Tips for building a house that maintains

Tips For Building A House That Maintains The Charm And Craftsmanship Of The 1920s: Achieve This Timeless Look

Tips for building a house that maintains

photography by Lisa Russman

We take dreaming seriously. Please remember that the first step, no matter what tips for building a house you’ve received, is to always dream and envision how you want to live in your home. Explore Pinterest, HGTV, Home & Gardens, local designers, etc to get ideas and start making a list of your must-haves. If you plan to celebrate the 1920’s look, you’ll have to dig through the archives to get period-specific inspiration that’s both timeless and accurate. Fun Fact, did you know that Sears Roebuck & Co used to sell build-your-own-home kits? You could literally order your home by mail! Let’s get you close to that experience by walking through time, visiting the 1920’s style, materials, design, and more!

If you’ve got your heart set on the ever-popular Craftsman style home, then be prepared to build a grand, inviting porch with handsome brick columns to greet your guests and welcome you home. Keep your palette full of earth tones, shades, colors, and textures that look naturally worn and loved. As you head inside one of the most important features to highlight will be your built-ins. Another of our favorite tips for building a house that’s period-specific is to work with your architects and designers so they can capture those must-have elements in a really authentic way. 

For families that are growing or are amidst a small herd already bustling about, you may want to explore some of the styles with more square footage built into the design. The many “Colonial” homes are a perfect choice for you. Colonial Revival homes derive influence from across the globe including styles by the Greek, British, French, and several more. It’s important to note the history because it’s where the much larger stature, fancier details, and trim work, as well as a traditionally two-story build, came from. So if when you close your eyes you imagine ornate dentil detailing, cornices, elaborate dormers, and perfect symmetry, then this is likely the home of your dreams! 

A variation, the Dutch Colonial, is particularly popular in New Jersey, just take a stroll through Montclair or Glenridge! You’ll notice the steeper pitch of the roof, brick or stone detailing, often a side or rear “wing” of the home with a more lived-in vibe and less significance on symmetry. The bedrooms are upstairs and offer a light and airy feel under the daylight of the dormers. Both Colonials offer so many charming details it’s just a matter of preference.

Now for a fun surprise! Did you know that most homes of the 20’s boast linoleum flooring? Wait, don’t cringe! We’re not talking olive green and orange ’tile’ pattern, remember that’s the gift of the ‘70s and it comes in the form of vinyl. Linoleum is worth exploring, you’d typically see a simple diamond or square pattern or even a single tone floor stretch across the kitchen. Families now have many of the same needs as a century ago – durability and simplicity! Linoleum means housekeeping made easy; these floors never get scratched or dinged and cleaning it is a cinch with no cracks or grout to catch dirt. 

What do parquet flooring, clinker brick, Batchelder tiles, and oak furniture have in common? Believe it or not, you can find most of these 20’s materials for sale second hand! As homes and buildings are torn down, they’re being sold so homeowners like you can honor your build with authentic elements that are actually 100+ years old. 

So once you’ve dreamt up your must-have list and you can visualize your home, identify the style you’re hoping to emulate with your build. Get creative with your design and construction team to identify and source appropriate components that are replicas of time-specific pieces or are indeed from that era. And remember, have fun!


how expensive is it to build a house

Supply and demand, understand how a pandemic impacts the question “how expensive is it to build a house”?

how expensive is it to build a house

photography by Lisa Russman

Building a house was already an expensive endeavor, so how has the pandemic impacted the costs and timelines? We will cover how expensive it is to build a house, the factors that have made prices rise, and what you can expect for the foreseeable future.

As nation-wide shutdowns began due to the pandemic, many mills and supply manufacturers shut down their factories to protect their employees. Less work, fewer materials. A ripple effect of the shutdown means the number of materials that are available to contractors has dramatically reduced. And as we all know, when supply is down, and demand is up, that means costs also go up. Specifically, the cost of acquiring materials has risen, which directly increases the price to build your house. And as the stock continues to deplete, not only are the prices are driven up, but timelines are also being stretched out. So, if you’re financing the construction costs with a loan that could mean more mortgage payments, interest payments, and property taxes before your structure is complete. 

