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The Elite team recently completed a kitchen and dining room remodel for a Wyomissing client. The end result? We gave a kitchen built in 1953 an entire upgraded look, including new windows, a new door at a new location, and a re-imagined open floor plan. “It’s a completely different house! I love it. It’s what I always wanted since the day we moved in,” exclaimed our client, Penny, when we stopped by to visit after they were settled in with their new furniture.

Josh, the Superintendent on the job said his favorite part of this project was “developing a new open floor plan while still keeping true to the 1950s architecture by keeping the curved opening of the doorway. Penny and her daughter’s favorite part of their new kitchen was making the switch from an electric stove to gas because it has made cooking easier. (Bonus: There is even an air fryer in the oven!) They also love the peninsula in the new space.

 

A Look At The Transformation:

Here’s some before and after photos of the space:

 

 

 

 

 

Our team opened up the dining room, living room, and kitchen area to create a more open space.

 

 

The Construction Process:

Penny and her family enjoyed watching the construction process and said that our team and Trade Partners were “nice and respectful, especially when it came to having to walk through the kitchen throughout construction.” The on-site construction team would always move the plastic barriers whenever the family wanted or needed to walk through. “They were so courteous that they avoided cutting any wood, etc. and waited until we were done making our food,” Penny’s daughter reflects.

Our clients relied on microwave cooking and cooking on the grill throughout the course of construction. In fact, having to walk all the way around the house to get to the grill is what inspired the family to start dreaming up their next home renovation – an outdoor living project that they hope to begin with our team in Spring of 2023.

As the homeowner, Penny also appreciated how our team would always “go to bat for her to get her what they needed.” That’s the D&B Elite difference.

 

Now Get The Look:

Here’s a look at some of our trusted Trade Partners who helped bring this vision to life: Flooring and tile backsplash from About All Floors, Granite Countertops from AAA Hellenic Marble, cabinetry was completed by Swartz Kitchens & Baths, and plumbing fixtures from Weinstein Reading.

 

Many studies over the last several decades have shown that most seniors (ages 65+) prefer the idea of aging in their own home – or aging in place – rather than moving into a nursing home. Research indicates that the majority of seniors (about 94%) still wish to stay in their home as long as they are able. It’s no secret that Covid-19 has likely strengthened the desire seniors have to age in place. With the change in “life as we knew it” since March of 2020, we couldn’t help but wonder how Covid-19 may have affected the elderly’s living landscape now and into the future.

This was the case for D&B Elite Custom clients, Janet and John, whose parents/in-laws decided to age in place by adding an addition to the couple’s home. “We sat down with my father David to talk about options since the current plan of just taking care of Mom himself at their own home was no longer adequate,” reflects Janet. Although Janet’s father had been leaning towards moving into a senior living facility, his mind was swayed after the pandemic hit.

Janet reflected on the positive impact that aging in place had on her father: “It gave him a sense of ownership and privacy. He knows his money paid for the addition. For him that was a plus. My Dad made a business decision to sell his home and build something smaller onto our house. He knew he came out ahead financially, which gave him a sense of ownership and a boost.” Hear more from the family about their experience adding an addition here!

 

 

In a senior living facility, you’re not gaining a sense of ownership. Meanwhile, the way the addition was constructed allows Janet’s father to feel that he still has his own home. He can come and go using his own walkway, and he can sit outside on his own porch with his wife. All of these actions give him a sense of privacy and strong sense of identity, allowing the couple to be who they are while still having the overall safety needed.

According to a Pew Research study, “living with an extended circle of relatives is the most common type of household arrangement for older people around the world. But in the United States, older people are far less likely to live this way – and far more likely to live alone or with only a spouse or partner.” However, the pandemic may be changing these views in the United States. More families may be inclined to take in their seniors rather than putting them in senior facility homes. According to a Forbes article, students in a School of Aging Studies class at the University of Maryland Baltimore County gave their opinions on what they would do with their families’ living situation in the future based on Covid-19: “More families will think about adapting their houses and lifestyle to accommodate older people living with them because living in those nursing facilities is risky.” There are a scattering amount of home improvements that prove to be worth adding to your home to accommodate seniors. Improvements are not only for your parents, but are for yourself as you continue to age. Instead of looking into a retirement community or nursing home, consider making your home suitable for the needs that one develops as they age.

 

Ways to Accommodate Your Home to be Forever not Just Temporary:

– Install electronic stair lifts if you have more than one floor or a basement

 

– Improve sidewalks and pathways to ensure they are flat and have a ramp if needed for wheelchair accessibility

 

– Update your floor

  1. Replace carpet with hardwood floor to make it easier to move around with a wheelchair
  2. Widening your doorways for wheelchair and walker access
  3. Putting all essential rooms on the first floor

 

– Replace toilet

  1. A raised toilet seat alleviates pain and makes it easier for aging adults

 

– Replace bathtub with walk-in shower to provide an easier and safer entry and exit

  1. Add grab bars (horizontal and even small vertical ones)
  2. Add shower chairs
  3. Extendable shower head

 

– Remote control lighting

  1. This keeps areas accessible with easy access

 

– Easy thresholds and transitions

  1. Increases safety for those with difficulty walking, walkers or wheelchairs

 

– Open floorplan

  1. Easy to get around, especially if wheelchairs are needed

 

– Install a main floor drain and no-slip materials on floor

 

– Make simple purchases to enhance safety around your home

 

 

As a result of the pandemic, many families are more cautious when it comes to housing their elderly loved ones in a nursing home. The fear of them becoming ill couples with the fear of possibly not being able to see their loved ones if quarantining is needed. According to Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide, “it is typically cheaper to build an addition than to buy or build a new home.” John explained that for his family it was cheaper to add an addition instead of building another home close to them. Hear from John and Janet on what their experience was like working with the Elite team here!

