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3 Easy Steps to Choosing the Best Lighting for your New Home

 

Modern luxury kitchen with integrated appliances

From interior designers to electricians to home builders, a common design after-thought in a new home, or unique to your home, is lighting.  How do you choose a fixture that will fit your specifications: excellent lighting, energy efficiency, and aesthetically pleasing?  Lighting experts are sharing their tricks of the trades in the three simple steps below.

Lighting, Safety and Decorating Goals

  1. Decide on Lighting Goals: Tasks vary from room to room, so should your lighting.  Direct, also referred to as task lighting, focuses explicitly on the particular space you are working in.  Consider counter lighting in the kitchen, down-lighting and vanity lights in your bathroom, and floor lighting for reading nooks or offices.  Indirect, or ambient lighting, describes your home’s overall lighting. Installing dimmer lighting can quickly change the mood of a room, and save energy with the flick of a switch.  Accent lighting can be used to showcase architectural highlights or illuminate decorative pieces like paintings, wall hangings or sculptures.  Combining different types of light adds to the functionality of your home. Once you decide on the objective of each space throughout your home, you can begin to choose your lighting.
  2.  Decide on Safety Goals: While most homeowners want a home with beautiful curb appeal, it is recommended to place indoor and outdoor lighting for safety purposes.  By strategically putting more soft lighting throughout the interior and exterior of your home, you create fewer dark areas there are to hide intruders while also easily exposing any unwanted movement on your property. Safety experts agree, extremely bright lights create deep shadows, which can create hazards. Walkways, hallways, and staircases should be given particular attention and always remain adequately illuminated. Using uplights, highlighting trees, and varying your fixtures will combine style and function.  If you want to add an energy efficient element to safety lighting, timers can be used to control lighting based on the time of day. light bulb
  3. Decide on Decorating Goals: Functionality does not have to interfere with your interior design goals.  Light fixtures can be an integral element in the design.  While the number of accessories available today may seem overwhelming, design experts suggest using the following fixtures to achieve a particular look.
  • Chandeliers. Chandeliers tend to be a statement piece in and of themselves. We are naturally drawn to a chandelier because of their overall size, and sometimes grand design. 
  • Pendants. While pendants are smaller, hanging fixtures, they can be perfect individually or in groups. If you’re looking for more lighting combined with a big statement, interior designer suggests sticking to groups hung at eye level.  However, for small spaces in need of direct lighting, a single pendant can do the trick.
  • Ceiling-mounts. More subtle in design, ceiling-mount light fixtures offer a smooth, decorative element that can be carried throughout your home.
  • Sconces. Sconces are one of the easiest ways to enhance task lighting.  Whether it be in a bathroom or hallway, they add enough light to increase safety and add a decorative touch.
  • Portable Lighting. Lamps accessorize spaces from floors to tables. With easily interchangeable shades, lamps are affordable when giving your room a makeover.

New Home Trends for 2018

new home trends: Cobblestone Builders

 

While creating a custom space is all about making it your own, there are lessons to be deemed from the trends taking going into 2018. Let’s explore some of these design ideas.

Smarter, Greener, and Healthier

Energy saving appliances are only the beginning of a smarter, greener home. Some energy savvy improvements or upgrades from construction standards (like geothermal pumps) will even net you a tax credit. Take it a step further and make your home healthier with systems for clean air filtration and body-friendly surfaces.

Rethink That Media Room

With televisions in nearly every room of modern houses, why waste a perfectly good space on just media? Combine that idea with an adult game room or a kid’s play area. Keeping it on the main floor will assure its usefulness.

Use Outdoor Spaces to Their Fullest

The square footage that exists outside is all too often wasted. Fire pits, pizza ovens, lush and lighted landscaping, patios, and backyard spas will not only give you more room in which to live and entertain; they’re the perfect place for unwinding or recharging.

The Heart of the Home

Those beloved kitchens. They help sell homes and are where all your guests gather. But extravagant kitchens can cost big bucks! Think less stainless steel and more painted (colored) or glass appliances. Rather than expensive granite, consider countertops made from something different – perhaps an engineered stone.

