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Heathrow Woods Country Club Residence

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design, Uncategorized, Video Episodes | No Comments

Terra-Cotta Exterior & Tower Entry Gives Heathrow Woods Home Curb Appeal

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This 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri is located in the country club community of Heathrow, just north of Orlando, Florida. Curb appeal comes from its two-story tower entry, a signature of Jorge Ulibarri custom homes. The home’s exterior color of terra-cotta purposely makes a statement differentiating itself from the ubiquitous beige home exteriors in the neighborhood.

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The front door features solid distressed wood for an Old World character with wrought iron embellished windows. Specialty glass windows with wrought iron detailing crown the tower and cast a beautiful light grid on the interior entryway.

The front door to the tower entry is crafted of solid distressed wood giving this 6,300 square foot home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri curb appeal and Old World character. Two wrought iron embellished windows and a window arch infuse the space with natural light. A mosaic stone floor medallion adds to the grand entry and centers below a massive wrought iron chandelier.  Photo Credit: Harvey Smith

The front door to the tower entry is crafted of solid distressed wood giving this 6,300 square foot home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri curb appeal and Old World character. Two wrought iron embellished windows and a window arch infuse the space with natural light. A mosaic stone floor medallion adds to the grand entry and centers below a massive wrought iron chandelier. Photo Credit: Harvey Smith

The home’s Tuscan-inspired kitchen draws its character from its ceiling treatment of undulating barrels, beams and travertine stone insets. A bi-level kitchen island double tasks as the breakfast bar and a work area with stainless appliances to make it modern and of the moment yet in character with rustic accents such as the copper farmhouse sink and decorative copper insets.

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Another standout feature is the coffee station featuring a built-in espresso machine and service niche underneath with a microwave combo oven below.

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The kitchen opens to a two-story great room with a soaring fireplace and an 8-foot high niche made of precast stone. A wrought iron balcony walkway connects the two wings overlooking the family room below.

The two-story great room in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri opens to the kitchen and draws the eye upwards to a soaring fireplace with an 8-foot high niche made of precast stone. A wrought iron balcony walkway connects the two wings and overlooks the family room below. The ceiling treatment showcases a grid of wood beams. Photo credit: Harvey Smith

The two-story great room in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri opens to the kitchen and draws the eye upwards to a soaring fireplace with an 8-foot high niche made of precast stone. A wrought iron balcony walkway connects the two wings and overlooks the family room below. The ceiling treatment showcases a grid of wood beams. Photo credit: Harvey Smith

The wine room in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri is located beneath the floating staircase with a repurposed barrel serving as wine storage. The wrought iron door is custom made and imported from Mexico. The walk-in wine storage also has a cabinet and countertop for wine tasting.

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The formal dining room in this luxury custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri features a ceiling treatment with distressed beams in a crisscross grid with hand printed tile insets. Note the dark stained trim that contrasts with the white walls to give the home its Mediterranean flair.

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The owner’s suite features a barrel ceiling and master bath with a soaking tub that shares a wall with a shower on the other side built for two.

The master bath in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri features a barrel ceiling punctuated by an elegant wrought iron and crystal chandelier with a soaking tub that shares a wall with a shower on the other side built for two. The double entry shower features a wrought iron window overlooking the soaking tub. The master bath exudes Old World elegance with generous use of stone. Photo credit: Harvey Smith

The master bath in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri features a barrel ceiling punctuated by an elegant wrought iron and crystal chandelier with a soaking tub that shares a wall with a shower on the other side built for two. The double-entry shower features a wrought iron window overlooking the soaking tub. The master bath exudes Old World elegance with generous use of stone. Photo credit: Harvey Smith

Master suite closet with crystal chandelier in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri features his and her side with separate entrance.

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The hallway in this 6,300 square foot custom home by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri features a barrel ceiling embellished with travertine stone insets and lit by indirect LED lights.

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The barrel ceiling is echoed throughout the home adding curves to soften the home’s rusticity.

