BRIAN SHANE GOES ONE-ON-ONE WITH JASON LAMBERTSON OF GATEWAY BUILDERS
What does a person need to know when building a custom home?
I think one important thing is to see some of the other homes that builder has made. You should also speak with some of their other clients, as that is the best way to determine a builder’s customer-service policy after the job is completed, which is all-important. Try to get some insight as to the fit and finish of the completed project — the little things that can create dissatisfaction or frustration in a homeowner. Things like drafts and rattles, doors and windows that don’t close or hang properly, uneven surfaces and seam gaps or other imperfections in the trim and elsewhere. There’s lots of things, but those wind up being the things that establish a builder’s reputation.
Ask to visit one of their worksites. If they try to discourage or dissuade you, that’s a bad sign. If they welcome you, and the site is clean and orderly, and the crew seems pleasant yet serious about their work, you may have found your builder.
Finally, the other vital component involves the budget. It’s important to establish that this builder has a track record of completing jobs on budget, as big cost overruns can ruin what is supposed to be a uniquely joyous experience for a new homeowner. But if you come away satisfied with the answers to those questions, you are very likely to be satisfied with your overall experience with that builder.
Beach and coastal homes are wildly popular here. What do you incorporate to give a home that flavor?
We begin with a more open floor plan, something with a cottage feel. Then we incorporate a foundational color palette that includes brighter colors, offset by some complementary neutral tones and textures. With a coastal motif, you must strive for openness, simplicity and comfort as compared with, say, an estate-style home. Much of this effect, by the way, can be achieved by the choice of finishes a builder uses. Certain finishes are more appropriate for different styles of home. That is a subject your builder should bring up without your having to ask.
What are some of the living/building trends you’re seeing with homes like these?
Products that are, or are close to, maintenance-free are very in-demand now. It’s all about ease-of-care. Energy efficiency is huge, too... actually more of a requirement than an option compared with years past. Everyone now wants to know about alternative-energy strategies, whether it’s solar, geothermal or renewable energy.
This demand is also being addressed by the building materials someone may opt to use on the exterior of the house — products with increased durability and longevity. The big buzzword nowadays is sustain-ability. Good builders are all aware of this and are making the necessary adjustments based on market demand.
Do these strategies help preserve or even increase a home’s value?
Without question. Alternative-energy systems combined with these more durable, sustainable materials definitely contribute to preserving the value of a home. And the more of it you do, the more of the value you’ll preserve.
What other investments make sense for the homeowner when it comes to preserving value?
In terms of resale value, I’d say look to the ceiling. Nine-foot ceilings are the standard now, and I would honestly even encourage people to consider 10 feet. The overall effect on the home is dramatic to say the least, yet the cost differential is much less than most people imagine. Then, accent those ceilings, maybe with trays and/or crown moldings.
I see so many people overspend on their flooring, and I definitely understand the impulse. But if it’s the overall impact of the house and maximizing its value that you’re after, you’d be better off redirecting some of the money you were ready to sink into the floor toward higher-grade materials, finishes and accents for the ceilings, walls and windows.
What else, in your opinion, can take a home to the next level?
Custom millwork is always a good idea because of the warm, handcrafted quality it adds. It also tends to convey personalization and individuality, which is as popular now as it’s even been, perhaps more so. This may also be achieved with custom cabinetry, as kitchen and bath spaces are also getting more attention today.
Why did you decide to expand your territory into Maryland?
Even though we’ve been very successful establishing a niche as a builder of large, estate-style homes on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, we’ve always been about versatility. We build according to the needs of each individual customer, and the variety of construction we see in the expanding territories of Maryland appeal to that sense in us. We’re creative, and we’re efficient, so we don’t want to build only one kind of house. We revel in the challenges that each differentiated project offers. Those are our hallmarks, along with providing industry-leading quality and peerless customer service before, during and after the job is done. The fact that I am a resident of Maryland myself is just one more reason I enjoy building here.
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