Countdown to Parade of Homes

Rough-in Challenges Creates More Changes

As soon as I finished my last post, Neil and I headed out to the jobsite to meet with all our Rough-in Crews.  Rough-ins are all the internal workings of the home such as Electrical, HVAC, & Plumbing.  As we were discussing the kitchen layout, we ran into a bit of a snag- we realized there was no easy way to vent out for the Hood Vent at its current location.  That meant moving the cooktop all together.  Neil’s immediate solution was move it to the Island.  But my immediate response in my brain was “not in my beautiful island!”.  However, after exhausting all other options, I started to open up to the idea and low and behold it actually made more sense to me once I got over the initial shock of having to rework my kitchen layout again.  Another example of how things can seem good on paper but not necessary will work in the field.  I am actually excited about the new layout.  I think the overall flow and function of the kitchen now works better than the way we originally had in the last post (click here for a look back at last post).

Here’s the new layout.

  • Cooktop is now located in Island with a Downdraft retractable vent
  • We moved refrigerator to wall on right and got rid of any concern of opening the refrigerator doors against the pantry wall.
  • Wall ovens are now moved beside the pantry wall and are a better proximity and use of space to the sink and cooktop.

updatedkitchendrawing

island

Although having to mentally accept having to change the kitchen layout at the last minute wasn’t ideal, things like this happen quite frequently while building a new home, especially a new plan.  We try to plan for all scenarios, but until you get into the field you learn that things have to be changed sometimes to work.  Being flexible and open minded during the building process helps alleviate a lot of stress.

The house has now been roughed-in and cabinet drawings approved and in production, so no more changes in the Kitchen. (Whew!)  So let’s move on to the Foyer and Dining Room.

As I mentioned last post, the overall style and selections in the Kitchen will help dictate the look and finishes when making selections for the adjacent areas in the home.  My goal is to be deliberate in creating each area into its own space while keeping a consistent flow and overall feel.

Let’s begin in the Foyer.  When standing in the the Foyer, even at framing stage, you get a sense of its “wow” factor.  Not only is it a two-story ceiling but it’s also vaulted.  The stairway is open the entire way up and beautifully flairs out at the bottom.  For such a grand space, the  light fixture needs to be large.  My goal is to find a fixture that is somewhere around 40″x 30″.  I mentioned in my last post how much I love light fixtures.  Well until I move forward with my dream of owning my own lighting store one day, I rely on Carla with Lights Unlimited to guide me in the right direction.  And on more than one occasion I think we’ve had every lighting catalog in the store out of her desk trying to find just the right fixture.

lighting-table

Hard day at work

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with someone like Carla who can take my ideas and style and guide me to the best options within my price range.  And when I say price range, believe me, Neil keeps me on a budget so sometimes I have to be very creative to get what I want.  Having to work on a budget is not always easy, but over time I’ve created a “per room” budget I try to stay within.  For a house this size, we’ve allocated $6,000 total for light fixtures (doesn’t include the recessed trims).  I haven’t finalized all the lights for this house yet, so we will see at the end how close I come.

Since I’ve started the Kitchen in Chrome and therefore going with chrome door hardware throughout the home,  I am looking for a finish that will look good with chrome.  After spending some time looking, the size I want narrows the search down quickly. I came up with these options as my favorite contenders.

foyer-fixtures

I keep these Foyer options close by and start looking for a Dining Room fixture. When planning for the Dining Room I usually add some wainscoting on the walls and/or a decorative ceiling of some sort such as a coffer or tray.  Here’s a few examples of some of my favorite past Dining Rooms:

However, when I stand in this Dining Room space I notice a few things- the Dining Room only has only one solid wall. The other wall is mostly windows and the rest is completely open with one column supporting the corner. The room is pretty large and rectangular in shape, therefore that one solid wall is long and big.  So as I stand in the space staring at that long wall, I immediately want to turn that wall into the accent of the room. By using color and trimwork detail I plan to transform that wall into the focal point of the room.  Since the wall will be the focal point, I’ve decided NOT to do a coffer ceiling but install a big, beefy, crown to give it a nice finished look.

 

Now, I start looking for the right light fixture.   I found three Chandeliers in the chrome family I really like. I start considering the size of that wall again and feel it may be best to break that wall up in thirds and add two decorative sconce lights.  So I take my three favorite chandelier choices and see if they have coordinating sconces.

sconse-options

Now that I have the fixtures, I mock up three wall layouts for the trimwork design for that accent wall.