Concurrently, the demand to build new homes did not decline but rather increased. Hundreds of people living in highly populated cities like New York are making the move to towns like Montclair and Glenridge with an urgency unlike ever before. Families want to build spacious new homes where they can spread out, work remotely, and focus on the family. Construction labor, though, follows the supply and demand theory; supply of materials decreased and demand increased, causing labor prices to increase as well. With such unpredictable circumstances, manpower has been limited and inconsistent in the construction industry. As the pandemic continued, many workers feared for their health and decided that social distancing was the safest option. The ones who did continue to work asked for higher pay, which also impacted the increase in the cost to build a home.

The ever-burning question of “how expensive is it to build a house?” now has become “how much MORE expensive is it to build a house?” Let’s look to see where we may be able to find savings or benefits from the current real estate market.

There is a silver lining to all of these added costs: record low-interest rates on mortgages and home equity lines of credit. Mortgage rates have dropped to below 3%, a rate that has never been seen before. For a $285,000 home, the national median home price, homeowners will save approximately $100 a month and $50,000 over the course of the loan. Similarly, more expensive homes are now more affordable. For example, if a homeowner can afford a $347,750 home with a $2,000 monthly payment at a 5% interest, they could now afford a $414,000 home with $2,000 monthly payments at a 3% interest rate. That means you now have access to over sixty-six thousand dollars of additional home! These savings from the record low-interest rates may balance out the higher upfront prices to build a brand new home.

The pandemic has brought about unprecedented circumstances: both a buyer’s and seller’s market. So, while thousands of families are focused on buying a home from a tremendously limited market, you might have an advantage. Pursuing a new build right now means you’re hiring a construction company at a time when they are most are hopeful to meet the demand. Building professionals are finding creative ways to source materials and continue working safely amidst our “new normal”. Plus, you can lock in some of the lowest mortgage rates we’ve seen in years which equals thousands in the bank for you over time versus what you might be spending if the pandemic hadn’t changed everything.


Let Us Explain Why Families Choose To Add On To A House During A Pandemic

Let Us Explain Why Families Choose To Add On To A House During A Pandemic: Betting On The Future

Let Us Explain Why Families Choose To Add On To A House During A Pandemic

photography by Lisa Russman

There’s one common thread almost everyone can agree this pandemic has brought to light: the need to be near the ones we love and the focus on family and community. It’s those exact reasons why so many families are still choosing to add on to a house, make improvements, and create more space. One other important factor to consider is what the future holds after a major economic crisis: regrowth. We’re spending some cash now knowing that what we need – space to be together – is only going to continue to trend as the many facets of everyday life become more challenging to handle with the expansion of technology, distance learning, and remote working.

First, let’s talk about family, it’s our favorite topic to explore. We’ve worked with hundreds of families over our decades in this industry and we see that despite national and even local circumstances, the need to be connected is why we do what we do as architects. Homes bring families together, virtually or otherwise. Deciding to do an add on to a house is always about what it will provide for the family as a whole first and foremost, and the financial opportunities it brings are always secondary. Aging parents, college students, in-laws, and family members from abroad are coming together with an urgency unlike any other. And as we reluctantly welcome this reality as long-term, there is a need for more space. Basements are being finished, first floor additions are taking spreading out into the side yard, and second – even third story additions are going up. The financial bonus being that one, literally, thousands of people are moving into New Jersey with huge NYC budgets in need of space, and with remote work settling in, that’s a trend we probably won’t get rid of. Two, regardless of people moving out of the city, there will always be growing families or those in need of their forever home who are just like you – they need the room! Betting on the future couldn’t be more sure than right now.

Second, we’ve looked back in time and have noticed a trend, whenever there is an economic crisis or recession, there’s always a bounce back. After the 2008 recession, there were more than 8 million jobs recovered by mid-2014. These times of hardship lead to innovation that wouldn’t have been possible without it. And now, we’ve seen small businesses embrace the need to be virtual, offering online classes, online ordering options, Zoom meetings, and more. We’re moving faster with more tools and technology available than ever before and this impacts the kind of decision-making homeowners consider. 

More technology also means more job stability. As thousands of us gear up to work from home, that means office space – let’s clarify – quiet office space. It’s a must-have. Our behaviors as an economy are shifting so to add on to a house now with soundproofed office space protects our ability to work from home and earn an income. The kids are also at home distance learning in many cases and not everyone has a dining room with enough space for Chromebooks, notebooks, kids, chairs, books, and the list goes on. It’s not always worth the heartache of that kind of chaos when we’re not really sure these circumstances will be lifted any time soon.

