IF YOU’VE BUILT WITH US IN THE PAST EIGHT YEARS, CHANCES ARE YOU’VE WORKED WITH OUR ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTSMAN JASON HALVERSON. HE’S BEEN AN INVALUABLE ASSET EVER SINCE HE CAME ON BOARD, DESIGNING SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING AND UNIQUE HOMES IN THE ROCHESTER, MN AREA. ‘CUSTOM’ HAS A WHOLE NEW MEANING WHEN WORKING WITH JASON.
Word has spread about his work, though, so his days are *extremely* busy… but we got lucky and found a few minutes to sit down with him and hear his stories from a career in architecture. For this one, we thought the best way to show you what Jason thinks was to let you hear it for yourself. Put your headphones in and scroll down to hear his opinions on home-building, the Rochester market, and why North House by R. Fleming is a step above the competition!
“A lot of people think they’re going to go to a builder and they have a model and they’ll be able to customize it, and change things here and there – which is a custom home. We’re customizing a home to the way you want to live, which we do a lot of. A lot of people have a hard time visualizing what a house would look like from a blank sheet of paper, and it scares a lot of people, so they’ll go off a house we’ve already done or a model house, where they can see the rooms, feel the sizes, and then they might say ‘I want a closet here, I want to change the way this lays out,’ but they can still have a visualization of what that room’s going to feel like. I’d say 80 percent of people go that route because it’s an easier fit for them.
A total custom house, which is where we’ll be the best fit for our clients, is a blank sheet of paper. You tell me your wants and your needs, how many bedrooms you want in the house, maybe some Pinterest ideas, and I’m designing something that’s a one-of-a-kind house. NO one’s ever touched it. You’ll have something that’s not like anybody else’s house. Those are obviously the funnest projects for me to work on, but it’s a lot of blind faith that they have to have, you know, that their vision is being accomplished through my design. But that’s a total custom, where a lot of builders just can’t offer that to people. The only [other] route you can get that is going through an architect, hiring an architect to design your house, but then you’re going to drop $60-80,000 in fees, where that’s a service we offer to our clients as part of our process.
“After I graduated college, I worked for probably four or five different architectural firms – commercial firms, residential firms, mechanical – trying to find out which area of the industry I wanted to stay in. I did commercial for about two years, where you’re working on schools or hospitals, but it’s like, I was stuck on one hospital for a year and a half…. and that’s how long those projects take. I soon found out my passion was in residential. I’ve always loved the residential side. You don’t need to be a licensed architect to do residential, and I had all the CAD experience and knew all the software, so I worked with a local guy for about a year and then I partnered with him. We had a partnership where we owned a company and did residential design. Then 2008 happened.
Everything closed down, so I went a different avenue and started doing sales in the building industry, and about three years later I came back and reopened my own company, Drafting Design Studios, and started doing design work again. At that point, R. Fleming reached out to me to start designing houses for them, and about six months later they reached out about coming on board with them and overseeing the construction of their houses, being more of an exclusive designer, because they saw the designs they were able to get were different than anyone else. They didn’t want to share the same design style with all the other builders, so they saw the opportunity to kind of be a special niche in the market.
I did that for a while with them… and then, you know, Bob is pretty much semi-retired, and I stepped into those shoes, and now I’m overseeing all construction. You start with me from the beginning of design, and you’re with me through construction. I oversee everything all the way to the end. You’re working with the same guy from start to finish, which is something that’s not normal in this industry.
“Homework, up front. A lot of times, they can get frustrated with the timeframe it takes to design a total custom home from scratch. So, if they’re just saying ‘oh, we want four bedrooms,’ this and that, and I’m doing it maybe the way I would design my personal house or the way I think it is… it might not be the way they envisioned it. So if they have a wants and needs list, or some kind of vision of how they want it to lay out, it’s going to make my job way easier.
Whether it’s like, ‘hey, we want a great room towards the back of the house, and it to be all glass,’ or ‘we want the flow to work like this or that,’ any kind of input they can give me – doesn’t have to be a floor plan, just the way they want their home to flow and function – is going to make my job a lot easier, because I’m trying to capture their vision, but I’m not in their head to know what that looks like. I’m trying, through their words, to put it on paper.”
“Let’s say you want to build a $600,000 house. In-house, I’m going to be designing your house to fit your budget – so if you show me a million-dollar floor plan that you wanted to imitate, I’ll tell you flat out that you’re not going to be able to get all that, because your budget is 600 – so we have to cut out this and that, get to a certain square footage, and style to meet your budget.
A lot of people that fall into this same category will outsource, go to another draftsman that’s in town, because you know, builders use the same pool of three or four draftsmen that are available. They’ll design your house the exact way you want it, you’ll bring it back to a builder, they’ll bid it out, and your budget – that was $600,000 – is now $750,000 or 800,000. So you’re instantly frustrated… you’ve wasted two, three, sometimes six months of your time to get a plan designed that’s now $200,000 over budget, that you can’t even build. You spent all that time and money and effort to basically design a pretty picture that you can do nothing with.
Doing it in-house, I handle all the pricing. I get all the bids, I gather everything and do all the numbers, so I have a really good feel of the market and what things cost. When I’m designing, I’m keeping that all in mind, so when we get the pricing back, it’s not going to be something that’s going to deteriorate and make you upset that you wasted time or didn’t come to anything that you could afford.”
“You get the drawing in front of you, and I have you come in and we make a night of it. We have beer and pizza, and we’re having my AutoCAD right up on the big screen in front of you. We’re designing the house together. I’m pushing and pulling walls, going through different scenarios of how different rooms could lay out. Maybe you want to see a bathroom a different way, I do it, and you’re like ‘never mind, I don’t like it.’ We undo it, and we’re really doing it together, so you feel like you’re a part of the design process – not just ‘I have to do what this guy’s idea was.’ No! We’re using your ideas and my ideas.
We’re collaborating together. When you leave that meeting, which will save you months of time going back-and-forth, you’ll leave with excitement that ‘this is my house,’ and you’ll feel like this was you. Even though I was pushing the buttons and moving the mouse, you designed that house for yourself, so you’re going to feel like it was a total custom design.”
“I’ve always wanted to build houses. The hardest part of being an architectural designer is that you design the house and kind of move on from there. You never get to see the finished product, unless you really just drive around to every house you ever designed. So, to be able to, from the ground up, be a part of the whole process, that’s the direction I always wanted to go. So R. Fleming was an awesome fit. They saw it, I saw it – it was going to be a perfect career path for both of us to go.
It helped me in the way of being able to understand the construction side more, and the pricing. That’s the hard part, even from school – they teach you about the basics, but until you go out to the job site and see how it’s actually built… now you understand how things should be drawn, because the framer on-site is going to look at your plan and either going to hate you or appreciate you, based on the way you’re designing things and how they go together. So seeing things actually being built on site makes it easier to know how things actually go together in the real world, to design it too – which will save the customer money if you’re making things not as complicated.
“We’re a very versatile builder, to the point where we don’t just build million-dollar houses. WE don’t just build $500-600,000 houses. We can build you a house whether your budget is $500,000 or $5 million. What we pride ourselves on is… you’re not getting a different crew. You’re not getting the A, B, or C crew depending on the house you do. Whether it’s a $5 million house or $500,000 house, that’s your top dollar. Typically, when you’re building a house, that’s your all-in budget – so why should it be any less of a quality home because you’re not spending $500,000 or $5 million? You’re getting the same crew no matter what.
We use the same guys, the same quality, the same warranty, and that’s what I think we offer differently than everyone else, that we’re seeing different, because now we’re getting all ends of the market. That’s why we’re building so many houses now, because we can fit everyone’s needs – whether you’re doing the multi-million route or if you’re just getting into a first home, a starter, entry-level home.
We’ll fit your bill, basically.”
To hear more from Jason, check out our other blogs – featuring insider information on how to navigate the Rochester, MN home market, client testimonials, and behind-the-scenes looks into how we do our job every day.
WE’VE BEEN BUILDING HOMES FOR A LONG TIME – EVEN THOUGH NORTH HOUSE IS ONLY A YEAR OLD, OUR R. FLEMING CONSTRUCTION TEAM HAS BEEN IN THE MARKET SINCE THE 80S. IN THAT TIME, WE’VE SEEN SO MANY DIFFERENT FACETS OF HOME-BUILDING – FROM THE PLANNING AND CONSTRUCTION TO THE LAST TOUCHES OF INTERIOR DESIGN – CHANGE DRAMATICALLY.
Of course, every home we build is different, but there’s still accessories and home layout ideas that fall in and out of popularity as the years go by. Here’s five trends we’ve noticed gaining traction in Rochester recently – from floor plans to fake bookshelves, this is what’s popular with our clients right now.
OPEN FLOOR PLANS
If you’ve ever watched HGTV before, this isn’t news to you. Interior walls are OUT, and open-concept flooring is IN. Watch those home improvement shows and see how quickly the term “open concept” gets used – normally, it doesn’t take long.