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The accent colors I’m considering:

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Now that I have my chrome Dining Room fixtures confirmed I go back to the Foyer light.  There is one more factor to take into account regarding the Foyer fixture.  The stairway look.  One option is to go with black wrought iron balusters or I can go with straight, clean line, white wood balusters.  Here’s two examples:

I think both looks would look nice in this situation. However, because of the “grandness” of this space through the height of the ceiling and the curve of the stairs at the entrance, I feel the black wrought iron would complement the look best.  Since the balusters are going to be black iron, I’m drawn to the large open lantern fixture that is combining the black iron with the chrome candlesticks and feel it will be the perfect compromise for this space.  The size is great, and it’s a great price for the size.

foyerlight

I submitted our Parade of Homes Entry form and fee last week, so its official, we can’t back out now.  Shingles, Siding, Insulation and the Front doors have been installed and Sheetrock is currently underway.  Things are moving quickly and I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got planned for the bathrooms!

sidingup

February 2, 2017

 

 

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Interior Selections begin

Countdown to Parade of Homes series: Interior Selections begin

I start this post with a lot of excitement.  A lot has happened since my last post. Being a small business like ours, Neil and I have to wear many hats. Other than designer, one of my many hats is Marketing Director. During December and early January there are several marketing and personal relations tasks that demand my attention. One such task is finding a way to THANK the many people that have helped make our year a success. This year we gave a gift and a Year in Review card I created and mailed to clients, prospective clients, and the many business partners we count on every day. We have spent 16 years building long term business and personal relationships that help us continue to build our company. Maintaining long term relationships in this industry is not always an easy thing to do and we never take that for granted.

(Putting my “designer hat” back on) In my last post, framing had just started. Neil and I walked the home last week and while the windows were being installed. If you have ever gone through the actual process of building a new home, you realize this is an exciting time. I love getting to this point and standing in the space and realizing first hand all the potential this home can be. This particular floorplan has arched windows throughout and even though it is just at framing stage, the home is already showing signs of its future beauty.

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Kitchen/Nook Area windows

Now that we have entered January, we are reminded that a Spring Parade of Homes can be tough on builders because of weather. Neil and I were both born and raised in North Carolina and one of the reasons we love it here is for its relatively mild weather throughout the year. You never know what you will get from Monday to Friday. Last week was a perfect example of that with snow and freezing rain to start the week and mid 60’s to finish out the week.  Unfortunately, NC doesn’t react quickly to snow and ice. Our schools and businesses shut down and we didn’t leave our home for three days. Bad weather can really make it tough to stay on schedule.  Thankfully, the home was 95% under roof, so it could have been worse, but for sure, we can use some cooperating weather for the next three months if we have any chance of making our April 13th deadline.

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While Neil has been busy watching over the construction side of things, I have been busy meeting with our Custom Cabinet guy, visiting the tile, plumbing, and lighting showrooms, and local granite yards.  One great perk about my job is I get to spend hours looking at resources like Houzz and Pinterest on my iPad and when Neil asks what I’m doing I can honestly say I’m working. 😉  As a professional, it’s important to use these resources as “inspiration” rather than being a “copycat.” When I work with clients I enjoy seeing their idea boards; it helps me understand their personality and style. However, I also try to make sure my clients have realistic expectations early on by explaining that most of the pictures seen on Houzz are professional photographs from professionally designed and decorated homes worth millions of dollars. They are not the average home within our average client’s price range. Therefore, using these resources are great, as long as everyone has realistic expectations on how they can be best used when designing a new custom home or remodel.

Once I’ve spent some time thinking through my overall concept and feel of a home, I usually begin with the Kitchen and work out from there. I like starting in the Kitchen whether I’m helping a presale client or designing a spec home because I feel the Kitchen is the heart of the home where most of the family’s time will be spent. It is here that the overall feel and style of the home would naturally resonate. I started by meeting with Bryant Herring with Herring Cabinets. We have been using Bryant for several years now. What I like about Bryant is he can build just about anything I come up with. As long as I give him a sketch or a picture of a concept, he  can work with me on achieving the exact look I’m going for. You simply can’t do that that with a manufactured cabinet company. I will admit, a challenge in using Bryant is he does not have a big, fancy showroom for clients to come in and choose one cabinet style from another, but I feel the benefits of his quality in addition to my freedom to customize at every step strongly outweighs the need for a fancy showroom where every time you want to make a change or add something it’s considered an “upgrade”.  Our clients really haven’t missed having a showroom when they can sit down and design their custom Kitchen just the way they want.

