Monthly Archives

December 2012

The Curb Appeal Power of the Tower

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | No Comments

 

Tower Entry of Villa DiLusso, a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entry of Villa DiLusso, a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Eye-catching curb appeal, the kind neighbors rave about and passerby’s stop and admire, comes from a key focal point on the home’s exterior. The tower entry is a stunning visual anchor that goes with a variety of architectural styles and lends itself to almost any lot configuration and floor plan layout.

Tower Entry on a home on Park Ave in Winter Park, Florida designed and built by  Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entry on a home on Park Ave in Winter Park, Florida designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

It adds movement and character to a home’s elevation and creates a memorable first impression by making a grand entrance. Imagine entering into a lobby with a 24-foot high ceiling embellished with beams, a majestic chandelier and a spiral staircase that winds along the wall resting at a marble floor medallion. Such a grand entrance sets the tone of the home before anyone steps into the main living spaces.

Ceiling view of tower entry on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Ceiling view of tower entry on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

In addition to its aesthetic value, the tower entrance is functional square footage when it accommodates the staircase. Without the staircase, the tower entry could be considered wasted, showy space adding a lot of square footage to the home with little function.

For Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri, the tower entrance is his signature trademark. Jorge says it’s the architectural ideal of form and function. “The tower entrance creates a dramatic lobby with high ceilings and provides the space for a spiral floating staircase so it optimizes square footage,” says Jorge. He adds this architectural feature to many styles including Mediterranean, Contemporary and variations in between.

HUNTER´S RESIDENCE 46A copia

Tower Entry Front Facing on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entry Front Facing on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Tower Entrance Design Options:

There are two options with the placement of the tower entrance: the center or a corner of the home. The choice of where to place the tower entrance is a personal preference.

Center Tower Entrance:

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

When the tower is situated in the center of the home’s elevation, the design is limited to an entrance on a 45-degree angle. The front door cannot face the street because the spiral staircase won’t have enough distance from its starting point to provide clearance for people to pass underneath into the main living space.

Corner Tower Entrance:

Corner Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Corner Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The corner tower entrance is ideal because it is already situated on a 45-degree angle. This design allows the front door to face the street since it’s already an angle. A corner tower entrance provides enough space for the spiraling staircase to start either to the left or right of the front door, allowing enough clearance for people to pass through.

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Center Tower Entrance on home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

For more design ideas and money-saving new construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets, available on YouTube.

The Mod-Mediterranean Home: Tips for Modernizing Old World Architecture

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Fireplace design, Kitchen Design | 3 Comments

Ideas for Blending Old World and Modern Design

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

In warmer, sunny climates such as Florida and California, Mediterranean architecture remains a popular style. Mediterranean architecture has many incarnations influenced by Tuscan, Spanish and Old World styles, Lately, there’s a new twist to the Mediterranean home gaining traction in some parts of the country known as Mod-Mediterranean.

Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri says the majority of his clients are asking for Old World architecture with a blend of rustic and contemporary interiors. “People want something new and fresh. They have style fatigue but won’t let go Mediterranean altogether. They don’t want the overdone, heavy- handed, embellished take on Mediterranean. Instead, clients are asking for a toned down version with rich, rustic materials balanced with sleek, clean contemporary elements,” explains Jorge.

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

The challenge is to seamlessly integrate these two distinct styles. “There must be a balance between rustic and contemporary elements so that one style doesn’t overpower the other. The two styles should not compete but rather complement each other,” Jorge explains. “The style often is referred to as eclectic but it’s not an accurate depiction of the Mod-Mediterranean. Eclectic can be chaotic design and décor, a mishmash of many styles, while Mod-Mediterranean is a very calculated, strategic design with key focal points.” Jorge suggests using contemporary elements in the details and rustic elements in large surface areas.

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Here are several key focal points for blending Old World and Modern Design elements in a Mod-Mediterranean Home.

