Category Archives: home design

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR MINIMIZING WESTERN SUN EXPOSURE IN ARIZONA CUSTOM HOMES

Minimizing the Impact of Arizona’s Intense Sun When Designing and Building a Custom Home

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As Arizona custom home builders, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC  the position of the house as it relates the sun has always been an important consideration.  In Arizona, north or south exposures have always been the most desirable direction for a house as it sits on a lot.  In some subdivisions, the lots with north or south exposures are offered at a premium to east or west facing lots.  In some well-planned subdivisions, nearly all of the vacant lots have north and south exposures.   There is usually a main vehicular artery in the neighborhood that prohibits this completely, but as many lots as possible are created with north or south exposures.  In other parts of the country this may not be as important as in Arizona.  Outlined below are five common strategies for minimizing western sun exposures in Arizona custom homes. 

1)  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we work with our customers and their architect or home designer with the placement of the house on the lot for the best sun exposure, minimizing the worst sun exposures.  Turning the layout of the house on the plan, perhaps just angling the house slightly can affect how the sun’s rays hit the house and any western exposures.  Continue reading

SPANISH COLONIAL… EVER POPULAR HOME DESIGN

Arizona Custom Homes…  Spanish Colonial

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There is something totally unique about Arizona custom homes.  The homes in Arizona are not like any other part of the country.  Some may say, “Santa Fe”.  Perhaps, though many of the homes in Santa Fe are true to the Mission or Territorial architectural styles.   As a custom home builder, California actually serves are a great inspiration source for our Arizona custom homes.  It isn’t the inspiration of new homes in northern San Diego, but sometimes it’s the old, but true classics found in San Marino and Pasadena. The old Spanish influenced homes with fully arched windows, white smooth stucco,  red terra cotta roofs and big heavily carved wood doors, this architecture still inspires Arizona custom homes.  Spanish Colonial makes one think of Billy Wilder’s film, Double Indemnity as Fred MacMurray approaches such a house to renew an insurance policy only to find a dangerous and sultry Barbara Stanwyck.  Watch the first minute or so of the clip to get the feel of the Spanish Colonial as Fred MacMurry approaches the front door.  .

The Spanish Colonial home design is what; at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, is our term for the custom home that resembles the home highlighted in the movie clip.  This is probably not termed correctly to the professional designer or architect, but the custom homes we build today rarely seem true to one particular style.    Continue reading

CUSTOM HOMES… EVER POPULAR SPLIT FLOOR PLANS

Still Strong, The Split Floor plan

Ever strong in Arizona custom homes is the split floor plan.  The split floor plan is not limited to high-end custom homes.  It is a very popular floor plan for homes of any size.  Simply, this floor plan places the master bedroom on one side of the house.  The secondary bedrooms are located on the opposite side of the house.  The family room, kitchen and public rooms of the house are placed between the bedrooms in the center of the house.  This sets the master bedroom apart from the rest of the house helping achieve the master retreat feel.  The floor plan may not work for everyone, but for families with teenagers it works out great.  Loud music or slumber party laughter doesn’t usually travel to the master retreat on the other side of a house.  It is sometimes referred to as the Mother-in-Law floor plan.  This floor plan works with any home style from Santa Barbara, Tuscan, Spanish Colonial to traditional ranch.

The attached floor plan is an example of a split floor plan.  The master retreat is on one side of the house and the secondary bedrooms are on the other side of the house.  The master retreat has a guest bedroom on the same side of the house.  In this plan, the guest bedroom includes two entrances, one from within the house and a private exterior door located under the covered loggia. This floor plan can be modified if the entrance within the house is not desired creating more privacy for the guest quarters as well as the master retreat.

As custom home builders in Arizona, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we stay abreast of changes in floor plans, home styles and various amenities.  We built our first split floor plan in 1990, yet this plan had been popular in Arizona long before that.  This is a floor plan that has staying power and offers a custom home buyer good resale value. 