The calling to knock down those interior walls has been in vogue for years, and there’s no sign of it slowing down, according to North House team lead Drew Fleming.
“It is such a buzzword,” says Drew. “I don’t know exactly when things turned, but now absolutely everybody wants an open floor plan right now.”
Regardless of the type of home you’re interested in (rambler, two-story, etc.), two dueling floor plans have emerged as favorites: the ‘bowling alley’ and ‘hinge’ concepts.
The “bowling alley” concept is simple: you could roll a bowling ball through the doors connecting the dining room, kitchen, and living room, and it would go from wall-to-wall. The ‘hinge’ concept centers around one room and spreads outwards – meaning the various rooms in your house are set up in a circular fashion.
“It just depends on what you want,” said Jason Halverson, our architectural draftsman. “Do you want to see everything as soon as you walk in, or do you want to guide people throughout the house to see it all?”
THE COVID SPECIAL: HOME OFFICES & WORKOUT ROOMS
About a third of America is still working from home, even a year-plus after the first day the word ‘covid’ entered our vocabulary. With just about every building closed for at least a couple months in 2020 (and capacity restrictions in place for much longer), everything was happening at home – not just eating and resting, but work, exercise, and so much more.
While those capacity restrictions have eased for the most part, over a third of America is still working from home, and a similar amount say they’re primarily working out at home as well. Those stats check out with what we’re seeing… home offices & workout rooms weren’t unheard ofbefore Covid, but now they’re a must-have for a big chunk of the people we work with.
THE ‘SECRET ROOM’
If you have the option, why not add a little bit of intrigue to your interior? Drew says the walk-in pantry has become a popular option, commonly hidden behind a set of cabinets. Reveal the secret, and it’s like a whole extra room appears out of nowhere!
After seeing the pantry concept succeed, Drew and Jason have been researching how to build on the “secret room” idea. The next step for them will be hiding an entire extra room – think a guest bedroom or an office – behind a fake bookshelf.
“It looks exactly like a bookshelf, but it has hinges and everything,” says Drew. “It looks like something straight out of Harry Potter.”
NO DINING ROOM
Dining rooms used to be a major focal point of a house, but more and more families have found that it sits empty for every day of the year besides Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“People just don’t do them anymore,” says Jason. “What’s the point? It hardly gets used for most of the year. That space can easily be better used in so many other ways.”
If that space gets converted into, say, an office, the kitchen becomes the new dining room. When designing a new home, people are opting for larger islands and counter space – ditching the formal “dinner time” for extra space to get a quick bite to eat at any hour.
If you don’t use a bathtub, why put one in your master bathroom?
That’s the conclusion more families are coming to, opting instead to put in a “master shower.” Beyond simply sitting unused most of the time, tubs take up lots of space in a bathroom – so by getting rid of it, there’s more room to add on other features to the bathroom, or just simply make the shower that much bigger.
The largest master showers, Jason says, are nearly a ‘secret room’ in themselves.
“You can walk in one door, take a shower, and walk right out [the other],” says Jason. “It reminds me a little of a car wash.”
No matter what you want in your next home, we can help make it happen. These trends are just a few options we’ve seen gain popularity in the past few years, but the way your next home looks is entirely up to you when you work with us – and thanks to our experience and efficiency, we can turn your dreams into reality quicker and better than almost anyone else.
“A lot of people are really shocked by how much we can do,” Drew says. “I think some people go into the building process thinking they’re going to hear ‘no, we can’t do that,’ so when we can say ‘actually, yes we can do that! Have you thought about adding this on?,’ it’s fun to see people’s faces light up.”
THE VISION OF A BRAND-NEW CUSTOM HOME HAS LIKELY DANCED AROUND YOUR HEAD FOR A WHILE, BUT WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE? DOES IT INCLUDE EVERYTHING? WE WANT TO MAKE SURE YOUR VISION COVERS THE ENTIRE PROJECT – BECAUSE THE FIRST (AND POSSIBLY THE MOST IMPORTANT) PART OF THE PROCESS IS ALL ABOUT FINDING THE LAND YOUR HOME WILL SIT ON.
Right now, with demand for new homes far outpacing supply, we’ve found the process is harder than most people realize.
“It’s probably the hardest part of the whole [home-building] process,” says Drew Fleming, the North House team lead. “It’s hard to find a lot that works with budgets, because prices are going higher and higher, and it’s also hard to find the lots that people want. Everyone wants a wooded lot, but those are in even higher demand.”
Finding a lot can be a complicated process, and isn’t always the most transparent one either: in addition to land on the public market, there’s also land that stays in private hands. Finding the right lot can simply come down to who you know… so it’s a good thing we know lots of people.
It really is a complicated process that’s typically not very transparent: in addition to the land on the public market, there’s land that stays in private hands through the whole process. Finding the right lot can simply come down to who you know… so it’s a good thing we know lots of people.
This is where North House’s partnership with R. Fleming Construction can pay dividends for our clients. We build in different developments all over the city, so we know about many (or – forgive us – lots of) lots that will never hit the open market. If you come to us, we can point you in the right direction to a lot you may have never known about.
“We’re unique because we specialize in new construction, so we know about new land,” Drew says. “You’ll have agents at other agencies that specialize in new development, but they might only know about ‘their’ dirt.”
TO SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATE ROCHESTER’S LAND OF LOTS, HERE’S FOUR TIPS FROM DREW:
1. Know your budget up front. “If your budget is $500,000, don’t spend six figures on a lot. You won’t be able to build a house if you do that. You’ve got to know what your all-in budget is before you sign anything.”
2. Know who you’re working with. “I would recommend working with someone who specializes in new construction, because not all agents will know the right questions to ask and how best to guide you.”
3. Be realistic. “Those two-acre lots, on a lake, with golf views? They’re not the lots you’ll find for $50,000. That’s the tough part about it.”
4. Expand your horizons. “There’s lots in Mantorville, Pine Island, you name it, everywhere around the area. We like to keep tabs on what’s going on all around the area – just so we know.”
If you’re having trouble finding a lot, just reach out to the team. We’ll go through our directory of lots (public and private, in R. Fleming developments and elsewhere) and help you create a list of options that’ll work for you.
Finding the perfect lot is an art: a little bit of networking, a little bit of inside knowledge, and a lot of travel — picking up on where the next developments will go.
“It’s important you know about the land that’s upcoming, otherwise you’ll never be told,” says Jason Halverson, our architectural draftsman. “Drew literally drives around and looks at dirt.”
WE KNOW THAT A HOUSE IS NOTHING WITHOUT A SOLID FOUNDATION. IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF BUILDING A HOME, EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE MOST VISIBLE: WITHOUT STRONG FOUNDATIONS, A HOUSE CAN’T STAND.
We like to think of our twelve-step building process in a similar way: without a good foundation, how will we know what the client wants? How will the client know what to expect?
The “foundation” of our build process is the first conversation we have with our clients, which we call a “discovery session.” It’s our first chance to formally meet and exchange ideas, which influences everything that comes afterwards.
“It’s the most important step,” says Jason Halverson, our lead architectural draftsman. “It lays the groundwork for everything else. That’s our moment to become people they like, and the people they trust.”
It’s kind of like a mutual interview: we know you’re looking for the right builder, and we’re listening for clues to see how we can help you in the best way. We call it a “discovery session” because we’re discovering things about each other: we learn about you and what you want in a house, and you’re learning about how North House operates and what we can provide.
If we connect in this first meeting, then the rest of the twelve-step process feels like a breeze.
“It’s blind dating for home building,” said Drew Fleming, North House’s team lead.
We like to lay everything on the table during our discovery sessions: how financing works, when to get bank pre-approval (ASAP!!), laying out how much time you have to prepare, and walking you through the Buildertrend app, among much else. We want to be as transparent as we can before the build process starts, so you know exactly what to expect as we start to build your house – because as Jason says, the planning and building process is very detailed.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” says Jason. “A lot of people don’t know how much they have to select, and how customizable it is. I think this meeting is what sets us apart – the details are important to us. The more transparent we are with the details, the more comfortable the clients are.”
Typically, this meeting normally takes around 30 minutes, but in some cases, we’ve talked with clients for much longer – sometimes, we’ll build plans together for a few hours! It’s common for clients to come in with a general idea of what they want, but leave with new perspectives on what they can afford, based on our advice.
“By the time the meeting finishes, people might be building a completely different house, because they’re like ‘I didn’t know I could do that!’” Jason says. “When the meeting goes long, we’re already getting into next steps.”
There’s no financial commitment required to meet with us, but we’re proud to say that the vast majority of our discovery session clients stick with us to build their home. We try to provide the knowledge and advice our clients need to make a smart decision, and let them decide how fast they want to move – although we’ve found people normally leave these sessions excited for the future, ready to work as soon as they can.