Expand Your Horizons

When it comes to formal dining and living rooms, don’t assume that they have fallen away from the primary designs of new or remodeled homes. They exist – they have merely been reformatted. The living room now serves as a place in which to get away from media, as a parlor, a bar, or a library. The same can be said for dining rooms as they see bookcases being added or serve as entertainment areas for casual gatherings.

Stop Playing It Safe

Here are a few “risky” alternative ideas for changing things up a bit, in a daring exploration of hip-and-trendy:

  • Powder rooms – eclectic hardware or tiles, bold paint colors, and/or outrageous wallpaper
  • Stairs – floating staircases or designs that combine steel and iron. Intricate wood designs, patterned woods, and metal and glass combinations are perfect for the modern dream home.
  • Wallpapered ceilings – believe it or not, this 80’s trend is making a comeback. It can serve to make a small room look and feel larger

Open Spaces and Cleaner Lines

This may seem a bit contemporary, but gingerbread and ornate Victorian designs are giving way to open spaces and cleaner lines. Mediterranean architecture isn’t dead – but many are choosing to keep their European styling on the exterior while going with more open, modern concepts inside. Here are some examples:

  • More useable spaces – kitchens that open to dining areas and dens
  • Less waste – no more non-utilitarian, tiny rooms
  • Sliding, disappearing, and/or glass doors
  • Fewer hallways

Bring Nature Back

Rather than a wood floor stained in dark, dreary tones, bring nature back with a more natural and lighter finish. Wood finishes that are “washed” gray or white are also seeing renewed popularity. Floors that are simply “sealed” or are fumed, limed or bleached woods are extremely prevalent in many new homes and remodels. Want something more exotic? Consider stone floors, porcelain tiles, or some of today’s other engineered products.

Use these ideas and tips as guidelines or initiate your own creative techniques. Who knows – the concepts that you develop today may be the renovation and construction trends of 2019!

How to Choose: Condo or Single Family Home?

a brand new condominium by Cobblestone Builders

Few will deny that there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to living in a brand new condominium versus living in a single-family house. Much depends on the individual in question. 

Those homeowners having lived in both have their reasons for eventually preferring one over the other. Work and maintenance significantly influence the decision-making process for many individuals. Goals and lifestyle are additional considerations that could be determining factors.

So how is a buyer to decide? What will determine which is best for you – buying a condo or buying a house?

The Plus Side of Buying a Brand New Condominium

There are definite advantages to the purchase of a condo over the acquisition of a house. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Location, location, location – frequently, but not always, condos are built in a part of town that is close to clothing stores, hardware stores, restaurants, banks, grocery stores, and parks. Though commonly within walking distance, these businesses are, at the very least, reachable by a short ride on public transportation.

Excellent amenities – if you’re buying a new house and want a hot tub or pool, you have to consider their expensive price tag, as well as their care and upkeep. Pools, whirlpools, hot tubs, etc. are included with many condos, albeit in a “common area.” There can also be tennis courts, playgrounds, exercise rooms, game rooms, and shuffleboard courts. Also routinely offered are activities such as dances, parties, breakfasts, bazaars, game nights, movie nights, and more. 

Ease of care and maintenance – rather than maintaining and cleaning a large house, many would rather take walks, write, read, travel, etc. And whereas a lot of this ease of care and maintenance may have to do with the smaller size of a condo, you will likely never have to do the following: maintain or paint the exterior, repair shingles, replace a mailbox, mow the lawn or trim trees, etc. You simply have to take care of the inside of that condo in a manner that suits you.

Monthly expenses – the monthly expenses for living in a condo are usually lower than a monthly mortgage payment on a single-family home. And consider what you get for those monthly condo fees – i.e., exterior insurance, exterior maintenance, garbage pickup, sewer, water; and possibly natural gas, hot water, basic cable, pool, Jacuzzi, clubhouse, etc. Condo insurance, which includes the interior walls and everything contained within, is routinely less expensive than most homeowner policies, as well.