Learn more about additions here on our website. With five currently in the works for this year, we have a handful of tips to offer, so reach out today for your free consultation!

Construction on your home is an inconvenience – we get that. Unforeseen issues will inevitably arise. As our Vice President of Residential Construction, Larry Adam, says, “A project well planned is a project half complete.” Here’s five tips on how to streamline your home remodel project:

 

Timing is everything!

Plan ahead (especially with current extended lead times, supply chain difficulties, and wait on inventory). If you want to enjoy a new outdoor living space by next Summer, you should really be starting today.

 

Be prepared with an idea board.

Houzz and Pinterest are great places to gather inspiration of the style, look, and feel you are going for.

 

Look for a general contractor that follows a pre-construction process focused on value engineering.

This will get you quality work on time and within budget. A builder that is willing to start active construction right away without ensuring every little detail of your project is thought of may be a red flag. They should be completing a pre-construction walk through to review points of access, location of dust protection and more to ease the process.

 

Be realistic when it comes to financials (unlike the budgets you see on HGTV!)

A good construction partner will advise you on where you can adjust specifications to save money. They will help you come up with a plan that gets the look you desire to fit within a reasonable budget.

 

Ask how involved all vendors and trades will be in your project.

Your general contractor should be making them a key part of the process. They should have an intimate knowledge of your project before they meet you. This makes all the difference.

 

Meeting selection deadlines will make a project run smoothly without delays.

Look for a construction partner that makes a point to clearly communicate and invests in construction management software to help manage project selections and deadlines.

 

Learn more about floor plan remodels here!

 

Learn more about Basement renovations here!

 

Learn more about Bathroom renovations here!

 

 

Learn more about Kitchen renovations here!

 

Learn about other specialty areas of the home here!

 

 

Contact D&B Elite Custom for your free consultation today! See why we were named 2022 People’s Choice in Home Contractor and New Home Builder.

Color, pattern and texture – oh my! The versatility of wallpaper makes it easy to find a design that complements the room in your house, no matter what style you are looking for.

 

Did you know wallpaper is a key trend this year? Hand-painted wallpapers are very much “on trend” and growing in popularity. Wallpaper helps us to individualize our rooms and make them cozier, which makes sense after staring at the same four walls for quite some time throughout the pandemic.

 

Although wallpaper has tended to be more common in living spaces and bedrooms in the past, today’s technological advances have allowed for the creation of many designs able to tolerate humid conditions. As a result, there are many suitable options for kitchens and bathrooms.

 

Ten Creative Wallpaper Ideas:

  1. Double Trouble: Who said you can’t use the same design in two different colors? Not us! In fact, we encourage you to give it a go. When you use the same print in two contrasting colors, it really adds design detail and maximizes the magic of one’s wallpaper. Try this for the perfect way to give some edge to your space in need of a renovation.

 

  1. Spruce Up Your Entryway: The entryway of your home is your first opportunity to set the tone and style of your home, so be sure to not overlook this space and give it the personality it deserves. Wallpaper is a fun, easy, and relatively inexpensive way to brighten things up when you first step into your home! Entryways are often a narrower space that sometimes get overlooked, so it may be worth considering embracing the fun patterns and color that wallpaper has to offer in this space. A repetitive pattern will create a rhythmic motif that helps to widen and elongate the smaller space typically found in an entryway. Consider wallpaper that features a good stripe; the linear quality will help add character to your entryway. This design also helps to add height if the lines are vertical or space if the lines are horizontally placed.

 

 

  1. How to Soften Busy Wallpaper: There’s nothing wrong with being bold and featuring “busy” wallpaper, however many get nervous at the thought. A simple way to break it up? Consider painting the woodwork surrounding the “busy” wallpaper in a color that matches the wallpaper design. Don’t forget: It is best to stay away from oversized prints in rooms where windows, mirrors and pictures are frequent. Choosing smaller repeat pattern in an area where such items are breaking up the design is best.

 

  1. The Perfect Way to Add Personality to Your Home Office: Re-imaging the walls of the office at your 9 to 5 job may not be on the table, but the possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to your own home office! Busy, patterned wallpaper may be too distracting in a home office where you are likely wanting to concentrate. Opt for gentle, impressionist-style wallpaper to add interest to your space while creating a feeling of Zen.

 

  1. Use the Same Print on An Accent Wall and Piece of Furniture: A simple concept that can leave a big impact! It’s as easy as getting an armchair upholstered in the same print as the wallpaper you are using on an accent wall near the furniture piece. Using only an accent wall instead of every wall in the room will keep you from overdoing it with the same design and really leaves a WOW factor.

 

  1. Make Various Shades Your Friend: Consider using one color across three individual pieces through different shades. Doing this adds depth while also creating harmony and cohesion through all individual elements.