“The discovery meeting gets people moving… they realize that they can move forward a lot faster than they thought,” says Drew. “It sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s true: once people find out their house is within their reach, they’ll move mountains. They’ll do anything to make it happen.”
AFTER DEALING IN EXCLUSIVELY NEW CONSTRUCTION FOR YEARS, IT’S BEEN VERY REWARDING TO GET OUR FEET WET IN THE ART OF REMODELING — KEEPING THE INITIAL CHARM OF A HOME INTACT, WHILE MODERNIZING IT AND MAKING THE SPACE FRESH AND NEW FOR OUR CLIENTS. WE’RE PROUD OF THE PROJECTS WE’VE FINISHED SO FAR, AND WE BELIEVE OUR CLIENTS ARE TOO — BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT.
About a year ago, Chandra Shenoy moved into a home in Rochester’s Historic Southwest neighborhood that we affectionately call “The Red Barn.” It was a dream realized for Chandra, who took a liking to the neighborhood as soon as she saw it for the first time.
“I had always wanted to live in this area after I started going for runs through Soldiers Field Park along the Rochester trails, and discovered its charm,” said Chandra.
The Red Barn has a fantastic backstory: it was originally built in 1927 for Newton Holland, the namesake of Newt’s restaurant and man behind the beautification project that planted our beautiful downtown boulevard trees. Harold Crawford designed the home – he’s a notable Rochester architect that designed Mayowood, the old Rochester Public Library (now part of the Mayo Medical School) and hundreds of other homes on “Pill Hill.”
A house with so much history deserves to age gracefully and look great, and Chandra knew she would be the one to make it happen when the house appeared on the market as a fixer-upper in early 2019.
“I found the house through my Realtor, and knew I had to move fast,” Chandra says.
We helped Chandra remodel the kitchen, dining room, living room, the upstairs bathroom and both bedrooms, fireplace, workout room, and added a half bath downstairs — almost every inch of the 768 square-foot interior!
All of this was done while she was working full-time, so she had to rely on our team — and the Buildertrend app — to keep things organized and on schedule.
“Having design assistance, planning and architecture assistance, and contracting assistance was huge to keep the stress manageable during this project,” Chandra says. “Having a calendar available was great. It was well-organized and kept all the moving pieces in one place.”
Since moving in late 2019, Chandra’s fully settled into the “house that Newton & Harold built,” and it’s working out perfectly — the house has its original charm, but we added a modern flair that makes this a one-of-a-kind project. We were incredibly proud to work on a house with so much history, and we’re glad to say that Chandra enjoyed having us bring her vision to life.
“Everybody at North House was so great to work with!” said Chandra. “Bob and Jason were so knowledgeable and easygoing, and the whole thing was so organized. I even came in under budget. I would definitely recommend North House to anyone!”
LET’S BE REAL. WE CAN WRITE AS MANY ARTICLES AS WE WANT, DETAILING HOW WE CAN HELP YOU IN EVERY FACET OF THE HOUSING INDUSTRY – BUT WHEN IT COMES DOWN TO IT, THE MOST IMPORTANT VOICE TO HEAR FROM IS OUR CUSTOMERS. THEY’RE THE ONES THAT END UP LIVING IN THE HOUSES, AFTER ALL!
We’re proud to say there’s lots of happy stories to tell. Let’s start with Zach Wygant, whose family built with us back in 2016.
Zach and his wife Jenna were looking to become first-time homeowners in Rochester, and were interested in building new instead of playing the market. They searched around the city for weeks to find a builder they were comfortable with, without much luck – until they sat down with Bob, Jason, and the rest of the R. Fleming Construction team.
“We met with three other builders for in-person meetings to try to find the right fit for us,” said Zach. “Our meeting with North House was different in such a positive way. We left the meeting feeling confident that they were right for us.”
Zach and Jenna decided to be one of the first families to build in the second phase of the Highlands at Hundred Acre Woods neighborhood, near Eastwood Golf Course.
Bob decided to set lot prices below market value, which created a niche for homes in the $300-750,000 range – just inside the Wygant’s price range. They originally wanted to spend right around $300,000, but decided during the build process that they wanted to upgrade a few accessories.
It pushed the price up a little bit, but Zach says it ended up working out. He and Jenna still had to make some difficult decisions on what they had to have – and looking back, he thinks they walked the line perfectly.
“This was our first house, and we wanted to keep it very reasonable,” said Zach. “We ended up spending about $330,000, and we were very happy with what we got for that amount. I felt like we ended up with the exact price and type of house that we needed.”
Every home we build – and by extension, every family we work with – is a little different, with wants and needs that can change as the build process evolves. In this case, Zach wanted to be able to work on the house himself, and we bought into that idea wholeheartedly – why not give the homeowner the freedom to add their own personal touches?
“They absolutely paid greater attention to detail and our needs and wants, much more than other builders we met with,” said Zach.
The Wygants moved in during the summer of 2016, and as the neighborhood has sprung up around them, Zach says it’s been smooth sailing in their new home.
“We’ve been in our house for almost four and a half years, and it’s been amazing,” said Zach. “There’s been minimal issues with the house after moving in, if any. We love the neighborhood and everything we chose for the house.”
Now, with the first few years of home ownership under their belt, Zach says the family’s next project isn’t far off. Their family has grown since moving in, welcoming a daughter two years ago, and they’re looking for more space.
After having a great experience with North House the first time, deciding on the builder for their next house was a no-brainer – and that makes us feel good.
“We’re planning on building more of our dream house with North House in the next year,” said Zach. “We can’t wait!”
We can’t wait either… we’ve had such a great time working with Zach and Jenna. Thanks for trusting us with your vision!
IF YOU’RE IN THE MARKET FOR A HOUSE RIGHT NOW, YOU’LL KNOW THAT IT’S THE MOST LOPSIDED SELLER’S MARKET IN YEARS. HOUSES ARE BEING SNAPPED UP IN A MATTER OF DAYS – SOMETIMES HOURS – AND INCREASINGLY, THE ONES LEFT ON THE MARKET NEED WORK. A LOT OF WORK…
Inside North House by R.Fleming HQ, that got us thinking… what if we combined our talents in real estate and construction to help people turn a fixer upper into the perfect home for them?
Our founder Bob Fleming did some research into some programs being piloted on the coasts, and is now ready to announce a brand new remodeling program.
“No one in this area does anything like this,” Bob says.
IT’S CALLED THE BUYER RENOVATION PROGRAM, AND HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:
While searching the housing market, you find a home with good bones, but it needs a remodel in some rooms – or throughout the entire house.
When you tour the home, we’ll be alongside you, estimating how much a remodel would cost for each room.
Once we have the final number (list price plus remodel cost) agreed upon, R. Fleming Construction will put in the offer on the home. We handle all the banking up-front, which ends up saving you time and money – more on that later.
Once we get the keys to the house, we immediately get to work on the remodeling projects we approved together. Clients can stay up to date on the progress through the Buildertrend app.
When the projects are finished, that’s it! We’ll sell the home to you, and hand over the keys to your fully remodeled home!
It really is that simple: you find the house, we buy it and renovate it, and then sell it back to you!
“It helps the homeowner because they only need one mortgage, not a separate home mortgage and remodeling loan,” says Bob. “There’s no need to combine anything – it’s all done on our end.”
We’re uniquely positioned to be able to offer this program, which is why we think it’s going to work so well – what other local construction company has its own in-house real estate team on standby? The Buyer Renovation Program combines our best strengths, and puts them to work for you. That’s what we’ve always strived to do, and we hope this program helps us realize that goal.
“Our world is just about solving people’s problems,” Bob adds. “That’s just what we do for a living. Right now the listings are gone in minutes, or they last forever because it’s a bad house. This program is going to be a great way to help us solve that problem.”
BUILDING YOUR NEW HOME IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST DECISIONS A FAMILY CAN MAKE – AND ONCE YOU DECIDE TO START THE PROCESS, THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL HURDLE TO CLEAR IS SECURING A HOME LOAN.
If you’re planning to expand into a new home and already have a mortgage, chances are your lender will require that your first home is sold before they’ll sign off on giving you the funds to pursue the next home. This is a common stipulation in the home-buying process, but it raises another question: when’s the right time to sell, and how long will you have to wait?
If you’re in this position, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to worry. Now, we can offer you some peace of mind, through a new program we’re rolling out this spring. With our Purchase Guarantee Program, we’ll sign a purchase agreement for your house up front, and if you can’t sell your home during the building process, we’ll buy it from you. Seriously.
This is an idea that’s been piloted on the coasts, and we’re so excited to bring it to Rochester. There’s a few key points that we think will make this program a major success:
ENABLES YOU TO START BUILDING NOW:
Time is everything, and this program helps you get started on the build process much faster than waiting for the bank’s approval.
GUARANTEES THE SALE OF YOUR HOUSE:
You can search for better offers, of course, but we can give you some certainty ahead of time with a competitive offer.