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The plaster walls in the office echo the home’s exterior terra-cotta color. Rich wood detailing includes the distressed double entry wood doors accented with wrought iron pulls, the wood plank ceiling treatment and custom built-in bookshelf. Click below to watch our video tour of this 6,300 square foot Mediterranean home in the latest episode of Trade Secrets by Jorge.

 

 

 

 

Barrel Ceilings That Raise Eyebrows

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design | No Comments
Brick multibarrel ceiling in kitchen of a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Brick multibarrel ceiling in kitchen of a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

A Checklist to Determine if the Barrel Ceiling is the Right Choice

The latest in home design is all about raising sight lines with architectural details. Ceiling treatments that make you look up are the main ingredients of a well-designed home. This attention to the details above is evident in the popularity of the barrel ceiling. “As a custom builder, I get many requests to create a barrel ceiling in the kitchen or a home’s passageways. This type of ceiling treatment has many incarnations that offer homeowners options for materials and price points. The barrel ceiling requires certain bones in a home: truss support, ceiling height etc. Before going forward with this ceiling design option, here is a checklist to determine if the barrel ceiling will work well for your living space,” says Orlando Custom Builder, Jorge Ulibarri. 

Ceiling Height:

faux painted multibarrel ceiling in kitchen of a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

faux painted multibarrel ceiling in kitchen of a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

It’s important to take into account the height of your ceiling because the barrel ceiling will lower the height by 18 inches. Here’s why: the design requires a 12 inch drop to accommodate the radial barrel and 6 inch drop at the end of the barrel to accommodate the beam.

Ceiling Structural Support:

Brick veneer single barrel ceiling in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri. This single barrel ceiling works well for hallways.

Brick veneer single barrel ceiling in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri. This single barrel ceiling works well for hallways.

Not every home’s infrastructure is built to accommodate the design and weight loads of a barrel ceiling. If you want to retrofit or remodel a room to include a barrel ceiling, then you have to reinforce the existing trusses to accommodate the loads or weight of the barrel ceiling. This adds significantly to the cost of the barrel ceiling and should be factored into the budget.

Room Layout:

The barrels must align with the kitchen island and lighting fixtures. Pictured here is a brick multibarrel ceiling in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

The barrels must align with the kitchen island and lighting fixtures. Pictured here is a brick multibarrel ceiling in a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

One of the biggest challenges with this type of ceiling that must determined in advance is the layout of your room. The kitchen is the number one choice to showcase a barrel ceiling. The challenge in the kitchen is to synchronize the layout with the design above. The lighting fixture above the kitchen island must be centered over the island and in the middle of the barrel. The barrels must sync up with the various other kitchen components in a way that makes sense visually and functionally.

Barrel Ceiling Materials:

Single faux painted barrel ceiling in the hallway of a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Single faux painted barrel ceiling in the hallway of a home designed and built by Orlando Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

So you decided your home can accommodate the barrel ceiling. Now it’s time to pick the finishes. When it comes to choosing your design elements, you have several options: soffits, beams, crown molding, tongue and groove, faux finish, travertine tiles and brick veneers. You can chose to go with a single barrel or a multibarrel design. The multibarrel ceiling typically consists of three to four barrels separated by beams. If you are watching your budget, a faux-painted finish for the barrel ceiling is most affordable. If you opt for brick veneer or travertine, you have the choice of a staggered linear pattern that runs parallel to the beams or a herringbone pattern that crisscrosses or a combination of both. Another budgetary consideration: the herringbone pattern in a brick or travertine finish tends to be the more expensive of the two. Wood beams are essential elements of the barrel ceiling. You can go with the more affordable faux wood beams made of drywall or foam. Pricier options include beams made of real wood veneer. For a look at how to create faux wood beams, I invite you to view my Trade Secrets Video on Faux Wood beams as well.

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3 Things to Think About When Wiring Your Home:

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

Our lifestyles and daily habits continually evolve to accommodate the latest technology. In new construction, the challenge is to build a home that is wired for technology today and into the future. Orlando Custom HomeBuilder Jorge Ulibarri suggests three things to think about in the design phase to ensure the home’s electrical wiring will meet the homeowner’s needs.

