Monthly Archives

August 2012

exterior luxury home Modern Homes

3 Tips To Prevent Water Intrusion in Your Home

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Home Repair | One Comment

As Tropical Storm Isaac dumps heavy rains across the Southeast, it’s testing the ability of many homes to withstand water intrusion. In the excitement of building a home, owners typically focus on the home’s finishes and sometimes neglect to ask about critical products that aren’t visible but work behind the scenes to protect the home. Waterproofing is one of THE MOST important considerations, especially if you live in climates with storm seasons such as Florida.

Here Are 3 Must-Dos to Waterproof Your Home:

Waterproof Exterior Balconies with Flashing & Proper Underlayment:

Balcony built with Flashing installed to prevent water intrusion, by Orlando custom builder Jorge Ulibarri,

Flashing is the L-shaped sheet metal that goes from the balcony deck, up the walls and into the house underneath the door threshold to keep the rain out. Underneath the flashing is a membrane over the entire deck that seals the structure from water intrusion.

Drawing showing how flashing should be properly installed on points of entry to prevent water intrusion

It’s important that a certified company install the flashing according to the manufacturer’s specs and that the materials are top quality.

Build Roof Coverage on All Exterior Doors:

Roof coverage should extend 2-3 feet over all exterior door entryways to prevent water intrusion. All exterior doors should open to the outside. Front door on home designed and built by Orlando custom builder Jorge Ulibarri,

Exterior doors on a home should always open to the outside and have roof coverage over the entry point, at least 2 to 3 feet extending out over the entry point to deflect water and prevent it from entering. In Florida, when it rains, strong winds tend to blow the rain horizontally, which literally pushes water into the home.  If the home’s exterior doors don’t have roof coverings, you can add awnings.

Install a Roof Membrane:

installation of roof membrane to prevent water intrusion

When going over the specs of the home, make sure your builder uses a self-adhesive membrane as underlayment under the roof tile.  This acts as a barrier to prevent water leaks.

For more tips on getting the best buy for your dollar with new home construction, subscribe to the series Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube

exterior luxury home construction

3 Tips to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Your Lot Purchase

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | 4 Comments


Custom Home under construction by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri requiring a stem wall footer foundation.

If you are in the market looking for a lot to build your custom home, here’s an important lesson in building a solid foundation. It can save you money and avoid costly surprises in the building process.  There are two types of foundations in Florida for the construction of a home: stem wall footers and monolithic.

The existing grade (surface) and slope of the property determines the type of foundation. In Florida, most lots are flat or semi-flat. Monolithic would be the proper choice. Sloped or uneven terrain requires stem wall footers.

Stem wall footer foundation under construction on lot for custom home with Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri,

The difference between the two? Stem wall footers are buried two or three feet below the house to avoid erosion and to anchor the house deeper into the ground into harder soils.

Stem wall footers are buried 2 to 3 feet below deep into the hard soils to solidly anchor a custom home under construction by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

In monolithic foundations, the footers are incorporated into the house slab and they don’t go as deep. Stem wall footers is the more expensive foundation of the two and takes longer to build because it’s a two-part process.

Here are three tips to avoid costly mistakes when selecting your lot:

Before purchasing the lot, consult your builder and have him walk the property.

Order a Topography Survey from your surveyor.

Call your county building department and get your finished floor elevation to determine the difference between the existing grade and the proposed finished floor elevation.

Together, these three key pieces of information will determine how much fill the lot requires to make it buildable (or in some instances how much fill needs to be removed).  Fill is an important price consideration when deciding on a lot because it can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the lot. Just another money-saving Trade Secret and for much more, subscribe to our Trade Secrets blog and the Trade Secrets video series on you tube.


interior luxury home floor medallion

Trade Secret #3-To Add Luxury for Less

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | 3 Comments

Floor Transitions and Focal Points

Here’s Another Affordable Idea to Enhance Your Living Space: Create floor transitions and focal points to visually define space and create architectural character.

Today’s cost-conscious consumers want easy and inexpensive ways to enhance their living spaces without breaking the bank. Florida Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri says anyone can add affordable architectural elements that give a home that custom look on a budget. One of Jorge’s most stunning and functional design ideas starts underfoot with floor transitions.

Floor transitions are subtle details that define and separate spaces while enhancing the floors.  It’s a design element or embellishment that visually marks a spatial boundary or highlights an architectural detail. Transitions are design details that are often overlooked but are the mark of a well- built, well-designed home.

The floor medallion is an inexpensive floor transition that carries high visual value.

Floor medallion made of wood inlays draws attention to high profile areas of the home and adds a luxurious touch, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Installing  floor medallions to  high traffic areas of the home is an easy way to update an existing floor or customize a new one. Floor medallions serve as eye-catching focal points to define and highlight a space. Jorge uses two types of floor medallions in his homes: wood inlaid and travertine mosaic.

