Business Monday

Eurohabitat USA: a family-owned, house-by-house business

Eurohabitat in Pinecrest is a family-run builder of high-end homes with an interesting business model: It incorporates each home as a subsidiary of the business. At right, Director, Ed Gugliotta is seen here with his son Alessandro Gugliotta at a completed home in Pinecrest on Feb.6, 2015
Eurohabitat in Pinecrest is a family-run builder of high-end homes with an interesting business model: It incorporates each home as a subsidiary of the business. At right, Director, Ed Gugliotta is seen here with his son Alessandro Gugliotta at a completed home in Pinecrest on Feb.6, 2015 MIAMI HERALD STAFF

When Ed Gugliotta builds a house, he builds entirely from scratch. The modern, luxury single-family homes he constructs in Pinecrest are each individually conceived, designed and built — and so are the companies he builds them with.

“We try and always do something different,” said Gugliotta, who relocated permanently to Miami in 2006 from Venezuela, where he worked with both residential and commercial construction.

For each new house Gugliotta intends to build, he and his partner, New Orleans-based architect José Luis Alvarez Trujillo, incorporate a new limited liability company under the Eurohabitat USA brand.

Individual incorporation insulates liability between projects, said Gugliotta, but also gives investors (there are usually between one and three on each house) the freedom to pick exactly where they put their money.

Eurohabitat doesn’t itself have any full-time employees; all of the work of building the houses is subcontracted out to others under Gugliotta’s careful direction. But this is still a tight-knit operation: Gugliotta’s investors are usually close friends or family, and Eurohabitat’s two main subcontracting companies are registered to Gugliotta, Alvarez, and Gugliotta’s sons, Angelo and Alessandro.

Keeping middlemen in the family means better deals for the Gugliottas, but it’s also a matter of maintaining creative control — and that creative control in turn gives Eurohabitat homes their distinguishing look and feel.

After a bumpy start — Gugliotta said he only made about 7 percent over his investment on the first home he sold for $1.75 million in 2010 — Eurohabitat now typically enjoys profit margins of 20 to 30 percent on each home, Gugliotta said. That’s because the market rebounded, but also because opening up to investors allowed Gugliotta to make a series of smart buys between 2012 and 2013.

Eurohabitat is putting the finishing touches on its fifth house. Complete with a wine cellar, electric carport, lap pool, and 120-gallon solar water heater, Gugliotta is hoping to sell the six-bedroom, 6,200 square-foot home on SW 112th Street for $3.75 million. A sixth project is already under way, and a seventh property has been purchased.

Investors get whatever amount of money they invest in the project back, plus a proportional amount of the profits. Usually by rolling over profits from the last project, Gugliotta foots anywhere between 35 to 50 percent of the investment.

A licensed contractor since 2013, Alessandro took over construction on Eurohabitat’s latest project after serving as a foreman on previous homes. Unekual Incorporated, which is registered to Alessandro, Ed, and Alvarez, will now likely do all of Eurohabitat’s constructions. Alessandro, who has a master’s degree in architecture, builds Eurohabitat’s homes digitally using modeling software Autodesk Revit to choose design details and materials.

Through Olea Home Solutions, a custom hardware importing company he owns jointly with his son Angelo, Ed Gugliotta can import some of those features directly. The latest Eurohabitat home, now in its finishing stages, uses crosshatched oak doors imported through Olea from Toledo, Spain, to contrast with the home’s otherwise more modern, colder hues.

Eurohabitat always looks for buyers after a home is finished, and asks investors to sign release forms giving the Gugliottas and Alvarez complete control over creative input. But the homes, despite carrying a distinctive aesthetic, are built to appeal widely.

“We try and design it in such a way that it will cater to as many people as we can. We try to avoid certain colors, certain design features,” Alessandro said. “We would love to go full-blown modern, but we understand that some people don’t like it.”

To achieve that balance, Eurohabitat homes feature a mix of environmentally friendly, modern and mixed media elements. The homes typically feature high ceilings (central living areas can go up to 24 feet), lots of light and open spaces. The most prominent materials are glass and concrete, but wood and tile accents work to soften the look.

Each Eurohabitat home has its eccentricities: The latest includes a carport outfitted for an electric car. The first — built in a depressed building market, when materials were cheap — included an all-concrete roof. Ed Gugliotta leaves a vase designed by his wife, Marzia, an artist and jewelry maker, in each home upon completion.

Stephen Lebowitz, who bought a Eurohabitat home in northern Pinecrest last year, said it was the light and open spaces that sold him on the house as well as its particular blend of classic and contemporary.

“On the outside, one of the things that we have now come to know as a hallmark of Eddy’s architectural or design style, is what I call a soft modern look,” Lebowitz said. “Unlike your typical modern which is very angular, and often times monochromatic, he has combined some more traditional elements, more mixed materials.”

Lebowitz also said his “excellent experience with the builder” helped convince him, with Gugliotta arranging for him to meet and tour the home of a previous Eurohabitat buyer.

Eurohabitat USA

Business: A series of individually incorporated limited liability companies under the same brand, building modern, luxury single-family homes in southeastern Miami-Dade County.

Sales: In 2010, one $1.75 million home; in 2012, one $1.55 million home; in 2014, one $2.65 million home and one $2.075 million home.

Address: 2100 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Suite 1175, Coral Gables

Executives: Ed Gugliotta, director; José Luis Alvarez Trujillo, managing member

Phone: 305-213-6378