With more demand for home improvements and add ons means the cost to supply those materials will also likely increase. So, by creating the space you need now and let’s face it, space you’ll surely need in the future, you’re saving money in the long run and cultivating a lifestyle of family-first living. 


Home tear down costs

Home Tear Down Costs Are Not Limited To Just Money! Know The True Costs So You Can Make The Most Informed Decisions For Your Family

Home tear down costs

photography by Lisa Russman

We know our clients are concerned about how much money a home tear down costs, it’s naturally the first thing we all wonder about, right? But, after decades of working with local families to help them build their dream homes after a teardown, we can tell you what factors amount to the ‘true cost’ so you can make an informed decision. After all, the point of evaluating whether home tear down costs are worthwhile is because you want more time and space to be with your family. So one of the major costs, if you’re not prepared, is how this process can quickly suck up your time and energy.

The first time-saver is doing your due diligence on land use. You likely have your eye on a town with fantastic schools that are walking distance to literally everything. But before you get too excited, talk to the town or hire a real estate professional to research whether the municipality is open to teardowns and new builds. There may be historical considerations on an older home or local restrictions that would thwart you before you even start.

Once you’re sure you’re working with a tear down friendly town, you need to know that you may not need to raze your home completely. If you still have a solid foundation or a functional part of the structure, your town might ease up on those restrictions. This could save you time as well as money not having to take everything down. At this point, working with an architecture team gives you the best overview of how to mitigate costs while getting the home you’ve dreamed of.

Permits. They don’t just cost you money. While each one comes with its own fee, yes, they can also cost you time. Not only can townships take a long time to issue permits based on the volume of paperwork they’re dealing with but the building team you hire can also impact the timeline and costs. There are demolition, electrical, and foundation-related permits, as well as inspections to schedule and likely toxins to check for which is a common practice in older homes. 

Demolition and deconstruction costs are determined by the size of the home as well as the local cost of goods and labor in your area.  If this is something you need to finance, remember there’s a monthly cost to pay back this loan plus interest. Your team will help you understand your financing and repayment options. A bonus saving that many homeowners don’t consider is the value of recycling demolished materials. Check into salvage yards, metal collection, copper recycling, etc to recuperate some funds. If you’re able to use machines to intentionally remove recyclable materials from your home, you may surprise yourself with the total savings.

Insurance and utilities. You must disconnect your water, sewer, gas, and electricity. While your team of professionals knows to handle this with care, we want to remind you this is a necessary cost. Insurance is something you may not have considered or you may not realize what’s actually covered by your policy. Most homeowner’s insurance plans do not cover the cost of a do-it-yourself demo. Save yourself the heartache now and check the details of your policy! That could mean if you hurt yourself or damage the property during demolition you might have some major costs to incur. By bringing in a team you will have a layer of protection because they likely won’t cause any additional damage and your demolition insurance will be effective. 

You can have the home of your dreams in your favorite neighborhood and by understanding the true cost of your home tear down costs, you’ll be ready for anything!


We Know About Every Surprise That Can Come With a Teardown

We Know About Every Surprise That Can Come With a Teardown, Save Yourself the Heartache!

We Know About Every Surprise That Can Come With a Teardown

photography by Lisa Russman

You want to be as prepared as possible before going into a full-on teardown and rebuild, right? If we were you, we’d want to know about all the possible surprises before jumping into a big project, too. After working with hundreds of families, we’ve gathered up lots of goodies to keep you aware and prepared for your new construction home!

Get to know your neighbors

This might seem somewhat arbitrary but we’ve actually seen cases where neighbors can be quite nosey and annoyed by your construction. One great way to manage this is with donuts and coffee! Bring by some Dunkin, say hello, and let them know how excited you are to be their new neighbor. You don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty of your plans but with more people on board and grateful for your presence the better. And, when it comes time for the demo, keep signs posted with clear boundaries so people know to stay off the property for their safety. Yes, they shouldn’t be on your property, to begin with, but just trust us, this will save you a headache!

Read every single word

Yes, we mean it. When it comes to your contract with your architecture firm, with your builders, and every drawing – read them. It’s critical that you participate fully in checking, double, and triple-checking measurements, lists, materials, costs, etc. Oh, and it’s even better if you ask a ton of questions upfront. Your team will not be frustrated with you! You’re about to head into a full teardown and rebuild and you deserve the chance to think it completely through. What you worry is the most obvious question and feel super weird asking – just ask it! You may catch an error right at the beginning of your project vs. waiting until something costs you more time and money by not speaking up.

