A STATEN ISLAND BUILDER LAYS DOWN A LEGACY OF TOP-NOTCH CUSTOM HOME BUILDS AND REMODELS
BY ERIK SCHONING • PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
For Chris Stout, owner of Stout Homes, his last name is a fitting adjective to describe the properties he’s built his reputation on: sturdy, heavy duty, and made for the long haul.
Stout started his company in 2000. As with many small businesses, the early days were a skeleton crew operation. Stout remembers advertising in a small Staten Island magazine and trying to drum up business via word of mouth. He had passion, but limited experience, and he quickly learned that attention to detail was the best way to distinguish himself from the competition.
“It was just me, myself, and no tools,” said Stout. “I had the bare minimum. And then as the jobs went on, with every job I would buy another tool. I grew the staff and started taking on larger and larger projects. I stayed at the front of the business the whole time, making sure that no matter what, under any circumstance, no one would ever be able to leave a poor review.”
When new business owners put their name on a venture, the stakes are high. Until a reputation is established, every job can feel like a referendum on you and your work. And so as Stout gradually ceded on-site responsibilities, he was careful to make sure that he was putting the right people in charge.
Stout pointed out that he is lucky; not every contractor even gets to the point where they can afford to hire a staff. But success breeds success, and Stout Homes is today a well-oiled machine, with teams of builders, licensed electricians, plumbers, and carpenters that work together to deliver high-level builds. Stout himself is able to step back and run the company from a bird’s eye view, an earned luxury that allows him to ensure everything keeps running smoothly.
“By actually giving up control, you can control more,” said Stout. “Instead of being stuck so much in the day to day, you’re able to stand back and watch and make sure all the chips are moving in the right spot. Whereas if you’re actually in a project fully, you could be making a mistake and not seeing it.”
Now in its third decade of business, Stout Homes is able to hone its focus on new home construction and large-scale remodels. There are countless Staten Island contractors available to remodel a bathroom or finish a basement. A contractor of Stout’s size is uniquely positioned to tackle a home in its entirety, from pouring the foundation to the final details.
As anyone who’s had work done in their home can attest, sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen. With the exception of design work Stout highly recommends his clients find an independent design firm that suits their vision
Stout Homes handles the entire remodeling or construction process. That control allows for the utmost attention to detail and gives the firm the ability to deal with any potential problems the minute they arise. As Stout pointed out, that peace of mind is exactly what his clients are paying for.
“We love to work with clients who want that next level of service,” he said. “We are not a budget-oriented company. We serve the person who wants to make sure that, at any time, nothing’s ever a problem. Problems don’t exist with us.”
Staten Island will forever be where his business was born, but like any quintessential New Yorker, Stout never stops moving. Recently he’s overseen an expansion of his business into New Jersey, where an overabundance of massive, inexpensively finished houses (think 5,000-plus square feet) make prime candidates for luxury remodels. In keeping with migratory trends, Stout has seen some of his own clients move from Staten Island to Jersey. At the end of the day, Stout wants to be where the work is. That flexibility has given him experience building homes of every type, as well as the confidence to navigate state and county-specific building codes.
Building a custom home is not a task one takes lightly. There are always unexpected developments, last-minute additions, gaps between how something looks on the drawing board and how it pans out in brick and mortar. Stout is sensitive to the fact that he’s in the business of delivering concrete results. On every project, Stout sets up a group text with his team and the client. It’s a policy of transparency that cuts through red tape and allows everyone to remain on the same page all the time. Stout pointed out that it’s not uncommon for his team to respond to client texts at 10 p.m. or later. Ultimately, in the broader contracting business, either the client ends up happy or they don’t; Stout Homes has made its name on those happy endings.
“My favorite thing is when someone calls me frantically saying there’s a problem,” said Stout. “And then our answer is that somebody will be there at eight o’clock in the morning. Because people expect you to fight them or say you can’t help them. We’re constantly ready, willing, and able to change whatever a client wants. At any time.”
It’s a philosophy that’s panned out so far. With each new project, Stout and his team build something more lasting than even a home: a legacy.
646.261.5644 / stoutbuild.com