5 Questions With a Builder – Week #3


Fort Myers Beach is in the early stages of a very long rebuild. There are many obstacles for homeowners to overcome, so to help everyone work through those issues we’re running a Friday series called 5 Questions With a Builder. This week we hear from Sylvester Companies owner Paul Sylvester.

Paul Sylvester, owner of Sylvester Companies, has been in the building industry since 1981. Sylvester Construction specializes in new construction, custom homes, commercial construction, real estate development, site work, post frame buildings, major remodeling, renovation, restoration, floodplain construction, lot clearing & excavation, road building, property management & maintenance, certified property inspections, bank draw and risk management inspections in Michigan and Florida.

BTR: Why do you believe rebuilding homes is taking longer than expected?
Paul Sylvester: I believe that homes are taking longer to be restored and rebuilt for a multitude of reasons. First, there is an overwhelming number of projects that the municipalities are having to deal with when it comes to permitting, zoning, site planning, and current building codes versus previous (old) building codes. A large volume of structures were built decades ago, however now many are now considered in a flood zone. Flood zones are very complicated and even more complicated when you’re dealing with multiple levels of government (federal government, state & local municipalities, etc.). Homeowners find this to be difficult to work through so having a seasoned building contractor who is experienced in navigating this process is extremely beneficial.

BTR: What has your experience been with permitting and how can the town improve it for builders and homeowners?
Paul Sylvester: My experience with permitting in the town of Fort Myers Beach has run relatively smooth considering the sheer volume of permits that have been (& will be) issued. There has definitely been delays in getting permits approved, but I would say it’s a combination of disarray from Hurricane Ian, the building department workload and many new contractors navigating the State of Florida building rules & regulations.

In my opinion, the town of Fort Myers Beach is the easiest municipality to work with in terms of permitting compared to three other surrounding counties we are working in. Our current projects all consist of major restorations which require complicated engineering and architecture, but we are planning on new construction custom homes and speculation homes in 2024.

If the online permitting process were simplified/streamlined in Fort Myers, where possible, it could make it easier to maneuver through their website. It would also be helpful if packets were available to the contractors and homeowners breaking down step by step processes for different scenarios when building or rebuilding.

BTR: What is the biggest problem facing homeowners when it comes to permitting?
Paul Sylvester: I think the biggest problem the homeowners face is the lack of experience and knowledge of construction and its stages/processes making the situation extremely overwhelming, particularly when rebuilding or building in a floodplain. They are dealing with multiple levels of government (federal, state, and local municipalities). Sometimes those conflict with each other and complicate matters further.

BTR: What is your advice to homeowners on how to build back faster and as inexpensively as possible?
Paul Sylvester: It is important to remember that it will require patience as you work through the rebuilding/building phase of any project, however having an experienced building contractor who is familiar navigating the process can save you time and undue frustration. We take great pride in working closely with our clients from day 1, helping them in making decisions necessary in order to keep the project timeline on track. While sometimes it is not possible to reduce or eliminate items from the scope of work, there are often many ways to keep the project cost in line with the homeowner’s budget.

BTR: What do you think the future (of the residential areas) will look like in 5, 10+ years from now on Fort Myers Beach?
Paul Sylvester: I think the residential areas of Fort Myers Beach are changing as we speak and will continue to change over the course of 5-10 years and beyond. I know a lot of people are concerned that Fort Myers Beach will no longer be what it once was, and in many ways, it won’t. While the people will remain close knit and be passionate about the area and all they’ve been through, the landscape will be new to some degree. Life is full of changes and Hurricane Ian unfortunately had other plans for this beautiful beach town.
It has been remarkable to witness the amount of progress made in a year’s time and have no doubt that regardless of the changes forced upon homeowners and businesses in the months and years to come, that it will remain the beloved beach town that it has always been.

Reach out to Paul Sylvester by e-mail propertyinspection@hotmail.com

Check out our previous features:
5 Questions with Mark Raudenbush from Idyll Construction
5 Questions with Scott Allan at Bayside Builders


  1. Paul is an upstanding man who helped us to take donations to the folks that were affected by hurricane Idalia. Great to see him on Beachtalk.


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