You and your partner are the most important people

If you take away anything from our advice, take away this one. Go into your teardown knowing who you want to be responsible for what when it comes to your project. No, you’re not project managers but you will be the homeowners so you’ll be quite involved. Who’s better at email? Who’s the best to go word by word through each contract? Does one have more time to visit your property periodically? Schedule times to meet with each other about “business” and also schedule dates, fun, and leisure – especially during this process. If the whole point of your project is to create a space for family, then let’s keep family the top priority!

Know what to get started on early

Gas, water, and power – get moving on this right away. Since you’re tearing down you’re home that means lots of work for the utility companies. They may have to completely remove and replace anything existing or add additional lines based on the size of your new home. We highly suggest you get them as much detail as you can right away so you can fully understand the effect of their work on your budget and your timeline.

Now we know this part might be tough but have all of your finishes selected before the foundation is even poured. Yes, we do mean right down to the cabinet pulls. You would be surprised what the impact could be on your custom home build when you change your mind even on just a hardware decision. 

We’ve talked with happy customers, parents, working professionals and we’ve heard it all. This is meant as a guide to protect you from those surprises you just wouldn’t know about before you engage in a teardown. We know this process can actually be really fun and rewarding and we hope for you to get the most out of it with a lot less of the stress!


If I Want To Build A Custom Home What Kinds Of Professionals Do I Need On My Team

If I Want To Build A Custom Home What Kinds Of Professionals Do I Need On My Team?

If I Want To Build A Custom Home What Kinds Of Professionals Do I Need On My Team

photography by Lisa Russman

Building a custom home is definitely different than buying a house that’s listed on the real estate market, we all know that. But what’s the difference when it comes to the kinds of professionals you need to represent you and get your dream home made into a reality? We’ve got the answer!

First, you still need a real estate agent

Any time you’re purchasing real estate even if it’s land for a custom home, we recommend hiring an agent. At no cost to you, you’ll have a professional working to find you the best property that’s within your budget and hopefully meets your wishlist. Imagine finding out about opportunities before they even hit the market. You’re leveraging their entire professional network which saves you a ton of time and you don’t have to become an overnight expert on finding land. Win!

Some specifics you should know

Investigate if your land is ready for utilities or not. It’s OK either way depending on your budget and your timeline. Hint, it’s expensive to run new water and electrical lines! You can count on your town or city’s planning and zoning departments to get you accurate information on whether or not your lot has water and sewer. Then, you can contact your county’s power provider (just Google for that info) and determine how close the nearest powerlines are to your location and of course the cost to handle that.

If you need to finance your land purchase, you will need the expertise of a mortgage advisor at this point. They can walk you through the various options available.  

Next, you need residential architects

Before you dive in and get started on any custom home project you’ll want the kind of pro’s who can plan, execute, project manage and even help you source the additional kinds of experts you’ll need. That’s the role of an architecture firm. Once you’ve purchased your land and it’s ready for the build, it’s time to start interviewing for this role. This is a team you’ll be working closely with from start to finish so take your time, ask lots of questions and go with your gut! They’ll visit your lot and start working up a scope of work that covers all those wish list items your dream home cannot be without. Let’s face it, you shouldn’t have to budge on that master ensuite bath!

Time to build!

Once you’ve settled on your plans the architect can use those drawings of your home to help you find the right team to get it built. That means they may need an engineer to weigh in on certain structural elements, you for sure need a construction team and you’ll also need a project manager. There’s a lot of moving parts at this point in your custom home build, so allow your architect to help you select the specialists for each job. Every build is nuanced and unique, so you may find your construction team provides the project manager or foreman or sometimes the architect will have a specialist on their team to handle this. Either way, you’ll have every job secured in this step of the process.

As you go, your town or city will send their inspector to check various milestones from foundation to framing and plumbing to electrical. They may not be your favorite person (trust me, they know) but they’re an integral part of your custom home coming to fruition. Oh, quick tip, be friendly with your local inspector, bring them coffee and donuts, it helps you build a solid relationship in a town you plan to live in for quite some time.

Design and finishes

Ah, the fun part! Your architect may be the right team member to handle the nuances of your design but if not, you’ll need an interior designer for this phase. Cozy couches, king-sized beds, and mudroom organization are non-negotiables! A pro for interior design can make your house look amazing.