Kitchen Cabinetry, Fixtures, and Hardware:

sIMG_5550

Modern-Mediterranean kitchen designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean kitchen designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

In the kitchen, infuse modern design elements with cabinetry, hardware and fixtures and integrate rustic materials in the flooring, beams and walls. Stainless steel appliances and stainless steel cabinet doors, flat panel cabinetry and indirect lighting give the room a contemporary edge. Rustic elements come in with travertine floors, wood kitchen beams, even a brick barrel tile ceiling provides an ideal canvas to showcase contemporary kitchen features.

Fireplaces Featuring Rustic and Modern Elements:

Modern-Mediterranean fireplace designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean fireplace designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

A fireplace is a high profile opportunity to integrate modern and Old World design. Consider framing ledge stone and sleek wood panels around a stainless steel fireplace with glass rocks. The hearth niche can showcase a mix of glass mosaics and stone mosaics to merge two distinct styles.

Rustic Floors with Modern Medallions:

Modern-Mediterranean foyer designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean foyer designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Stone floors such as chiseled-edge travertine add the rustic tone to a home but carry a lot of visual weight. Rustic floors can dominate and overshadow contemporary elements, so it’s important to compliment stone floors with strong accents in furniture, fixtures, cabinetry and contemporary bright colors. Modern floor medallions with shiny stone or glass can pull in the contemporary elements around the home.

Indirect Lighting Throughout:

Indirect LED lighted hallway in a Modern-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Indirect LED lighted hallway in a Modern-Mediterranean home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Indirect lighting is a defining feature of the Mod-Mediterranean home. A great way to add indirect lighting is with drop-down soffits that not only house the indirect lighting but also add contemporary lines to any room.

Water and Fire Elements:

WaterFeature

Water and fire features such as a fountain pot or water torches around the pool mix primal elements with modern design and give the home that Mod-Mediterranean edge outdoors.

Floating Features:

FLoatingVanity1

Floating vanities and bathtubs and hanging cabinetry in bathrooms accented with indirect lighting underneath give any room a modern flair. Counterbalance with glass, stone and metal mosaics mixed in as design accents and perhaps rustic beams for a blended look.

 

For more design ideas and money-saving new construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets, available on YouTube.

4 Home Design Trends Changing the Way We Live in 2013

By | Building Green, Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design | No Comments
Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Modern-Mediterranean Exterior of home designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri

Clean Simple Curb Appeal is driving design trends for 2013, custom home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Although the housing market is slowly rebounding, Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri says the tough economy is driving several trends in the new home market: the elimination of formal living spaces; unified interior and exterior space; clean, simple design and pools for entertainment and exercise, going green for energy savings.

Clean, Simple Design

_MG_6047 flat

 

As a result of more cost-conscious design and construction, Jorge says consumers are moving away from ornate styles preferring a more eclectic look that showcases simple lines and clean design. “Clients want exterior design that has interesting movement and lines but without all the twists, turns and unusual spaces that overdone design creates,” says Jorge. Inside, clients want sleek fixtures, furniture and finishes that don’t overpower the architecture and bones of the home. Jorge says a style very popular with his clients is Mod-Mediterranean, a blend of Old World and contemporary elements.

Elimination of Formal Living Spaces:

The kitchen and Grand room   seamlessly blend together replacing a formal living room in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The kitchen and Grand room seamlessly blend together replacing a formal living room in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Clients want practical, functional space as opposed to the voluminous showy square footage of the past. As a result, the formal living room is disappearing from floorplans replaced by a grand family room. Jorge says some of his clients also are eliminating the formal dining room opting instead for a dining/breakfast nook area.

Unified Interior and Exterior Living Spaces:

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

Jorge says clients want every inch of their living space to count. They are asking for floorplans that seamlessly integrate the interior and exterior living space. Indoor-outdoor living spaces are designed so that it’s hard to detect the boundaries between the two.  “I’m talking about a new breed of outdoor living where the finishes, fixtures and décor match the interior. Designs of the past were not in sync with the interiors but completely distinct with defined themes.”

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

NanaWall seamlessly blends and extends the indoors to the outdoors, photo courtesy of NanaWall

Swimming Pools for Exercise and Entertainment

OutDoor Pool Living by Ann Rue Interiors

OutDoor Pool Living by Ann Rue Interiors

For years, there were two popular choices for the pool: the Mediterranean theme defined by a quatrefoil design, water pots and pergolas or a lagoon-style pool with a kidney-shaped design, boulders and cascading waterfalls. Jorge says today’s pools are built for entertaining and exercise with clean lines and a stylishly sleek look.