Floor medallion made of stonework is a highly visible and affordable accent to update or enhance your floor, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Expect to pay approximately $500-$600 for a travertine mosaic floor medallion and $1200 for a wood inlaid medallion.  Floor medallions are  unique and elegant-something you don’t find in many custom homes and is sure to give any home a signature look.

Mosaic mats made of travertine or stone also visually delineate different rooms.

a travertine mosaic mat under the archway visually defines space as we transition from the hallway into the master suite, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Jorge recommends travertine mosaics as an ideal choice for floor transitions because they are affordable, easy to install, and have a lot of design potential. These mosaic mats can serve as “rugs” to transition from room to room such as the hallway to the formal living room or kitchen to family room. Consider placing mosaic mats under the archways to separate the rooms in an open floor plan and to announce the boundaries from one room to the next.  This floor transition typically comes in 12-inch by 12-inch mats and cost approximately $10 per square foot. The installation runs around $120 a transition.

chiseled edge travertine frames a polished travertine floor in the formal living room to visually define space, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Wood floor planks that frame a space are another option.

wood floor planks frame a polished travertine floor, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Envision placing wood floor planks around the perimeter of a room and fill in the floor space with travertine or carpet. Wood floor planks  can pull from the beams and tongue and groove ceilings to create a lot of warmth and old world ambiance. For more affordable design ideas to add luxury to your living space, subscribe to the video series,  Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube

interior luxury home iron door

Trade Secret #2 to Add Luxury for Less

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | One Comment

Stylize Small Spaces:

Strategically designed small spaces are the mark of a well-built home and can add a lot of character for minimal cost. Florida Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri  is always looking for ways to  maximize every inch of the home visually and functionally. Small spaces hold tremendous architectural power when carefully crafted as wineries, niches, built-ins and  bar areas. These design elements leave no wasted space in a home. Take a close look around your home and perhaps you’ll discover that there are unused spaces with great potential.

Here are a few ideas for turning those small spaces into beautiful features in your home. Consider a winery for your home.

a winery created underneath the staircase with wrought-iron door and window is an artistic way to stylize a small space. Designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

A winery is affordable and easy to create because you need a very small space, at least 18 inches. There are several ways to find the right space for your winery. Consider an old closet or underneath the staircase or any room where you can bump out a wall to create an additional 18 inches of space. In one of Jorge Ulibarri’s homes, he created a winery from an oversized guest bath because it shared a wall with the formal living room. This made it easy to frame out the extra space in the guest bath and create access from the formal living room.  Once the 3-foot by 2-foot enclosure is framed and has drywall installed, you can embellish the winery with a wrought iron door.

inside the winery, half barrels serve as wine bottle storage. Designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Inside the winery, there are many options for wine racks including wood shelves, iron or wood racks, and wine barrels.  Finishes for the interior walls include options such as stone, brick or faux painting. Depending on the location of the winery, you can expect to pay anywhere from $4000 to $5000.

The niche is another great architectural use for small, unused spaces. There are many different finishes for the back wall of the niche including stone, tile or faux painting. Look for corners of the house that you can frame out or walls that you can thicken out to create a recessed niche. The cost is minimal, under $1000 to frame, finish, and embellish a niche. It’s a great investment that adds a lot of character to the house.

Built-in bar area in the recessed space adds character and functionality to the room. Designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri,

Built-ins are another way to optimize square footage in a home. Look for existing walls of certain rooms where you can create a 24-inch recessed area. This recessed space has many uses depending on the room. For example, in a dining room, this 24-inch recessed space could be used for a built-in credenza with cabinetry.  Embellish the space with an arch or wood beam overhead to highlight the space.  Another functional space for built-ins is in the office. It’s an  ideal place to  create a built-in desk and cabinetry. In the media room or game room, consider a built-in bar area crafted out of the recessed space.  Small stylized spaces are functional and can serve as architectural focal points. For additional design tips and money saving ideas,  be sure and subscribe to the video series Trade Secrets by Jorge on YouTube.

MtDora Exterior luxury home

Top 3 Trade Secrets to Add Luxury for Less

By | Custom Home Design | One Comment

No matter what the size and style of your home, there are strategic enhancements that you can do to enhance your living space. You can create a custom look on a budget by investing a few hundred dollars in key, high profile areas of the home. Today, I’m going to share with you one of my Top 3 Trade Secrets to add Luxury for Less.  Be sure and check back each day for more affordable design ideas. An architecturally authentic home doesn’t have to break the bank. Let u show you how to achieve touches of the same curb appeal and interior style for less.  For more ideas, be sure and subscribe to our video series Trade Secrets by Jorge on YouTube.

Here is Trade Secret # 1

Embellish the Look Above

One way to create a high-end look at minimal cost is to add detail to the ceilings. Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri  suggests several affordable options. “Create a barrel ceiling in a hallway or small space. It is very original, adds a lot of character and offers several choices of finishes including faux painting, travertine, or even brick.”