Residential Architects Should be Designing

Residential Architects Should be Designing Spaces for Families to Enjoy Each Other, Meaningful Design Matters

Residential Architects Should be Designing

photography by Lisa Russman

If you’ve considered a home addition or building the home of your dreams then you’ve definitely thought about hiring residential architects to help. But who do you choose? What matters when it comes to designing or redesigning a home? We’ve got the answers you need before you make up your mind. 

The Cost of Your Satisfaction

We recommend considering factors other than just budget when you select your perfect team of residential architects for your project. Everyone wants to save money, right? But what’s the cost of choosing a team that doesn’t communicate the same way you do? Imagine the undue stress of working with a team that doesn’t reply to your email and now you’re left worried about a surprise issue that was just uncovered. We advise you to ask about communication, timelines, and set expectations before you even sign a contract. Dollar signs matter as much as your mental and emotional well-being matter. That’s what we believe! In fact, we stick to email communication because one, we know you’re busy and can’t always get on a call. Two, so much of your design process is visual and requires clear imagery that you can take your time in reviewing. Communication is key. 

The Details that Matter

When you’re interviewing residential architects find out what they’re known for. Peruse reviews, ask for real references, and check out photos of their work. If you love a light and bright home make sure the portfolio they provide matches that kind of detail. As a busy professional with a growing family, shouldn’t you have a team that understands the flow of how your family moves? We think so! It’s not enough just to talk about high ceilings and those dreamy hardwood oak floors but who will walk on them? And at what time of night might you hear the creak of a “midnight snack”? Having a team who asks thoughtful questions you never even considered in your new build will ensure you’re designing a new beginning but with those familiar scents and sounds. 

Beyond the talk of marble and chrome fixtures, homes should be designed to be lived in. Let’s build a mudroom that doesn’t get rid of the chaos of those muddy shoes but that makes it easy for the kiddos to organize their belongings and wipe up the tiles easily. Relishing in those treasured moments looks like stepping outside into an August’s heatwave knowing you have a beautiful shaded deck carefully designed for you to watch the kids play for hours. 

Understanding the Scope

As you hire your architecture partner, there are certain questions you can ask that will clarify the scope of work you want and the kinds of skills required to get the job done. Will you need custom millwork AKA are you going with custom kitchen cabinets and shelving or sticking to a builder-grade option? Is the majority of your project facade work or will you need a team with an eye for interior design? If you’re building a new home, will you need recommendations and experience with finishes like faucets and door handles? Ask questions like these to get a feel for what the scope of your project actually entails and who is experienced and capable to get that kind of job done. We know it’s hard to think of everything so with this list of questions, it will help you be thorough and think through your project from start to finish. 

Whether you’re demoing a home and rebuilding or you just purchased land, even if you’re doing a home addition, it’s so important to have the right residential architects on your side. Thinking through how your family enjoys spending time and the physical manifestations of how to make that happen is the journey you’re going on. Work with people who care about you and are a match for how you like to work.


teardown

Learn When to Splurge and How to Save When You’re Planning Your Home Addition

teardown

photography by Lisa Russman

As you begin planning your beautiful new home addition we want to make you aware of the common pitfalls that result in clients overspending. After planning hundreds of home additions, we know what you should look out for when it comes to ways to save and where it’s worth splurging. 

Project Management

Installing hardware, painting, and some demolition are all hands-on parts of your home addition project you could probably manage yourselves. But we have a truth bomb for you! It’s honestly not worth jumping into a highly-skilled role such as managing your entire project from start to finish when you’re not fully trained. This is the first mistake we’ve seen people make where the number of hours, know-how, and surprise twists actually cost the homeowner more money than if they had the right team in place to manage their home addition. Just think about where your time is best spent like with your partner, your kids, at work vs. on a dangerous construction site where you feel completely out of your element. The good news is there are many construction companies that will “bid” to win your business. You can discuss budget, timeline, and expectations before hand-selecting the team you feel best fits your project and your personality.

Choosing the Right Aesthetic

You might appreciate a very defined look for your home, but when you’re planning your home addition this could drive up the cost. Here’s a great example, you might love the look of hardwoods, most of us do right? But, rather than select the exact maple hardwoods to match your home, you could opt for engineered flooring with a similar tone but lay it in a herringbone pattern; it achieves your aesthetic in an interesting way without breaking the bank. It’s not always worth splurging on high-end materials when you can use elements like hardware, decor, lighting, paint color, and more to make your space appear high end in cost. Think long term; you want a space you’ll be happy within another 5 – 10 years that you don’t have to cough up a few thousand dollars to redo – again.

