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Why Build Instead of Buy?

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If you’ve never lived in a home that truly feels like yours, why would you settle for buying another cookie-cutter design in a subdivision where every house looks the same? When you’re tired of feeling like you’re renting instead of living in your own dream space, it’s time to build.

With fall just around the corner and kids going back to school, it’s time to get back to your family values and think about what you want in your home. Do you want extra space to host family and your child’s friends for weekend gatherings and parties? Do you want lots of natural light and high ceilings to feel closer to nature, even when you’re indoors? Do you want to extend your living space into your backyard to feel the fresh breeze but stay protected from ticks and mosquitoes?

Building your dream home allows you to consider everything you have on your wish list and make it a reality. Whether you need extra bathrooms for a busy home, a secluded spot for a quiet home office, or plentiful countertop space for holidays and dinners, you can have it all, and make your space the one you’ve always wanted but couldn’t find on the market.

Of course, it takes a lot of work to design and build a home that is both beautiful and functional. The Schneider design team is ready to put our knowledge to use and help you build the house that finally feels like home. If you are looking to build a new primary home, invest in a vacation property or improve upon your existing home with a custom renovation, we want to hear about your ideas and desires. Give Schneider Custom Builders a call and let us help you take that first step toward your dream home: 757-819-4466.

Placing Windows Strategically

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One of the most important features any home buyer or apartment renter looks for is windows. If you are building a new home or remodeling your current home, adding lots of windows can open your space and let in natural light, but placing them strategically can be beneficial in other ways. Here’s what we mean:

  1. To wake up refreshed: They say that the healthiest way to wake up in the morning is not with a loud alarm clock or by hitting the snooze button on your cell phone several times, but by waking up naturally with the sun. However, those who work nighttime jobs might not appreciate direct sun in the morning nearly as much. Our designers can help you determine the best window placement so that you’ll wake up more refreshed.
  2. To save on electric bills: Most Homeowners love the ability to open windows and let fresh air in after a long winter or summer or spending money to keep their home comfortable. With more windows in rooms you use often, your home will be cooler with more airflow. You can also use window placement to save on bills in the winter! Larger windows that let in lots of sunlight can help heat your home naturally during the colder months, allowing you to take a break from cranking the heat during daylight hours.
  3. For curb appeal: When deciding where to place windows based on the position of sun and airflow, you’ll still need to consider how your windows will look from the outside of the home. For instance, you won’t want an array of different sized windows that will look awkward next to each other, or windows on one side of the home spaced differently than the windows on the other side. Keeping your window placement even and symmetrical will give your home higher curb appeal.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of deciding where to place windows in your new home, don’t worry! The experts at Schneider Custom Builders will help you get through every step of the process to get the most out of your windows. Give us a call today at (757) 819-4466 to discuss your needs, and let’s get started on your dream house!

What Makes the Perfect Vacation Home?

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With summer approaching, more and more people are planning for vacations. This means they are either on the lookout for rentals for their family and friends, or working on building or renovating a home of their own to rent to others.

If you’re one of these summertime planners, you know that not just any house is the perfect vacation spot. Vacation homes are carefully planned to fit a specific aesthetic, accommodate large numbers of people and provide a relaxing atmosphere.

So, how do you build the perfect vacation home? As always, our designers and builders are equipped with right tools and experience to help you through the process, but here are a few considerations of your own to make:

  1. Space: How many people will your home accommodate? Keep this in mind throughout the design process not only to choose the number of bedrooms, but also for considering the size and function of other rooms. How big should the dining area be? Is the kitchen equipped to fit the hustle and bustle of dinnertime with a large number of helpers? Are there enough bathrooms?
  2. Atmosphere: No one wants to spend a summer vacation or winter retreat inside of a dark and confined home. Use window placements to let light in at the right time and provide peaceful views (especially in an oceanfront house), and keep ceilings high to help the space feel large and airy.
  3. Style: Even in a vacation home, exterior and interior style can differ from house to house. Some homeowners prefer to go with a complete beach or coastal theme, while others like to maintain a classic or modern style with just hints of waterfront living. Our experts are great at blending styles, helping your home fit in with the surrounding community while still standing out to possible renters.

