Any East End property owner could say that some of their best memories are made outside, whether it’s by the pool or enjoying a meal or some sun or just being with friends and family.
Stewart Raccuglia has been building the foundation for these moments for more than two decades as the owner of Legacy Brick and Stone, a Long Island-based, family-owned, design and build firm specializing in landscapes, hardscapes and custom masonry, especially in the Hamptons.
Raccuglia, a masonry contractor for 25 years, has an eye and a passion for creating outdoor living spaces, including pergolas, patios, pavilions, retaining walls, kitchens, fireplaces and firepits, as well as constructing driveways and veneers and installing artificial turf.
His love for the outdoors drove him, he says, to do something where he could be “working in the dirt.” Since his childhood, Raccuglia had dreamed of working with heavy equipment and big trucks. “I just feel very comfortable working on a construction site with my boots on and my work gear. I just feel very comfortable in that environment,” he says.
In 1997, Raccuglia turned what had been his father’s landscaping business — founded in the mid-1980s — into a hardscape and custom masonry practice, designing and constructing all sorts of outdoor living and practical spaces. As he built his business, the Center Moriches resident has had less time to focus on landscape maintenance. Now he installs artificial turf and other exterior design elements to make for a picturesque living space.
He uses a wide range of natural materials, such as travertine, marble, bluestone and limestone, which are used on higher-end East End homes because they offer a finer finish, he says. He also works with concrete-made stones, such as Cambridge Pavingstones, Techno-Bloc and Unilock.
When arriving at a job site, Raccuglia said that he and his team will use power tools to mark and measure the space in which they are building a patio; excavate and dig up the land; spread and compact the leftover soil; and then work with this “blank canvas.”
He enjoys designing and building from scratch. “I kind of like working on those projects, because I could get creative and design a really nice footprint for the customer,” he says.
Raccuglia draws up the architectural plans and designs. The design process is typically completed through 3D renderings and followed by a large material order. Projects last anywhere from two to 12 weeks, depending on the size and scope.
As a business owner, Raccuglia doesn’t always have time to get his hands dirty — though he is still a very active mason, working as one for 22 years now. His other roles include completing all of the sales work, such as estimates, plus maintaining the work schedule and managing his crews.
One of Raccuglia’s specialties is driveway construction. What sets Legacy Brick and Stone apart from other driveway construction companies is that they do not use asphalt — you won’t see the firm laying blacktop driveways. Raccuglia’s company instead utilizes an oil and stone application and puts down natural stone and concrete paving stone driveways.
Prior to owning the business, Raccuglia worked alongside his father, learning perhaps the most important element of a successful business. “I definitely did develop a good work ethic from my dad. He was somebody who demanded a lot from me,” he says.
It’s a principle that Raccuglia is passing on to his own son, Anthony, who has been working with him for three years and who he hopes will transform the business. With Anthony’s recent pool builder’s certification, the father-son team can now not only complete the projects that surround the pool, but the pools too, creating opportunities for a one-company job.
In the past, Raccuglia has mainly focused on the patios, whether that is new construction or refurbishing them, but now they’ll be able to really do it all, he says.
“Those two industries, the pool building segment and the masonry industry, kind of work together to have a lot of synergy.”
Raccuglia predicts that down the line his son may take the business in that direction someday.
Legacy Brick and Stone is currently working on a pool renovation and patio project in Wainscott, and he has one coming up in Westhampton where they will be using sandblasted blue marble to construct the surrounds for a hot tub, something he says he is looking forward to.
Raccuglia does consider his profession a craft, and watching him work, it’s easy to understand why. It requires accuracy, a wide scope of knowledge and a good eye for detail — with little room for error since the material is often heavy.
“There’s precision and math in every project. You have to evaluate soil conditions, compositions, engineering and load-bearing work,” he says. “When it comes to the finished work, you have to do skilled precision cuts on marble and tile, and layout, design and composition of these jobs takes a strategic skilled mason to make all this stuff look professional.”
This article appeared in the April 2022 edition of Behind The Hedges. Read the digital version online. Check out our previous Master Craftsman columns too. Want to suggest a subject for an upcoming issue? Email [email protected].