The Blog

Our Concierge Service: Let Us Help You Help Yourself

Categories: Building a Custom Home, Custom Home Design Ideas, WhiteStone | Posted: September 16, 2018

When clients come to see us, they often know “exactly” what they want but not quite how to get it. They may know they want a pool, but not what shape, how big or how deep. They may know they want a built-in island in the kitchen but do they want the sink there, or a mini-fridge underneath, or a marble baking top, etc.

To avoid confusion, we have a variety of forms that we ask clients to fill out that guides them through the process, digging for details and slowly drawing them down a “design funnel” until they have narrowed their choices down enough to make definitive, deliberate decisions.

One such form is our Concierge Form. As the name implies, this form acts as a do-it-yourself guide to your new dream home. (You can find the actual form below, PLUS on our website at http://WhiteStonehomes.com/.) It lists such categories as:

  • General must have items (i.e. view of hills, warm feeling, Tuscan elevation, lots of closet space)
  • Kitchen must have items (i.e. stainless steel appliances, gourmet serving island, two dishwashers)
  • Garage must have items (i.e. three car, built in cabinets, epoxy floor covering, freezer plug, air-conditioned, surround sound)

Through every room in the house, plus the front, side and back exterior, every bathroom, closet and cabinets, we walk you through it, step-by-step. We get you familiar with industry specific terms, like “judges paneling,” “Tuscany elevation” and “full arbor.”

For every room or category there are five lines to help list the major needs from the minor, drilling down deeper and deeper on every choice, until it’s clear to you what exactly you want, what you can live without, and what compromises may need to be made to reach a livable budget.

It may sound clinical, but as you go through the process, complete with visuals and even 3-D modeling, if needed, you can feel the excitement build for each new client. This is where dreams become a reality, where the sometimes hard choices are made, but where the picture becomes real and solid in their heads.

By the time we’re through filing this in, everyone knows what to expect; you, me, the builder, the designer, the sub-contractors, we’re all on the same page together.

 

Figure 1.1: The WhiteStone Custom Homes Concierge Form

Criteria for Success: You May Not Want to Build a Home If…

Categories: Building a Custom Home, Custom Home Design Ideas, WhiteStone | Posted: July 27, 2018

This may be one of my stranger blogs : ). I have to admit, some people should not build a new home. This is an excerpt from my book about custom home building: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Building a home is NOT for everybody. What seems like an adventure to some can turn into a nightmare for others, especially if you don’t particularly enjoy getting your hands dirty or being a decision-maker.

So, who shouldn’t build their own home? Well, I strongly recommend that you don’t build a house if:

  • You’re happy with the status quo. If you like things the way they are, if you’re resistant to change or don’t feel the need for change, don’t build your own home. Contentedness is a powerful feeling. If you’re happy where you are, why go on the home building adventure in the first place? Too often, couples get carried away by the momentum of building a home when they’re actually unprepared for, and not even that fond of, the process involved. If you’re happy where you are, I suggest you stay there until you’re not! Building a new home is definitely an improvement in your life. For many, it is the next step to greater happiness for themselves and their family. But some people are simply too happy—or too scared—to venture out.
  • It’s not a unanimous decision. Everyone living in the house, or at least the ones paying for it, should definitely agree that you both want to build a new home before making the plunge. I’ve seen many cases where one spouse is merely “going along to get along” with the other, who desperately wants to build a new home. We realize they will be the most convinced spouse. That is only natural, but to be truly happy, both spouses must be convinced.
  • You like old technology. The modern world of custom home building is not only high-tech but cutting edge and fast paced. It can get overwhelming if you’re not prepared for the changes that have happened in the construction industry over the last five to ten years, or are unwilling to adopt them.
  • You are a perfectionist. If you seek perfection in every area of your life, particularly your living space, you should probably avoid building a custom home at all costs. Custom homes are not extruded out of a machine in some factory, but manufactured homes are. Those are homes that, like cars off an assembly line, come pre-assembled and popped out in cookie cutter fashion, with no muss, no fuss and, above all, no surprises—or frustration.
  • You can’t expect, or appreciate, the unexpected. Part of the reason why home building is such an adventure, just like child rearing, is that the only constant you can expect is the unexpected. Plans are just that- plans. They’re written in ink, not stone, and the biggest part of the home building adventure is seeing how your dream translates into reality. The best custom home builders are realists who not only know when to compromise, but how to pick their battles. Part of the joy of the home building process is being there every step of the way, for every brick or stone that goes up, watching the house evolve. While custom homes are never perfect, they are personal; it’s hard not to get attached to something you watch grow from the ground up. This new home will be your design. Your ideas brought to life! However, if you can’t appreciate or expect the unexpected, then building a custom home probably isn’t for you.