If you’re ready to get started on creating the perfect vacation home, give us a call at (757) 819-4466 or visit our office today!

Have You Turned Your Dream Into A Reality Yet?

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If you’re like most people, chances are you made some goals in January, and if you followed our suggestion, some of those are for home improvement projects.  Whether it was to take steps toward building or updating your dream home, or updating your kitchen or master bath.

Now, halfway through 2017, we’re asking, “How’s that going?” Is the idea you have for a garage makeover still just an idea or have you given us a call to discuss making it a reality? How about the room you’ve always wanted to add on, or the back deck you’ve dreamed of?

If the dream is still a dream, there’s still time to turn it into a reality this year.  Best of all, when you work with Schneider Custom Builders, we do all the work – it may be the easiest goal you ever accomplish! And, you and your family will love having the home and amenities you’ve always wanted.

Whether your project is big or small, we give every effort the same attention to detail. We’re here to decrease the stress involved with large and small home projects from start to finish. Take a look at our project gallery, and give us a call today (757) 819-4466 to discuss how we can do the same for you. It’s not too late!

Small Projects That Can Make A Big Difference

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Spring has always been a great time to update your home. Take a look at these home design updates that will instantly brighten your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers or simply more enjoyable for you.

DOORS, DOORS, DOORS
The front door is your home’s first impression. Installing a new and stylish front door will be a warm welcome to your home. Adding French doors leading to your outdoor space can bring much needed light into your home and make a room feel big and airy. French doors can also turn an unused formal living room into a functional office. How about installing a barn door to add a fresh feel to your kitchen pantry or add one to your bedroom to give it a cozy and comfortable look.

DECK AND PORCH REPLACEMENT
Now is the perfect time to think outside of the home when looking for ways to enhance both the beauty and quality of life for you and your family. A deck addition or replacement is the perfect choice for grilling and entertainment. Decks can be built off of the lower floor of your home or they can also be added to an upper level room in a rooftop setting.

Enhanced curb appeal is important to most homeowners and the most dramatic transformation that will instantly get attention is the addition or an enhancement of the front porch. An impressive entry way can be showcased with a beautifully designed and built porch that is also useful for relaxation with neighbors and family!

KITCHENS UPGRADES
Your kitchen is a great place to start when it comes to upgrades. A new back splash is a high impact improvement that makes a world of difference. Adding an island is a great way to increase storage and seating to a small kitchen. An eat-in kitchen offers a big advantage when you are ready to sell your home. Consider adding a built in bench with a banquet table for a unique touch.

LIGHTS, PAINT, FIXTURES AND MORE!
Adding new light fixtures is an easy way to update your home. Painting your home in bright, neutral colors will always go a long way to making your home feel clean and new. If you are painting, you might as well go the extra mile and upgrade your switch plates and replace your doorknobs as well. Taking the time to make these little changes can make a big difference.

Sprucing up your home will give you a well-deserved sense of relaxation when you walk through the door. Decide on the upgrade that your home needs the most and contact the Schneider Custom Builders team to make your small project dreams a reality. You will be glad you did!

Aging In Place. The Smart Choice.

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Did you know that according to a recent poll taken by the American Association of Retired People (AARP), nearly 80 percent of Americans hope to stay in their current home as long, and as comfortably, as possible. This hope can become reality with a little bit of extra-planning and a home builder or a home remodeler that specializes in this design specialty.

This building trend is often referred to as “Aging In Place”. This approach is to provide a carefully planned design that will allow the homeowner, regardless of age or ability level, to live in the home safely, independently and comfortably.