Overall price – it is not unheard of to buy a condo with a patio, appliances, washer/dryer, new paint job, tile floors or new carpet, etc. for under $70,000. A Bargain such as this will, of course, depend on location, among other things. Closing costs are additional and largely determined by whether or not you pay cash.) But it is unlikely that you will find a house in that price range. Luxury condos are an entirely different story, but you get what you pay for. Even with the upper echelon’s condominiums, the price will usually come in far below that of an equally high-end single-family house.

Additionally, square footage is a consideration for many. Condos routinely offer less living space, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Each buyer must determine how much space they require to live comfortably. Most homeowners today have more room than they need. And let’s not forget that with a lower price in general, mortgage payments will be lower for a condo than for a single-family home. It only stands to reason.

Now, granted, if you are a rule breaker or you love to buck the system, condo living may not be your cup of tea. There are, after all, lots of restrictions and rules that apply to condo residents. The HOA may dictate what you can or cannot put on your patio, where you have to park, what kind of changes you can make with or without prior approval, whether or not you can have a pet, etc. 

cat on condominium patio

Some condominium living situations also have an age requirement (retirement communities) and a stipulation as to how long children can stay as guests – if at all.

And if privacy is an issue, remember that condominiums are either directly on top of, right next to each other – or both. Then again, some neighborhoods containing single-family houses are an astonishingly tight fit as well. The choice is yours when it comes down to it. Condo or single-family house? Which will you choose? Learn more.

 

Top 6 Reasons to Move to Washington County Wisconsin

Washington County WI

You could have been contemplating a change of location for a while now. Let’s face it, not everywhere we live is great, and sometimes, we just have to accept it and make that big move… to move.

Before moving though, you do have to make a lot of considerations. After all, you wouldn’t want to end up in a similar place as the one you’re coming from. No matter what it is you want in your new place – fun, friends, quiet, culture, food… you name it – Washington County, WI is ready and prepared to fulfill your every need.

If you have never been to this area before, you don’t know just how much you might be missing out on. Think we’re kidding? Well, how about we dig into some of the reasons why a move to Washington County, WI is perfect for you?

 

  1. The Schools are Great

If you were wondering about the educational impact and success of Wisconsin, you suddenly have one less thing to worry about. The University of Wisconsin is known for its great Campuses and Freshman/ Sophomore colleges, both of which they have 13 of. When it comes to research in the field of biotechnology, this school happens to be one of the leading in the whole country.

 

  1. The Fun is Even Greater

All work and no play… you know the rest. Wisconsin is known for its high work rate, but that does not mean they don’t know how to throw a wicked party too. Asides from the daily fun you’ll get from the friendly neighbors, Friday nights (and Saturdays too) are always a litter of great parties.

 

  1. Beer Everywhere

If a bill was ever passed for changing the name of this region, something tells me they’ll change it to Beer-topia. When German immigrants (alongside their various brewing recipes) were coming into town, this city welcomed them all.

Now, that is paying off with about 3.9% of the state’s overall GDP coming from beer. Enough of the technical terms. Do you know how much fun beers can be? And just how happy are you that you can get various brands and brews of beer, all in the same place now?

 

  1. So Much Milk, So Much Cheese

Just because you can’t order a bottle of beer for your kids, Wisconsin has provided them with the option of milk. This place was not nicknamed the “Diary Capital of the World” for no reason.

If not for California, it would really have been the largest producer of milk in the world.

With great power comes great responsibility, they say. At Wisconsin, with ample milk comes marvelous cheese. Producing more than 20% of all the cheese products in the country, you’re missing out on a lot if you’re yet to taste this.

 

  1. Summerfest

If you’ve never been to Summerfest, you have no idea what the phrase “outdoor music concert” means.  Summerfest is held in Milwaukee every year and is recognized as the “Worlds Largest Outdoor Music Festival” by the Guiness Book of World Records.