Know Your Flow

You may find yourself facing an important question: Do I knock down the wall completely, or would I be happy with a support beam somewhere in my design? Depending on the flow of your family, it could be very well worth your money to knock down that wall and have the most open, flexible space possible, especially for a growing brood. On the other hand, if you can incorporate that post into a bedroom closet or HVAC room then you’re both saving money and you’re satisfied with a design that fits for the longterm.

Smart Sourcing 

Facebook and Craiglist can potentially save you some money! When you review details of your construction contract, check on the quotes they’ve supplied for things like water heaters, tile, appliances, etc. You can find “last-chance” tiles on Facebook from a local company trying to move their last few boxes of product. There are moments where it’s worth comparing the cost and quality of what you can source yourself compared to what’s been quoted by your team. Another line item you should double-check is the insulation budget. If your team budgeted for basic “batting” insulation material, for example, it may not provide the best protection against rodents and energy leaks. It’s probably worth exploring foam or mineral wool insulation despite incurring a higher monetary cost now, the longterm value is exponentially higher.

I’m sure you’re starting to see there are so many ways to save money and times when it makes sense to splurge. You can’t possibly know everything – that job is reserved for your teens, right? So take our advice and start saving by having a team that can protect you from surprises and helps you plan for the best way to stretch your budget from day one.


The Architect’s Guide To Building A House From Scratch In New Jersey

The Architect’s Guide To Building A House From Scratch In New Jersey

The Architect’s Guide To Building A House From Scratch In New Jersey

photography by Lisa Russman

Nothing is quite as satisfying as building a house from scratch. We hope that this guide helps you to navigate through this wonderful and exciting house building process from start to finish.

Putting Dreams Onto Paper

The first step before any construction actually starts is a free, on-site consult with us. We listen to your ideas, needs, wishes, and dreams so we can make suggestions around your life patterns and flow. We believe your home should bring the people you love most together allowing for space to gather and enjoy the way they spend their time! Are you a gaming family? Flex space to bring in fun new toys is a must-have, right? What if you’re expecting the in-laws to move in within the next 5 years, let’s plan for that now. As we listen, we’ll literally sculpt your home just for you and your family. 

Then, we’ll provide you with a free proposal detailing architectural services including all of your wish list items and the potential construction budget.  Once we’re hired we’ll come get the specs of your property whether just land or with structure and draw them up for formal use during the project. 

Now, the detailed design phase begins where we establish and evolve your floor plan until it reflects all of your wants and needs.  Once the inside drawings are complete, if we’re also designing the facade of your home, that’s up next. And we know that you’re busy with the kiddos, work and more so we’ll stick to email to save you time. 

Next, we help you select a contractor who will provide you with a pricing audit designed to keep your project on track and on budget as well as make adjustments to the design if needed. Construction drawings are generated with instructions and notes for the contractor regarding the scope of the project. There may be several construction companies interested in executing your build, so we’ll help you navigate through the competitive “bidding” process to make the best hire for your home.

After a contractor has been chosen, the next steps would be for the contractor to file for permits with your respective town. Work won’t commence until all permits have been filed, are approved by the city, and are physically in your hands.

Building the Structure

With all the ‘paperwork’ procured, you can finally begin building your house from scratch! Step one is installing the foundation. The type of foundation used depends on if your design calls for a basement, crawlspace or slab-on-grade. Most foundations are built in concrete block, installed by a mason. The beginning of the construction process is the time to implement those meditation classes as you’ll need some patience throughout the duration. You’ll need extra patience for every milestone of construction as the city inspector comes to ensure it meets the state’s codes and matches the approved drawings.

Once “footing” and “rebar” inspections have been passed by the construction inspector, approved, construction crews can begin the installation of framing for your new home. Framing includes the wall, floor, and roof structures for both interior and exterior applications. This phase of construction establishes the “skeleton” or shell of your house.

For the next phase of construction, rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) are installed. The roofing and siding are also installed during this time. Once the installation of the above components is completed, the city inspector will visit the site once again (deep breath) to verify all components have been installed to code and are in accordance with the drawings.

