SIR Development's next project will not only be the 75th house it's built, it will mark the beginning of a new era in the Westport-based firm's 17-year history.

The project, to build a custom home in Weston, will be the first completed as part of SIR's newly-launched Custom Homes Division. SIR's founders, longtime Westport residents Robert Haroun and Julie Haroun, said the new division will offer homebuyers a complimentary design service that will enable them to truly customize their homes -- from the layout of floor plans down to the color of paint in a room.

This will all be possible with the personal assistance of SIR's in-house interior designer, Nancy Monahan, as well as the experienced team already on board. Monahan arrives in time to take a lead role in the Weston house.

The soon-to-be homeowners, Tom and Jennifer Socha, are relocating here from Pennsylvania. Groundbreaking will take place in the fall.

Building custom homes was a natural progression for SIR.

"People started asking us to pick the colors and the kitchen appliances," Robert Haroun said. "So we put together a plan for the buyer's limited participation. A homeowner can often be his own worst enemy when building a custom home."

To illustrate the point, he used the example of how many choices there are in grout color when tiling a bathroom.

"There are hundreds of colors to choose from and that is just one decision in the potential overwhelming undertaking of building a new home. We are confident that Nancy's expertise and personable style will help diffuse these obstacles and make the process pleasant and painless for the homeowner."

Furthermore, Robert Haroun believes that SIR's "in-house" tradesmen and its framing division are real assets to the firm's clients.

"This enables us to control quality and workmanship and the integrity of the build," said Haroun, a mechanical engineer who became a patent lawyer and then a builder.

From the beginning, Robert Haroun envisioned a company with "a fully integrated construction team that had the ability to engineer out potential problems and redundancies. We don't want to leave anything to chance," he said. "With our own excavation team and equipment, we know that the foundation is set correctly. With our own framing team, we know that frame is built right. With our own interior carpenters, we know the millwork will be detailed, and timeless. We make sure the homes we build are special, and built right."

SIR Development also has its own exclusive brokerage, Westport Residential, where Julie Haroun is managing realtor. In addition, SIR develops, manages and owns commercial and retail properties: in 2010, purchasing the iconic building that was once Westport's Town Hall and spearheading the construction of Prudential's new office complex in the East Avenue Village District of Norwalk, across from City Hall.

"People like knowing their builder is around," said Robert Haroun, whose three children attend Westport schools. "People feel more comfortable knowing we live here."

The seasoned team of Rob and Julie Haroun and project manager Marc Ventresca has been together since they built their first house almost 18 years ago. From the initial meeting with buyers, Rober is a hands-on, supervising general contractor. Julie, an experienced broker, real estate lawyer and an expert in new construction of single family homes, manages each SIR project from pre- to post-construction -- from securing properties and permits to development and sales.

Ventresca, of Fairfield, is a lifelong carpenter and woodworker. He works on each SIR project from start to finish.

He also brings to the work site his experience as a licensed building inspector for the State of Connecticut, having devised his own iron-clad checklist to prepare new construction homes to pass the final building inspection to obtain the certificate of occupancy.

A design specialist with extensive experience buying, renovating and selling homes in the tri-state area, Monahan, who lived in Westport 15 years, met the Harouns on a job a decade ago, and "witnessed the satisfaction of SIR's clients to their quality construction."

"We always knew that we had the demand to build custom homes, but did not want to take on this venture without the right person to spearhead it," said Robert Haroun. "Nancy dedicates herself to each client and truly understands what it is they want. She then professionally guides them with ease through the countless decisions they will face."

Monahan arrives in time to take a lead role in the Weston house, which will be the company's 75th build since they built their own home back in 1993.

The homeowners, Tom and Jennifer Socha, who are relocating here from Pennsylvania, heard about SIR from within the brokerage community. They met with Rob and showed him the type of house they wanted. Rob and his staff then scouted sites in Westport and Weston.

Finally, after passing on a number of potential sites, Tom Socha said, "We found the perfect two-acre lot that met all our needs, but most importantly, our budget."

Then the Sochas sat down with Robert Haroun and his architectural team to finalize the floor plans and discuss the interior finishes.

"It became quite evident after our first meeting," Socha said, "that we had found the right company to build our dream home in Weston."

Groundbreaking will be in the fall.

SIR Development is located at 943 Post Road E., Westport. For more information, call 203-227-6616 or visit