TV Location and Use:

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Think about the locations and uses of each TV. In the planning stage, the homeowner and builder should discuss where each TV will go and whether the TV will require additional components such as a cable box, DVD player or game console.

For example, will viewers watch the TV in high definition?  If so, the TV requires a cable box. Where will the additional equipment reside? In a closet, hidden from view? Or, in a piece of furniture underneath the TV?

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“Typically, most builders don’t include the additional cost of wiring a TV to its components. Determining these prices in the design phase will help the homeowner make informed decisions and stay within the budget,” says Ulibarri.

Phone Use and Location:

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Today’s landline telephones no longer require a phone jack at each location to function. Instead, the telephone base station hooks to a single phone jack running the phone line through the power line so all other telephones in the home hook to electrical outlets. Think about where the phone base station will reside. That space must be wired with a phone jack. No other phone jacks are needed in the home. Think about where the additional telephones will go, so that there are electrical outlets to plug into.

Consider a USB Electrical Outlet:

Leviton USB Charger

Leviton USB Charger

One of the latest developments in home automation is the electrical outlet with USB ports for charging technological tools such as tablets, cell phones and computers. Leviton recently introduced a 20 AMP USB Charger Receptacle. It’s a standard receptacle with two USB ports that incorporate a smart chip from Texas Instruments allowing the device to speak with the receptacle to understand what needs to be powered and optimize the power efficiency.

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The USB Charger Receptacle fits in a standard box and wires like any other receptacle. “This is an affordable way for homeowners to upgrade their electrical outlets to accommodate today’s technology,” explains Ulibarri. Leviton’s USB Charger Receptacle retails for $20.

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

The Electric Fireplace, A Hot Property in Home Design for 2013

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Fireplace design, Video Episodes | No Comments
Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames

Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames

Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames
www.modernflames.com

One of the latest trends to light up a room is the electric fireplace. Recently, I attended the International Builders’ Show in Vegas where electric fireplaces were the hot property in home design. There are several reasons why:

Electric Fireplaces are Affordable:

Electric Fireplace by Hearth & Home

Electric Fireplace by Hearth & Home

A gas or wood burning fireplace can cost you approximately $3,000 to purchase and install plus the cost of the gas lines, which can run as much as $400.  An electric fireplace costs approximately $1,000.

Electric Fireplaces Can be Installed in Any Room:

Electric Fireplace by Hearth & Home

Electric Fireplace by Hearth & Home

Because electric fireplaces don’t require ventilation, they can go in any room with a 120 Volt electrical outlet to plug into. The electric fireplace simply hangs from the wall so the possibilities are endless.

Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames

Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames

Imagine an electric fireplace flickering nearby while soaking in your tub, reading fireside in your family room or enjoying an al fresco evening by the flickering light of your outdoor living room hearth.

Electric Fireplaces Go with Any Décor:

Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames

Electric Fireplace by Modern Flames

Manufacturers are capitalizing on this trend in the hearth industry launching new electric fireplace product lines in many styles. These electric fireplaces have cool capabilities that traditional fireplaces just can’t pull off. Some have colored LED backlighting that can be programmed to rotate up to nine different colors or remain constant. The base of the firebox can feature stones or a glass rocks.

Electric Fireplace by Hearth & Home

Electric Fireplace by Hearth & Home

In order to appreciate the beauty of these affordable faux fireplaces, I put together a Vlog with some video clips so you can really appreciate how an electric fireplace can light up a room.

5 Tips to Pick the Perfect Stone Slab

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

 

granite kitchen backsplash in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite kitchen backsplash in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Natural stone gives any room rich and timeless character but picking the perfect piece of stone for your kitchen countertops can be tricky business. Since it’s a natural material, no two lots or pallets of stone are alike. Each harvest from the quarry has its own unique characteristics and appearance. Selecting the ideal stone surface not only involves a good eye but a clear understanding of the material. Here are a few money-saving tips to help you pick the perfect stone slab for your home’s countertops and kitchen island.