Split floor plan in a Tuscan Courtyard style custom home

Split floor plan in a Tuscan Courtyard style custom home

ARIZONA CUSTOM HOMES… WOOD BEAMS AS POPULAR ARCHITECTURAL FEATURES

Tuscan, Andalusian, Spanish Colonial… Including Wood Beams Compliments Many Home Styles

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Popular Arizona custom home styles include Tuscan, Andalusian, and Spanish Colonial.  When designing, planning and building a custom home, at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, it is never our intent to imitate a Tuscan villa as though it were physically moved from Tuscany and relocated in Scottsdale.  It is more a reflection of the Tuscan style incorporating the best of the features into our own Arizona desert lifestyle.  One of the most beautiful architectural features found in these homes are wood beams.  Wood beams are often used inside the house, on the exterior of the house, and on patio ramadas.  Some are actual structural support systems, while others are complementary architectural details. Continue reading

BUILDING THE CUSTOM HOME MINDFUL OF BACKYARD SPORTS

Tennis Anyone?  Golf Anyone?  …In the Backyard?

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In Arizona, not all yards are large enough for a tennis court, but many Arizona backyards are large enough for a sport court, putting green, batting cage, trampoline pit, or skateboard ramp.  Popular in Arizona, are small sport courts and half-court basketball, as shown in the photos here.  Courts can be used for multiple purposes, or dedicated to one sport.  Whether it is a half-court for basketball as shown here, or multi-sport court for volleyball, tennis or badminton, each comes in an array of colors and designs.  Because these are custom courts, each court is built to meet the unique needs of the custom homebuyer and designed for the specific space available. 

There are several types of surfaces and choosing the correct surface depends on the intended activity.  Many of these sport courts are made of a modular polypropylene surface with an interlocking design, and placed over a draining system.  Most surfaces are smooth and non-abrasive and come in a variety of UV protected colors and designs.  When running or jumping on the surface, it offers some ‘give’ helping absorb shock and minimize impact to the knees and joints.  Many are virtually maintenance free.  Continue reading

STONE… THE NEWEST ‘OLD’ LOOK IN THE CUSTOM HOME

As an Arizona Custom Home Builder, We See Stone and Stone Veneer Showing Up Everywhere!

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More often than not lately, as a custom home builder, we are incorporating stone to the front of custom homes, around fireplaces, wet bars, swimming pools, and other accent areas of the home.  Stone can fit with almost any architectural styles from modern and contemporary to the Old-World looks of Tuscan and Andalusian. Usually the stone is not authentic stone, but recreated using unique molding methods that capture the finest details of natural stone. These recreated stones offer the authentic and natural beauty of real stone at a fraction of the cost.  There are several advantages to using faux stone or stone veneer, it is lighter weight and allows easy installation over any existing surface without requiring additional support or foundations.

The color choices are phenomenal including light gray, soft creams, golden umbers, and light coffee to deep rich quarry tones.  The varieties of styles are also endless.  The stone can be stacked without the look of grout, or it can be a hybrid of horizontally oriented fieldstones and ledge stones with chiseled edges.  For the popular Tuscany look the stone can be over grouted, meaning the pasty look of the grout covers the stone as well as the joints and gives it the Old World look. 

For the near future it seems stone veneer is here to stay.  The quality and functionality continue to improve with new manufacturing methods and the natural beauty of stone endures.  The stone veneer on the custom homes shown below have been placed in selected locations, particularly on the two pop-outs of the front elevation and the over turret above the entryway.  The second photo is stone on a Tuscan style home and emphasizes how stone added to the rear of a custom home completes the look and complements the outside living area.

CUSTOM HOME LAUNDRY ROOMS… FOR MORE THAN LAUNDRY!

Custom Home Laundry Rooms Complete with Storage and Multiple Washers

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At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, laundry rooms are often times more than laundry rooms. They become utility rooms, larger than closets, sometimes even containing a closet as in the photo included here.  This laundry room houses two washers and two dryers.  These custom homebuyers preferred having two washers and two dryers in one location.  The family wanted to get their dirty laundry to one room where all of the work could be done.  Other custom home buyers prefer having two separate laundry rooms, perhaps one upstairs and one downstairs, or one in the master closet, it depends on the family and what the specific needs might be.  Continue reading

THINKING OF A CUSTOM HOME? WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STEP?