For this floor plan, the Kitchen has actually been more challenging than I originally thought. There are some great features to this Kitchen, however, the overall way the Kitchen spreads out in a large space, I’ve had to really think through how to maximize it’s functionality.  Standing in the space really helps get a feel for the layout and function far more than just looking at a plan. As Neil, Bryant, and I stood in the space we went back and forth looking at different options. In the end, we made the following changes to the original plan:

kitchen-floorplan

  • I moved the wall ovens away from the cooktop wall. We are going to either use a slide in range or I’m going to combine the cooktop and oven into the same space and butt that area out a bit from the rest of the cabinet. I’m going to attempt to add narrow spice rack pullouts on each side to add additional separation.  I’ve added a pot filler since the sink is on the other side of the kitchen.
  • We decided to square off the refrigerator wall and move the microwave beside the refrigerator.
  • We couldn’t shrink or move the pantry location because it hides a major support beam. Therefore, I plan to turn that Pantry door into a prominent design feature.
  • This plan has a gorgeous arched window right above the sink. I love it! However, a window takes away cabinet space. Therefore, we are going to build a continuous cabinet arched around the window.
  • The dishwasher will be on the right of the sink and a hidden trash pullout will be on the left.
  • The Island is my favorite part of this Kitchen. We tweaked the size from the original plan and added a hangover area for bar seating. I removed the small island sink because I feel they are so small they aren’t very functional, plus the plumbing would take up an entire section of storage I would rather have.
  • Another great feature of this Kitchen is the narrow but spacious Pantry Cabinet on the Powder Room wall. This is a great way to utilize that space. I’ve designed this cabinet to look like an actual antique pantry cabinet I remember in Neil’s grandmother’s Kitchen. This piece will be very functional but also a statement piece.

Now that we’ve talked through the layout,  Bryant sends me drawings I can revise and start adding the special details that will make this Kitchen unique and special. Here are some of my notes that I mark up and give back to Bryant to make revisions and start building.

kitchenrevisionnotes

My next step is selecting cabinet colors and granite. I already have concepts in my head before I head to the granite yard, but I take my Cabinet paint fan with me so I can keep an open mind when I see a slab I really like, I can change the color right there on the spot.

If you have never been to a granite yard, it’s like going on a museum field trip and getting the opportunity to see God’s artistry at work. I love walking down the aisles of these huge canvases of natural beauty. The Raleigh-Durham area has many granite yards to visit. Most use a color code system that helps you understand the cost of one slab over the other. I always stay away from Red & Orange stickers (referred to as level 4 & 5) and look for blue and green stickers (level 1 & 2). Different levels can translate into thousands of dollars. A good rule of thumb is for one average size kitchen, you can add at least a $1,000 per level. So if my level 1 kitchen came to $2,500, then the level 5 granite for the same kitchen would be around $6,500. Granite has really come a long way in just a few years. About 10 years ago, there were only a handful of level 1 granite options and you saw the same five options in almost every home. But today, granite has become so popular and more readily available, the options have really opened up.

As I walked around the granite yard and my fabricator’s warehouse, I chose Delicatus Cream. (This photo taken with my phone doesn’t do it justice, it’s gorgeous)

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I have decided to go with granite on both the perimeter and island for this kitchen. I have a lot of different design elements going on in this kitchen already. I didn’t want to change the island granite to a different granite choice or a wood species. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a wood island countertop. In fact, the last home we built I used a Black Walnut top for the island and it was stunning (pictured below). The kitchen needed some warmth; this kitchen has enough going on I feel keeping the same granite countertops work best this time.

Before I could finalize my kitchen design thoughts, I made a trip to the plumbing and lighting showroom to start piecing the overall look and feel of the kitchen. One thing I knew for sure- I wanted a farmhouse sink.

In last year’s Parade Home I used a Kohler Farmhouse sink. I had originally ordered a white sink and designed the kitchen with that particular sink. However, when I called to schedule a delivery date for the kitchen, I found out that there was a backorder on the sink and there was no date on when one would be available. So I had kitchen cabinets that were scheduled to be installed the following week and they were built around the exact dimensions of that particular sink. The showroom researched different vendors but no other sink could be found with the exact dimensions. They called around all over the country and tracked down two sinks that were the same model just a different color. One of the two colors was called Cashmere (pictured below). I grabbed my samples and drove straight to the showroom to take a look at the color. It was dead on perfect with my granite and backsplash I had already ordered. My 48 hour stress turned into a blessing. The sink ended up being one of my favorite sinks I’ve ever used. Situations such as the backordered-sink dilemma translates into just “another day” in the home building industry.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty of new examples to share with you along the journey of this home.

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My current plumbing showroom has a beautiful white farm sink that is being discontinued; therefore, they are selling me that sink for about half the cost of my usual budget. Yeah! A quality white farmhouse sink we usually budget $800-1000. For a good quality stainless we give an allowance of $600. I realize you can go online to some “sinkwarehouse” type company and get one for much less, but from a builder standpoint, that means trouble. Half the time, important components are missing or if anything is wrong with it at all, it causes headaches and delays. I’m all for saving money, but ordering from a website that we can’t exchange the product easily is not worth the risk.