 

  1. Don’t Forget the Ceiling: Sometimes it’s as simple as looking up! There’s no rules when it comes to wallpaper. Who says you can’t wallpaper the ceiling?! Whether this means including the ceiling as you wallpaper the four surrounding walls or only wallpapering the ceiling to really make a dramatic pop, you’ve done it right.

 

  1. Wallpaper Things You Normally Wouldn’t: No rules apply here; think outside the box! From wallpapering your staircases to your headboard, the possibilities are endless. Such spaces are great opportunities to finally put wallpaper scraps that may be laying around to good use. Interior doors and closets are another great place to try. Coating your closet doors with the same wallpaper as the walls of the room can trick your eye into making the closet disappear and essentially opening up the room.

 

  1. Experiment With Your Powder Room: Small rooms, such as your powder room, are great places to start with a bold, fun wallpaper. Why? If your taste changes down the road, it isn’t the most expensive area to redecorate given the small space of a powder room. Pro Tip: Go for bold large-scale prints in these small spaces. Don’t be afraid to choose something dramatic that you absolutely love but know you couldn’t live with forever in a well-trafficked hub like the living room.

 

 

  1. The 411 on Relaxing Wallpaper: If you are looking for the most relaxing options, try wallpaper with a fabric-look! These create a feeling of enclosed comfort. Textured wallpapers like cork, grasscloth, or paper backed silks add depth, along with a touch of luxury. You can never go wrong with pastel and neutral shades for the ultimate relaxation. Stay trendy with walls that embrace floral and foliage prints. Wallpaper with vivid colors like reds and yellows may be too stimulating to promote rest.

 

The History of Wallpaper:

Wallpaper has been elevating rooms as early as 200 B.C., where it is believed Ancient Chinese would glue rice paper onto their walls. Egyptian papyrus, the earliest known for of “paper,” was first introduced around 4000 B.C. in China.

 

By the 10th century, Arabians were creating a finer sheet of paper through higher quality materials like bamboo and wood, and during the 12th century papermaking spread throughout Europe.

 

A French engraver by the name of Jean-Michael Papillon is credited with inventing wallpaper as we know it today in 1675 when he started making block designs in a matching, continuous pattern. It wasn’t until 1739 that wallpaper made its way to America when Plunket Fleeson started printing wallpaper in Philadelphia, PA.

 

In the roaring ‘20s wallpaper took the spotlight with some 400 million rolls being sold during this period, which became known as “the Golden Age of Wallpaper.” After World War II, plastic resins revolutionized the industry, offering stain resistance, washability, durability, and strength.

 

Today, advances in digital, photo and printing technologies make wallcoverings much more affordable, and it is easier for companies to replicate wallpaper styles from any period of history.

Nearly one year after we began this couple’s full remodel of their 1970’s home, we reconnected to see how they were enjoying their new space after living in their newly remodeled home for approximately three months now.

Looking back, they described living in a temporary apartment last year as a “time of upheaval,” but one that went by relatively quickly. They enjoyed living in a different part of town and experiencing what the neighborhood they stayed in had to offer — especially their beloved dog Hachi, who loved going for walks and enjoying the dog-friendly atmosphere!

They think it helped that they lived on this property since 2010 before completing their renovation. Lori described it as “an advantage because we had clarity on what we wanted and didn’t want going into this project.”

In case you missed our first blog on this project last July, here’s a quick summary of the history of the home: The house, which was built by the homeowner’s father, would have turned 50 years old this year. The family decided now was the best time to renovate and celebrate new beginnings. An unfortunate accident that left Av with a disability also increased the need for a home renovation, as the ADA compliant open concept layout of the first floor allows him to better navigate their home. You’ll find wider hallways and hardwood floors throughout the home, as well as a larger shower with a flip-up seat.

Another selling point of their home reno? “The new layout is much more efficient and makes it easier to host guests,” explains Av. Prior to their home renovation, they never felt fully comfortable having a number of people over before, but now there is definitive space for guests, such as their extended family in western PA, NJ, and DE who have already come to visit.

Despite the challenges that naturally come with a home renovation of this size, the family had a great experience overall, especially with our Trade Partner, Kyle of Elements Integration, who handled installation of security cameras throughout the property, mounting TVs, the Internet, and all of the wired electronics throughout the house. “Kyle was excellent to work with because his knowledge is top notch and he is so friendly. He never condescended and always explained everything,” explains Av.

 

Check out this interview to learn more about the family’s experience getting a complete home renovation with our team!

 

 

Designing Their New Home With Blue House Designs LLC:

A reflective Lori and Av recall that they “knew nothing about the design process” when they first began working with the D&B Elite team and Kylene Baney of Blue House Designs LLC, who has been an Architectural Designer for 20 years and owned her business for seven years now. “When I first started working with the family they had project boards with magazine clippings and items printed from online, including exterior and interior designs. Every time they saw something they liked they added it to the board. There was a mixture of modern, farmhouse style, and traditional, so in order to narrow down what they really wanted we started with the design of the exterior of the home,” explains Kylene.

 

Below are some of the options that the family was given in each style. “This helped them realize that they liked the farmhouse style most,” recalls Kylene. Another realization that Lori and Av made during the design process? “At first we thought we’d keep the exterior of the whole house and go from there, but we ultimately ended up deciding we wanted another house since keeping the same exterior would be like upgrading from Web 1.0 to 1.5. That makes no sense. We wanted to get to Web 2.0.”