Jorge also recommends faux wood corbels and faux wood beams on the exterior or interior of the home. These faux wood products cost significantly less than real wood  (about $100 per beam) and create a timeless look. For more information on adding faux wood architectural details check out the Trade Secrets episode “How to Create Curb Appeal with Faux Wood Accents.”

Tongue and groove ceilings add warmth and elegance within a budget  when installed in small, highly visible areas for elegance and warmth.  Toungue and groove ceilings cost approximately $8 a square foot.

Another affordable dramatic look is to create faux painted barrel ceiling and add in faux wood beams.

interior luxury home kitchen island

Top 3 Trade Secrets for a Multi-Tasking Kitchen

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design | 5 Comments


Kitchen designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

The modern kitchen in today’s home must be a multi-tasker, able to handle more household duties than just the cooking. Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri says his clients are asking for kitchens that take on tasks once reserved for single-use spaces. “Today’s kitchen comes stocked with amenities that handle household business such as computer niches, technology stations, and recycling centers all designed in an open floor plan that seamlessly integrates the kitchen with the great room (family room) and dining area.” Jorge has been in business for more than 12 years designing and building custom residences throughout Florida. Based on his observations of changing lifestyle needs in the function and design of the kitchen, he shares his top three trade secrets for creating a modern multi-tasking kitchen.

Create Work Stations:

Today’s kitchen has to handle all types of household business from paying bills to doing homework. The modern floor plan contains workstations and task-oriented cabinetry to facilitate daily life. Cabinetry design features accessibility and convenience with fewer overhead cabinets and more lift-up or sliding doors and pull out drawers at arm’s reach.  Work areas can include a baking station with tray drawers, the food prep area, the coffee bar, and custom storage compartments for appliances. “I design the kitchen to include architectural elements such as wall niches and bump-outs to store coffee machines and other appliances or to showcase dinnerware.”

A computer niche in the kitchen can serve as a satellite home office allowing members of the family to research recipes, do homework, pay bills, and shop online. “The kitchen computer niche is another feature that brings the family together in the heart of the home. It keeps the kids out of the formal office and allows supervision of their online activities.”

According to the American Institute of Architects’ recent design trends survey, 43 percent of architects polled saw an increase in demand for computer areas in the kitchen. “The last few years have seen kitchens take on new functions with dedicated computer areas and recharging stations,” says the AIA.

Although everything can be done wireless, Jorge says some clients want the option of a CAT 5 connection point in the kitchen.

Create an Entry Drop Zone:

The corridor leading from the garage to the kitchen is an ideal space to serve as a drop zone. Jorge designs this area with a bench and under seating storage for people to sit, remove and store shoes. The entrance corridor also features upper cabinets for sports gear and backpacks and wall pegs to hang jackets, umbrellas and other articles of clothing. A countertop serves as a technology docking area to recharge phones and other electronic devices. Underneath the countertop are   filing drawers to store household paperwork. The drop zone frees up the kitchen to focus on other tasks and prevents clutter. “I design this area to be just as architecturally relevant as the rest of the house even though its function is solely utilitarian.”

Jorge enhances the look of the drop zone by adding an arch or beam header to integrate wood elements. The bench base is accented in travertine or stone with cedar wood doors that open to storage compartments underneath. The upper cabinets feature distressed wood complimenting the beam and cedar doors below. The pegboard is an opportunity to introduce clever design elements such as antique hardware and family memorabilia.

Create Social Spaces:

A well-designed kitchen island is essential for entertaining in today’s kitchen. Jorge designs the kitchen island with a minimum of 42” clearance all the way around and a 36”-high bar top that is level with the island. “If you don’t have the space, make the island smaller or reconfigure the kitchen so it’s bigger. Don’t cramp the kitchen. You’ll regret it.”

Jorge recommends consulting with the supplier of the countertop surface during the design phase so there are no issues with the sizing and installation of the countertop with the base cabinetry. “This is a common and costly mistake people make. They build the kitchen cabinetry months before they look at their stone countertop options only to discover the pieces aren’t large enough. So, they end up with a seam in the middle of the island and pay for two slabs instead of one.” Countertop stone selection is a team effort with the kitchen designer, cabinet manufacturer, builder and homeowner.

A social kitchen is one where entertaining happens indoors and outdoors. The trend in home design is to merge the outdoor and indoor living space. The location of the kitchen is key to this successful integration. “People gravitate towards the kitchen. By locating the kitchen next to the outdoor living space, it will pull people outside. Essentially, the kitchen becomes part of an indoor-outdoor party room by adding sliding glass walls to create one space. The outdoor kitchen can handle the grilling while the indoor kitchen serves as the food prep area and a window over the sink can open up to pass through beverages.”

Today’s kitchen takes on many roles, designed to be the cook, the entertainer and the household manager. For more kitchen design tips check out “Trade Secrets by Jorge,” on YouTube and If you have questions or comments about your own kitchen design, post us a picture and write us on facebook