LOCKS IN INTEREST RATES:
With historically low interest rates right now, there’s literally never been a better time to lock in your rates on a new house.
DON’T HAVE TO DO A ‘DOUBLE MOVE’:
You won’t be stuck in a rental house or apartment, waiting for your new house to be finished. Once the house is done, you can seamlessly move out of your old one and into your new one – that simple.
We think this innovative new program is a win-win for the people that need to use it: shovels go in the ground earlier for your new house, and you’re guaranteed to have a buyer. Throughout the build process, you can weigh the offers that come in and make sure you take the best one – through North House’s real estate wing, of course.
Bob Fleming, founder of R. Fleming Construction, says it’s unlike any other program offered in Rochester right now – it gives the seller more options and relieves the headaches of navigating the market, while expediting the process on the construction end.
“It gives our clients the flexibility to move forward,” Bob says. “It also gives them a guarantee… they know ‘okay, my house is going to get me this much money. If I can do better, great, but if not, at least I know the floor.’ It crosses off a lot of unanswered questions that people normally have.”
If this program sounds right for you, let’s chat! You can reach us at (507) 933-0289.
AT R. FLEMING CONSTRUCTION, WE’RE ALL ABOUT EFFICIENCY AND MAKING THE HOME-BUILDING PROCESS EASIER FOR OUR CLIENTS. YOU MIGHT NOT BELIEVE US, BUT WE DO THINK IT’S POSSIBLE TO MAKE BUILDING YOUR DREAM HOME A LOW-STRESS EXPERIENCE. HOW? COMMUNICATION.
For the past five years, we’ve used the Buildertrend app to keep our clients involved every step of the way. Before Buildertrend, the only way to do that was through constant phone calls and visits to the job site… but now, everything you need to know is in the palm of your hand.
“Communication is the most important thing, and it’s the biggest complaint we used to hear,” Bob says. “Before we started using Buildertrend, we were so bombarded with phone calls asking for updates – but this app gives the client all the information.”
On the client end of the app, you’ll see your project plotted out and scheduled in advance. Whatever it entails, we have projects plotted down to the day, all the way from the first dig day to the final walk-through. All your purchase agreements, cost allowances, and contractor contacts are included as well, so every bit of your home’s information goes wherever you go.
Our lead architectural draftsman Jason Halverson says it’s completely overhauled the communication process between client, builder, and contractor.
“It just gets rid of so many headaches,” Jason says. “If the client takes ten minutes and plays around with the tools, they can find everything they need. This system can answer 99 percent of their questions.”
But the benefits don’t stop there. Because we have every project planned out months in advance, we’re first on the calendar for our subcontractors. Your project, then, is a priority for everyone we work with.
“Contractors schedule us way before they schedule other builders,” Bob says. “They make other builders work around our schedule, because they know when [Buildertrend] says to be there…they gotta be there.”
To make a long story short, Buildertrend has revolutionized the way we plan to build a home. Everyone moves more efficiently when the plan is in one, easily accessible location. It helps our contractors plan for the future, it helps the homebuyer know exactly what’s happening without visiting the site themselves, and honestly? It makes us better at our jobs.
Five years ago, we were just learning a new piece of software. Now, it’s something we can’t live without.
DURING THIS YEAR-LONG PANDEMIC, PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CONFINED TO THEIR HOMES MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE REALIZING THAT THEIR “NEW NORMAL” REQUIRES MORE SPACE FOR THEIR HOUSE TO ACT AS A HOME AND AN OFFICE AT THE SAME TIME — NEEDS THAT WEREN’T THERE ORIGINALLY.
The housing market, though, has not responded to meet high demand, meaning there’s an incredibly small number of homes ready to sell. This new environment has led more and more families to the same thought: if the right home isn’t already out there, why not improve the space they’re already in?
“Right now is the perfect time to renovate,” says Bob Fleming, our owner and founder. “People aren’t finding much on the open market, so they’re largely deciding to stay in their current place and add the things they need instead.”
If you’re looking for an easy way to add value to your home and update the space you live in, a remodel may be the perfect option for you — and we can help! You might know us for new construction, but remodeling is in our arsenal too. That in itself, says our chief of operations Jason Halverson, sets us apart from the competition.
“Most builders, they’re geared towards new construction,” says Jason. “It’s rare to have a company that deals in both [new & remodeling]… normally it’s one or the other. Now, we can help you either way.”
Jason says some of the most common projects he’s working on right now include bathroom and kitchen remodels — historically the likeliest rooms in a house to undergo remodeling. Recently, though, more clients have been coming to us looking to add open space to their home — whether it’s outdoor space like a deck or screened-in porch, or renovating/adding indoor space to create an office.
In this new environment where working from home has become more common than ever, Jason says the North House by R. Fleming remodeling business has been booming — because after a year spent largely cooped up in the same house, families are finding ways to add on extra space any way they can.
“We’ve done decks, we’ve done kitchen overhauls, we’ve added on thousand-square-foot additions to houses,” says Halverson. “Whatever the clients need, we’re ready to help.”
A screened-in deck we designed and built in SE Rochester.
Our remodeling process is very similar to our new build process — we go through the same “discovery session” to find out exactly what you want, keep you close at hand throughout the entire design process, and agree on a budget that will take care of all your needs, all with 100 percent transparency and honesty.
Above all, we just want you to know that we’re here to help you in any avenue of the construction/building industry. If your home is feeling a little small right now and your family could use a change, feel free to give us a call.
We can give you advice on whether your needs would be best fit by renovating what you already have, or searching the market for something new entirely. We’re not going to push you one way or another — we’ll just give you the information you need to make a sound decision.
“It’s really on a case by case basis,” says Jason. “You have the pros and cons of both, and then the customer decides. I don’t really think there’s a wrong answer.”
HERE AT R. FLEMING CONSTRUCTION, WE’VE SPENT OVER 30 YEARS BUILDING HOMES WITH PASSION AND CARE.
That same passion goes into everything we do at North House, but we’re able to combine our expertise in construction and real estate to give you an all-encompassing home-building experience. Through our collective decades on the job, we’ve boiled down the key discussions and crossroads that lead us from the first ideation session to a finished house — and put them into twelve simple steps.
Before you work with us, take a look at how we’ll work with you.
It’s about hearing your ideas, your dreams, and your financial situation. These are casual, no-pressure conversations — just for us to find out how we can best help you. The most rewarding work in building a home, says our owner Bob Fleming, is done before a shovel ever hits the ground.
“We’ll sit with you and work through the process,” says Fleming. “We can come up with ideas that, maybe, neither one of us started out with, but it works out. That happens a lot, actually — we bounce ideas off of each other in these meetings, and that’s why it’s so important.”
#4: LOT SELECTION
A lot of lots (get it?) aren’t made public. Instead, they’re kept private, only viewed by real estate companies and construction firms. If you can’t find the perfect place to build your next home, we’ve got the connections and expertise to solve that problem for you.
#5: DESIGN AGREEMENT; #6: DESIGN PHASE
This is the first point where any financial commitment is required — the conversation phase is free of charge.
Once we enter into a formal agreement, Jason Halverson and the team gets to work designing your home. It’s where ideas start to take shape, and Jason loves to keep the homeowners right by his side as he leads the process.
“I like showing people the details of what we do,” says Halverson. “Sometimes, people don’t realize how much planning needs to go into projects like these. It’s so important to go over what people want vs what they need, and to recognize the difference between the two.”
#7: BIDDING PROCESS; #8: BUILDING; #9: CONSTRUCTION COLLABORATION
Since Bob founded R. Fleming Construction, we’ve worked with the same team of contractors to provide everything from flooring to plumbing. Once we figure out what your home will look like, we reach out to these partners and get bids for the project. When we’ve come to agreements and you approve the final cost, shovels can — at last! — dig in the ground.
If you’ve built in the past (or have heard horror stories from others) about the lack of communication during the building process, you will truly appreciate the Buildertrend app. It’s a construction collaboration app that details exactly what the contractors do each day – so you always know what’s going on at the job site.
“It’s changed the game,” Jason says. “There’s 100 percent transparency through the whole process… it’s just very refreshing for everybody.”
#10: HOME WALK-THROUGH
At this point, your custom home — once just an idea, or a few lines in a computer program — stands tall and proud. Just building the home, though, isn’t enough for us: we need to make sure everything is right for you.
Before we hand over the keys, we’ll search for imperfections throughout the entire house. If we find something that’s off, we’ll fix it. It’s that simple.
#11: WELCOME HOME; #12: HOME WARRANTY WALK-THROUGH
Now, finally, we hand over the keys and wish you well. It’s yours now… but that’s only eleven steps.
The twelfth step happens after you’ve settled in. We’ll check in a few weeks after move-in day, just to make sure everything is going well inside the house. If there’s an issue with the house, say no more — we’ll fix it. Again, it’s that simple.