Chapter 3 The Basics of Successful Home Design

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: June 23, 2018

Chapter 3

The Basics of Successful Home Design

Designing your new home is a little like predicting the future. Often, couples come in, or families, and as we start the design process and mapping out a floor plan, I start to see cracks in the armor. The husband wants this, the wife wants that, one kid wants this and another wants that.

What it boils down to is that a lot of people don’t know what they want, period. It’s a little like being a kid in a candy store; there are so many options nowadays, not just in bedrooms and kitchens, but in accents, accessories, bells, whistles, landscaping and layout, that folks just start grabbing what looks good without a feel for how it all might fit together. That’s a great recipe for designing a home today that you may hate a year from now!

Our job then, is to help them understand not just the aesthetics of their various single design choices, but how they all fit together. And that’s the basics of successful home design.

Getting it Down on Paper: Starting with a Vision

The process of your home design begins quite simply, but realistically; in black and white. Using the Concierge Form we discussed in earlier chapters, we begin to make your dreams real by asking you to explain them. This is a breakthrough process for many clients who may know what they think they want, but only really drill down to specifics when they’re forced to.

Remember, building a home is a family affair. We encourage you to include the whole family, including everyone who will be living in the home, to help design it. This can take the form of you and your spouse filling out the concierge form before discussing it with your kids, asking your kids to help you fill it out or, in certain cases, handing every family member a concierge form, or at least a blank sheet of paper, and letting them know exactly what’s involved in the process.

This is a real opportunity for each family member to get down in writing what they want. This way, everybody should be happy, and more importantly, they’ll know upfront what the home will look like. This way nobody can complain—spouse, child or mother-in-law—nor will they be able to complain once the house is complete!

This will help everyone in the family make their voice heard when it comes to what they want…

 

  • In the living room;
  • In their bedroom;
  • In the garage;
  • In the front yard;
  • In the back yard;
  • In the loft/Game room;
  • In the outdoor cooking/living area;
  • In the pool area;

 

What’s interesting about this process is that it often makes the planned home real for my clients. I can see them getting excited about fixtures and faucets and features and as they begin to envision what their new home might look like, it’s almost like they get a new spring in their step.

My clients are motivated to build anyway, but this really brings it all together in a way that is both purposeful and visual. They can see the dream becoming a reality, and few feelings compare.

This process makes way for a clear and well-defined path for them to follow. Now, rather than just seeing a head full of unrelated pictures or picturing a meandering, curving mass of confusion, the line is straight and clear.

It’s time consuming to consider every room, all the variables and whittle down your choices. Brick or slate? Tuscan design or southwestern ranch style? Loft or Full Bonus Room? Hilly or flat? Game room or three car garage? These choices do take thought, time and even discussion, but as I like to say, clients evolve into “partners” in the home design and the process does require this kind of investment to pay off.

An Eye for Design: The Best of Both Worlds

Our sales staff is architecturally trained to be able to help our clients’ dreams become a reality. I like to call them “translators,” in addition to their other technical skills, because I often hear them listening to a client’s rambling explanation of some floor plan or feature or accessory they’ve seen in a neighbor’s house, or from the road, or in a magazine and magically our designers will not only be able to show it to them, but either draw it up on the computer or show them a sample of what it might look like in their home.

That’s why the concierge form and several of the other requirements we ask for—magazine clippings, sample floor designs, web links and other visual cues—are so important. The more information you bring to us to express your vision, the closer our designers can get to making that vision a reality.

Having designed dozens of homes in a variety of styles, we have a vast catalog of existing floor plans, designs and features that we can adapt to the client’s specific needs. So, building on the concierge form, our designers can blend the existing with new. This gives clients an even clearer vision when they can begin to see the house take shape, not just on paper but in living color, on screen, in print or in 3-D models—or even existing homes.

