Once upon a time, in Bridgehampton, a homeowner ordered a new garage door. Alas, the door was mistakenly put on a neighbor’s garage. The moral of the story: They could have used the services of Greg Baker and Anthony Cappa, who have launched Revel Inspired, a service that looks out for the interests of absentee owners, especially those renovating or building a house. During winter when most building and renovating takes place, few homeowners are taking advantage of the South Fork’s cold, dark days. And many don’t trust contractors to do what they promise.
The primary thrust at Revel is to act as “owners’ advocates” throughout the construction phases of a project. As liaisons between owners and their contractors, tradesmen, architect, and anyone else on the building team, they oversee the entire project and keep the owner up to date with ongoing progress reports. Clients receive their own project website where they can view an activity calendar and photos. A nice thing to glance at while sipping a caipirinha at your third home in Palm Beach.
“Most people are here to relax,” said Mr. Cappa. When they’re not here, they’re most likely doing anything but dealing with plumbers, electricians, and roofers. “That’s the origin of our name. We’re giving them the opportunity to revel in the Hamptons.”
Figuring out what owners want is key. “Ninety percent of people can’t visualize what a house will look like,” said Mr. Cappa. “It can be a guessing game as to what they like or don’t like.” A predicament that can result in, for example, a “bathroom being completely installed and ripped out because the marble was slightly different than the sample.” It is their job to “ask the right questions from the beginning to prevent expectations not being met.”
One of their main functions is to grease the often-rusty wheels of communication between owners and tradesmen. “We’re able to look at things from both sides,” said Mr. Baker. “We’re 100 percent dedicated to the owner, but we can put on a contractor’s hat and explain [a situation] to the owner.” Having both worked in “corporate America managing technology projects,” Mr. Baker at such companies as MTV Networks and Viacom, and Mr. Cappa at IBM and Credit Suisse, “we understand how [our clients] run their lives. New Yorkers want things done in three seconds. There’s constant translation and negotiation.”
They recently took on a renovation of an ’80s ranch in North Haven purchased in October by Ted Levenson and Vincent Cuticello. Mr. Levenson was impressed that the pair seemed to intuit their needs. When the project’s architect suggested moving the basement entry to the garage, “They told us, ‘You don’t want to do that.’ They were right. . . . They’re spatially very good with floor plans and have a handle on where you can save money.”
In another instance the duo went so far as to pause the framing of a house in Bridgehampton. “Once it went up, exactly like the architect’s plan called for, we realized it wasn’t going to work for [the client’s] lifestyle.” At issue was a spa with steam room, sauna, shower, and a sitting room, which they realized was “way too small.” Putting their proprietary architectural software to work, they rendered a virtual floor plan and got client approval to reconfigure the space. By stopping the process before it had gotten too far, they claim they saved their client thousands of dollars.
John Nocera, a contractor who has worked with them on two projects, said “They go above and beyond contractors. They do more hand-holding, take [the client] shopping for plumbing fixtures or tile. They make our life much easier.”