“We’re not just in the business of designing houses,” says Halverson. “We’re in this to create beautiful homes, and make sure the people that live in those homes are happy with their investment.”
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE LOOKING TO BUILD YOUR DREAM HOME, WITH EXACT SPECIFICATIONS — DESIGNED TO FIT THE WAY YOU LIVE. YOU WANT TO BUILD A SPACE THAT’S GOING TO LAST, THAT WILL SERVE AS YOUR FAMILY’S HOME BASE FOR DECADES — WHICH MEANS NO DETAIL CAN GO UNNOTICED.
Living in a beautiful home you helped design from the ground up is a great feeling, but it’s important to know how much this process costs. We want you to be prepared for the entire process before you partner with us — it’s better for us, and it’s much easier for you!
Listen to two of our leaders – R. Fleming Construction founder Bob Fleming and Chief of Operations / Architectural Designer Jason Halverson – to get the full picture of what goes into our custom homes. There’s three things you really should know…
#1: KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Normally, the low end of a custom home we work on runs to about $500,000. We’ll bring that up with you in our first “discovery session,” but it’s important to know beforehand. Jason says he likes to cut straight to the point: what’s your budget, and what’s your actual budget?
That latter number is important for us to know, because it’s a key factor in getting your project pointed in the right direction. We operate with 100 percent transparency — instead of creating ‘allowances’ for the various projects in your house, we have our contractors bid everything out beforehand. By bidding out each project, there’s no surprises: the price of each project is locked in.
To keep your final price from going up, Bob recommends doing some research early on: what projects are the priorities in your house? It’s important to know the upgrades you’d like to have, but it’s more important to identify which ones you couldn’t live without – and to know the difference between the two.
“People’s wants and wishes are way different than their needs,” Bob says. “That’s a big thing in the custom home industry.”
#2: SOME SPACE COSTS MORE THAN OTHERS
While we have a library of previously-built homes in our portfolio, your final product could be something new entirely. We can change our existing floor plans to fit your needs, or draw up a plan completely from scratch.
Of course, adding on space is one of the easiest ways to make a house more expensive or valuable, but Jason says empty rooms — like a living room, bedroom or office space — aren’t as expensive to build. The most expensive rooms in a house, he says, are the kitchen and bathrooms.
There’s lots of what we call “accessory points” in these rooms; basically, it’s your cabinets, faucets, appliances, flooring, and other amenities that can’t be easily moved or replaced. Upgrading those features from a standard build-out can make the final cost rise quickly – and that’s why there’s no magic “cost per square foot” number to rely on when building a custom home.
“The average house, let’s say, has $8,000 in appliances in it,” says Halverson. “If someone wants higher-end appliances throughout the entire kitchen, that appliance price can get as high as $40,000. That’s going to seriously affect your final price per square foot.”
#3: 100-PERCENT TRANSPARENCY
Building a custom home costs more than buying a brand-new “tract home” (a home that’s almost exactly the same as the others in its development) — that’s just the truth. But when you enter an agreement with us, we want to make sure your investment pays off — financially and otherwise — through the years you spend in your home.
When you sign on the dotted line to build your home with us, all the project prices are laid out and agreed upon – and while costs can go up or down depending on your selections (i.e. different cabinets, hardwood floor over luxury vinyl plank flooring, etc.), you can rest easy knowing there won’t be any last-second surprises on our end. We have a ‘hold harmless’ agreement with our contractors, meaning they can’t charge over the original bid price once the final budget is set.
Clients and employees both agree — it’s an easier, less stressful home-building process than the status quo. We think it’s possible because we love what we do: getting people into the home of their dreams.
“It’s not about ‘how cheap can I build this house,’” says Bob, “but ‘what does the customer want? What do they expect? That’s what matters to us.’”
TEAMWORK MAKES YOUR DREAM WORK. WE’VE LEARNED THAT GETTING THE BEST PLAYERS ON YOUR TEAM IS WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO THE GREATEST SUCCESS – NOT JUST FOR US, BUT FOR YOU.
So, we’re taking some time to sit down with some of our most trusted partners to learn more about them. Previously, we chatted with Greg Gill of Northern Lights and Furnishings. Today, meet Lindsey Sowers of Cambria, one of our natural quartz experts in Rochester.
NORTH HOUSE: WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE COUNTERTOP INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW? STYLES OR COLORS THAT ARE COMING BACK OR GOING AWAY?
Lindsey Sowers: Natural colors and surfaces with bold movements (meaning the veins or patterns are less subtle) is definitely the direction our consumers are going. Elegance is trending and you’ll see that in Cambria’s newest designs. People will always love marble, but you can now achieve that look with quartz and that seems to be a trend that is here to stay.
NH: WHAT MAKES CAMBRIA SPECIAL OR STAND OUT AMONGST OTHER COMPETITORS?
LS: Cambria is a family-owned company based in the United States. We happen to be the only quartz surface business that is American made. Our design options are vast and reflect an in-depth understanding of the market – meaning we pay attention to what you want, not what we want!
Our products deliver hundreds of designs, superior strength, and zero maintenance. Our surfaces are completely food safe and stain resistant with a lifetime warranty.
NH: ONE OF CAMBRIA’S RECENT MAGAZINES HIGHLIGHTED MID-CENTURY MODERN DESIGN, IS THAT A STYLE YOU’RE SEEING MANY CLIENTS BEING INSPIRED BY?
LS: We are seeing a little bit of everything. That’s the beauty of this business, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has their own style and function needs and we’re able to not only meet your vision, but bring a fresh approach to timeless design.
NH: ARE YOU SEEING A LOT OF EXPERIMENTATION WITH CLIENTS OR BUSINESSES? WANTING TO MIX DIFFERENT STONES OR MATERIALS TOGETHER? TRYING DIFFERENT CUTS OF CURVES OR LAYOUTS? IF SO, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING?
LS: We are seeing bold backsplashes, uniform backsplashes and countertops (meaning they are the same material), waterfall counters (the surface “spills” down the side of the cabinets), daring dark bathrooms, and darker color palettes in general. There are some natural edge surfaces popping up occasionally as well – meaning there isn’t a smooth cut, rather it’s a more natural stone appearance. There are so many cool design elements incorporated all the time!
You can learn more about Cambria by visiting their website.
NORTH HOUSE: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE LIGHTING BUSINESS AND WHAT IS YOUR ROLE WHEN WORKING WITH CLIENTS OR CUSTOMERS?
Greg Gill: Northern Lights has been open 43 years. My role is to help directly with the clients to prepare a lighting plan and select the lights/ceiling fans.
NH: WHAT ARE SOME CURRENT LIGHTING TRENDS FOR 2020/2021 AND ARE THERE ANY MAKING A COME BACK?
GG: The two biggest trends would be the Modern FarmHouse look and contemporary. LED lights are a great fit for contemporary styles. We have also seen a resurgence of brass – in a new finish.
NH: WHAT IF I AM REFURBISHING A LIGHT? WHAT ARE SOME TIPS OR QUICK TRICKS TO DOING THIS ON MY OWN SO I CAN MAKE IT LOOK NEW AGAIN?
GG: The most important parts of refurbishing a light is making sure the sockets and wiring are safe. New paint is the best way to make it look good again.
NH: HOW WILL LIGHTING DESIGN IMPROVE THE VALUE OF MY HOME BOTH INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR?
GG: We are all impacted by what we see. Lighting impacts how colors and furnishings look, so it’s important to select quality fixtures. A good lighting design along with quality pieces will make a statement from the outside or in. Lighting can change the entire dynamic of a home and in return increase its value.
NH: IS THERE A SPECIFIC TOOL OR METHOD YOU USE TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH LIGHT IS ACTUALLY NEEDED IN A SPACE TO HELP A CUSTOMER SAVE MONEY ON LIGHTING?
GG: Determining how much light is needed for a space is based on conversations with the client and what their needs might be. Perhaps someone prefers a very bright room, or maybe they would rather have something darker and moodier for a study or bedroom – it all depends on the client and their space. That is also the case for helping them find the light to fit their budget.
NH: WHAT IF I HAVE A DAMAGED LAMP, LIGHT FIXTURE, OR PENDANT? HOW WOULD ONE DISPOSE OF IT? WHERE WOULD I TAKE IT?
GG: Damaged lamps and lights can be disposed of in normal trash. The 4 foot or longer fluorescent light bulbs need to be recycled.
NH: WHAT KIND OF BULBS (HALOGEN, LED LIGHTS, FLUORESCENT BULBS) DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR AN ENERGY EFFICIENT HOME?
GG: LED lights and lights bulbs would be the most energy efficient. You can save a lot of money on your electricity bill by converting your lighting to LED.
NH: ADVICE ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT TYPE OF LIGHT? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT ROOMS OR SPACES NEED A LIGHT FIXTURE VS. NATURAL LIGHT?