 

  1. Quality of Life

There are a lot of things we could say here, and none of them alone would justify the quality of life of people in this region. Indoor water parks were a first to come out of Wisconsin. These days, they have been optimized so well, you can get even more fun underwater as you would on land.

The state is also home to nearly 500 golf courses. That lumps it up there with other states which boasts an awesome statistic of golfers to available courses.

The state is still sounding like a fish story….oh… speaking of fish story, did we mention fishing is awesome in Wisconsin? Yes, it is all there for your taking. It is a great place for just any kind of individual. 

Seniors would also enjoy the serene life coupled with the wonderful scenery and fun moments. Lest we forget, did we tell you this is the home of the famous Harley Davidson bikes?

Are you considering a move to Wisconsin? Washington County is just the place to plant your roots.   You can find beautiful lots to build your new home in Crosswind Farms (in the town of Jackson) and the Twin Creeks (in the village of Jackson). If you are looking for a great home builder in Washington County, WI, we have got you covered when it comes to well built single family homes and brand new ranch style condominiums

 

Home-sites Waukesha County

New Home Construction Waukesha County

Home sites waukesha countyChoosing where you live is as important as choosing the house you want to live in. You may find your dream home, but if it isn’t in the perfect location, is it your dream house?

When visualizing the ideal place for you and your family, you want a place with great schools, parks, fun for your children, and an excellent neighborhood.

Well “mirror mirror on the wall, where is this place that has this all?” Waukesha County!

Waukesha County is home to 77 lakes, beautiful parks, great schools, and possible future home for your family. It’s located in the southeastern part of Wisconsin and happens to be Wisconsin’s third most populous county! This county has a great sense of community and plenty of opportunities for you and your children to succeed!

There are great places to live in Waukesha County too!

Waukesha County Subdivisions

The lots for homes are very desirable to families because of how excellent of a location it is.  Home sites in Waukesha County go quickly. However, there are lots available for sale in Christman Park, in the Village of Menomonee Falls and The Shire, located in the city of Brookfield.

Christman Park has fully improved lots that are 1/3 acre in size positioned within a park-like environment.  This beautiful subdivision offers excellent amenities including outstanding public schools and great places for you and your kids to explore.

The Shire of Brookfield is located in a beautiful area full of woods and nature and located near a park making it another great place to raise your kids.

So now what? You’re hooked on wanting to live in Waukesha County and want one of these supreme lots?  Well then, it’s time to call Cobblestone Builders. Not only are they award winning home builders who create well built, cost efficient, custom homes for your family, they will do anything they can to bring your dream home to life while also trying to build more environmentally friendly.

 Cobblestone Builders has strong principals that have helped transform them into the successful company it is today. They believe in honesty, integrity, trust, and performance to carry out their mission every day.

 

What Does Your House and Smoking Have in Common?

 
Brand new condo

5 Advantages of Owning a Condo

So you are interested in moving into an apartment, condo, or a new house. Good for you!

So, when I say, “Milwaukee Apartments,” what comes to mind? Probably a few things. A large cramped building with a discolored brick exterior that looks like a page out of the “Industrial Revolution” chapter of a history textbook. On the inside of the apartment, there is a stained carpet that hasn’t been replaced and cabinets that look like they are made of plastic from a distance.  As for the landlord, well if you get a bad one, it is similar to having a bad next door neighbor, except if that neighbor were to have control over your $1200 security deposit that you knew deep down you were not going to get back.

What about when I say “a new home in a metropolitan area.”? Money. Money. Oh and I almost forgot, more money! Let’s not forget about the beautiful Wisconsin winters. As you peacefully wake up one December morning, you are fully prepared to give that big presentation at work that you spent hours working on the night before. When you go to turn on the coffee maker, you see 14 inches of snow swallowing your Honda Civic. 

What about a condo.

Ewww, aren’t condos an expensive way to live near young and obnoxiously loud first-time buyers? That statement is very similar to the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot; it is a myth! According to Zillow.com, demographically, the age of a typical condo buyer is between the ages of 40 – 55, is married and has children still at home or in college.

