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Renovating from Afar on Nantucket


Building on Island

renovating on nantucket

Building or renovating on an island can feel overwhelming, so we are sharing some tips to help make the process go smoothly.  All projects range in scope, and of course, some homeowners prefer to be more involved in the process, while some may not.

Before starting your project, be sure to ask around to get recommendations of builders on Nantucket and ask for their references. Take the phone call a step further and ask to see the work of an existing project.  Also, get a sense of how many projects they are currently working on, how many projects they have lined up, and how hands-on they will be at your house. Make sure that the scope of your project is aligned with the contracted work they typically take on. This would also go for architects, landscape designers, and so on. 

Homeowners Rep, Interior Designer or Property Manager

I spoke with Matt Tomaiolo of Tomaiolo Development to find out what details have helped his projects go smoothly with clients. A big piece of advice he has is to hire a third party (i.e., an interior designer) to help facilitate selections and keep the process moving. There are plenty of local designers on the ground who can stop by to check on progress and help stay in touch with you to make sure items like plumbing fixtures, tile and lighting are ordered and on schedule. 

My Kitchen Renovation On Nantucket Before:

renovating on nantucket

My Kitchen Renovation on Nantucket After:

renovating on nantucket


Communication is vastly important. Set clear expectations upfront for how often you will be kept in the loop during your project; the cadence may vary throughout the stages of the project.  In my conversation with Matt, he recommended clients do their best to come to Nantucket once per month to have an in-person meeting at the property. Luckily, in today’s world, we also have access to FaceTime and Zoom, and can readily share videos and photos to see the work in progress from afar.  As much as possible, try to stay ahead of deadlines so you are not rushed to make important decisions. 

Buying supplies off-island vs. on-island

Something people often throw out is, “Can’t I get that cheaper off-island?” While this may be true, be thoughtful and think long-term with certain items. I will use appliances as an example. Be sure to ask what service plans they offer and, more importantly, if they have service technicians on island should there be an issue. What if something arrives damaged by the shipping company? Do they have a return policy and pay for return shipping?


Have a budget and know there will be changes. Some of the increased budget may be from your own upgrades, and some may be because the job may get more complicated than anticipated. This is especially true if you are renovating an older house. Make sure you are getting change orders in a timely manner and kept well in the loop if there are any surprise costs throughout the process so there is not a bill at the end that you did not anticipate. 

When renovating from afar on Nantucket, I personally believe that you learn and grow with every project you take on. Our market gravitates towards turn-key (i.e., move-in ready), so it is certainly worth the effort if you are planning to sell in the future.