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Many potential customers at Woodridge Custom Builders LLC often ask us how to get started when thinking of a custom home.  First, there is not really a right or wrong way to get started.  Some of our customers find us after they have purchased the land or lot for the home, others want our help in this area.  Some are referred to us by previous customers.  Some are referred to us through our network of architects and home designers as they work on their house plans.  Outlined below is an overview of the custom home building process.  Detailed construction steps are not included here.

Planning and Preparation:  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we believe that each project is an investment for our customers therefore each home we build is a signature of our work.  A fantastic benefit of building custom homes is helping our customers realize your desires for your dream home.  Each one of our customers has unique lifestyle preferences and we take great pride working closely with you to create a home where you and your family can enjoy your personal lifestyle. 

Home Site Selection:  If you don’t already have a lot for your custom home, we can help you find the ideal location for your dream home.  We are familiar with many of the prominent custom home communities in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Chandler, Rio Verde, Cave Creek, Tempe, and Carefree.  We’ll need to find out if you want the natural beauty of our Arizona desert landscaping, the greens of a golf course or mountain views.  What size of a custom home would interest you?  What architectural style interests you?  Once we understand exactly where your interests lie, we can focus our attention on an ideal neighborhood for you and family.

Floor Plans and Illustrations:  When the lot is selected, we partner with you and your architect or home designer to help design a home that will fit your family’s unique needs.  We begin working on a set of house plans designed for your lot.  With your lot selected, we can design the house for maximum views, best layout for minimizing western exposures and maximizing north and south exposures.  The home designer will want to know what home style you prefer, Tuscan, Santa Barbara, Andalusian, Spanish Colonial, Hacienda, or contemporary.  This is the first time your vision is transferred to paper.  We encourage you to bring in a collection of photos, magazine clippings, preliminary designs, a rough floor plan and any other visual tool helping transfer your ideas to a floor plan, elevations, and illustrations. 

Materials:  While the floor plan is formalized, we can begin working on the home’s materials and details.  Exterior stone, exterior color, stain colors, gates, wrought iron accents, formal entry door, driveway materials, exterior fireplace and grill locations must be made.  Then we’ll ask you to make similar selections for the interior of the house including cabinet style, counter surfaces, flooring materials, door style, door hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting fixtures among other selections. You will work with our suppliers and visit showrooms to make these selections.  For example, if you choose granite materials, you will actually walk the warehouse and select your own slabs of granite.   Once the floor plan, elevation and materials are selected, each can be submitted to your design review committee for approval.

Bidding Process:  When you have made the many selections for your home, we can begin the bidding process.  We bid competitively each and every project to get you the best possible price for your home.  Our tradesmen are proven and talented contractors that understand we bid each and every job.  We will discuss and contemplate the cost and efficiencies of different designs, structural features, and material selections.  We believe its better for you to take your time making material selections and receive an accurate bid based on these selections, than get a rough estimate up front.  When working with our suppliers and showroom professionals they can assist you with selections that keep your budget in mind.

Permitting:  During the design review committee approval process, all required documents are professionally gathered and submitted to the city for permitting.  The length of this permitting process varies per city but can take anywhere from two to eight weeks.   During this time we will walk through the plan together on paper and specifically review the materials you have selected and mark the specific location of these materials on the plan. 

Construction:  After proper planning, design review approval and city approval we can break ground.  There are various phases of construction beginning with site preparation, the foundation, the vertical stage, the roof dry-in phase, the rough mechanical and rough electrical phase, insulation, lathe, stucco, drywall and trim stage, interior finish stage, cabinets and interior trim detail, finish electrical, plumbing, and mechanical stage, flooring stage, and finally a finish and final clean phase. 

Progress:  During the construction process, you’re welcome to visit the jobsite and see the progress on your home.  During several phases of construction you’ll be asked to re-evaluate or confirm your selections for the location of telephone outlets, light switches, soap dishes, and other details that had only been done on paper before.  As much as possible we keep our jobsites as clean and free of debris as possible, yet during major construction activities this can be difficult, since your safety is our concern, we encourage you to walk the jobsite with the project manager.  If your having your home built while you live elsewhere, you can have private access within our website where photos and updates of your home’s construction will be posted.

