Construction Season on Fire Island with Riverhead Building Supply

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In the blink of an eye Fire Island’s glorious September was over, and Columbus Day Weekend is now past as well. However, what many call Fire Island’s “off-season” should more accurately be described as “construction season.” This is the time we get down to brass tacks and the real work gets done to upgrade and improve our homes for next summer.

With this in mind, Riverhead Building Supply (RBS) hosted “Building on the Beach” in September to introduce builders and homeowners alike to new trends and materials in the construction industry to spark project ideas as well as celebrate their 75th Anniversary serving Long Island. It was an astute move. RBS Proprietor John Wells was there to greet everyone at the door.

I attended it with great interest not only as a Fire Island News reporter, but a home owner as well.

“Siding,” said RBS Marketing Director Grace Ingram. “Most of the vendors here today are going to introduce you to innovations in siding. Whether you decide to go with natural wood, cement, or a polymer blend. There have been many developments on those fronts in recent years. But we also have vendors here to discuss windows, cabinetry and more.”

Some of the vendors Grace was talking about included James Hardie, Versatex, IPE, Marvin, and Anderson among others. A supply company with the scope that Riverhead has can bring the best under one roof, while their home-grown roots still offer the personal attention of a local lumber yard. Indeed, their website indicates that they got their start as a lumber yard on Ostrander Avenue in 1948. Three generations later, the founding family still operates the business with showrooms across Long Island as well as New England.

It goes without saying that RBS also has an enduring relationship with Fire Island, which was evident from some of the familiar faces we saw. Vannoni Construction was there, as was Mitch Goldberg of Fire Island Improvements, and of course Cernilli Construction. Because most of the workers were coming by on their lunch break, sandwiches were thoughtfully provided.

There were also a few homeowners like myself milling about the Ocean Beach Community House, and stopping at each booth. My Fire Island Home is a New York Rising post-Hurricane Sandy rebuild, which I have lived in for over five years. If there was one thing I was feeling there, it was a touch of envy. Grace was correct – there had been significant advancements in siding since my house was built in 2018.

Manmade materials that had been much maligned only a decade ago for their appearance as well as fire-rating concerns had evolved into safe options that would work esthetically in this beach environment. The natural wood products also had undergone transformation, with attention paid to sustainable choices and other improvements. One product that left a lasting impression with me was called UFP Edge, a thermally modified hemlock that had all the beauty of cedar, but done smarter and less vulnerable to the elements Fire Island homes are subject to.

Stephanie Riccardi representing Marvin Windows and Christina Galante of Lakeville Kitchen and Bath both left strong impressions as well. Let’s be honest, there were a lot of guys at this event. The women who were there representing their brand had to be sharp, smart and on top of their game. Stephanie and Christina were all of those things.

As I was heading out, I noticed a display of RBS 75th Anniversary logo caps.

“We are donating all proceeds from those caps being sold today to the Ocean Beach Community Fund,” said Grace. Gestures like this speak volumes to why Riverhead Building Supply has been successful for three quarters of a century.

On the heels of the BRS event, Tropical Storms Lee and Ophelia soon followed, leaving beach erosion and flooding in their wake… another important reminder why every Fire Islander must constantly fortify our castles in the sand.