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

 Pick the Slab Before Building the Kitchen Island and Counters:

A common mistake homeowners make is selecting a stone slab that doesn’t fit the kitchen counters and island.  Hakan Collu, Owner of International Tile and Stone, recommends that homeowners pick the stone slab first then design the countertops and island to fit the stone surfaces. “This is a big mistake that can cost money and detract from the look of the stone. Kitchen design should be collaboration between the designer/builder and the stone supplier to avoid waste and extra cost,” says Collu.  When the kitchen island is built too large for the stone selected, the homeowner has to buy an extra slab and ends up with an unattractive seam. Also, certain colors of stone are limited to certain sizes. To get the maximum use of the slab, pick it out first, then build the island to fit.

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Understand the Stone’s Durability and Limitations:

White Carrera marble is the popular choice these days for countertops; it’s also a stone that requires regular maintenance and care. “Homeowners need to understand the stone’s characteristics and limitations so there are realistic expectations about the stone’s durability.”   Marble is not as durable as granite; it stains, scratches and cuts.  Travertine, a type of limestone, is a softer stone and is more absorbent making it vulnerable to stains.

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Ask HOW the Stone is Priced:

Stone can be priced per square foot or by the piece.  It’s important to ask what is included in the price of the stone. Ask whether the countertop and island CAD design, the stone slab’s custom cut, and it’s installation are included in the price.

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Lay the Slab Down to See How Light Reflects:

Stone slabs typically are displayed standing upright. When looking at stone piece, lay it down to see how light reflects. This will give you an accurate representation of the way the stone will look lying flat as a countertop. It allows you to show the stonecutter the area of the stone you want highlighted in the custom cut. Also, this is a good way to inspect the stone for fissures that are harder to see when the stone slab is standing upright.

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Ask if the Stone Has a Sealer:

A quality sealer can extend the lifetime and durability of natural stone. The Marble Institute of America says that most granite countertops do not need to be sealed. Granite is stronger, more resistant to scratches and more durable than most stone surfaces. Most granite slabs are factory treated with a resin coating to fill in micro-fissures, indentations and other imperfections. Marble is a good candidate for a quality sealer because it is vulnerable to mild acids commonly found in the kitchen. If you do choose to seal the stone countertop, The Marble Institute of America recommends using a quality sealer that is resistant to water and oil and has a life expectancy of ten to fifteen years and

Look for Remnant Stone:

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

granite countertop in home designed and built by Orlando Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Sometimes, great deals are available with remnant stone. This is stone that was leftover from a custom cut. By choosing stone scraps, you can find an exotic stone piece for a fraction of the cost. These stone scraps are ideal for small areas such as niches and half baths. For more money-saving tips and design ideas, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets, available on YouTube.

Three Tips for A Tree-Filled Lot

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

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The Costs and Considerations When Constructing on a Tree-Filled Lot

Trees, especially mature ones, typically enhance the value and beauty of a lot for home construction. Many homebuyers want an idyllic setting for their dream home framed by a canopy of trees but this can add to the cost of the homebuilding process. A lack of trees is a telltale sign of cheap development. We all know it’s easier to clear the property of all trees than selectively keep trees in the process.

The extra cost for building on a tree-filled lot can be worth it as long as the homebuyer weighs all the costs and benefits associated with preserving the trees. Here’s a look at some issues to consider when purchasing a lot with trees.

Evaluate the Root System:

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Evaluate the root systems located close to the home’s foundation. Mature trees on smaller properties have deeply entrenched roots that can affect the foundation of a home. If the lot is being redeveloped and an existing structure is torn down to make way for a new home, the existing root structure may have to be removed thus killing existing trees. If the lot is being cleared for construction, it’s important to avoid placing the foundation on or near an existing root system that can grow into the pipes and the underground infrastructure over time.

Consider the Treetop Canopy:

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The logistics can be more complicated thereby adding to the overall cost of construction. Construction equipment also can damage the existing trees.