A photo of the home prior to starting demo last April.

 

A photo of a rendering Kylene created for the family while they were considering keeping the exterior of the home.

 

A few other rendering options from Kylene.

 

 

The exterior design that was chosen.

 

And the final product!

 

 

View the final home walkthrough here on our YouTube channel!

 

A Q&A With The Designer, Kylene Baney:

Q: How did you get started in this industry?

A: “Designing has always been my passion. It’s what makes me tick. I had a high school teacher who noticed my talents, and I always liked working with people. I knew I wanted to help people bring their home dreams to fruition.”

 

Q: Walk us through the process of what it’s like helping clients reach their final decision on design?

A: “It is normal for me to assist clients with narrowing down to their final choices, but at the same time some clients will have a set design they absolutely love. If they allow my input, I will show them other options that would also work. Many times the client never thought of other options, and then I will work with them to design their needs.”

 

Q: What programs do you use to design?

A: “I draw with SoftPlan 2022 Program, which allows me to design the exterior and / or interior of the home. I enjoy renovating existing homes that will improve the client’s space.”

View the SoftPlan web 3D model for the Rochino house here, and complete your own walk through!

 

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A: “The most challenging aspect of any project is making sure I incorporate everything the customer wants or needs into the space allowed. I also find this part of the job to be the most fun! It’s like putting a puzzle together; everything must fit perfectly. Another challenge is how hard it has been to get to where I am. Drafting is not a woman’s field. Don’t get me wrong, I work with a lot of men who appreciate my work, but growing up I had a lot of hurdles. I wish I saw more women or girls taking an interest in what I do.”

Did you know: According to the American Institute of Architects, only 17% of registered architects in the United States are women?!

 

Q: What is your favorite aspect of this particular home design and why?

A: “I enjoy getting to know the family and making their living space easier and more useful for their needs. The challenge is taking the families’ ideas and incorporating them to meet their needs. It is truly rewarding to see my design project transform into reality. Seeing how the design changes improved the clients’ lives is the best and gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”

 

Q: What is it like watching your drawings transform from rendering to reality?

A: “I feel a lot of pride and honor when families trust me to design a space or entire home that fits their needs. I think that takes a lot of courage on the homeowner’s part to let someone they don’t know have so much responsibility. Knowing that in the end they liked my design so much that they built it is my favorite part of the job.”

 

Q: How long have you been working with D&B Elite Custom?

A: “I’m pleased to have been working with D&B Elite Custom since 2018. Our relationship started from an email I sent to local builders making them aware that I was looking for work. This relationship became mutually successful, as I have since completed over 40 projects with D&B Elite Custom to date.”

 

The start of the new year often inspires people to renovate and make some changes, whether in their routine and habits or their living spaces. A home renovation is a big undertaking, so it is best to not rush into. That’s where the color of the year can come into play. Paint is an easier, cheaper way to spice things up in your home. A little bit of paint can go a long way in transforming a space without having to worry about the hassle of completely remodeling your space. Since it requires less commitment – both in time and money – this is a great alternative if you are not yet ready to tear down your walls or have your home fully under construction. Here are some creative DIY ways to animate your walls:

 

Color of the Year:

Pantone’s color of the year was announced on December 9 as Pantone 17-3938 Very Peri. Described as a “symbol of the global zeitgeist of the moment and the transition we are going through,” the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman, explains how the color “brings a novel perspective and vision of the trusted and beloved blue color family” while also displaying a “spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expressions.” Be sure to check out the four color palettes Pantone has created to help bring the color of the year into your designs here.

 

 

October Mist was reported as the 2022 color of the year by Benjamin Moore and Breezeway was announced as the color of the year by Behr. Both colors having tones of green are perfect for the new year since green represents new beginnings. October Mist brings life to a room through being an earth shade of green. Green is meant to represent health, prosperity, and wealth. This color is said to make you feel optimistic and refreshed. Breezeway induces feelings of coolness and peace and is very similar to October Mist, as it is also a silvery green shade with cool undertones.

 

October Mist

 

Breezeway

 

More color trends of the new year from Benjamin Moore include:

 

Paint Stencil Rollers:

One way to draw attention to your walls is to take a stencil roller to them with the color of your choice. These rolls come in all different designs and patterns, and you can find them on cheap sites like Etsy, Amazon, or Wish. This is great way to add a custom pattern that stands out without having to invest in wallpaper. Typically, standard wallpaper runs between $25 to $50 per roll, which covers about 30 square feet. Given this, you can expect to pay between $1 to $2.50 per square foot. If you are in the market to buy designer or custom wallpaper, these options can run as high as $5,000 per roll. In comparison, stencil rollers can cost anywhere from $5 to $30. Best of all they are reusable, making them very cost-effective.

 

Accent Walls:

If you are in love with a certain wallpaper or paint color but don’t want to commit to the cost of decorating the entire room with it, you can always opt for creating an accent wall. Accent walls have made a comeback once more. They not only give you the chance to show off the wallpaper or paint color you love, but they also function as a way to help define your living space.