Rectangle pool in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Rectangle pool in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The pools are elongated so people can swim laps and have new social features such as swim up seating and water platforms for sunbathing. Some new pool designs flow into covered areas for shady relaxation.

Building Green is More About Energy Efficiency Than the Environment

When it comes to building green, consumers have changed their view and priorities. They are more concerned with energy efficiency rather than the environment. Jorge says green building remains a popular concept with clients in theory but in practice is often cost-prohibitive. “Clients are building with tighter budgets these days because they don’t want to invest all of their net worth into their home after experiencing the housing bust. A lot of green features cost extra upfront. Clients still want energy-efficient appliances, windows, and heating and air systems. These green features are affordable but other green features are considered upgrades in most budgets and not essential.”

For more money-saving design ideas and new construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets by Jorge, available on YouTube.

3 Tips for Picking the Perfect Lot

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design | No Comments

Rendering of Villa Alexina, designed by Orlando Custom Homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

So you’ve found the perfect lot to build your dream home. Before you sign the contract, beware that the sticker price isn’t the total purchase cost. Many consumers fail to factor in ALL costs associated with preparing the lot for new home construction.

Looks can be very deceiving when it comes to land purchases and there are many hidden costs that only surface with the proper tests and data checks. Florida custom homebuilder Jorge Ulibarri has helped many clients find the perfect lot, working together with real estate agents as part of the “lot search team.”  Jorge says ideally, buyers should include the builder in the lot selection process. “The homebuilder knows what it will take to make the land buildable. He can guide the client in asking the right questions and seeking critical information that will save money and headaches in the building process,” says Jorge, who designs and builds custom homes throughout Central Florida.  To help you pick the perfect lot for your dream home, here are three important tips:

Get A Land Survey

Before you sign the purchase contract on a lot, it’s advisable to order a land survey that includes topographic information showing the existing grade elevations of the lot.

Soil Test the Lot

No matter what geographic area you build in, there will be special land considerations that affect the foundation of your new home. To avoid any unforeseen issues such foundation shifts and cracks due to unstable soil or in the case of Florida, sinkholes and muck, hire an engineering company to do soil testing. Soil tests will determine if the land is suitable for construction.

When you order your soil testing there are two types to request: Preliminary Testing, which costs approximately $500, and Extensive Testing, which costs approximately $2,500. Preliminary testing will take soil samples or bores  as deep as  six feet and typically include  five soil samples per half acre lot. You can request more samples  to increase the test’s accuracy. Preliminary Testing  is not foolproof.  It can fail to detect potential soil issues such as muck that can add to the cost of the lot because it will require sand fill.  Extensive Testing  makes soil borings down 20 feet for a more accurate picture of the lot’s condition.  The extra upfront costs with Extensive Testing  is well worth it because it can save you thousands of dollars in hidden costs to prep a lot for construction and  prevent you from purchasing an unsuitable lot.

Crosscheck ALL Setbacks

In some cases, there are multiple setback requirements that affect the orientation and design of a new home. It’s important to investigate and crosscheck all setback requirements of your lot. Call the county or municipality where your lot is located to find out the construction setbacks and finished floor elevations.  The later will become a crucial piece of information once you get your topographic survey.  With the finished floor elevations and your topographic survey, you will be able to determine the amount of fill that your lot requires in order to achieve your finished floor elevation.

If your lot is located in an HOA governed development, get a copy of the HOA bylaws to verify your construction setbacks from the developer or HOA.  Sometimes there is a difference between the county setback and HOA setback requirements and you must abide by the most stringent setbacks. This is a common mistake consumers make only to realize it after they have purchased the lot and have started the design and construction process.

Make sure you check if your lot is located on a flood zone. If it is located in a flood zone, make sure that your surveyor notes the designated  flood zone.  If the county has not determined the flood zone that your lot is in then  you will be paying a very high premium for flood insurance.

For more money-saving construction tips, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets available on YouTube.