GG: All rooms will need some type of lighting fixture. It’s always wise to utilize natural light, but that needs to be complemented with fixtures as we lose our daylight around 5 p.m. for several months in this part of the country. The room and client dictate how we select the right fixture. Perhaps it will be a statement piece or something that is subtle – that’s what makes finding the right piece fun.
NH: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ALL OF THE ADVANCEMENTS ON LIGHTING, VOICE ACTIVATED LIGHTING WITH ALEXA, SMART OUTLETS, DIMMING? ARE THESE FEATURES SOMETHING TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING A HOME?
GG: Recent advancements with lighting controls can be convenient and should be considered in new homes. Anything that helps us easily modify our living environment and possibly save money in the long run (e.g. being able to easily shut off lights) is worth checking out.
NH: WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES YOU SEE FOR INDIVIDUALS? (HANGING HEIGHT, WRONG PLACEMENT FOR A LIGHT, DANGEROUS LOCATION ETC?)
GG: The most common issue we see is people who have ordered their lighting online and are unhappy with the size and quality. It’s easy to be fooled by “good deals” on the internet, but it’s true that you usually get what you pay for. Many online fixtures are hard to assemble, don’t have quality parts and are challenging to install.
You can learn more about Northern Lights and Furnishings by visiting their website.
TEAMWORK MAKES YOUR DREAM WORK. WE’VE LEARNED THAT GETTING THE BEST PLAYERS ON YOUR TEAM IS WHAT CONTRIBUTES TO THE GREATEST SUCCESS – NOT JUST FOR US, BUT FOR YOU.
So, we’re taking some time to sit down with some of our most trusted partners to learn more about them. Previously, we chatted with Jason Griggs and Heather Fuelberth from Bell Bank Mortgage. Today, meet Todd Ward of Tile Superstore, one of our go-to tile and flooring experts in Rochester.
NORTH HOUSE: HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING FOR TILE SUPERSTORE AND WHAT IS YOUR ROLE?
Todd Ward: I’ve been with the Superstore for 22 years, and am in sales.
NH: WHAT SERVICES AND PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER?
TW: We do all kinds of installations and design for new and existing homes. Specifically tile, flooring, cabinetry and countertops. We have several options for anything you could be looking for including, porcelain tiles, hardwood, luxury vinyl planks, carpet, granite countertops, and several options for cabinets.
NH: WHAT IS YOUR MOST POPULAR PRODUCT?
TW: Tile is still number one, but the luxury vinyl planks have really been popular the last several years.
NH: ARE THERE ANY BIG FLOORING TRENDS YOU’RE SEEING RIGHT NOW? ANYTHING THAT’S SURPRISED YOU?
TW: We’ve seen a lot less carpet going into homes. Many people opt for luxury vinyl throughout their home, mainly for its durability and ease. I’ve seen many people even put luxury vinyl on their stairs and rather than carpet.
NH: WHAT SHOULD A HOMEOWNER HAVE PREPARED BEFORE COMING TO TILE SUPERSTORE & MORE? WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING FLOORING?
TW: Mainly an idea of what products they want in each area and maybe some colors they like. But it’s also important to consider what type of family style they have, if you have a lot of active kids or large pets you may not want a high gloss hardwood in the main living areas. Also how long will you be living at the house, so how much will you want to spend for an upgrade.
NH: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHOOSING TILE AS OPPOSED TO OTHER MATERIALS SUCH AS VINYL, LAMINATE, OR HARDWOOD?
TW: Tile will take a lot more abuse, it is easy to maintain, can look as good after 15 years as after it was installed.
NH: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS YOU HEAR ABOUT USING TILE IN GENERAL?
TW: That it takes a lot of maintenance to keep looking good; the opposite is true.
NH: WHERE DO MOST OF THE TILES YOU ORDER COME FROM? DIFFERENT COUNTRIES? LOCALLY IN ROCHESTER? DO YOU MAKE YOUR OWN?
TW: We have several suppliers all over the world. Many are made in China, but we also carry products made in the United States, Mexico, and Italy.
NH: CAN TILE SUPERSTORE HELP WITH INSTALLATION?
TW: Absolutely. We have our own staff of installers and they can help with any product we sell. We also sell products for the do-it-yourself person.
NH: WHAT MAKES TILE SUPERSTORE & MORE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FLOORING PLACES AROUND ROCHESTER?
TW: Unlike big box stores, we have personalized service. We take time to get to know what you need and want to make sure you get the product that fits your lifestyle best. You don’t have to worry about poor workmanship or low quality products because we stand behind our products and installation. We offer a wide selection of products as well. There’s no need to shop around!
You can learn more about Tile Superstore & More by visiting their website.
COLLABORATION IS AT THE HEART OF WHAT WE DO – WITH CLIENTS, DESIGNERS AND WITH OUR OWN TEAMMATES TO ENSURE YOU HAVE THE BEST DANG EXPERIENCE.
Jessica Curry of Interiors by J. Curry, LLC is one of our all-time favorite collaborators and we recently sat down with her to ask her a couple of questions about the rad work she does.
NORTH HOUSE: TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOU AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN INTERIOR DESIGN?
Jessica Curry: I have always enjoyed design – pairing textures and colors in clothing and spaces. My first mood board creation in home economics class (back when that was still a thing) hooked me into what would be my future profession. After high school I attended both RCTC and Alexandria Community and Technical college for Interior Design. I am a Certified Kitchen Designer (I’m obsessed with kitchens!) and worked for several local businesses designing until I launched my own in 2015, Interiors by J. Curry, LLC. We focus on kitchen, bath and full-service interior design and project management. I have a small office space/showroom that I share with my assistant designer in Eyota.
NH: WHEN DESIGNING A SPACE, WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO YOU?
JC: The needs of the client and functionality for their life. Then we bring in the aesthetics and style to enhance their use of the space. Everything is a reflection of the client.
NH: WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
JC: One of my biggest inspirations is nature. Drawing from the colors, natural textures and variations. I also love architecture in large cities – it creates so much inspiration for a more modern, industrial, edgy design.
NH: WHAT’S THE BEST INTERIOR DESIGN LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?
JC: Measure 10 times, order once!! Haha! Ok maybe not 10, but seriously you get the idea.
NH: WHAT IS A TREND THAT YOU ARE LOVING RIGHT NOW?
JC: Modern organic style and anything with natural wood cabinet fronts or furniture/case goods – it’s such a dramatic look!
NH: CONTROVERSIAL QUESTION: WHITE OR WOOD CABINETS AND/OR TRIM?
JC: BOTH! I like painted cabinetry with some natural wood elements or darker walnut stained elements. There’s no fast and easy answer to this question – it’s all about personal style. The great news is that there are fantastic options for everyone’s taste.
NH: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN COLLABORATION WITH NORTH HOUSE?
JC: I love the cute barn home we worked on in historic SW. I’m always a fan of seeing how creative you can get in a smaller space like that. Plus the element of character throughout when you work on a 100 year-old-home, there’s just something about being part of that history that’s such an honor. We also recently worked on a couple of new build projects, the Lappi residence and Clugston residence – they were truly special custom homes! I’ve loved being able to work on some of their more modern homes with the stunning angled roof lines that have notes of mid-century, as I have always been fascinated by that design style. It’s fun seeing new residential architecture incorporated into the area!
This summer, we’re spending a lot more time at home. So what better time to do a bit of landscaping? Brent Weller of Weller Brothers — local landscaping expert and one of our trusted partners — offered us some insight for homeowners looking to spruce up their yards.
NORTH HOUSE: WHAT ARE EASY LANDSCAPING PROJECTS HOMEOWNERS CAN TACKLE THEMSELVES?
Brent Weller: Softscapes (plants) are an easy way to enhance your curb appeal. With some guidance from a local nursery, a few new plants or trees can really add new color and dimension to your exterior.
NH: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST PLANTS FOR THE MN CLIMATE?
BW: The Rochester area is in planting zone 4b, any plants need to be a zone 4 plant or lower because of our harsh winters (You can typically find this info on the tag placed in the plant’s dirt). Most local nurseries only carry these types of plants.
It’s also important to look for plants that are deer and rabbit resistant. A lot of our neighborhoods back up to wooded areas that are home to deer and rabbits, and they love to snack on plant material, especially during the winter months. Make sure to protect your plants during the winter and use natural repellents when needed.
NH: WHAT ARE SOME COMMON ISSUES HOMEOWNERS ARE FACING WITH THEIR LANDSCAPING RIGHT NOW?
BW: Age. Just like a 10-15 year old kitchen, landscapes need updating. Plants are living, breathing organisms that have a lifespan. That lifespan could be shortened without proper maintenance. Additionally, hardscapes get outdated and manufacturers of hardscape material keep coming out with new and updated products, including our local manufacturer, Rochester Concrete Products.
NH: WHAT SHOULD HOMEOWNERS BE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Maintenance. Maintenance is key to having a healthy landscape. If you do not stay on top of maintaining your landscape beds or lawn, it’s easy for it to get away from you. If you see weeds popping up, take care of them right away or they will spread, and it can become overwhelming to maintain a few weeks down the road.
