery, main reception room, formal and informal dining rooms, chef’s kitchen, gymnasium, and an elevator.
8) Schaeffer Family Homes
Website | 856.809.0010 | 432 Kelley Drive, Suite F, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Several generations of the Schaeffer family have spent the past 60 years running this Camden County custom home builder. Thomas Schaeffer Sr., learned the construction trade while serving in the US Army during World War II. Schaeffer schooled his son, Tim Schaeffer, in the same craft, and the two began building custom residences in southern New Jersey. Tim passed his dad’s lessons on to son Jason, who did construction work during college and graduate school. Jason now serves as president of Schaeffer Family Homes.
The Schaeffer team’s work receives much local press in Atlantic and Ocean counties. The team includes a land specialist who helps clients find suitable lots and helps with land acquisitions. The firm’s achievements have been recognized with a long list of awards, such as a 2016 Guildmaster Award Winner, 2013 Builder of the Year from the Building League of South Jersey (BLSJ), numerous Major Achievements in Marketing Excellence awards for Best Home, and the 2004 Builder of Integrity Award from Quality Builders Warranty Corporation (QBWC).
7) The Gage Organization
Website | 973.808.1881 | 6 Briarcliff Road, Montville, NJ 07045
Custom home builder Larry Gage is the owner of the Gage Organization, which has a 25-year history of luxury home building in the Garden State. Today, Gage has focused his energies in the exclusive Lake Valhalla neighborhood of Montville. The firm is erecting 27 estates, priced between $3.5M and $5M. The estates will sit on secluded, wooded acres, in a community that a CNN report deemed the best New Jersey town to live in and the 13th best in the country.
Home lots range between three and four acres, and home size ranges from 9,000 to 14,000 square feet. The exteriors were inspired by European classical architecture. The homes have been featured in Residential Design & Build, Builder|Architect, New York Spaces, New Jersey Home & Style, and Romantic Homes. Recognition has been significant and ample. The estates were even featured on the HBO series The Sopranos. The Gage Organization won CBANJ’s awards for Best Builder of Single Family Homes over $2M, Best Community of the Year, and Best Builder for Landscape Design.
6) Gambrick Custom Homes
Website | 732.892.1386 | 859 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742
John Mazzucca founded this firm in 1971 in Point Pleasant, in the heart of Jersey Shore turf. Less than five years later, Gambrick Custom Homes became known among the state’s upper crust for creating estates that cost up to $5M. Most notable are Mazzucca’s oceanfront builds in the ultrarich Ocean and Monmouth County communities of Rumson, Belmar, Red Bank, Avon-by-the-Sea, and Lake Como.
Typical of this construction company’s builds is a resort-like home in Rumson that overlooks Navesink River. Special features include arched Marvin doors surrounded by white stucco, and a covered patio with custom built arches and tapered columns and a custom stone fire pit. In Monmouth County, an 8,500-square-foot estate boasts a stucco-and-stone finish with Timberline shingles, coffered ceilings, an elevator, and a covered patio with an inground pool and fireplace.
Much of the firm’s business comes from repeat customers. Its client list includes some of the state’s most prestigious architects. Mazzucca is a member of the NAHB and part of the NAHB Builder 20 Club.
Website | 908.595.6878 | 3322 Route 22 West, Suite 1401, Branchburg, NJ 08876
Fallone has been a bulwark of the Hunterdon and Somerset county residential construction business for almost 70 years. The firm is still run by the Fallone family. Many of its clients are children and grandchildren of the families who first retained the company to build their custom homes. Fallone is a member of the NAHB.
The company builds throughout the upscale neighborhoods of Tewksbury, Branchburg, Flemington, Lebanon, and Bedminster. It is currently building estates in several towns of Somerset County. The new homes are between 3,500 and 4,100 square feet. Prices start over $900k, but most go well over $1M. All feature 9-foot ceilings on the lower level; master suites with walk-out, private covered porches; media rooms; and libraries.
Fallone has been honored with consistent recognition for outstanding construction. In 2017, it received the Award of Excellence from the Metropolitan Builders and Contractors Association of New Jersey (MBCANJ) and Best Custom Home from the NJBA. In 2015, it received two awards from the MBCANJ for Best Single Family Home.