There is nothing like seeing a really great home, floor plan or design and enlisting a team of professionals to help you customize and personalize it for your individual needs.

A little bit of this house, a smidge of that floor plan, a garage here, a loft there, the landscaping this way, the lighting that way, and accent by accent, room by room, your house becomes a custom home.

Needs Vs. Wants: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

The next part of the process delves into separating what you want from what you need. We’re Americans; we all want everything. More toppings, more cheese, double-size it and add sprinkles, if you please.

But when you keep in mind that each element of your home design not only affects how the house fits together but also costs more, we get down to the nitty-gritty: What do you want and what can you really afford?

Here is where the design process gets real for a lot of people, because we still want to create a dream home for them, but we want to do it within the limits of their personal, professional and financial reality.

Yes, a built-in outdoor kitchen with stainless steel fixtures, mini-bar and dorm fridge. Resort style pool and camouflaged rock speakers is what every red-blooded American homeowner wants, but do they need it? Will it fit with the rest of the house design? Will the added cost of that luxury affect the size of, say, the garage or the den or the guest room or even the pool? Will it mean the difference between an outdoor kitchen and a pool?

Here is where involving your family, and the design team, as well as compromise and lively discussion can help. We don’t rush this process, but we do keep it moving for your benefit. We recognize that both the wants and needs are real to the client, so we generally take a week or two to really fill out these forms, gather these pictures, troubleshoot these issues, present the pros and cons of each feature until the client can see the forest for the trees and make clear, rational, realistic decisions.

Now we’re really cooking!

The Four Elements of Home Design

Regardless of how big or small the house may be or how many rooms or square feet, Traditional style or Tuscan, there are really only four main elements of home design:

  • Kitchen
  • Family Room
  • Master Bedroom
  • Master Bath

Here is where I’d like to walk you through each element:

Our Concierge Service: Let Us Help You Help Yourself

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: May 26, 2018

When clients come to see us, they often know “exactly” what they want but not quite how to get it. They may know they want a pool, but not what shape, how big or how deep. They may know they want a built-in island in the kitchen but do they want the sink there, or a mini-fridge underneath, or a marble baking top, etc.

To avoid confusion, we have a variety of forms that we ask clients to fill out that guides them through the process, digging for details and slowly drawing them down a “design funnel” until they have narrowed their choices down enough to make definitive, deliberate decisions.

One such form is our Concierge Form. As the name implies, this form acts as a do-it-yourself guide to your new dream home. (You can find the actual form below, PLUS on our website at http://WhiteStonehomes.com/.) It lists such categories as:

  • General must have items (i.e. view of hills, warm feeling, Tuscan elevation, lots of closet space)
  • Kitchen must have items (i.e. stainless steel appliances, gourmet serving island, two dishwashers)
  • Garage must have items (i.e. three car, built in cabinets, epoxy floor covering, freezer plug, air-conditioned, surround sound)

Through every room in the house, plus the front, side and back exterior, every bathroom, closet and cabinets, we walk you through it, step-by-step. We get you familiar with industry specific terms, like “judges paneling,” “Tuscany elevation” and “full arbor.”

For every room or category there are five lines to help list the major needs from the minor, drilling down deeper and deeper on every choice, until it’s clear to you what exactly you want, what you can live without, and what compromises may need to be made to reach a livable budget.

It may sound clinical, but as you go through the process, complete with visuals and even 3-D modeling, if needed, you can feel the excitement build for each new client. This is where dreams become a reality, where the sometimes hard choices are made, but where the picture becomes real and solid in their heads.

By the time we’re through filing this in, everyone knows what to expect; you, me, the builder, the designer, the sub-contractors, we’re all on the same page together.

 

Figure 1.1: The WhiteStone Custom Homes Concierge Form

Value Engineering: The Science of Dreams

Categories: Building a Custom Home, WhiteStone | Posted: May 5, 2018

How do we help customers turn their dream home into a reality? At WhiteStone Custom Homes, we start with something we call Value Engineering.