Inspections:  Throughout the construction process, your home will go through various inspections by the city to assure that your home is built consistent with the required building codes.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, we are proud to offer our customers additional inspections throughout the home building process by an independent inspector.  We are proud of our work and welcome an independent inspector on the job to keep our subcontractors as judicious in quality as we are.  Our customers appreciate the openness with which we encourage an independent inspector.

Final Approval:  Once the city has approved the completed project and issued a certificate of occupancy, you’re closer to moving in.  Before taking possession we will walk through the home and identify any items that need correction before moving day.  You will receive a warranty booklet and directions on maintenance of the new products in your home.  When all the punch list of items has been addressed, moving day has arrived.

Your Custom Home:  You deserve a custom-designed and built home that will bring your family years of enjoyment.  Your home is unique for your character and lifestyle preferences, it is a place to be proud of especially because or your own influences from the design and layout, to material selections, to the finishing touches.  It is your dream home!

CUSTOM HOMES… THE AT-HOME COFFEE BAR

Our Love for Coffee Hits the Master Suite

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In custom homes built by Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, a new trend is to include a coffee brewing area or ‘coffee bar’ in the master suite and/or kitchen.  For some coffee lovers, getting the coffee maker going in the morning is as important as starting the shower and grabbing the morning paper.  So for coffee lovers requiring that cup of Joe in the morning while getting roused, up and ready to face a great day, it makes sense to these coffee lovers to include a coffee bar in the master suite.  Placing a small coffee maker in the master suite minimizes the numerous trips to the kitchen to start the coffee, to get the cup of coffee, and possibly a refill. 

The photos below highlight, a coffee bar area was built into this master suite area.  The space was actually designed as one of two large master closets.  These custom home buyers decided one of the closets was too large and its particular large size of no use them.  So they reduced the size of one of the master closets and created this coffee bar.  The coffee bar is about four feet wide.  The area includes a 48” granite countertop that includes a wet bar sink for obtaining water for the coffee and an under-counter refrigerator for storing cream.  Since only one of the homeowners was a coffee drinker, the under-counter refrigerator also stores bottled water and bottled orange juice.  Upper cabinets provide storage for cups, filters, coffee and other supplies.  This area, although an afterthought to the original house plans, provides a functional and delightful use of the space.  Decorative wallpaper with a coffee theme and coffee accessories add to the charm of the coffee bar.   

Although these homeowners elected to use a coffee maker that rests on the counter, there are more and more built-in coffee makers designed for home use.  At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC, our custom home buyers visit with Andy Welemin of Westar Kitchen and Bath, Tempe, Arizona ( www.westar-sw.com) for assistance with appliances when making selections for a custom home.  Westar Kitchen and Bath represents a wide variety of appliance manufacturers, including those that produce terrific built-in coffee-makers and under-counter refrigerators.

 

FAKE GRASS IN A CUSTOM HOME? DRAMATIC RESULTS!

The Popularity of Fake Grass and the Forever Green Lawn

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In Arizona grass lawns are at a premium.  Not naturally indigenous to the Sonoran desert areas of Arizona, grass is a landscape amenity.  Grass lawns are not possible in Arizona without a well-planned and well-managed sprinkler system.  Look at it like the perpetual golf course, never breaking for fall and winter.  Finding the perfect low-maintenance alternative to the green lawn is the desert landscape strategy.  Planting low-water use plants in rock gardens is a very popular desert landscaping technique in Arizona.  Many of these plants are absolutely stunning and include many varieties of flowering plants.  Yet to some, there is nothing like that green lawn that says, “home”. 

At Woodridge Custom Builders LLC we have recently had one of our custom home buyers use an alternative to the unnatural green lawns in Arizona with the latest alternative, synthetic grass or fake grass.  This waterless, low-maintenance solution looked absolutely fantastic in this homeowner’s lawn.  We were amazed at house natural, realistic, beautiful and functional it turned out.  The custom home buyer used the synthetic grass in the front yard, and backyard where he had also installed a putting green.  The pictures below show the beautiful results of this lawn. Continue reading