our country home

Building with the future in mind

Dr Joe D’Abbraccio and his pet-friendly, change-friendly ‘eternal home’


The house may have taken almost two years start to finish, but done it is, and veterinarian Dr. Joe D’Abbraccio can finally relax and enjoy his home... When the pets and farm animals and their owners give him time off, anyway. (He also writes a monthly veterinary column for the River Reporter.)

Dr. D’Abbraccio was “born and raised in Sullivan County,” he said, and founded Catskill Veterinary Services, which has a full-service animal hospital in Rock Hill, NY and handles multiple aspects of veterinary care, including ultrasounds and digital x-rays, hospice, large animal care and even house calls.

D’Abbraccio used Martell Home Builders from Sparrowbush, NY, which builds everything from a basic ranch to complicated custom designs, said vice president Alec Martell.

You’d expect a vet’s house to be pet-friendly, and this one is. D’Abbraccio has a dog and a cat. At 2,500 square feet, “the house is roomy,” he said. So it’s great for the feline frenzies or a playing dog. Plus “the floor is engineered hardwood,” which makes it less likely to be scratched.

Of course, there’s pet hair and dust to think about, and decreasing dust was something he kept in mind. A central vac makes cleanup easy.

What else did he have in mind? Something “very highly functional, low maintenance, some kind of rusticity,” he said.

The house is easy to maintain and easy to clean—useful when you don’t have a lot of time to spend at it.

“Joe’s house started out as a modular plan,” said Martell. Then they worked with the plan to create something that blends design and craftsmanship. Martell calls it “an immaculate custom build that exudes the ease of country living.”

Ease it may have, but it’s also “handicapped accessible, including the half bath,” Dr. D’Abbraccio said. Originally, he’d hoped to have older family members stay there. Accessibility also matters when it comes to his job. Injury is always a consideration, and a handicapped-accessible house makes things a lot easier. One less thing to worry about if life throws you a curveball.

 “We are custom builders and can accommodate handicap accessibility when it is required,” Martell said. That means wider doors, wider bathrooms, showers with no step, grab bars and fewer steps to get to the door.

“By planning for the future, we were able to build the house with eventual changes and modifications in mind, so when the time comes, the process won’t require significant renovations. It’s as simple as that,” Martell said. “Handicap accessible homes can be beautiful, functional and customized to a person’s specific needs.”

Thinking about building your own house? Dr. D’Abbraccio and Martell have some suggestions.

Always keep your budget in mind, D’Abbraccio said.

Alec Martell added, “Work with the land to maximize their budget. It is best to find a lot they are happy with and work with the lay of the land to design the home.”

Then, “We suggest they put a binder on the site that is contingent upon builder review.”

Then they visit the site and provide feedback on the best style options that also fit the budget.

“Plan for extra time,” Dr. D’Abbraccio said. Weather issues slowed construction, and like sick animals, weather doesn’t go away, either.

Under normal circumstances, said Martell, custom homes take around 6 to 7 months to build, modular about 4 to 5 months and others about 5 to 6 months.

Research. “Look at as many houses as you can.” Dr. D’Abbraccio does house calls, so he sees a lot of different places. “I talk to [the owners] about why they did what they did.”

“Plan for the future.” You never know what could happen, as Dr. D’Abbraccio said more than once. Fate has twists.

If you want easy, keep it simple. “You should be able to enjoy it,” says Dr. D’Abbraccio.

Ultimately, he built for both present needs and future possibilities because, “this is my eternal home,” he said. “I don’t plan to leave.”

featured homes, design, planning


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