 

For example, you can use an accent wall to indicate different zones. Designer Emily Henderson recommends making sure your “accent walls are done with a purpose.” Check out her ideas for making this happen here, where she shares great tips such as recommended sticking to a light color accent wall to keep your space from feeling smaller. “Accent walls painted or wallpapered in dark colors can make walls visually advance, which can make them feel smaller,” she explains.

 

DIY Painters Tape Designs:

Using painter’s tape to create designs and bring your wall to life has become a huge trend in the past couple years. It is a low-cost, good looking, and fun way to give a room an instant lift. According to Bob Vila the best overall painter’s tape to use is Scotch Blue Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape. This also would be a fun project for the whole family to get involved in. For example, you can have the kids help choose where to put the painter’s tape or paint within the lines.

 

 

 

Interior Wall Paneling

Wall paneling is used to decorate walls and give the wall a bit of texture. Who knows… This could be what is missing from perfecting your wall. Finding wall paneling is easy as well. It’s at almost any home improvement type store including Home Depot and Lowes. Paneling has been around since the 1950s and still popular and used today. Some trending wall paneling today includes shiplap, board and batten, bead board, raised panels, and many more.

 

We hope these tips provided you with some ideas for your own home as we enter the new year. One of the most difficult steps to creating your dream wall is narrowing down your color options. It is important to consider what the right color can do to a room. Color Psychology, or “the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior,” can play a huge roll in this. Learn more about what mood and feelings each color can invoke here. For example, if you are looking to make your at home office more relaxing to counteract those stressful Zoom calls, consider painting your office a shade of green since it is “regarded as the most restful and relaxing color for the human eye.” Symbolizing harmony, tranquility, and peace, this color helps to enhance stability and endurance – great options for those looking to stay motivated during long WFH hours.

 

What’s your DIY goal for the New Year? Do any of these trends to boost the look of your walls catch your eye? We’d love to see the visions you bring to life in your living space.

For a fleeting few seconds in mid-October, it sounded like the Fourth of July in Sinking Spring, PA. Why? Blasting had to take place in order to break up the rock and move forward with excavation at the site of this new build. Click here to watch the blasting on site.

 

John Werner, Site Superintendent for D&B Elite Custom who is managing this 7,000 SF custom home build, explained that two days’ worth of drilling had to take place before the blasting could occur. “This was the first step in getting the foundation in,” he explains.

 

 

Grant Wise was the man on the scene monitoring the seismograph and making sure everyone was safe. His dad started J. Roy’s Inc., which he now operates out of Lancaster County, back in the 1970’s. He has completed many interesting projects over the years, including recently dropping an entire metal bridge with stone piers into the river off Route 23 just outside of King of Prussia.

 

 

“We got here at about 8 AM on the day of the blasting. There was approximately 3.5 hours of prep work that needed to be done before we could blast everything. This included laying 120 blasting caps out, laying out the boosters, and filling them with ammonium nitrate, a common chemical used as explosives in the construction and mining industries,” Wise explains.

 

 

The ammonium nitrate solution creates an emulsion explosive commonly referred to as “toothpaste,” which it looks exactly like. Wise explains that J. Roy’s Inc. has approximately 50,000 pounds of this on hand. “For this project in particular we injected 2,000 pounds into the hole on top of the green booster box,” he explains.

 

 

After the blasting took place, our Trade Partner Gruber Excavation removed all of the 73 cubic yards limestone rock and lay the foundation of the house. “Because of blasting, we could dig this large foundation in just two days,” explains John. “About two weeks prior to blasting we drilled a series of probes and used the intel gathered from that to determine where exactly we needed to blast.”

 

 

“In areas where blasting couldn’t be done due to it already being excavated, we completed something known as ‘Swiss Cheese.’ Essentially, this involves digging five-foot-deep holes, which allow us to break the rock with a hydraulic breaker. There were also some instances where the cost of blasting would have exceeded that of conventional rock breaking.”

 

 

Once blasting and digging occurred, approximately 200 yards of concrete were poured shortly after by our Trade Partner, Zimmerman Masonry. Below are some recent progress shots of what this $1.5 million-dollar custom home, which should be completed around April 2022, currently looks like. “At the turn of the month we began framing,” concludes John. Stay tuned for more updates on this custom home!

 

You’ve seen it time and time again on your favorite HGTV renovation shows. A family obtains their dream outdoor living space in a mere hour or 30 minutes (and even less time when you don’t include all of the commercials). It’s shows like these that can sway our expectations when it comes time to actually endure construction in real life. That’s when you see the not so glamorous side of it all, like the weather delays (we’re looking at you Hurricane Ida) and even shortages on material that the industry has been facing as of late.

Our Director of Residential Construction, Larry Adam, explains that “it typically takes seven to eight weeks to complete projects that you see in 30 minutes on a show.” He further explains that with outdoor living projects “it can take three to four weeks to get the structure up before starting finishes.”

Despite this reality check, which may come as a shock to many, an outdoor living space adds value to your house, in addition to positively impacting your family’s health (more on that in our next blog post). If you are looking for ways to improve the resale value of your home –especially right now in what is already a seller’s market – outdoor living may be the way to go. “It is one of the biggest returns for your dollar, with about 70 to 80% return,” explains Larry.

