Photographers: Carter Fish and Rhonda Spevak
Sam and Julie Fertik and their almost three year-old daughter, Emily, will be moving-in to the house he’s building in Pound Ridge – intending to stay for the long-term – and to use his house, and method of building, as a model to show what his company, Carbon Custom Builders, can do.
Sam’s path to the building business was anything but typical. He was born on Long Island and grew up going to public school in East Brunswick, New Jersey. “I hated every minute of being a student…I don’t like being told what to do…and I’ve always questioned the routine way of doing just about everything,” Sam remarks. “I got B’s without doing any work, and started working in catering – with the caterer who did my Bar Mitzvah – when I was 14. On the first day, I worked a party for 800 people – and I was hooked! I worked something like 80 hours a week for the rest of high school, and was running a catering kitchen by the time I graduated. I went to the Culinary Institute of America, and got a job as an Executive Chef in someone else’s restaurant right out of school. After a couple of years and realizing I needed to make more money, we moved into Manhattan and I started my own corporate catering business, which I grew into an enterprise serving 30,000 to 40,000 meals a week to large clients like Palantir and Blue Apron.”
“All along,” Sam continues, “I’d also had a hand in construction. I had a drafting table from the time I could draw, and had built a deck for my parents when I was 15, and done some contracting work in people’s kitchens. I tiled a kitchen the day after my high school prom! And when I started the catering business, I designed and built-out the entire catering kitchen.”
We’d purchased a place in Vermont about a year before covid, at least in part so I could get into the construction business up there. When covid hit, and the entire catering industry evaporated, we moved to Vermont full-time and I turned my complete focus to building. We bought a large building in Brattleboro and renovated it to include 11 apartments, a coffee shop, and a place that serves the best falafel in Vermont. I contracted some other projects doing design-builds and renovations and, most importantly, I started building homes and commercial buildings developing my own techniques to build…better! I found that using better materials and components might be somewhat more expensive at the outset, but that the building would be more durable and energy-efficient in the long run. I applied methods usually reserved for commercial buildings, and started to use poured and reinforced concrete, steel structure, and residential builds.”
“By the time 2021 rolled around and Emily was turning two, my wife informed me that it was time to ‘move back to civilization’. We targeted the most rural place we could find within a one-hour or so circle of New York City and with good schools for Emily – and Pound Ridge was the ideal solution! We closed on our 3.5-acre parcel on March 21, 2021, and I’m on schedule to have our house ready to move-in by March 2023.”
The modern barnhouse Sam is building is a marvel! It’s an 11,750 square foot structure, with about 6,000 square feet of interior living space, an enormous garage, a massive basement, a complete machine shop and lift, an elevator, and large outdoor spaces. It will have 5 bedrooms and 5.5 baths, including two guest suites, an office, a gym, and a playroom.
Sam explains, “For this project, we were inspired by a home Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects designed in the Hudson Valley. I used about 3,000,000 pounds of poured concrete! The concrete walls are 8-inch thick, with significant steel rebar, and incorporate two separate 4-inch layers of foam insulation. The concrete floor in the garage is suspended over the workshop with 18-inch steel beams. I’ve incorporated solar and geothermal systems for heating and cooling. I used triple glazed, aluminum windows imported from Poland. The roof is standing seam metal, which has been insulated as well. Though the entire construction will cost about 25% more than what it would have cost to do a comparable stick-build, the house will require only 1/5th the energy of a traditional home of similar scale – forever!”
“I’ve designed and positioned the house to create a series of enjoyable experiences. From the long driveway the barn first appears…and it’s not until you get into the front courtyard and look into the two- story glass entry of the home that you realize the presence and size of the entire back wing of the home. The sun rises in the east and lights the front of the home all day, maximizing sun in the family living spaces and bedrooms, and making for a great spot to have coffee on the primary balcony in the mornings. The kitchen is a masterpiece of Gaggenau appliances and custom cabinetry by one of our amazing craft partners. The bedrooms are all individually zoned and the entire home is smart, allowing us to control energy usage and monitor everything from wherever we are. The dining room is an amazing expanse between two huge windows. You feel almost as though you are sitting in a field. Every space in the home is a special and unique experience…and at least a bit oversized – and, again, the way I build, there’s nothing like the solid feeling and the quiet I will have,” Sam declares.
About his Carbon Custom Builders, Sam summarizes, “Ultimately, it’s all about how you will experience living in your home. I’m all about building a better house, and maximizing design, quality, comfort, longevity, healthy indoor air quality, and efficiency. Right now we’re working on two local houses – other than my own – that will also both be delivered in 2023. One on Halsey Pond in Irvington, and one on Hawley Road in North Salem. And I’m actively looking for development projects, and for local contract builds. We will collaborate with you and any architect you choose, to build the house of your dreams – using our methodology.”