Here are some examples of design features that support this objective:

– One-story living. No-step entry into home and interior rooms.
– Wide doorways and hallways.
– Countertops at varying heights to accommodate use while standing or sitting.
– Extra floor space.
– Floors and bathtubs with non-slip surfaces.
– Shower and tub walls built ready for installation of handrails.
– Thresholds designed flush with the floor.
– Electrical outlets that are accessible without bending down.
– Windows that can be opened with little effort.
– Easy to operate levers on doors and rocker light switches.

In addition to functionality, these elements offer beauty and comfort that support a healthy living experience for people of all ages and abilities. They also ensure a safe living space if you or a family member experiences a temporary or long-term disability. A home that is safer and easier to live in provides both short and long-term benefits to your family. Now that’s a smart choice!

We Won a Houzz Award!

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BestSchneider

We are pleased to announce that Schneider Custom Builders has won “Best of Customer Service” on Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. We were chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community of active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016.

At Schneider Custom Builders our team has embraced the philosophy of “Striving for Excellence.”  We believe in our practices and standards and feel that they exceed what is considered normal criteria for success. Like a cornerstone joins two walls together, Schneider Custom Builders, your cornerstone of excellence, will join your dreams and architectural designs to make them a reality.

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including Schneider Custom Builders,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

Click here to follow us on Houzz!

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Why Are Changes During Construction So Costly?

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Ever wonder why small changes made after buildling begins can have surprisingly large effects on the budget? We’re here to help make sense of it for you.

Cost overruns are an unfortunate fact of life in construction. Common causes of this are unclear or incomplete plans and specifications, job-site surprises and a big one: owner changes during the process of the build.

What may seem like a small change can have much larger cost impacts – oftentimes beyond the builder’s control, as there are typically several parties effected by changes requested by customer.

We’re not talking here about dishonest contractors who write vague specifications up front to create low bids and then nickel-and-dime clients with change orders to increase profits. We mean ethical, fair builders who write detailed specs and manage their jobs in a professional manner. It’s not unusual for customers of these builders to decide, after the project kicks off, that they want something different in a part of the house.

The kickoff usually happens at the pre-construction meeting, where the builder and clients review the final product and design choices, and the clients sign off on those choices. After this meeting, purchase orders are generated and sent to all subcontractors and suppliers, setting firm prices for every part of the job. Any change that happens after that point will likely add cost.

How much cost? That depends not only on what is being changed, but also when. A common example is the clients who, after seeing the space over the kitchen sink, decide they actually prefer a bigger window. That decision will cost a lot less if it is made early, during the framing walkthrough. If they wait until the window is in the wall opening and the insulation, drywall, and sink cabinet are installed, the change is more costly.

Less obvious are seemingly minor changes that have a ripple effect. These can multiply the cost of an item to several times what it would have been as part of the original specs.

For example, suppose the homeowners decide they want a pedestal sink in the guest bathroom, rather than the small vanity they had initially selected. Seems like a simple enough switch, right? The builder’s staff has to now cancel the order for the vanity and possibly for a granite top. If those items have already been fabricated and shipped, the supplier will likely charge in full for a custom order or a restocking fee for others. The pedestal must be ordered from the plumbing supplier, taking additional time. If the hot and cold water pipes are already in place, the plumber has to move them, and the plumbing inspector has to inspect the change. If the wall has already been finished, the drywaller must be called back. This minor change may throw everyone’s schedule off by a week or more!

Every change also requires time from the builder’s staff: time to complete and track orders, to reschedule workers and subcontractors, and to update the budget. The more hours of labor on the job naturally increases the total project cost as well.

Don’t let this explanation discourage you. Clients are entitled and encouraged to speak up during the process to ensure their dream home is exactly what they want and in fact, most clients decide to make at least a few changes during construction. Sometimes it is simply too difficult to envision what a space will look like until you begin to see it come to life in front of you. But we encourage clients to make changes with a clear understanding of the costs these decisions may bring if they are made after specs have been written and the contract signed. This is a reminder that making as many firm selections as possible up front is always in the customer’s best interest – for their timeline and their wallet!