The next piece to this puzzle is lighting. I absolutely love lighting. The perfect lighting fixture is like the jewelry with a nice outfit, just ties it all together and helps give a nice finished look. I spend hours on lighting for each project–I take it very seriously. The challenge for this house wasn’t that I couldn’t find the right lights, but it was that I fell in love with two totally different looks. The bigger challenge is each look is different enough that it will totally affect the corresponding look in the Foyer and Dining. From the time you walk through the front door, I want the lights and overall feel of the home to work harmoniously with one another, especially in an open floorplan such as this where multiple spaces converge into one another. Therefore, each look in the kitchen led to its own specific look in the Foyer and Dining. However, I’m quickly running out of time and need to make a decision so what do I do??? Well, I phoned a friend that I trust will give me their honest opinion. Just talking through the two scenarios out loud helped me make the decision for this home and getting a second opinion helped clinch it. I’ll happily save Option B as a possibility for a future home.

Regarding this home, let’s break apart these design elements a bit so you can get a feel for where this kitchen is headed.

kithcenselectionblog

Rough-ins began today!  Beforehand, Neil and I spent an hour creating the Lighting Plan.  I’m heading out there now to walk and confirm a few things and make sure our proposed electrical plans make sense while standing in the space.  I can’t wait to share with you next time how some of the other spaces are coming along.  If you want to make sure you don’t miss any posts from this series, be sure to “follow”.  I have been enjoying your feedback, so keep it up and feel free to share this blog series with others.

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Countdown to Parade of Homes Week 3: Exterior Selections

I want to thank everyone for patiently waiting for week 3 of my new series Countdown to the Parade of Homes.  A lot has happened in the three weeks since I last wrote so let me catch you up with where we are to date.  So far, we picked a plan, tweaked it, picked up permits, dug the footing, built the foundation, and now we are currently FRAMING.  Things are moving quickly now but before we ever started to dig the footing, I had to have all my exterior selections made, submitted to the Architectural Review Board (ARB), and approved weeks before Neil was able to start construction.  So let’s take a closer look at the exterior selections process for this year’s Parade Home entry.

When building in a subdivision, usually all Exterior Selections and improvements to the lot/home have to be submitted before the Architectural Review Board (ARB) for that subdivision.  The ARB is either run by the Home Owners Association (HOA) or the Developer.  As a builder, I like having an ARB that is in control of what can and cannot be built in the subdivision.  I realize sometimes HOA’s can get a little extreme and overboard with some of their rules and policies, but for the most part, they are there to protect the homeowner from others building or doing something that would ultimately lower property values.  As a general rule of Real Estate value, the concept of Conformity means properties within a given area tend to be similar in size, style, age, construction, and quality.  The more you stray from these principles, the higher the likelihood of depreciating property values.  Now, even though an ARB is in place, that doesn’t mean everything goes as smooth as you would like, but, from a builder point of view, it would be a greater risk to build a home in a subdivision with no ARB in place.  Higher appraisal values are good for everyone.

I already discussed in week one that curb appeal is one of the most important factors when choosing a Parade Worthy floor plan.  The trick is selecting a color and texture combination that stands out from the crowd yet is appealing and inviting at the same time.  That is not always easy.  I usually have some ideas in my head of some color schemes I’m wanting to go with early on.  However, before I get too focused on a certain color and look, I need to make a site visit first to see what the surrounding home color schemes are.  We don’t want to choose too similar of a color scheme and look as a neighboring home already built.  The good news with this year’s Parade Home is there is only one other home right beside it we need to worry about since it’s a new section in the subdivision.  I happen to know that color scheme because it is a presale of ours.  So I am going to stay away from the Gray/taupe palette in order to stand out from the neighbor.

Funny story- I’ve had people ask me before how it is working with my husband.  Well, to be honest, it’s not always as smooth as we would like.  We are both head strong individuals that like to be the “right” one.  Thankfully, for the most part, we complement each other very well.  When I come up with ideas Neil tells me how it can be done and how much it’s going to cost.  If we went with everything I wanted to do we would surely be bankrupt by now.  For the most part, Neil has supported most of my design decisions.  However, once, several years ago, I got a call from Neil.  He was at one of our jobsites and the house was being painted that day.  He called me with clear concern in his voice regarding the “yellow” that was being painted on the exterior.  He called me because he thought surely that could not be the color I selected.  I explained that once all the colors came together it was going to look great.  He didn’t agree but let the painters continue.  It took til near the completion of that home when he finally told me he thought the house looked great.  But for a few weeks, I was definitely nervous thinking what if no one liked it, and the house doesn’t sell, then it would be all my fault.  That’s a lot of pressure.  Thankfully, it turned out great, and it sold quickly and we remained happily married. 😉

The “Yellow” home:

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Back to 2016.  In this situation, I have been looking at the same photograph from the website we purchased the plan from for over two years.  So I have become accustomed to that look and would like to stay pretty close to the same palette which is in the brown family.  One tip when selecting exterior paint colors, the color will turn out lighter than you initially think from the sample.  So I usually go darker rather than lighter for my exterior paint selections.  I immediately get my Sherwin Williams paint fan out and start looking at my old faithful brown colors that I know look great as well as start looking at some of the new colors Sherwin Williams added this past year to the new paint fans.  (If you keep following this blog, you will quickly realize I love NEW things.) In this situation I quickly narrow down to the following options.