 

 

Outdoor living enhancements like patios, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, swimming pools, pergolas, and wooden decks can provide better returns for homeowners. For example, patios can add 8 to 10% to your home’s value while also earning you an ROI of over 80%, and homeowners with outdoor kitchens are estimated to break even on their investment after selling their home.

If some of these stats have you thinking you should dust off your saved pins on your outdoor living idea board, keep reading for some tips and tricks! We compiled this Q&A with D&B Elite team members, Larry, and our Project Coordinator, Beth to help prepare you on what to expect when designing and constructing your dream outdoor oasis.

 

Q: Why is this time of year the best to reach out regarding an Outdoor Living project? Is there a reason why you recommend so far in advance?

A: If you want to be able to fully enjoy your new outdoor living space for the entire duration of Summer next year, we recommend reaching out for your free consultation around the end of Summer a year before you would want your outdoor living space. This allows plenty of time to properly plan and execute your project. Life will happen and there will be days when the weather doesn’t cooperate. By getting ahead of the game, these nearly inevitable disruptions of construction won’t interfere with your R&R come next Summer.

 

Q: If I reach out for a free consultation now, when would we actually break ground on my outdoor living construction project?

A: We would likely break ground sometime in the Spring. This way masonry work, etc. will not be held up by cold weather. Trying to do finishes in inclement weather doesn’t always work, and weather conditions are by far the most difficult aspect of completing outdoor living work. We would use the colder, winter months that we tend to see in Pennsylvania to design and complete the selections process.

Typically, the selections process will take our clients around four weeks to complete. For outdoor living, you are usually looking at selecting cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and perhaps stone depending on what is being done. At D&B Elite Custom, we have around 100 reputable vendors that we work with and can recommend to our clients. We will guide you to who we think best fits your project right off the bat to save time. From there, the client would make an appointment to meet with the necessary vendors, wait to receive a quote, and then have time to think over their options and make the right decision for you. Here’s a timeline illustrating the process:

 

 

Q: I’m interested in creating / enhancing my outdoor living space, but I have no idea where to start. What should I do?!

A: This is more common than you think. The best place to start is to contact us for a free consultation. A lot of people come to us because they just can’t picture their completed outdoor living space. We will help guide you throughout the process to make it easier. Our team encourages you to come with ideas of what you may want your project to look like. Pinterest and Houzz are great places to start.

 

Q: What kind of questions will I be asked during my free consultation?

A: To get an idea of what you are looking for, we will ask you questions like “How do you want to use your backyard / outdoor living space?” and “What are you looking to do with the space?” It really starts with what you want to do. Although these seem like simple questions, getting the client thinking about all of this is a great help. Some people just want a big open space with a firepit, while others are more focused on an outdoor kitchen with a TV out there.

Once we know the answers to these questions, we will move on to “What do you want it to look like?” and start discussing form and texture. People who come to us with a vision for their outdoor living space usually have a good idea of what they want, but they need to get it functioning properly for them. These questions help resolve these potential issues.

 

Q: What are common misconceptions that you see when people reach out for a free consultation?

A: Overall cost. Things typically cost more than what you see on HGTV. Although The New Yorker reports that HGTV has been ranked as a top-five cable network since 2015, it is important to take what you see on this network with a grain of salt. Shows on HGTV will show discounted goods and services, price breaks, and even free labor – all while not making this clear to the viewer. The renovations you are seeing on these shows likely cost more than the show is indicating. Don’t use HGTV as your main reference point for pricing out your dream home renovation project, as you may be underestimating the actual costs. Although HGTV shows use the real money of homeowners to cover renovation costs, HGTV producers have openly acknowledge that people who participate in these shows are “getting more for their buck than they should.” Even the complete furnished space you fall in love with at the end of your favorite home renovation show is staged with almost nothing that belongs to the homeowners.

 

Q: What is a major part of construction an outdoor living space project that people may not consider?

A: What space is actually available in your backyard. A lot of people tend to forget about municipality and zoning code setbacks. You need to think if you truly have the space to build what you are looking for. Our Director of Residential Construction further explains: “Codes are strange. Here’s an example: A pavilion is viewed differently as an addition. If I connect something to the house to make it an addition, it is part of the house and therefore subject to setbacks to the main structure. If that same pavilion structure is separate from the house and not at all connected it is then considered an accessory building and may have a different set of setbacks. This is big in the Wyomissing Borough especially. There is a lot of leeway there.”

 

Q: How can I best prepare for construction of my outdoor living space so I can eliminate as much unnecessary stress as possible?

A: Planning. Plain and simple. Visualize how you want to use the space and live in the space. Think of proximity to existing space. An example of this may be if you plan to add a grill to your new outdoor living space. You will want to think of how close your outdoor grill is to your kitchen. What is the path you would have to travel to get from your kitchen to the grill? Is it a long, rough path that may end up being a pain for you the first time you head inside to grab burgers from the fridge to grill outside? These are all questions you may not have top of mind, but we will help you consider them all prior to starting construction. It’s much better to think of all of these possible issues so they can be resolved in the planning process rather than realizing it once all is said and done.

 

Q: What materials do you recommend people use for their outdoor living space?

A: We typically use concrete block and stone with granite countertops for outdoor cooking spaces. This is a longevity choice. Stone is pretty much indestructible and same with granite.

 

Have any additional questions about creating your ideal outdoor living space? Drop them in the comments below! If you are really considering a new outdoor oasis in time for Summer 2022, don’t wait and reach out today.