NH: SHOULD PEOPLE BE WATERING OUR LAWNS?
BW: Yes, we are approaching the hot dry summer months and it is key to water your lawn to keep it lush and green. Keep in mind the best time to water is early morning or late evenings to avoid evaporation.
NH: WHEN SHOULD YOU HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
BW: It really depends on the homeowner. Some people are weekend warriors and love to tackle projects of all sizes, which is great. I just recommend that they do their research and are using best practices.
NH: WHAT SHOULD HOMEOWNERS LOOK FOR WHEN SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT LANDSCAPER?
BW: Professionalism and good history. There will always be new companies that can do it cheaper than a well-established company. But it can be more expensive to hire an amateur than a professional, as you may end up hiring the professional company to fix what you got a “good deal on.” Weller Brothers will be celebrating 20 years in business next year, it is a milestone we are very proud of and are excited to celebrate.
NH: WHAT SERVICES DOES WELLER BROTHERS OFFER?
BW: Currently, in the Rochester area, we offer design and build options. This includes hardscape (patios, retaining walls, etc.) and softscape (plants, trees, sod) installation for our customers. We plan to add maintenance services such as weekly mowing and lawn fertilization to our customers in 2021.
NH: WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN LANDSCAPING?
Our summer in Minnesota is short, by adding a fire feature such as a fire pit or fireplace we can extend the use of our outdoor space. Also, outdoor kitchens and bars have been very popular as it is enjoyable to entertain guests outside without having to go in and out of your home kitchen.
NH: DECKS OR PATIOS?
BW: Patios. If elevations allow, I would always go with a paver patio. There is less maintenance and a correctly installed patio will last longer than any deck, including maintenance free decks.
NH: WHEN DID YOU FIRST TEAM UP WITH NORTH HOUSE?
BW: Weller Brothers first teamed up with North House in the summer of 2019, when they saw what we had to offer and how we could team up to make the landscape process on their new construction seamless.
NH: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PROJECT FROM YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH NORTH HOUSE?
BW: Weller Brothers specializes in high-end residential landscapes. The scope of work North House is doing allows us to get creative and really bring a backyard to life. Currently, we are working together on a high-end custom residential build, which will include an outdoor pool with plenty of entertaining space and an outdoor kitchen/bar area.
NH: WHAT HAS MADE YOUR PARTNERSHIP WITH NORTH HOUSE A STRONG ONE?
BW: Communication. Communication is key to any relationship and the team at North House has been responsive, clear and upfront which makes the building process easier for us as well as the customer.
You can learn more about Weller Brothers by visiting their website.
When it comes to the point of designing your house, there are so many variables that go into making the right decision: What builder should I hire? Can they do what I want? How long will it take? How much is it going to cost? What does the process look like?
“THE WAITING FRUSTRATION”
There are 100 builders in town, and only 4-5 draftsmen. Crazy, right? So, getting on their schedule can be difficult. Your design can take weeks to months to get going, causing frustration and when you finally get your plans back, they’re either not what you want or you have changes. Then, you wait 2-3 more weeks for those changes to be made possibly resulting in a different plan or perhaps nothing was done the way you wanted. A common answer we’ve heard over the years is “your way didn’t work, so I did it this way”. This back and forth gets time consuming, frustrating and many people end up settling on a design layout they didn’t want – just to get moving! Unfortunately, this is common – way too common in building. This method is a traditional process for all the builders who share draftsmen.
Another route is hiring an architect. If you have the time and the money, this isn’t necessarily a bad way to go. It can be a great experience, but one that is costly and time-consuming – it can take upwards of 12 months to get finished plans.
Design-build is a process that we employ. With this process, there is only one contract with a single point of responsibility. The designer and contractor work together from the beginning. I will go into more detail about that method shortly.
“DESIGNING VS. DRAFTING”
How do you figure out who to go to for your house design? There are many factors to take into consideration and differences between a draftsperson, a designer, and an architect. A draftsperson is good for mass producing plans, copying plans, and taking direction from someone else on the design. Their education is based on learning drafting techniques and drawing programs like AutoCad or Revit. Because of the primary focus on drawing, this technical training does not include design styles, functionality, cohesion or building and design innovation. With all due respect to the craft, it will be unlikely that a draftsperson will give you something unique, personalized, or remarkable. The benefit to this method is that it provides the cheapest route for getting a set of house plans with the average cost between $2k – 4k, depending on the size of the house.
On the other end of the spectrum, using an Architect to design your house will certainly deliver on that custom, unique, one-of-a-kind house. Their education is vast, and their skills are quite technical. Throughout their education they are able to work alongside other architects to gain experience and knowledge. This is also the most costly way to go, as they typically charge 3-5% of the total house cost, minimally. Therefore, you will need to budget around $30 – 80k, on average, depending on the size and cost of the home.
A designer is not a licensed architect, but has the base education of a draftsman with the technical training of an architect. Therefore, they are a little harder to find! Designers typically work alongside architects and receive countless hours of informal, on-the-job training. Their education is driven by a passion for the craft and results in a set of skills, vision and insight that is not taught in the traditional classroom. To hire a designer is typically around $5k – 15k.
Everyone has a budget, right? A common perception is that the design is a great place to save some money on a new build. Personally, this is the one area of a new build where you should never try to cut corners. The flow and design of your house and how it functions is something that is hard to fix later, not to mention it would be very expensive. Rather than spending tens of thousands more to remodel your house in the future, investing in the right company from the start will pay off in the long-run.
To put this in perspective… The average cost of a new refrigerator is about $3k – $5k. When the house is finished, and your beautiful new refrigerator gets installed, it sticks from the cabinetry by about one foot. Does this sound familiar? Most of you probably have this issue in your current house or have seen it in others. Most new refrigerators are three feet deep. A good designer would have factored this element into the overall design and provided a recess into the wall to eliminate this from happening. It may seem like a minor example, but if you are willing to spend that money on an appliance, which will need replacing in 5-10 years, while ending with a significant design flaw – the overall house design is a smarter investment.
As I mentioned earlier, we employ a Design-Build process. As a client, you are only managing one contract with a single point of responsibility. The designer and contractor work as a team from the beginning, providing unified project recommendations to fit your schedule and budget. Any changes are addressed by the entire team, leading to collaborative problem-solving and innovation, not excuses or blame-shifting. This method is a fundamental difference from the old ways. We establish a culture of collaboration from the start.
Fleming Construction is a total custom design/build company, every house is unique to each individual client. Personally, I have nearly 20 years of experience in this industry and it all started with an early love of architecture. Through schooling, working with architects in various firms, and then starting my own design firm, it has given me vast knowledge and experience to offer something beyond “the standard”.
A technique I use called “smart design”, can go a long way when it comes to laying out your house. I can make a 1,500 square foot house feel like a 2000 square foot house, all by designing smart. This means we are not wasting square footage with long hallways, dead space on every floor, or oversized spaces designed without intent. I take into consideration the flow, your traffic patterns, and how changes to the interior will affect the exterior.
I partnered with R. Fleming Construction seven years ago and we together have built a system that no one else offers. By providing a single point of contact, incorporating smart design, managing the bidding process and overseeing the building – nothing is missed. Communication is not lost, nothing falls through the cracks and your house is designed to fit your lifestyle and budget. I am involved every step of the way. There are no surprises or major changes to the budget without you involved in the process. We are invested in your happiness, end-to-end.
Why do we do this? We love houses! Over the years we have established “a look” and difference that has set us apart from the industry. My designs speak for themselves and I invite you to check out our website which is full of information and houses I have designed and we have built.
Come sit down with us and we’ll show you how we can make your dream home a reality.
Developed by Mark Hanson & Gene Peters, the Lilly Farm neighborhood expands over 200 acres of beautiful southwest Rochester countryside. Lots range from 2.04 to over 6 acres allowing many options for your family home.
What you should know before building in the Lilly Farm neighborhood
There is an architectural control committee in place to ensure your home values are protected. Things like buildings, fences, drives, sidewalks, pools, play equipment and other structures must be approved.
Lean-to’s, carports, vehicle storage buildings, and detached structures are not permitted.
Utility storage buildings, gazebos, and pool houses not exceeding 144 square feet in size are however permitted, should they be constructed with the same materials and architectural style as the house.
Fences are not allowed, aside from swimming pool fences as required per code, and dog fences, which do have some other requirements.
Siding will need to be fibered cement, composite materials and permanent siding or a combination of these. When it comes to the color of your home, there are a short list of pre-approved earth tone paint colors that you may choose from.
Trailers, campers, boats, mobile homes, motor homes, and recreational vehicles cannot be stored outside.
The Lilly Farm lots offer a clever combination of expansive views and wooded privacy.
There are well and water line easements to pay attention to when choosing a lot. Those are outlined in great detail in the Restrictive Covenants.