 

Next, I look at stone options because stone is the accent material that will be on the front elevation.  If this was a predominantly brick home, I would start with the brick selection.  But here, the brick will only be used on the foundation.  Since the lot if flat, not much of the brick will be visible.  So my brick choice will simply compliment the stone choice I make.

When choosing stone, I’m looking at two different things: one is color and the other is style or shape of the stone.  I’ll share a quick ‘learn from experience’ story- once when choosing exterior selections for a new spec home, the location was one of the last lots available on the street.  I made a site visit first to see what color palettes were already used on the surrounding properties.  Since I had 5-6 other homes to take into consideration, I found it challenging to come up with a color scheme that would be different enough, yet compliment the others on the street.  I was so caught up in the color scheme that I didn’t even notice I had ended up using the same color and style of the stone on the house right beside us.  Now the overall home was different enough that I don’t think anyone even noticed, but I can guarantee the existing homeowner noticed, and that was a mistake on my part that I want to avoid in the future.  Therefore, step one- I look at what stone choice the house next door has already chosen and I stay away from that.

In this situation, I already know the stone choice next door so I can avoid that choice, and I know I want to stay in the brown family.  I quickly narrow down to these two choices:

Now I take the few paint colors I’ve selected and look at them with the two stone choices.  I immediately narrow down to:

In this circumstance I am leaning toward the Sienna color.  I also want to incorporate some texture, therefore, I want to stay away from the more linear styles like weather ledge, stack ledge, or ledgestone.  I’m not ready to commit all the way to the fieldstone look so I’m learning toward the Tuscan Ledge profile which combines some of the ledgestone with fieldstone pieces for the perfect combination and look I’m wanting for this home.

One big challenge of choosing any selections but especially exterior selections is looking at a small sample ranging from a small paint chip to a stone board measuring about 12×12 but in reality is going to be on the side of the house. Well, it’s not always easy but my years of experience helps tremendously.  If you are building a new home yourself, having a professional eye on your selections will help ease your mind and eliminate any undue stress throughout the building process.

After considering my stone choice and the two paint colors, I decided upon  Sherwin Williams new color Song Thrush 9112.

Now that we have the two major exterior selections made, we can add the “supporting” characters such as:

  • Trim color
  • Shutters
  • Flagstone for the steps and porch perimeter
  • Metal roof accents
  • Shingles
  • Gutters
  • Window style and color
  • Garage doors
  • And my favorite exterior selection- the Front Door.

Although I refer to these items as “supporting” the main selection, each one is very important.  Any one of these should support and complement the other.  When looking at the home from the street, if you make a bad selection, it can throw off the entire look of the home. For example: one of my pet peeves is to use white windows in certain color schemes such as this one.  I think white windows look great with certain color schemes, but in the overall look I’m going with white will be a big contrast.  When someone drives by I don’t want the windows to say “look at me, I’m white.”  So in this color scheme, we will definitely go with tan windows.

Trim: In some circumstances I love white crisp trim that will bring contrast to the siding door.  But in this situation, I’m going for a softer look and want to blend with the tan windows.  I chose trim color Urban Putty SW7532.

Shutters: This home is a little more classic/traditional so I’m going with the Raised Panel shutter style in a dark brown/blackish color called Black Fox SW7020.

Metal Roofing: I’m going with a Medium Brown.

Shingles: Shingles are another thing that can be very important. Most of the time we don’t really pay much attention to shingles driving down the road, but when you come across a home that chose the wrong color, you know it immediately.  My personal opinion regarding shingles is they should not be the first thing you notice.  If they are, that is usually NOT a good thing.  In this situation, the roof lines on this home are very appealing so the roofing style and color are really important.  Because of the complexity of the roof lines, we have decided to upgrade these shingles to a High Definition shingle by Certainteed.  The three colors you see most used especially by builders are Weatherwood, Driftwood, and Black.  Weatherwood and Driftwood work great with almost every color combination and tend to pull out whatever color you are using on the home.  Black is best when you are looking for more contrast or anytime you have black accent colors like shutters, metal roofing, or a painted black door.  In this situation, we are going with the Max Def Weatherwood.