4) Alliotts Construction
Website |201.944.1067 | 1 Alliotts Place, Palisades Park, NJ 07650
Close to 100 years ago, Italian-born Charles Alliotts opened a one-man plumbing and heating business in Palisades Park, NJ. Three generations and one or two overhauls later, that company is building custom homes that sell for up to $20M. Charles’s grandson, Kevin Alliotts, took over in 1980 along with Kevin’s dad, Frank. The two reworked the business model with a focus on high-end residential home building.
Within 10 years, Alliotts Construction had built over 100 custom dwellings in affluent Bergen County. One of those was for Major League Baseball player C.C. Sabathia. The French neoclassic but modern home, spread out in Architectural Digest, included a full-service salon with his-and-hers shampoo bowls. It also featured a basketball court, a trophy room, a room-sized aquarium, and a theater with a ceiling that used fiber-optic lights to portray the birth constellations for family members. Construction by this custom builder in New Jersey often appears on any list of “the rich and famous” homes. Alliotts and team works throughout Norwood, Palisades Park, Fort Lee, Cresskill, and Alpine.
3) Bocina Homes
Website | 908.221.0973 | 225 Route 202, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Bruce Bocina runs this Basking Ridge firm, which has won an impressive amount of industry awards in its 20-plus year history. Bocina’s specialty since day one has been custom-built, single family homes with prices well into five digits and higher. Industry honors include at least three Sales & Marketing (SAM) Awards for Best Custom Home, Best Townhome, Best Interior, and Best Single Family Homes priced at $300k and over $500k. From CBANJ, Bocina Homes won the Best Single Family Custom Home and Builder of the Year awards. Additionally, the Somerset County Planning Board has bestowed its Land Development & Planning Award on the firm for projects in Hillsborough and Far Hills.
Bocina builds throughout Bernards Township, particularly the historic villages of Oldwick and Pottersville. His projects often appear in NJ Monthly Magazine, New Jersey Luxury Real Estate, and local papers such as The Messenger-Gazette. For a recent Colonial in Tewksbury, Bocina made 9-foot ceilings, a foyer decorated with a granite floor and swirling staircase, and a wine cellar that stores 1,000 bottles. The firm is a member of the NAHB.
2) Grant Homes
Website | 973.543.2021 | 1 E. Main Street, Mendham, NJ 07945
Custom builds by this nationally acclaimed contractor often run up to 10,000 square feet. The homes always appear in the state’s ritziest neighborhoods throughout Basking Ridge, Bedminster, Peapack, Mountain Lakes, and Mendham. Founder and Owner Jay Grant started the company in 1984 after graduating from Tulane University.
Grant, who comes from a family of builders, wrote “Grant on Building” — a monthly column in Residential Design & Build magazine. He is also active in the homebuilding industry, having been past a executive officer and past president of the Community Builders Association of New Jersey (CBANJ). Since 1990, he has been affiliated with the MBCANJ and the NAHB 20 Club.
Grant was named to Home Builder Executive Magazine’s Top 100 list. Residential Design & Build magazine has named Grant Homes one of the best design build contractors in the US. The firm’s more than 25 awards include Best Single Family Home of the Year from CBANJ. Areas served include Mendham, Morristown, Princeton, Peapack, and Bedminster.
1) Polo Master Builders
Website | 973.292.2439 | 12 School House Lane, Morristown, NJ 07960
This family-run New Jersey construction company is known for creating mega mansions in upscale Colts Neck, Mendham, Far Hills, Rumson, and Morristown. It was established by Howard Polo, who received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Brother Roger received his degree in mechanical engineering from the County College of Morris and a realtor’s license, and then joined the company as chief financial officer. A third brother, Jeffrey, went to Northeastern University for his business degree. He now heads the firm’s project management team.
Although the firm shuns publicity, its homes get noticed, including a 20,000-square-foot mansion in Mendham. This home features 10 fireplaces, a bowling alley, home theater with seating for 15, 12-foot-high ceilings, a wine cellar, six bedrooms, and a gym. In nearby Colts Neck, Polo Master Builders constructed a 39,000-square-foot compound for Paul Parmar, founder of Pegasus Blue Star Fund. Howard Polo is former president of the Somerset County and Morris County Home Builders associations, a member of the Morris County Board of Realtors, and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).