"My life has centered around the building business. My grandfather started building in 1938 with his company, New England Home Builders.
After World War II, my father Raymond and his brother Victor, formed Carnelli Construction Company and built
many homes throughout West Hartford and Simsbury", says Raymond Carnelli Jr. of Carnelli Corporation, explaining how far back
and how deep his love of building goes. With such a strong building tradition in the family, Raymond was destined to become a
builder. Even when he was too young to learn the work ethic of a builder. "They always impressed upon me how important it was
to 1) never sit down on the job, 2) take your hands out of your pockets, 3) don't lean against the shovel, and 4) when your feet
freeze, keep moving! At the time I wasn't old enough to hold a hammer!
Carnelli got his early education in the design aspects of home building by sneaking up to his father's office to watch him work as
he designed homes at his drafting table. " I could look over and see the layouts and I would picture myself walking through the
rooms, section by section, before the house even existed", Raymond recalls. "From then on the pleasure of creating something
never before built, that even existed on paper, and watching it come to life on the job site became one of the most satisfying thing
in life". From there Raymond went on to his first paid experience in the field, working for 60 cents an hour when he was just 12
years old. He thought it was "a killing" at the time he remembers, now he realizes he was child labor. But the hard work didn't
deter Raymond and after graduating from Bryant College with a Bachelor of Science degree, he formed his own construction
company, Carnelli Corporation in 1978 and starting building high quality homes in the Hartford area.
"I learned immediately the importance of straight cuts and the number of nails used. I understood the stress factors for the different species of lumber and the correct framing techniques", Carnelli says. "There are faster ways to build, but there is no way I can sleep at night, unless I know I've built something that I and the homeowner can be proud of. Whatever I've learned in the building business, the most important thing is to be proud of what you build. Use the highest quality of materials possible, treat everybody fairly, and be faithful to the homeowner. My subcontractors and crews all reflect the same ideals. They all take the same interest in the project that I do, and they're all willing to sign their names to it".
Carnelli Corporation homes can be found throughout all the Farmington Valley towns as well as in many other towns throughout Connecticut. And although each Carnelli home has it's own unique features and details, all Carnelli homes have one thing in common; they all exceed normal building practices and codes. This has made a Carnelli home a much sought after product, and it's the reason Carnelli's company was chosen to build a home on Nantucket Island, a quarter-mile from the ocean. When the home was being built during the winter of 1991, the wind was so strong that it could actually pick up a sheet of plywood off the ground and throw it around! Carnelli was hired based on the homes he had built in the Hartford area. The owners knew his homes reputation for being built to exceed normal building codes and felt with the conditions on the Island they needed a extremely well built home.
That wasn't the only unusual experience in Raymond Carnelli's career. In 1980, as the nation faced an energy crisis, there was a
great push to make homes more energy efficient. Northeast Utilities was involved in a program, the National Energy Watch, that
encouraged builders to construct homes that consumed as little energy as possible. Raymond enrolled in the program and his home
won the award! The almost 5,000 square foot home with it's triple glazed windows and three zoned heat pumps cost less than
$700 per year to heat and cool. It began the marketing of the energy saver electric home. As it turned out, Raymond laughs, "It
was the president of an oil company who bought the house. The last thing he wanted the public to know was that here was an oil
man buying an electric house!" This award winning home was a success because Raymond Carnelli Jr. was able to carefully plan the
home from the beginning. That's why, if he can, he prefers to be involved with a project from the onset. He explains that a lot of
people don't realize that the most important thing about a house is it's location on the lot. "Sometimes people get caught up in
things, and they think designs can make up for deficiencies in the lot. But when you start correctly from square one, the house
really blends well with the neighborhood and into the site layout", he attests.
Raymond loves to design his own homes, and when needed, he consults with Jack Kemper of Kemper Associates for additional design expertise. Carnelli emphasizes that the design phase of his homes is really more like an evolutionary process. "It's ongoing, with input from myself, the crews, and the homeowners. We create new ideas off each other, so it expands on the house even after the blueprint stage. What we end up with are those extra touches like hidden appliances in the kitchen, tumbled marble on a radius, and artfully incorporated antique pieces that perfectly fit each niche, each space, each house! It takes more of the design factors, but it gives us a cutting edge on the competition. It's also nice because people come into my homes and are surprised. They see something new, something different that they want to incorporate in their projects", he says. Special details like these reflect the time, patience and quality that Raymond puts into each structure he builds. He's usually one of the first ones on the job site each day and the last one to leave. Ray spends quite a bit of time on each and every project and says this allows him to "oversee just about everything that goes on, so that it comes out the correct way, the way it was or better than expected ! This cuts back on many little problems or callbacks and anything else that may arise in the future.
Raymond has now begun training the next generation of Carnelli builders. He recalls with both amusement and pride a recent
Sunday drive with his wife, Geri Lynne and their three children, Jeremiah, Jordan and Jacob. "my oldest one, Jeremiah, said,
'Daddy, look at that builder's house. There's nothing special...it's just a big box'! Even my kids seem to have the same passion for a
building that I had as a kid", he laughs. Just like their dad, the Carnelli children seem to have an eye for design and appreciation for
the beautiful, well built home!