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Weatherwood

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Max Def Weatherwood

Gutters: There are two schools of thought.  I usually like to blend the gutters away and try to match them with the trim color OR make them a particular color that would play more as an accent.  See the difference:

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In this situation, I don’t really want to “see” the gutters so I’m going with a color that matches the trim.

Garage Doors- My new favorite garage doors are the wood grain version of the Amarr Classica or Oak Summit.  I’ve used both the Walnut and the Golden Oak.  I think the Walnut will look great on this home.

Last but not least: The Front Door- In my opinion, the front door is hugely important to a home.  It is your guest’s first impression and can impact the overall look and feel of the home.  My favorite style doors right now are double arched wood doors of any style.  When a plan doesn’t have the space for double doors I often select an oversize door of either 3’6″ x 8′ or I have had custom 4’x8′ doors made on several occasions including my own home.  The front doors don’t have to be expensive if you are on a tight budget, sometimes just having the right color can create a nice curb appeal.  Here are some of my favorite doors I’ve used in the past:

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This is the set of doors I’ve selected for this home:

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Now that all the exterior selections have been chosen, I create a Selection sheet and turn in for ARB approval.  I can’t wait to see it all come together.

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Coming soon: CABINETS

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Countdown to Parade of Homes series Week 2:

How to turn a good plan into a WOW plan

Thanks for joining me on Week 2 of my new blog series “Countdown to Parade of Homes”.  Last week we looked at what elements make a plan “Parade Worthy”.  Not all plans measure up.  As a builder, we spend hours and hours looking for just the right plan in order to showcase our talents and style while appealing to today’s market.  Hopefully, you read last week’s post and have been waiting in suspense to see which plan we ended up choosing.

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Which one, which one???

If you have stumbled upon this blog by accident and didn’t read last week, STOP AND CLICK HERE to read last week’s post first.

Thank you to all who voted on our social media platforms last week.  New this week, I’ve added a poll directly onto the blog itself.  Based on the combined total votes, the WINNER is. . .

That is really exciting because we dug the footing for that plan last week.  However, as much as Neil and I both love the Jennings plan, I also love the Clifton Place plan and am hopeful we will get to build it some day in the near future.  But for now, let’s look a little deeper into the Jennings plan and how we took the original plan which was good, and tweaked it to create a WOW plan.

The Original Plan (before):

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The Tweaked version (after):

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As I mentioned last week, it is hard to find a perfect plan.  Our goal is to find a plan that with a little tweaking can be a really great plan.  I want to point out that if you plan to purchase a plan yourself from one of the many sites available online, you will need to purchase the plan license and either work directly with the plan company to make changes or you can take it to a local architect and have changes made.  But either way, you have to purchase the original plan license first.

Another option is to work directly with an architect and have a plan drawn from scratch to fit your exact needs and wants.  We personally like working with clients in the early stages of space planning and designing a home.  We have found the entire process goes much smoother when we can work with the client and the architect during the drawing phase.  More than once we have been asked to price a home that has already been drawn by an architect.  The client has already spent months and a good amount of money on having the plan drawn and then we take a look at the plan and automatically see areas that would benefit from some changes.  Architects do a great job drawing aesthetically pleasing home designs, however, from a builder’s point of view, the plans aren’t always as functional or budget friendly as most of our clients would appreciate.  Therefore, I feel a more efficient process when designing a new home is working with both an architect and your builder together so the end result will be a beautiful and functional home that meets your needs, wants, and budget.

Back to the Jennings plan.  After reviewing all the different changes, what do you think?? Thankfully, none of these changes required any major re-engineering so we were able to make these changes pretty easily.  However, that is not always the case.  For example, we had already started framing last year’s Parade Home and as I was walking through one day I had an epiphany that I wanted to open up the kitchen and create a large island.  Unfortunately, Neil quickly let me know it was too late for such a change.  Framing had already started, we were on a tight building schedule as it was and it simply wasn’t an option at that point to stop framing and have the plan re-engineered and a new steel beam ordered.  I was a little pouty for a few days but quickly came to the realization Neil was absolutely right because we would have never made judging if we had gone with my late idea (he’s probably going to print and frame this).

The good news- it turned out beautiful anyway and the home sold during sheetrock stage.  The even better news, we had a new client come in and love everything about the home but always wanted a big kitchen island, so guess what, we are currently rebuilding that same plan with the big island.  It’s framing now and I’m so excited and can’t wait to see it finished.  Now we are both happy! 🙂

Here is the original Kitchen layout:

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This wall will stay the same

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Original Cabinet drawing

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This area has been removed

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New Kitchen layout adding the big island

Now that I have taken you through the process of customizing an existing plan, I hope it inspires you to view plans in an entirely different way.  Don’t just look at the plan as drawn, but look at is as a starting point that you can customize and make your very own.  One note of caution, I’m speaking from a Custom Builder mindset.  If you chose to work with more of a Production-type builder, I caution you to ask first before you get your heart set on a change because it could end up costing you a lot more than you anticipated.  Production builders are cost effective for a reason, they don’t like changes.  Changes slow things down and cost money.  Custom Building is certainly not for everyone.  You may prefer to have everything already decided for you.  If you are considering buying or building a new home, consider carefully which method would work best for you.

