It’s time. The quirks that once drew you to your 1930s bungalow are now filling you with hatred on a daily basis. The floor plan that was once “charming” is now suffocating, you need to start a home remodeling project. Let’s not even talk about your energy bills. You’re ready to take your house down to the studs and bring it into the 21st century or just cut your losses and start from scratch. Either way, you should begin your journey with a little information. We surveyed the 2015 Best Builders to find out what’s happening in the world of custom home construction.
In casual conversation, people talk about living smarter—and that suggests more efficient usage of space. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that houses are getting smaller. Obviously, building a 2,500-square-foot house on a lot in the Park Cities doesn’t make a lot of economic sense because the lot is so expensive. You want more bang for your buck. Most builders say their average square footage ranges from 4,000 to 7,000—although we had a few that said their average homes were in the 14,000 (!) range.
“Clean” and “modern” are the most common words bandied about by prospective clients. Most homeowners aren’t ready to live in a Richard Meier-inspired manse. What they really mean is they want something “transitional,” which basically means cleaner lines and lots of windows. But let’s be clear: Traditional, Mediterranean, and French facades aren’t going anywhere. So if that’s what you’re feeling, go for it.
TIME, TIME, TIME
As anyone who had the misfortune to spend the winter here knows, our weather was not the best. We wondered if that, coupled with high demand for new construction, has had any effect on construction time. The resounding answer: yes. But with good planning and firm decision making by you, dear reader, it shouldn’t affect your timeline too adversely.
Now we get to the fun stuff: tile and hardware and flooring! We asked what materials our experts are seeing. Subway tile and hardwoods are still happening. Natural stone flooring and countertops are also more common. Brass is making a comeback, and homeowners seem less averse to color.
ENERGY! O ENERGY!
It’s funny: Homeowners may be willing to spend $7 million on a house, but they don’t want to spend a lot on utility bills. “Energy efficiency” has become de rigueur in custom homes, but we wondered what that meant on the most basic level. As in, what are builders using for insulation? While some mentioned fiberglass, cellulose, and blown-in blanket walls, pretty much everyone we spoke to said they use foam. We also asked what features are considered “standard” these days when it comes to efficiency.
Folks love marble. They don’t care about the hazards red wine present. They don’t want to hear from a home builder about how easily they stain. They pretend not to care about the trouble of frequent polishing. They want their marble. But there are other options. Manufactured materials like Silestone and Caesarstone are sleek and require no maintenance. Other builders mentioned Dekton, Neolith, recycled glass, stainless steel, and even butcher wood.
Engineered cabinetry from companies such as Poggenpohl, Bulthaup, Ornare, and Bentwood of Dallas are gaining popularity for a variety of reasons: They are gorgeous, well-made, and offer cool organizational wizardry. When we asked about finishes on custom cabinets, the answers varied wildly. Some said the cabinets were mainly custom and stain-grade wood. Others said paint grade all the way. Still others said it all depends on the client.
With all this talk of using less space in smarter ways, what does that mean for the pantry? The consensus: This space is more important than ever. That could mean integrating space within the kitchen or a bigger, better room off the kitchen that provides storage but also pulls double duty as a prep area, silver storage, and even home to an additional refrigerator or ice machine.
With materials and storage needs addressed, we wanted to know what kind of fancy appliances Dallas builders are loving at the moment. High-end coffee makers seem to be urgently needed by Dallas families at the moment, but we also heard about steam ovens, warming drawers, ice machines, and more. And while we don’t expect the reign of stainless to end anytime soon, it is nice to know that people are opting for other finishes.
THE GLASS FRIDGE
Fans of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are very familiar with Yolanda Foster’s amazing kitchen—and more specifically, her gorgeous glass refrigerator. We are obsessed. But we wondered: Is this a thing outside of Malibu? And exactly how organized do you have to be to have one?
THE PANIC ROOM
Security is a chief concern for homeowners, so we wondered how often people are putting in safe rooms. More often than they used to, as it turns out. Many of the builders could not speak to specifics for confidentiality reasons, but some folks we talked to said the spaces are often more of a protection against Mother Nature than jewel thieves. We also wondered what was in those spaces.
You can run the world with your iPhone, so it’s not super surprising that you can run a house with it, too. You can arm and disarm a security system just as easily as you can set the DVR to record Mad Men. You can also control temperature, cameras, sound systems, and lights from anywhere. — From D Home Magazine