VENICE -- Jess Fronckowiak was 8 years old aback he larboard the frigid winters of Buffalo, N.Y., for the amaranthine Florida summer, and appropriate abroad he noticed a aberration amid the homes of the Arctic and those of the South.
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Where were the basements?
Fronckowiak, now 30, makes his active answering that question. His Venice-based company, J2 Solutions, sells and designs custom-built, free-standing garages alleged "Florida Basements."
A backslider from Southwest Florida's custom home-building market, Fronckowiak couches his artefact as the band-aid for Florida transplants who accept a lifetime of backing and boilerplate to put them. The garages ambit in amount from about $45 to $65 per aboveboard foot, with a absolute amount that ranges from $20,000 to added than $100,000.
Despite an area-wide arrest in home sales, Fronckowiak says the barn business is "smoking" and provides numbers to aback up the claim. He has awash added than 60 of the structures back aperture in 2002 and he has already awash added in 2006 than all of 2005.
Fronckowiak speculated that the aerial amount of homes in Southwest Florida could alert added association to augment their houses rather than buy new ones.
"You can't move anywhere. Where are you activity to go? You reinvent your own home," he said. "The accomplished garage-building industry is activity nuts. We're affectionate of capitalizing on that."
Fronckowiak opened his business, which includes aloof two added employees, in 2002 as a custom home builder. He begin it difficult to attempt in Sarasota County's boxy home-building bazaar and confused J2 Solution's focus to stand-alone garages aftermost year.
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J2 Solutions still designs some homes, but 95 percent of the company's assignment is concentrated in garages, Fronckowiak said. Aftermost year, 21 garages awash for about $500,000 total, and 24 were awash this year through July.
Fronckowiak said he accomplished that detached, customized garages were assisting during the company's aboriginal architecture job aback neighbors started asking: "How abundant do these things cost?"
"Then the ablaze went off: It's the aforementioned abiding botheration -- bodies don't accept abundant room," he said.
J2 Solutions' capital antagonism is from mini-storage companies, Fronckowiak said. Shed companies seek a altered client because Florida Basements are beyond and congenital to clothing the needs of anniversary buyer.
Fronckowiak starts every job by authoritative abiding the acreage is ample abundant for a barn and again walks the client through altered architecture options. Some buyers appetite "a baby barn with a lot of accretion and whistles" and some adopt "a ample big box," he said.
A day afterwards the client settles on specifications, Fronckowiak provides a price.
Building, performed by subcontractors, takes about 90 days. The accomplished process, including permitting, takes about six months. Allowing is abundant stricter -- and added time-consuming -- for absorbed garages, he said.
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J2 Solutions' aboriginal customer, Bill Schafer of Venice, aback gave Fronckowiak the abstraction for his business.
Four years ago, Schafer assassin Fronckowiak to body a custom home a mile and a bisected from Manasota Key. Schafer, a retired General Electric artisan with a affection for hot rods, additionally capital a abode to assignment on his admired cars: a 1927 Model T and a 1932 Ford Roadster.
Schafer articular that a alone architecture would be safer than an addition.
"There's consistently a blaze crisis and I don't appetite aggregate activity up if I could advice it," Schafer said.
Today, Schafer's 900-square-foot, $30,000 barn looks like a miniature archetypal car museum, with the two age-old autos abutting to a bank of added than three dozen trophies and plaques from car shows.
Shafer's wife, Mary, said the accession helps account their home's abridgement of a basement.
"Up north, anybody has a basement. You charge a lot of space," she said.
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Fronckowiak said abundant of his business comes from Northerners who are acclimated to homes with basements and attics. He is a Northerner himself, accepting confused to Venice from Buffalo in 1985 with his family.
"Dad was a builder," he said.
He has lived and formed in Florida back the move.
After he becoming a amount in civilian engineering from the University of Florida in 2000, Fronckowiak took a abundant architecture job with the Murray Co. in Tampa. He backward with the close aloof continued abundant to authorize for the contractor's assay and again opened his business.
His Venice home does not accommodate a Florida Basement. A little dejected bird is to blame.
Fronckowiak endemic acreage in Englewood and planned to body a garage, but again "a little abrade jay confused into my property." He concluded up affairs a home in Venice Gardens that did not accept abundant allowance for a garage.
All the added acumen to put affliction into the garages he builds for added people.
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"For best contractors, garages are aloof four walls and 'Thank you, can I accept my check?'" he said. "The absoluteness is every chump wants article different, so every job is done custom."
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