So now that we have the plan and permits, and the foundation is underway, the real fun begins!  Hope you will join me next week as start the Exterior Selections and ARB (Architectural Review Board) process.

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Countdown to the Parade of Homes series Week 1:

028_28-228-ventasso-drive What makes a home plan “Parade Worthy”?

Our local Home Builder’s Association (JCBIA) hosts a Parade of Homes once a year where area builders showcase their style, product, and hard work during three open house weekends.  In Johnston County, we host the Parade of Homes in the spring, usually in April.  The Parade gives prospective buyers the opportunity to see a lot of quality homes  within a weekend or two. The Parade has also become a favorite to local residents who just like walking through new homes to get new ideas and see the latest home trends.  paradeofhomes

I personally enjoy manning our Parade home  because I love talking with prospective buyers to gain an understanding of their family’s wants and needs.  After years of manning our Parade homes, we actually have a good following of people that come to visit because ” they like our work and want to see what we came up with this year”.  This is quite a compliment and we always appreciate their feedback.

Although the Parade last only three weekends, as a builder, we have to start planning at least 9 months in advance. A lot of time and effort goes into picking just the right plan that is going to showcase our style and personality as a builder.  As we are going through this year’s Countdown to the Parade, I thought I would take you along for the adventure.

Let’s start from the beginning with what actually makes a home “Parade Worthy” from  a builder’s point of view.  There are several factors we (Neil and I) usually look for when deciding to build any “spec” home.  A spec home is any home we build from scratch that isn’t pre-sold or under contract.  The biggest pro to building a spec is that I get to choose ALL the selections myself (within budget of course). Things usually go faster when we are making all the decisions ourselves.  The downside is the fear of making a decision that doesn’t go over as well as we would have liked (that’s a story for another day).  Thankfully, the latter has been rare and our business plan consists mostly of Custom Built pre-sold homes.  Once our Parade home sells it usually translates into more pre-sales that keep us busy for months afterward.  So from a marketing perspective, other than our web presence, the Parade is one of our best marketing platforms.

 Step 1: Find the right plan for the lot. Being a builder, both Neil and I are always looking for plans.  What I have discovered is that no matter how many plans there are out there, there is rarely a “perfect” plan. Usually we can find a good plan that with some tweeking can work out to be a great plan.  When building any spec home the plan should reflect the needs of the buyers (who are we building the home for? ex. Families with 3+ kids or empty nesters, etc.), the market (what is currently selling in our area and what is the need), and the land (does the lot have a great view, sloped lot, proximity to neighbors, etc). This year, our lot is in a great location in a new section of Portofino subdivision that highlights the beauty of the land and its unique equestrian neighborhood.  2016-07-21-12-17-43We want a plan that highlights the larger lot size and scenic views.  Visually, it is in a prominent location as you drive up the street so we want a home with “wow” curb appeal. Since this lot is flat, we would not build a basement foundation.

Step 2: Determine the price and size of the home.  Due to the lot prices in this section of the neighborhood, from a builder perspective, we like for the home price to in appropriate relation to the lot cost.  Therefore, based on historical data, the home needs to be at least 3200 heated square feet.    The larger we go, we start creeping into the “riskier” price range for a spec, so ideally the plan needs to be between 3200-3500 s.f.

Step 3: Plan features.  There are several factors I look for when looking at plans. My top four priorities are (1)Overall curb appeal of the home, (2)Kitchen size and layout, (3) Master suite layout, (4)overall flow and layout of the home.  In today’s market, we will only build a spec home with a downstairs Master.   A great kitchen is a must because so many families consider the kitchen to be the heart and focal point of the home. Curb appeal is hugely important because no matter how great the inside of the home is, you’ve got to get people to walk through the doors first.  Once a plan meets these criteria, I start looking at little details within the home that I can turn into unique design features that really stand out from the average home on the market. Here’s examples from this past year’s Parade home.  See more.