Consult with City & County About Drainage:

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Consult with City and County authorities about drainage requirements. Consider the relationship between the trees and drainage. A common oversight when attempting to keep the trees during construction is the failure to understand the relationship between the trees and the site’s drainage. The drainage design is one of the most important elements of home site development. It is critical to check drainage requirements and finished floor elevations for the lot with both city and county authorities. This must happen prior to making the decision of which trees to preserve.

City and county engineers create the master plan of a development. They determine how a piece of property must drain and the soil height requirement to build on. The level of the soil is known as the grade elevation. It plays a critical role in conserving the existing trees on a lot. Here’s why: If the city or county requires a higher soil grade elevation than what’s in existence, the builder must bring in fill or extra dirt. This extra soil can smother tree roots effectively killing them. If the city or county requires a lower soil grade elevation, then the builder must remove soil, which can expose tree roots killing them as well. Sometimes the city or county will require shallow rainwater retention ponds on site that can affect the tree root system on the property.

The smaller the lot, the more critical are the abovementioned factors in the construction process. For more money-saving new construction tips and design ideas, subscribe to the video series, Trade Secrets, available on YouTube.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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

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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.

Cast Stone for Affordable Timeless Touches

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

Another money-saving idea to add luxury to your living space

Cast stone range hood in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Cast stone range hood in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

For centuries, cast stone has been used in some of the world’s most celebrated monuments and architectural works. Today, cast stone remains a popular architectural element for its cost and durability. In custom homes, cast stone is often the material of choice for a variety of ornamental details including the fireplace mantle, range hood, windowsills, columns, crown molding and even baseboard. Florida Custom Home Builder Jorge Ulibarri uses cast stone or architectural precast in most of his homes as an affordable architectural detail that gives the home character and its timeless appeal.

His latest example is a Tuscan-style home on Park Avenue in Winter Park, Florida. The home will feature cast stone details throughout including cast stone interior window stills. It’s an original architectural touch that creates a dramatic visual impact and adds to the home’s timeworn style.  “The cast stone window stills are considered an upgrade from the wood window sills that I typically include with my homes. The cost for the cast stone upgrade is approximately $40 dollars more per sill but far more affordable than real stone,” says Jorge.

What is Cast Stone or Architectural Precast?

According to the Architectural Precast Association (APA), cast stone and architectural precast are comprised of

Cast Stone windowsill and door surround on winery in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

cement, sand, water, pigment and additives to achieve a finish that simulates natural stone. This cement aggregate is poured into a mold and cured to create a variety of shapes and structures. Cast stone products can look like a variety of natural building stones including but not limited to limestone, granite, slate, travertine or marble.

The APA calls the production of architectural cast stone an art form. “When done properly, this product provides the owner with a beautiful, lower cost structure that will maintain its aesthetic properties for many decades,” says Fred McGee, former executive director of the Architectural Precast Association.

The use of cast stone has a long and storied history. The APA says the earliest known use of cast stone dates about to the year 1138 and was seen at Carcassonne, France, the Cite, which contains the finest remains of medieval fortification in Europe. Cast stone was first used extensively in London in the year 1900 and gained widespread acceptance in America in 1920.

The Advantage of Cast Stone over Natural Stone

For ornamentation, Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri prefers cast stone to natural cut building stone for its affordability, durability, and its ability to simulate the look of natural stone.  “Cast stone weathers better than natural stone. It is structurally stronger when properly reinforced and it offers a consistent look for trim or ornamentation that natural cut stone does not.”

Ideas to Enhance Your Living Space with Cast Stone

Cast stone fireplace mantle in a home designed and built by Florida Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri

Precast stone is a luxurious and timeless architectural detail that can enhance the style of any home. It’s affordable when used in high profile, small spaces. Some potential uses of precast stone include: columns, windowsills and door surrounds and entries, and cladding, fireplace mantles. For more affordable design tips, check out the series Trade Secrets by Jorge on YouTube and Vimeo.