Small Firm. Big Vision.
Passarelli Focuses on Family Feel

Robert Passarelli takes a somewhat old-fashioned approach to working with clients of Passarelli Custom Homes: he simply treats each one like family. “A home is really the biggest investment of your life,” says the builder, “and I want our clients to know that we’re doing what’s in their best interest. I don’t ever want them to feel like they are dealing with a corporation instead of a person.”

To that end, he focuses on building a limited number of high-end custom residences each year. “We’re not going to have more than three homes in progress at any given time,” he says, giving a simple rationale: “Eighty percent of building a home is a direct result of what we do on the site. If I’m too focused on attracting more clients, I can’t be here focusing on the details.” And details are where Passarelli simply excels.

A residence the company recently completed for Jim and Sue Evans displays the level of craftsmanship Passarelli puts into every home. The open, flowing home designed for entertaining is encased in a traditionally rustic Old World exterior, with stone and stucco detailing that makes it appear as if the house has always been anchored to its sloped, three-quarter acre site. The gourmet kitchen is open to a dramatic great room with a stone fireplace, while the informal dining area provides an intimate spot for the family to gather. The wine cellar off the great room features a striking arched brick ceiling with weeping mortar joints and richly faux finished walls.

The focal point of the downstairs, however, lies just outside the windows and French doors. A covered loggia overlooks a dramatic pool with three rock waterfalls and a massive stone fireplace. “We had designed a smaller exterior structure, but we opted to build up the fireplace to block the view from the neighbor’s,” he explains. Indeed, at 65” tall and 3’ wide, the firebox alone was large enough that three masons were literally working inside it at the same time. That structure and a substantial brick wall softened by mature landscaping create a serene haven in this established neighborhood.

Dramatic views are captured from nearly every room in the home, from the gracious master suite to an upstairs guest suite that guests won’t want to leave. At the top of the stairs is a vaulted wood ceiling with a rich, red stain that makes the traditional pine look like an exotic mahogany. From the recessed desk area in their daughter’s room to the weathered, distressed finish of the laundry room cabinets, every element combines to create a memorable whole. Yet the details in this home go far beyond what meets the eye. “It’s an ENERGY STAR home. If you’re not building green, you’re falling behind,” Passarelli says, noting that each system was independently tested for efficiency.

Efficiency is critical when you’re dealing with residences of this scale – the Evans’ home boasts 8,500 square feet under roof. That home is about average for Passarelli, who got his start with and worked for Jocelyn Dienst for more than 13 years. With more than 70 homes under his belt, the largest of which was 27,000 square feet, Passarelli is keenly aware of the elements that have to come together in projects of this magnitude, but he believes that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice service or savings. He meticulously slashes overhead and believes that focusing on a limited number of homes allows his firm to build them better and faster. “We work on a cost plus basis, which our customers really like, and our sub base is cost plus, too, which gives us access to the A plus subs,” he says. It’s all part of creating a family feel while delivering a home that will stand for generations to come.

For more information on Passarelli Custom Homes, visit or call (704) 728-5641.