Now that we’ve narrowed down the plan to the appropriate size and plan features, I start looking at homes I’ve been saving in my “favorites” binder.  It didn’t take long for me to come up with a handful of plans that I have liked and bring them to Neil for his opinion. He usually shoots down several pretty quickly because Neil sees plans from a “cost to build” eye first, where I see plans from an “I want that” eye first.  Together, we make a pretty good team that, so far, has successfully kept us in business for over 15 years. 🙂

This year the plan options quickly came down to two:

You’ll have to tune into next week’s post to see which plan we chose.  I will take you step by step how we “tweeked” the actual plan that we will start digging the footing on Monday!  So, the adventure begins!  Hope you will join me as I document step by step the planning, designing, and building of this “Parade Worthy”home.

Which plan would you chose??

 

 

 

 

 

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Jarman Homes receives Best of Houzz 2015 Award in Design

Remodeling and Home Design

Jarman Homes, Inc. of Clayton, NC has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” for Design by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The Custom Building company has just celebrated their 15th year in business with a nice anniversary gift of winning the Best of Houzz award for Design. Jarman Homes, Inc. was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 500,000 active home building, remodeling, and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Design and Customer Satisfaction. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 25 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers.” Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2014. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2015” badge on their profiles, helping Houzz users around the world who discover and love a professional’s work to learn even more about that business’ popularity and satisfaction rating among their peers in the Houzz community. remodeling and design industry professionals.

“Houzz has been a great tool to not only get ideas and help clients visualize custom options, but also a great tool to display our own projects.  I enjoy receiving questions and positive comments regarding our projects from “Houzzers” all over the country, said Joy Jarman, Designer for Jarman Homes.

“Houzz provides homeowners with a 360 degree view of home building, remodeling and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of industry marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Jarman Homes, Inc. among our “Best Of” professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

Follow Jarman Homes, Inc. on Houzz http://www.houzz.com/pro/jarmanhomes1/jarman-homes

About Jarman Homes, Inc.

Jarman Homes, Inc. is an award winning Custom Builder building in the continuously growing Johnston/Wake County area of NC for 15 years.  A husband and wife team that combine their talents to help clients transform their visions into reality. Jarman Homes can help you build your dream home or turn your existing home into the home of your dreams.

 About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin and Sydney. For more information, visit www.houzz.com

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Transforming a deck into a Grand Master Closet

2014-10-16 11.50.00   I love working on Addition/Renovation projects that not only solves an existing problem but turn into a wonderful focal point that make all the neighbors envious.  We recently completed one such project that transformed an unused wood deck off the back of a Master Bedroom into a Grand Master Closet that has become the favorite room in the house.   

The Master Suite was originally designed with bedroom to the right with split His & Hers closets transitioning into the Bathroom.  This is a common layout among house plans but isn’t the most efficient in space and design.  This design flaw can be corrected on most plans before construction begins, but this home has been lived in for years and the clients decided they needed more space and also wanted to add a reading area into the Master Suite design.  In order to accomplish this, we ended up ripping out the closets all together, therefore opening up that entire area into what is now a wonderful reading area.  Fortunately, on the exterior bedroom wall was a small wood deck that was rarely used.  We tore down that exterior wall and transformed that unused deck into a grand closet large enough to double their previous storage space with a custom designed wood layout including shoe racks, long and short hanging areas, and sweater boxes.  But why stop there, some bonus features were added including a custom desk area, treadmill with TV and audio speakers, and the final detail of a full length mirror with gorgeous hanging crystal chandelier and double glass french doors.   Why would you want to leave, right?

Well, in order for the remaining Master suite not look outdone by the closet, a few upgrades were made to the bedroom by transforming the old tray ceiling that would have left the new space unbalanced, into a beautifully balanced and elegant coffer ceiling with a new fireplace as the focal point equipped for the new TV with surround sound.  All this was topped off with new light fixtures.

Hey, if we are going to have such a nice new bedroom and closet, we couldn’t just leave the old bathroom.  So we installed new custom cabinets, granite tops, and tile work adding a new beauty to the existing tub.  We installed a new, bigger, tile shower equipped with double shower heads and lots of niches and a linen closet for lots of storage.

Overall, the new Master Suite is now a grand space that offers a much for efficient layout while incorporating beautiful finishes that resulted into one of my favorite remodeling projects so far.

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AFTER: Was once the His & Hers closets is now a spacious sitting area leading into the Bathroom.

exterior wall of Master Bedroom

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AFTER:Master Bedroom with coffered ceiling, hardwood floors, fireplace, surround sound, leading into closet

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BEFORE: We moved the old linen and moved the water closet to transform the new bathroom layout to add the bigger shower.

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BEFORE: His & Hers closets leading into bathroom.

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BEFORE: we replace this unused wood deck into the new closet

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AFTER: New fireplace.

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AFTER: New tub surround accent matches the new fireplace surround.

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AFTER: New cabinets, tops, tile, and mirrors

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AFTER: new layout moved the linen closet and water closet to make room for bigger shower.

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