Value Engineering is our way of living up to our tag line of “Practical Luxury®.” We want to provide you with the best house possible within your budget. Whatever the budget, we don’t want to waste your money. We’d rather put your money to good use in ways that add value to the home, but don’t add excessive costs. So we examine the plan for your home with a critical eye, playing devil’s advocate with every inch of the blueprint and floor plan to ensure that there are no hidden costs, surprises, wasted money or efforts.

Something as simple as the flooring in your living room can take on great meaning when you match the kind of tiles or hardwood flooring you are using with the actual size or dimensions of the room. Will you end up cutting a fourth of your tiles, or lopping off two feet of every eighth floorboard, because of the dimensions?

Building a home from scratch allows us to closely examine every foot of every room, match it to the variables in your fixtures, wall coverings, etc., and “Value Engineer” the home for maximum value and minimal cost from the front door to the attic insulation.

People come to us for very specific reasons, and oftentimes those reasons involve significant life changes that are occurring within the family unit. The reason our homes are not only custom built but custom designed is because there is no cookie cutter formula or template that works for every home buyer.

Maybe your children are leaving the home and you’re looking for a smaller, sleeker, and more streamlined and open floor plan to fit your new lifestyle. Maybe you have two children in college who still come home from time to time and need room, but not as much room; or just one room. Maybe you’re adding children and need more room.

Maybe you’ve just gotten divorced or remarried. Maybe you’re newly single and are looking for that ultimate “Sex & the City” bachelorette pad or man cave, or maybe you’ve just married into a blended family a la “The Brady Bunch!”

Whatever the personal issues in the home, you’re ready for a change and we want to take charge of the process for you; Value Engineering helps us do just that.

Our Concierge Service: Let Us Help You Help Yourself

When clients come to see us, they often know “exactly” what they want but not quite how to get it. They may know they want a pool, but not what shape, how big or how deep. They may know they want a built-in island in the kitchen but do they want the sink there, or a mini-fridge underneath, or a marble baking top, etc.

To avoid confusion, we have a variety of forms that we ask clients to fill out that guides them through the process, digging for details and slowly drawing them down a “design funnel” until they have narrowed their choices down enough to make definitive, deliberate decisions.

One such form is our Concierge Form. As the name implies, this form acts as a do-it-yourself guide to your new dream home. (You can find the actual form below, PLUS on our website at http://WhiteStonehomes.com/.) It lists such categories as:

  • General must have items (i.e. view of hills, warm feeling, Tuscan elevation, lots of closet space)
  • Kitchen must have items (i.e. stainless steel appliances, gourmet serving island, two dishwashers)
  • Garage must have items (i.e. three car, built in cabinets, epoxy floor covering, freezer plug, air-conditioned, surround sound)

Through every room in the house, plus the front, side and back exterior, every bathroom, closet and cabinets, we walk you through it, step-by-step. We get you familiar with industry specific terms, like “judges paneling,” “Tuscany elevation” and “full arbor.”

For every room or category there are five lines to help list the major needs from the minor, drilling down deeper and deeper on every choice, until it’s clear to you what exactly you want, what you can live without, and what compromises may need to be made to reach a livable budget.

It may sound clinical, but as you go through the process, complete with visuals and even 3-D modeling, if needed, you can feel the excitement build for each new client. This is where dreams become a reality, where the sometimes hard choices are made, but where the picture becomes real and solid in their heads.

By the time we’re through filing this in, everyone knows what to expect; you, me, the builder, the designer, the sub-contractors, we’re all on the same page together.

 

Figure 1.1: The WhiteStone Custom Homes Concierge Form

Newest Community! Highland Estates-Acreage Close to Town!

Categories: News | Posted: May 5, 2018

We are happy and proud to announce the opening of our newest community-Highland Estates! This is an acreage Community on Borgfeld Road right off highway 281. The views are incredible–. We have a number of home-sites that have unfettered views of all of downtown well over 1200′ feet above sea level. Lots of land and views. Our model just opened, the community gate is almost in, come and get one before it is too late. This is a limited release first phase and the next section while nice, will not have these views. Take 281 North of 1604 to Borgfeld Road, take a left, go 1-1/2 miles take another left on Highland Crest. The model will be up on the right at 27241 Highland Crest.  Come see Cesar Rivera, our veteran sales counselor.

Front Gate Community News

Categories: News | Posted: April 7, 2018

Great news! We will starting our new model and sold homes in Front Gate starting this coming Monday April 9th!