After these inspections have passed, insulation can be installed inside the walls and any spaces within the basement or roof followed by drywall.

Now the fun part! Everything that follows afterward starts to really color and flesh-out what your project will look like in the end.  This layer of work includes, but is not limited to, painting, doors, cabinets, countertops, and flooring. And, you get to achieve that curb appeal as grading, landscaping, planting, and grass conclude the details of your exterior zhooshing. 

The city inspector performs a final inspection, and, if passed, they will issue a certificate of occupancy.

The Final Walkthrough

The final walkthrough for your home is one of the most critical aspects of the project. This will allow you to examine every inch of your new home with the contractor to make sure everything is finished to your standards. Final tip, make sure to take your time and hone the honesty filter of a toddler; say exactly what you want fixed or changed. This is your last chance to point out any deficiencies you may observe to the contractor and have them corrected, whatever it may be. Once the contractor has completed their contract, it is difficult to prove that they were at fault for any damages found.

We saved the best news for last! Our fee covers involvement during bidding, permitting, and construction phases; questions answered, certified clarification letters and/or sketches as necessary, and as-needed construction site visits are performed. We’ve got your back the entire way, never leaving you to wonder or figure it out on your own. You can design and own the home of your dreams with the right team by your side!


Home Addition Planning Can Mean Extra Space

Home Addition Planning Can Mean Extra Space For The Teenagers Now Or, Yes, The In-Laws Later

Home Addition Planning Can Mean Extra Space

photography by Lisa Russman

Home addition planning can be exciting when you’re fully aware of the potential hidden costs, allowing you to keep your eyes on the prize. We’ll help you understand what to expect as you plan out your home addition!

Hidden Costs You May Incur

You’re probably so excited to have your teens or even in-laws enjoying their own very separate space from you and your spouse, right? We don’t blame you! But with your focus on the end goal, we want to keep you aware of what costs you should expect before, during, and after your reno.

Insurance. Once your amazing new space is all done your home insurance premium will likely go up; more space means more to insure. It’s totally normal and rather than be surprised later on, give your home insurance rep a call once you have plans approved by your city to talk through what changes you should expect. 

Taxes. You may also see an increase in your property value which means property taxes will be assessed accordingly. Talk to your town officials and your architect team to get a full understanding of what your specific costs should be. 

Permits. Before starting your home addition, planning for the cost of permits for construction, electrical, and plumbing, if you’re adding a bathroom for example, and can vary widely from town to town. To find out the exact costs, work with your project manager and your city to get those final numbers.

Damage. One surprise cost we’ve seen many homeowners disappointed to find are some of the most buried and hard to detect – the cost of preexisting damage. Your home could have wood rot, an old leak wreaking havoc on both pipes and the interior of your walls, there could be mold or mildew, etc. It’s not terribly uncommon to unearth something during construction. So, if you want to be careful, your team can do a thorough inspection of your home before breaking down walls to help you plan your budget accordingly. 

Flex Space That Works for Everyone

Like most homeowners, you’re hoping to add on space that can serve several purposes. You can accomplish this through a number of ways.

  1. Bump outs. If you already have a great space and you just need a little extra flexible square footage, plan a bump-out addition. For those who appreciate unique rooflines and the feeling of luxurious space for a fraction of the price, this is a great option for you. 
  2. Dormers. More headspace means more opportunities to add-on bedrooms or simply wide-open rooms that can accommodate “hang out” areas. What teen doesn’t love to hang out?? Design a family room, workspace, or extended-stay experience for out of town family members. 
  3. Patio turned Parlor. Take your existing patio and enclose it; turning this space into an open living area allows your teens to get use out of it now and the in-laws to make use of it later. 
  4. Basements. If you have an unfinished basement the good news is you have a renovation project just waiting for you to get started! Even better, you don’t need to frame out a ton of walls. This space begs to stay wide open, letting in as much light as possible. Get creative with a satellite kitchen and use wall color or movable walls to designate spaces like dining, living, laundry, etc. Be sure to have a dedicated area for sleep and of course a bathroom, but the rest is about open flow and creative design.

Now you’re ready to start planning for your home addition with creative solutions for your particular home. You’re aware of the possible hidden costs and can avoid the heartache that we’ve seen so many times. Lastly, though, we highly recommend you don’t undertake this project alone. Work with professionals who always have an eye on budget and timeline with years of experience knowing what to look for under their belt.