This year, D&B Elite Custom is working with two wonderful local families who have faced adversity head on within recent years. At the end of May, the D&B Elite team smiled from ear to ear as they watched the Kline family start to move their belongings into their custom home, and they look forward to doing the same when the Rochino family moves in to their re-imagined home soon.

(If you missed Part 1 of this series on the Kline Family be sure to read it here on our blog, and check out our follow up on this project one year after mobilization took place here on our blog.)

All in the Family: A Fifty-Year Milestone in Wyomissing Hills

Lori and Avelino (Av) Rochino are another local family making something beautiful out of the hand they have been dealt. “With recent life changes, such as Av’s disability from an unfortunate accident and his mother’s recent passing from pneumonia, we knew we were ready to make changes to accommodate our new life situation,” says Lori. “With the house turning 50 years old next year, we thought this would be a great way to celebrate new beginnings!”

In 2010, Lori and Av had the opportunity to buy Av’s parents’ home when they retired to Florida. This allowed the Rochinos to keep the home that Av’s father, Avelino Sr., built in their family for hopefully generations to come. Av attended the Wyomissing School District with his older brother up until junior high. Today, their son Andre now attends the same school as a third grader. This Wyomissing Hills home was the perfect starter home for Lori and Av. “When we bought the home we knew it had plenty of potential, but since it was built in 1972 we knew we’d be making some changes one day. However, life got busy and any home improvement projects got placed on the back burner,” says Lori.

The Rochino family still has original documents and development plans from the city planning commission from when Avelino’s father built the family home.

The perfect storm changed this. Lori, a marketing / communications professional for Philly and Boston based organizations, and Av, a software engineer for a Boston-area based company, both worked from home prior to the start of COVID-19. Previously mentioned life events, coupled with the fact that their son was now attending school remotely due to the pandemic, resulted in a need to make more space so everyone wasn’t on top of each other. Another plus side to renovating their home? The Rochino family has close ties with extended family in western PA, NJ, and DE. These renovations will allow the family to have more space to entertain family and guests. With interest rates at their lowest, the Rochinos knew now was the time to secure the finances to help make their renovation dreams come true.

At the beginning of April this year, D&B Elite Custom began renovations to the family’s beloved home. These renovations include adding a second-floor master suite and updating every aspect of this 1970’s home. In addition, the first floor will be completely ADA compliant for Av, with hardwood floors throughout, wider hallways, an open concept living plan, and a bigger shower with a flip-up seat. The D&B Elite team is happy to be able to increase the quality of life for their client. “When I found out that this home was Av’s childhood home and they are now raising their son in it, I thought ‘How cool is that?!’ The Rochinos are just enjoyable to be around and easy to work with. They did their homework and knew what they wanted to achieve. We are excited to make their ideas a reality,” says D&B’s Project Coordinator, Beth.

Lori Rochino combs through a binder with all of their ideas and inspirations for their home remodel.

When Lori and Av first reached out to D&B Elite Custom over a year ago, they had some ideas but didn’t know what to expect, as this was their first home renovation project. “We didn’t know anything about the design process,” reflects Lori. “We watched HGTV and all the home videos and always thought, ‘That would be cool to do.’ Then when you actually do it you realize it is not a short 30-minute sprint. It is kind of a marathon in some ways. There’s a lot of little moving parts throughout the process,” she explains.

Kylene of Blue House Designs LLC has been working with the Rochinos and Team D&B to design the look of their home. She remembers the Rochinos had a “project board of ideas with a mix of styles” when she first met them. “I felt it was necessary to see what style they really wanted by showing them different ideas,” she recalls. Here’s a look at some of the original ideas next to the final rendering (pictured last) of what the Rochino family ended up going with:

A mix of excitement and nervousness could be detected prior to the start of construction. The couple described how they felt as “surreal and a little overwhelming.” One thing that gave them both peace of mind? Av’s mother, Merian, was able to see the plans that the couple put together with Team D&B prior to her passing. “She got very excited about the changes for her former house, so the ‘new house’ seems to have her blessing,” Lori explains.

 

The Rochino home prior to the start of demo at the beginning of April.
The Rochino home once demolition was underway.
Progress photo of the Rochino home in mid-May.
Progress photo of the Rochino home in mid-June.
D&B Elite Custom team members and trade partners meet with Lori and Avelino on-site in mid-May.

 

Who does D&B Elite Custom still need to receive approval from? Hachi, the Rochino’s Pembroke Welsh Corgi, who runs the household and is a neighborhood pet fixture will get the final say! Be sure to follow our social media and blog for updates once the house is complete.

D&B Elite Custom has humble beginnings that date over 10 years ago. In 2010, Dan Gring (CEO) and Brennan Reichenbach (COO) began flipping houses together in their spare time. From here, they transitioned into residential general contracting before they began building entire custom homes from the ground up. They officially starting their business in February of 2011, and D&B just celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

Today, D&B Elite Custom is a full-service residential construction firm offering services for custom homes and remodeling projects. Our remodeling projects span from powder room remodels to entire master suite renovations or home additions. We have completed many unique projects for clients, including custom outdoor living spaces and even an NBA-sized basketball court.

This NBA-sized basketball court was completed for a local home in 2020.