To Build or Buy: You’re Ready for a Change

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: April 7, 2018

I love what I do because I help people make their dreams come true. Everyone who comes into one of my Model Homes at WhiteStone Custom Homes is ready for something new; ready for a change. Most of them have lived in “off the rack,” non-custom designed homes all their lives and are ready to build the house of their dreams from the ground up. Others loved their last home, but after the children grew up and moved out, they were ready for something new; ready for something “more their size.”

It might be a bigger house, or just a “better” house. It might be sleeker, or in a better neighborhood, or have the pool they always wanted, or the mother-in-law’s apartment or a three car garage.

Buying or building a home can be an emotional decision for some, and having a process–as well as knowing that process–helps take some of the emotions, including fear and misunderstanding, out of the equation. Knowing how to start, knowing what comes next, knowing what pitfalls to avoid and which paths to follow can all help you avoid mistakes, and do so with confidence.

This should be an exciting time for you and I hope this book only adds to that excitement. The fact that you have questions, and that you’re beginning to look for answers, is exciting in itself.

We all love the thrill of starting something new, and there is nothing more rewarding for me than to watch a couple come into our Model Homes with that extra “pep in their step” as they prepare for the adventure of building or buying a new home.

WHAT GOES INTO THE HOME?

Categories: Building a Custom Home, Custom Home Design Ideas, WhiteStone | Posted: January 31, 2018

 

Building a new home is one of the most important investments a family will make. In many cases it represents the single largest financial investment. The home is designed and built to provide years of pleasure, comfort, and security. It is the physical manifestation of “family” and the place where celebration and joy are expressed and experienced.

No wonder that when it comes to building a home, no one likes surprises. The document that spells out the detail and helps sets expectations for both builder and client is the contract and subsequent change orders. The contract is the roadmap that defines the destination, describes the detail of how the project will proceed, and steers everyone clear of obstructions and delays.

The contract is crafted so that it protects both builder and client, and clarifies everything about the job. It is organized into a number of sections, including information about the project location (address, lot number, etc.), project timetables, and deposit payment schedules.

While all of these details are important, most builders find that if conflicts arise during construction, they’re usually caused by misunderstanding over the “who, what, and how” of the job, and an effective contract works to clarify these issues.

Who makes the decisions?

One very short but important section names the owners’ representative. This should be one person–for instance the husband or wife, but not both–who will act as the builder’s main contact for approvals, changes, and questions. Having one owner as the representative helps eliminate confusion and makes communication more efficient. Similarly, the language should define who on the builder’s team can sign off on changes–whether it’s the company owner or the owner plus the site manager or superintendent.

What, exactly, is the client buying?

The project description defines exactly what the homeowners will be getting for their investment. The more detail the better. We use standard features, floor plans and elevations. Additionally we use the Homeowners Manual to add detail and keep only the most brief and important items in the contract.

The plans are the visual description of the new home, and include floor plans, elevation drawings, and all electrical and mechanical systems. They should note who prepared them and when they were signed. The plans should include all necessary changes–for instance, from the building department.

How will discretionary funds be allocated?

Discretionary funds include allowances and change orders on some contracts but mostly on our BOL contract. It’s important both be crystal clear. Allowances cover parts of the job that haven’t been fully specified yet, such as when the homeowner has yet to decide on how big they want the drive or how much they want to clear the lot. The allowance should specify when the decision is needed.

The contract should also clearly explain the builder’s change-order policy, including what types of changes can be made at each stage of the project, who can sign off on changes (the owner and builder reps), and the administrative cost for preparing change orders. It’s in everyone’s interest for even small changes to be documented in writing.

A contract that clearly defines the who, what, and how of the job steers the project clear of the most common minefields. This will help ensure that the homeowners get the home they want, on the timetable and for the price they were expecting.

 

Front Gate Community Open for Sale Today!!

Categories: News | Posted: December 30, 2017

We are pre-selling the newest section of this prestigious community. For the first time, Front Gate will have a true custom builder to design your new home the way you wanted. You don’t have to settle on a plan designed way off at some big builders corporate office! Think how fun it will be to tell your friend YOU designed your new home! Come see us!

 

http://www.whitestonehomes.com/front-gate