Finding lots for sale in Rochester can be a daunting task. Mostly due to the fact that a majority of build-able lots for sale in the Rochester Minnesota area aren’t easily visible to the general public.
Much of the lots for sale are in fact restricted to certain builders and not even listed on the MLS. This makes finding lots for sale very difficult for you, the consumer.
Our best advice to you is to ask your Realtor for help first and foremost. Secondly, there are some things to consider before buying any land.
This seems like an obvious point to make but it’s important to dive a bit deeper into it than just specific areas of town or types of neighborhoods. Ask yourself how close you are to schools, work, and shopping. Are there major highways near you that may cause unwanted noise and traffic?
Take into consideration the short and long-term future condition of the lots for sale that you’re considering. Think about the views now as well as 10 years from now.
The trees around you might be young now, but when they grow and block your city view you won’t be amused. Most likely, the vacant lots for sale around you will fill in and give the property an entirely different level of privacy or lack thereof.
Who Can Build on Lots For Sale
Depending on who the developer is, a particular lot may be exclusive to only one builder. That means you don’t have a choice as to who builds your home on this lot. Your agent will be able to find out for you if a lot is exclusive or open to all builders.
Zoning information is available to the general public but can sometimes be hard to interpret. Ask your Realtor to research public planning and zoning restrictions for the piece of land you have interest in.
This step should come very early on in the process. If there’s a new airport or commercial building site in your backyard in 3 years it’s going to affect your use and enjoyment of the property as well as your re-sale value.
Walk Lots For Sale With Your Builder
Chances are you’ve met with your Builder about floor plans and elevation. Now it’s time to walk the lot with them to give you a definitive answer to whether your dream home’s size, dimensions and layout will fit onto the lot you have your eyes on.
The size, shape, and slope all come into play when figuring out if your dream home and this lot will be a good match. There’s no one better to give you an educated and accurate opinion than the professional builder themselves.
Ordinances, Covenants, and Architectural Committees
Ordinances and covenants will dictate how you use and enjoy your property. The documents themselves are usually extensive, detailed, and highly regulated.
.Architectural committees have the job of approving things like exterior elevations, color choices, and square footage minimums. This seems a bit intrusive at first but they truly are put in place to help protect the integrity of the neighborhood as well as your investment.
When your new neighbors want to put up a 20-foot hot pink fence and the architectural committee rejects it, you’ll be grateful for such a thing.
Easements on Lots for Sale
Another important aspect of researching your perfect piece of land is the ability to access it. Usually in urban areas this isn’t a sticking point; however, quite a few rural areas have pieces of land that require easements.
It’s best to consult a real estate attorney for these matters. It’s extremely complicated and could gravely affect your use, enjoyment, and actual access to the piece of land you want.
A piece of land, just like an existing home, has title attached to it; which you’ll need to have insurance for. Land surveying and utility costs are another aspect of cost-of-ownership most buyers don’t think about when purchasing land that’s not yet built on.
Some lenders will require certain utilities like water and electricity to be installed and running even before you’ve built the home.
If the property isn’t hooked up to city water and sewer and you need to install a well and septic system, it’s going to cost you. Don’t leave this to surprise; instead, outline the potential monthly costs associated with this particular lot and factor that in with your timeline to build.
So you’ve already done a lot of research and you’re getting closer to committing to this lot. But you have to jump through one more very important hoop. You need to hire and purchase your own survey. There may be evidence of a survey but you should spend the time and money to make sure yours is recent and accurate.
A survey will tell you exactly where you land starts and ends. This comes into play when your builder decides if the land is suitable for the plan you’ve chosen as well as when permits are to be pulled before construction can begin.
Permits are a necessary evil during the construction process. It can be overwhelming to realize just how many permits need to be pulled. And the costs associated with such permits, and time it takes to schedule, complete, and pass each one of them is not for the faint of heart.
It may seem over the top and excessive at times but they are a necessary part of the building process to help protect you, your investment, and the safety of the general public.
No Trespassing on Land for Sale
Lastly, just because you see a ‘for sale’ sign on a piece of land does not mean you can assume you are allowed to enter the property. Call the number on the sign first and do not under any circumstance trespass onto the property, day or night.
There you have it! Lots of research needs to go into a vacant land purchase. And things can get very complicated. But if you hire experienced professionals along the way you’ll put yourself in the best position to make an informed decision. How’s that for a good foundation?
The Century Valley neighborhood in Rochester Minnesota was purchased by The Bella Terra Group in early 2017. There are 6 phases to be completed over the next 10 years.
Phase one of Century Valley will include 30 lots ranging from $95,900-$125,900.
The Century Valley neighborhood offers wooded walkout, daylight, and flat lots to suit everyone’s building needs.
Expansive views of the city of Rochester can be enjoyed from the lush, hill top neighborhood.
Proximity to dining, shopping, and entertainment, combined with privacy make this popular neighborhood a must see.
What You Should Know Before Building in the Century Valley Neighborhood in Rochester Minnesota
We encourage each home to be designed with front elevation that is more prominent than the garage.
The minimum roof pitch of the structures’ primary roof shall be 8/12.
All decks and patios/terraces must be designed as part of the home and be completed at the time the home is constructed.
The front elevation requires James Hardie siding or LP Smartside products for siding materials. Side and rear elevations may utilize vinyl siding materials.
There is no required minimum amount of stone to be required on a home. When used, brick and stone must wrap around the house corners at least 24 inches.
Andersen Windows are the required window product in Century Valley. All windows are required to be trimmed with a minimum of 6″ LP Smartside trim or James Hardie trim board.
Driveway width at the street shall be no more than 24 feet wide. Driveway grade shall not be more than 10%.
Two Story structures in Century Valley are required to be a minimum of 2,200 square feet, (combined finished on main and 2nd level).
Rambler structures in Century Valley are required to be a minimum of 1,450 square feet, (combined finished on main level).
The minimum required budget for landscape planting plan will be $3,000. This does not include the required sodding or retaining walls. Landscaping shall be completed by the Builder or Owner within 180 days after closing on the home.
All fencing to be approved by ARC Committee. Any fencing shall not exceed 6 feet in height.
Hundred Acre Woods was developed in the early 2000’s. The first phase of the Hundred Acre Woods neighborhood included lots that sold for between $55,000 and $75,000.
The remaining lots were then split off into the 2nd phase now called “The Highlands at Hundred Acre Woods” and sold to a twin cities developer. Unfortunately, the developer soon went bankrupt.
Due to the number of parcels, the foreclosure process for neighborhoods like this is typically quite lengthy. In this case, the second phase of Hundred Acre Woods sat for 2 and a half years under a transaction freeze of sorts.
When the recession hit, the bank went bankrupt as well. This started the 2 and a half year long foreclosure process all over again from the beginning.
After five years off the market, the bankrupt bank’s portfolio was purchased along with land in The Carolina’s, the Dakota’s, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Bob Fleming then purchased the second phase of Hundred Acre Woods, (The Highlands) from the investment group. This second phase included 72 beautiful lots.
Instead of raising lot prices to current market values of $65,000-75,000, Bob Fleming priced the lots at $30,000-35,000. This helped create a niche for homes in the price range of $300,000-750,000.
Buyers who build in The Highlands at Hundred Acre Woods are now able to put more money into their home instead of sticking that money into the cost of the land. In other words, you get more house for the money in The Highlands at Hundred Acre Woods.
We’ve now sold over 50 homes in The Highlands at Hundred Acre Woods in two short years. It’s no surprise, as the lots are larger than most city lots, ranging from 90 x 200 all the way up to 100 x 130.
Buyers who want to build in The Highlands at Hundred Acre Woods have walk out, day light, and flat lots to choose from; so there’s something for everyone.
What You Should Know Before Building in Hundred Acre Woods
Each home should be designed with front elevation that is more prominent than the garage.
The minimum roof pitch of the structures primary roof shall be 8/12.
All decks and patios/terraces must be designed as part of the home and be completed at the time the home is constructed.
The front elevation requires James Hardie Siding or LP Smartside Products for siding materials.
Side and rear elevations may utilize vinyl siding materials.
There is no required minimum amount of stone to be on the home.
When used, brick and stone must wrap around the house corners at least 24 inches.
Andersen Windows are the required window product.
All windows are required to be trimmed with a minimum of 6″ LP SmartSide Trim or James Hardie Trim Board.
Driveway width at the street shall be no more than 18 feet wide.
Driveway grade shall be not more than 10%.
Two Story homes must be at least 2,000 square feet – combined finished on main and second level.
Rambler homes must be at least 1,300 square feet – combined finished on main level.
Minimum required budget for landscaping will be $5,000. This may not include the required sodding or retaining walls.
Landscaping to be completed by the Builder or Owner within 180 days after closing on the home.
All fencing to be approved by ARC Committee.
Any fencing shall not exceed 6 feet in height.
Galvanized Chain Link fencing is prohibited for all purposes.