Here is why buying a condo is the right move.

  1. Buying a condo is the right move because you are “buying” a condo.

You are not renting a property anymore. “Goodbye landlord, have fun spending my $1200 security deposit after finding a scratch on the countertop!” So what does that mean? It means that your condo is an asset that can build equity and allows you to take advantage of tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. Some financially savvy people buy condos as an investment. Condos tend to appreciate more slowly than single-family homes, which gives you the opportunity to make a significant profit in the right economic climate.

  1. You cannot buy time, but you can buy a condo.

Do you love shoveling snow, bathing in your own sweat after mowing the lawn, and destroying seven pairs of jeans after painting one side of your house? If you said “of course I do!”, Then I would not want to be in a cage match with someone as crazy as you! However, most of you probably have a slight nauseous feeling sweep over you after you think about those things. Don’t worry though; this stuff only takes up hundreds to thousands of hours over your tenure in your home. What if someone could wave a magic wand and make all of that disappear. Well actually, that is exactly what happens when you buy a condo. The maintenance is handled for you!

  1. Strong community

While this is not a guarantee usually condos, have a very strong community. In fact, many condominiums even have planned social events. Obviously, there aren’t stats to back this up; condos are just generally known to have more of a tight knit community. You can even join your condo association many times, and be seen within your community as a helpful contributor.

  1. Goodies!

Many condos come with included amenities. I am not implying that there will be a private water park in your backyard next to your all inclusive private spa, but many condos do include security, barbecues, clubhouses, golf courses, tennis courts, fitness facilities, and even saunas. See if any local landlords include any of in you are rent bill!

  1. The best (or better) of both worlds

Well if what I said above, then condos have to be exclusively for Bill Gates and Jay-Z, right? Well not according to the University of Minnesota Extensions. They found that condos, on average, are less expensive than renting an apartment or a townhouse!

Let’s add the sprinkles on top of the cake!

At Cobblestone Builders, our process saves the planet, and it saves you even more money! If you have viewed the rest of our website, then you know that we are leaders in the industry when it comes to green building and efficiency. Our process is environmentally friendly, which isn’t a common trait of homebuilders these days. Ok so we like to preserve the natural resources of the earth, that is great but how does that directly affect you financially? Our energy conservation and efficiency methods significantly reduce your utility bill! So have fun kicking back in your new condo while some people are still looking for their Honda Civic in a sea of snow.

Energy Efficiency: Not All Home Builders Are Created Equal

Many potential home buyers, looking to buy new homes in particular, assume that every new home is built equally. When you read articles about energy efficiency of new homes, a home buyer is going to assume that every new home they tour is going to have the same energy benefits as the top energy efficient homes. That’s simply not true.

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) asked home builders how often they build homes that are certified as energy efficient by an independent program run by State or local jurisdiction. Surprisingly, a whopping 48% said they “NEVER/ALMOST NEVER” get their homes certified. That means that over half do certify their homes, right? Wrong. Only 22% “ALWAYS/ALMOST ALWAYS” gets their homes certified.

What this means to you, a potential new home buyer, is that only a quarter of the homes out there are build to energy efficiency standards that you are expecting. These new homes that aren’t certified as energy efficient might look well built, and feature finishes that are impressive on first glance. However, once you move in to your new home and get your first energy bill, you might be surprised to find that you are spending a lot more than you were expecting.

At Cobblestone Builders, we’re proud to be included in this group who build energy efficient homes that are certified. We know that in special climates where weather is a huge factor, like Wisconsin, our clients expect us to build a home that is not only top quality but also not going to come with a huge energy bill.

Green Home Building: The Importance Of Insulation

Ice Dams and Quality InsulationWhen building a home in Wisconsin, it’s incredibly important to think about the weather. With our winter weather dumping piles of snow and dropping temperatures into the negatives, having an energy efficient home is crucial. At Cobblestone Builders, we pride ourselves on building energy efficient “green” homes that help our clients save money and live comfortably during these extreme weather conditions.

