home design tips Archives - cornerstonecustomconstruction

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. www.imyourbuilder.com

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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.


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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

Wood floor planks that frame a space are another option.

wood floor planks frame a polished travertine floor, designed and built by Jorge Ulibarri, www.imyourbuilder.com

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

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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, www.imyourbuilder.com

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.

Tips for Creating Tuscan Curb Appeal and Ambiance

By | Custom Home Construction, Custom Home Design, Kitchen Design, Video Episodes | 3 Comments
[youtube width=”600″ height=”365″ video_id=”CKgiprLBQz4″]

Many of us are enthralled by the timeless architecture and breathtaking beauty of the Tuscan countryside. It’s a style that is emulated here in the United States, especially in similar climates such as Florida. Whether you are building a home or looking to remodel, you can bring this same European charm to your own home. Check out the latest episode of Trade Secrets as Custom Builder Jorge Ulibarri and host Karen LeBlanc take you on a tour of Villa Tuscany and share with you some affordable architectural accents that created its Tuscan curb appeal and ambiance. We invite you to share this video with others if you find the information helpful and check out other episodes of Trade Secrets on youtube