A fortuitous reconnection at Coronado Concerts in the Park last Memorial Day, between John O’Brien and Brian Gilhooly, planted the seed that the two could benefit by working together at Flagg Coastal Homes. As the new Chief Executive Officer since June, Gilhooly oversees operations of the design-build construction firm that started here in 2000, in partnership with Flagship Properties, but rebranded to Flagg Coastal Homes in 2006. Since its inception, the company has designed and built 76 new homes or major remodels, mostly in Coronado.
The connections between O’Brien and Gilhooly are extensive, beginning with both having gone to the Naval Academy and served in the Navy. Gilhooly, who is originally from Philadelphia, came to Coronado in 1995 for BUD/S training. He was a SEAL for six years, primarily with SEAL Team 3 and Naval Special Warfare Unit One. He met his wife, a long-time Coronado resident, Kelly Petriccione, who was coincidentally an intern at the time with Flagship Properties, Inc., and whose father was a Navy Captain. Married at Christ Church Coronado, they held their wedding reception in the O’Brien’s former backyard, and now have four children. After military service, Gilhooly joined the FBI in 2002, starting in San Francisco, and held a variety of assignments through his 21-year career in Washington DC, San Diego, and lastly in Los Angeles, where he was in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division. With an emphasis on leadership, he worked in both the criminal program and in the national security arena, and even oversaw office infrastructure, including building, construction, and remodeling projects.
The Gilhoolys have purchased, remodeled, and sold several homes in Coronado through the years, providing Gilhooly with experience in home renovation. Their current home here was purchased in 2016. With a love of learning, Gilhooly felt that he could seamlessly transfer his organizational and leadership skills from both the FBI and SEAL teams to his new position at Flagg.
The duo agree that what sets the Flagg team apart are their extensive ties to the community, local insights, and personal relationships within the city. Other Flagg team members include Joshua Blore, a CHS grad, and Martin Brown, with three sons in Coronado schools.
“We do everything from concept to handing over the keys to our clients,” comments Gilhooly.
As an executive building firm, Flagg starts by helping to interpret the client’s design intent, whether it is in their head, clipped from a magazine, or scrawled on a napkin. Each project is unique as the team brings the client’s ideas to reality. Typically, the design process takes two to three months, and depending on the complexity of the job, the construction timeline is 15 to 18 months (if the home doesn’t have a basement).
Throughout the building process, there are a series of sequential decision milestones that involve client walkthroughs, from foundation to framing and drywall completion, and for things like electrical outlet placement that will ultimately make the home functional for the family.
“We try to envision the person living in the space, and we can draw on our extensive Coronado design experience, so we can anticipate their needs,” he emphasizes.
When asked if there are key elements that clients want, Gilhooly points out that a number of clients enjoy a second level porch, and all clients are interested in a smooth transition between indoor/outdoor living to maximize the enjoyment of Coronado’s mild weather. Cupolas are popular, and light colors with white trim are often requested.
A unique feature that helps set Flagg Coastal Homes apart is that they name each of their completed homes, as is popular on the East Coast. The company maintains a list of 30 “naming” ideas and finds that about half of the clients select their own name, while the other half choose from the list. This is a great way to start a conversation about the house, and they cite one of the most humorous names as “Never Again ll.”
“We develop a close relationship with our clients and thrive on creating their vision and then sharing in their joy when the project is completed,” notes Gilhooly.
As the name implies, Flagg Coastal Homes draws inspiration from the Hotel del Coronado and Boathouse, as well as Nantucket seaside style. Flagg uses a variety of composite materials to emulate that historic look, but that will withstand the salt air and sometimes damp coastal conditions here in Coronado.
Flagg opened a larger office several years ago at 1125 Loma Avenue, with increased visibility, and to which they welcome visitors. They share the office with Flagship Properties, the boutique brokerage company headed up by Carrie O’Brien, so the two companies can handle everything from site acquisition through all the design and building details, and then construction completion. The Flagg Team can go as far as selecting furniture, artwork, and even placing silverware in the drawers, so clients can just bring their suitcases and easily move in if that is their desire.
Gilhooly, as the new CEO is now looking to take Flagg’s comprehensive expertise and “branded look” to other North County coastal communities, while continuing to work on new construction and major historic remodel projects here in Coronado. Connect with Brian or John at the Flagg Coastal Homes office at 619-435-1500 and check out their portfolio at www.flagg.com.