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The Cracker-style house at 2001 Sheffield Avenue is due for completion in about four months. / Qeuntin Roux/Sun Times
Client JRobert Houghtaling, left, stands with builders John Huegel II and III, and Huegel II's wife Maureen in one of the house's doorways. / Photos by Quentin Roux/Marco Island Sun Times


New name. Old tradition.

That was the attraction for Marco Island musician JRobert and his wife, Debra, when they decided on Cypress Construction for their new place on Marco’s Sheffield Avenue.

It also helped that JRobert had known builder Edward John Huegel II for 35 years, and had a high regard for then-Huegel Construction. Over the years since the ’70s, the company had built around 300 houses on Marco and surrounds.

The Sheffield house radiates a typical Florida-style design — rectangular, on stilts — has a porch and is topped off with a metal roof, but it incorporates all the latest green technology such as UV reflecting impact glass windows and Icynene spray insulation that is seamless and simply envelops the whole house.

“But it’s still a genuine Cracker home,” says Huegel, whose son, Edward John III, has had his contractor’s license for nearly a decade, and is gradually assuming front-line duties in the company.

Fortuitously, a number of other similarly themed houses line the east side of Sheffield, so there’s a definite continuity of neighborhood.

JRobert, last name Houghtaling, likes the way the place is turning out, and points out that it has a cavernous carport instead of enclosed garages. Inside, on the ground floor, will be a guest suite as well as a recording studio complete with two soundproof rooms.

He’ll be calling the addition Mangrove Studios.

“It’ll have an infinity screen too, so we can sublet the studio out for special shoots as well,” JRobert says.

Huegel and his son timed the renaming of the construction company with the uptick in the building and real estate industries.

But they’re shying away from going gangbusters and slapping up cookie-cutters, instead choosing to maintain what they say is exemplary quality.

“We don’t compete well with the cheap homes, because we don’t know how to build cheap,” Huegel says. “Also, the material we put into the house prevents us from doing that.”

An example, says Huegel III, is the use of exterior drywall inside for ceilings, and a double up on floors using ¾-inch tongue-and-groove plywood for the sub floor, a vapor barrier (Tyvek) over the top of that and then ½-inch plywood running in the opposite direction.

“You don’t hear any creaking when you walk, and the house feels more solid,” he says.

“All this adds up to lower costs for AC,” says JRobert. “We’re off the ground, and it’s the efficiency factor. Eventually we plan to go solar.”

Huegel II says he’s always made a point of overdoing regular code requirements in many cases when he builds.

“After a big storm, this will still be here,” he says.

Huegel II also hastens to add that Cracker homes such as this one are just part of the company’s repertoire.

“My dad used to say we build anything from the outhouse to the penthouse; from remodels and mid-luxury to extreme luxury,” Huegel II says.

The company’s website is

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