Schneider Custom Builders has over 30 more years of experience in the building and remodeling industry and we are your best asset for minimizing costly change fees to your project! By following our proven preconstruction planning process, we work through and identify the details needed to avoid the unnecessary costs associated with incomplete specifications. As a result, you’ll find we’ll either save you money or afford you more to invest in the true tweaks that custom building is all about.

Experience the Schneider difference with your next home build or renovation! We look forward to working with you.

NAHB Builder20 Fall 2016

Fall 2016 NAHB Builder20 Meeting in Montana

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We are just getting settled back in Norfolk, with another successful Builder20 meeting in the books!

For this Fall 2016 Builder20 Meeting, we gathered at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in beautiful Whitefish, Montana. Our host was Denman Construction, and Craig Denman and his team did not disappoint with some truly magnificent homes to share with the group. With stunning views of lakes and mountain ranges as backdrops, Denman Construction crafts homes that are nestled into their natural landscape and it was great to have the opportunity to tour some of his recent projects.

Denham Construction Whitefish MontantaDenham Construction Whitefish MontantaJim Schneider has been proud to hold the role of Chair of the Craftsmen for the past two years, and it is now time to pass the baton to someone new. Josh Rosenthal from Cabin John Builders in Maryland will be the new Chair, with Keith Ellis from Ellis Custom Homes in Texas will serve as Vice Chair.

The highlight of the Builder20 experience for us is having the opportunity to communicate at such an intimate level with builder counterparts from around the world (we now have a member from Australia!). We realize that we all face very similar challenges. What that does is make us recognize that we operate very complicated businesses, and we leave these Builder20 meet-ups grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm solutions to make us all better.

As always, our member updates generated many productive roundtable discussions including: Sales and Marketing, Project Procedures, Estimating, Strategy and Managing Staff. Through these discussions, we are able to corroborate regarding best practices, lessons learned and trends in the industry to better serve our clients.

We’re looking forward to the next time this talented group of builders gets together in the Spring!

What Does Green Building Really Mean?

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There is a lot of buzz out there about what it means to build a “green home” and a common concern is how to do so without breaking the bank.

Green homes, also called sustainable homes, are more affordable than ever. A recent study of builders and remodelers found that going green adds an average of just 7% to a project’s total cost, compared to 11% six years previously.

It turns out that you don’t need an organic concrete foundation or a $40,000 solar electric roof system. The most important qualities of a green home are actually fairly simple: low maintenance and maximum efficiency.

Achieving this is a matter of good, basic design and construction, which encompasses the following factors of sustainable building:

  • Thoughtful Design: You don’t need a tiny house to go green. Even a large home can be sustainable if it uses the floor plan in an efficient way. Utilize the space so that it is most efficient to heat and cool. For example: South-facing glass helps reduce heating and lighting bills by bringing ample daylight and solar energy into the home.
  • Wise Material Choices: Virtually every manufacturer wants to label its products as green, but look for third party verification from a reputable organization – GreenGuard, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or ENERGY STAR, for example.
  • Long-Term Durability: A home that doesn’t need rebuilding or repairing will use fewer resources over time. When it comes to durability, our top priority is weatherproofing the structure. That’s why we exclusively use the ZIP System Roof and Wall Sheathing and AdvanTech flooring to protect our clients’ homes for the years ahead.
  • Energy Efficiency. The most talked-about benefit of green construction seems to be the promise of energy savings throughout the home. The key to getting high performance is hiring a builder who pays attention to detail. A green design will only deliver its benefits if properly installed.

Schneider Custom Builders is proud of our certification as Master Certified Green Professional (Master CGP). This designation signifies our long-standing commitment to and experience with sustainable building and remodeling throughout Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. Whether you’re looking to renovate all or part of your home to be more sustainable, or are considering a new build with green building techniques in mind, we’d love to talk with you.

master certified green professional NAHB graduate master builder