One of the most important aspects of building energy efficient “green” homes is insulation. Properly installed, quality home insulation can save money and headaches for homeowners in Wisconsin.

How does energy efficient insulation help?

First and foremost, quality insulation does what you think it does. It insulates. Preventing all that cold air from seeping into your home during the winter, while also keeping all the cool air inside your home during the warmer months. With an estimated 50% of your energy bill coming from heating and cooling, energy efficient insulation will save you money and keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Insulation will also help with lowering noise issues throughout the home.

There are also less commonly known ways that proper insulation can help your home. During the cold months, it’s common to see icicles handing off of homes. While they definitely look nice, icicles are a clear sign that some potential issues exist. Ice dams form when heat from your home escapes through the attic. When the hot air reaches your roof, it begins to melt the snow that has accumulated. If temperatures stay below freezing, this melted snow re-freezes into ice, causing those ice dams and icicles you see. If left untreated, these ice dams will cause water to build up on your roof, seeping into your home. This causes bucking floors, warped windows, and potentially collapsing drywall. Properly sealing around ceiling penetrations and quality insulation can help prevent this warm air from escaping into your attic.

Better air quality is another benefit of proper insulation. Pollen and dust can enter a home that’s not properly insulated. Also, insulation can help prevent the growth of mildew and mold. Your family’s health is incredibly important, and using energy efficient, quality insulation can ensure you have zero worries.

We know the importance of great insulation!

Cobblestone Builders is one of the best green homebuilders in Southeastern Wisconsin. Homes built by our team is 40 – 50% MORE energy efficient than standard new homes. We promise that with a Cobblestone Builders home, you are getting the most energy efficient home you could ask for, built with quality components by building experts!

Want To Remodel Instead Of Buying A New Home? Be Careful!

Home remodeling costs add upWith the rise of home improvement reality TV shows featuring actors and actresses making remodeling look simple, homeowners have romantic notions of remodeling their “fixer upper” to be exactly what they want. The truth is, when these owners buy their home and begin to pull together the costs of making this older home exactly what they want, they begin to realize that it’s really costly and perhaps they bit off more than they can chew. Also, they don’t understand that there is a point in which the money you put in your home will come back to haunt you when you sell.

When Is Remodeling A Bad Thing?

For most people, the “fixer upper” home is not their final home. This is maybe their first home, and down the line, they’ll want to upgrade into something a little bigger or in a better neighborhood. If that’s the case, be cautious with how much you upgrade your home. It’s awfully tempting to put thousands of dollars into remodeling your bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. Maybe you’ve seen TV shows that talk about how doing these projects will lead to a profit when you sell the home down the line. While there’s a little truth to that, that’s definitely not always the case.

The general rule of thumb is to never spend more than 20% of your home’s value on renovations. Why that number? It’s simple. Frankly, you don’t want to have the most expensive home in your neighborhood. When you go to sell this home, your potential buyers are going to compare your listing with those homes in the same area. If they see that your home is way more costly than others, they’re going to use that to negotiate against you. That’s when you see your profits disappear, and suddenly you’re spending more than you got back.

Building A New Home Can Be The Best Investment

When you look at the costs of a new home and think that it’s a little out of your price range, you should think twice. Buying an older home and upgrading it down the line seems like a decent idea, but there’s always things that can affect that. Maybe your projects never get done and you end up living in a home you’re not happy with. Perhaps those projects go vastly over budget, leaving you in debt more than you are comfortable with?

With a new home, you know the costs. You decide what goes into it before you build. You know you’re getting the home of your dreams because you worked with a builder at the beginning and planned it out. Finally, you know that the home you’re building is in a neighborhood with similarly priced homes that will attract buyers willing to spend top dollar to buy your home.

Build Your Dream Home Today

At Cobblestone Builders, we strive to make sure our clients get exactly what they want. We want you to have the home of your dreams now, and not down the line. We don’t want you to stress over looming costly home improvement projects. You deserve the home you’ve always wanted, and Cobblestone Builders is here to help!

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