The D&B Elite team is comprised of dedicated individuals who anchor themselves to one of the hallmarks of the company’s business model – People come first at D&B. This mentality, coupled with their quality work, has led to D&B being the recipient of many awards in the last decade, including Builder of the Year, Remodeler of the Year, Remodeling Magazine’s Top 550, Qualified Remodeler 500, Lehigh Valley’s 45 Fastest Growing Businesses, Best Places to Work in PA, INC 5000’s Fastest Private Growing Companies, and Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s Top 50 Businesses.

At D&B, “we care” is more than just a tagline. Our pre-construction and selection processes are one of a kind and allow for transparent communication between the D&B Elite team and clients so every project is completed on time, within budget, and to our customers’ visions. It is one thing to be able to take an image a client saved on Pinterest of their dream kitchen and make it a reality, but it is another thing altogether when the completed job is life changing to a client. This is a responsibility that the D&B Elite team does not take lightly.

 

A Transformation Like No Other

The feeling of seeing a client view their new home or completed renovations for the first time is always rewarding in itself, but watching the Kline family step foot into their new home for the first time meant so much more to the D&B Elite Custom team after all this couple has endured over the last two years. On December 14, 2019 Dave and Kathy Kline had a fire at their home. Unfortunately, the only thing left from the old house was part of the foundation, so their hand was forced to build a new home.

The Kline’s home after the fire in December 2019.

 

Friend and President/CEO of Olsen Design Group Architects, Lee Olsen, told the couple “There’s only one choice. You’ve got to go with D&B. I’ve worked with them. They’ll do a great job, pull together some amazing subcontractors, and the process will all flow very smoothly.” Following the recommendation of Lee, the Klines met with D&B Elite Custom’s Director of Residential Construction, Larry Adam, shortly after the fire in January of 2020. Larry remembers walking through the house with the couple to “look over existing amenities and go over their insurance claim proposal so they could start budgeting for the rebuild based on sketches from their architect.” Although the pandemic put the design process to a halt for a bit, they restarted the design phase in May of 2020 and demo of the existing structure took place in October of 2020.

“When we started the demo, Dave and Kathy were on site. This was a moment of closure for them as the house they raised their children in was torn down to make way for the new and improved version of their home,” recalls Larry. He loved watching the couple’s reactions as their new home progressed. “I could see their excitement as their design and selections came together and they could physically walk through what they had created on paper,” he says with a smile.

 

The Kline’s home after demo was underway in October of 2020.

The Klines decided to make lemonade out of lemons, turning the loss of their old home into an opportunity to build a home guided by form and function. The end result was a home “more suitable for senior citizens” with everything they need all on one floor as they enter the next season of their life. Every detail of the home, from the breathtaking timber beams right down to the paint color in each room, was carefully selected with a purpose. The Klines wanted a style that was both rustic and comforting while paying homage to their travels in the mountains and Dave’s 35 years of guiding ski and sightseeing groups in the Alps. Influence came from a blueprint Dave obtained in Zermatt, Switzerland and from the architecture of northern Italy, southern Austria, and Bavaria, Germany. “It’s sort of our vacation home that we live in full-time now,” Dave said with a smile as he sat at the bottom of their new staircase, which has carpet so comfortable he admits to taking his first nap in their new home here.

 

A final look at the move-in ready first floor.

Describing their home as a “labor of love,” D&B Elite Custom’s Project Coordinator, Beth Varone-Barrer, says: “What they love to do and what they have experienced in life is incorporated into their new living space. Their home tells a story. Kathy told me she never thought they would be building a home at this stage in their life. When I toured her completed home and she gave me a hug I could have cried. It made me feel so good to see her happy with her home.”

The Superintendent in charge of this project, Paul Gent, says his favorite part of his career is the relationship he builds with the homeowners he completes work for. Paul has built more than 10 houses from the ground up since he started in this industry over 20 years ago, but nothing compared to seeing how excited and appreciative Dave and Kathy were. “This wasn’t your everyday, normal home,” reflects Paul. “It was completely customized to the couple’s liking and included memorabilia from their old house that we were able to save and incorporate into their new home, such as a custom decorative glass piece that everyone sees as soon as they walk through the front door. My reward was seeing how happy they were.”

 

Superintendent Paul Gent on-site at the Kline’s home after framing is completed.
Shawn Sensenig, owner of Haycreek Masonry, works on completing the custom stone fireplace, a design focal point on the first floor of the home.
This custom glass is visible to everyone as soon as they enter the home. It was saved from the Kline’s old home and installed at the entrance to their new home. The image you see on the glass is courtesy of Don Moll of B&G Glass and was made up from Dave and Kathy’s imagination, with Scottish and Swiss influence from Matterhorn Mountain.
Shot of the outside of the home as it nears completion.
D&B Superintendent, Paul Gent, and client check out the home as they prepare to move in.
The design team poses for a photo with the proud homeowners as they prepare to move in. From left to right: D&B Elite Custom Superintendent Paul Gent, D&B Elite Custom Project Coordinator Beth Varone-Barrer, Homeowners Dave & Kathy Kline, President & CEO of Olsen Design Group Architects Lee Olsen, D&B Elite Custom’s Director of Residential Construction Larry Adam. Photo by: REUTER STUDIOS | www.reuterstudios.com