Wheeeew…it’s over – – we had over 200 guests visit our Bethesda Open House yesterday!
I want to thank everyone for attending and I hope you liked what you saw.
First, I want to announce the winner of the Flip Mino Camera Drawing – the winner is…
…Mary H. (we’ll be contacting you today and sending out the
camera) – Congratulations!
Second, I apologize for not being able to meet with everyone individually and answer your
So I wanted to give you a quick FAQ below to answer some of the
most common questions and least technical (which I’ll answer in future emails – like,
does the $6500 tax credit apply to building a new home, can you really get tens of thousands
of dollars in tax credits with a tear-down and how do you obtain a “Green” LEED rated home?).
Here you go:
Q: Did we create the architectural design and perform the construction of the new home on Berkley Street?
A: Yes. We are architects and builders. Kevin is our on-staff, full-time architect.
Q: Is the home for sale or did we build it for an owner?
A: The home is not for sale, the home was built for the owner.
Q: Was the home design from our Paramount Portfolio Plan Book or was it custom designed?
A: When the owners were checking our references, they visited and met the owners of
our Belmont Model and fell in love with that home. However, given the owners unique needs
and wants and given the unique characteristics of the lot on Berkley, we created a custom design for
Q: Do we charge a premium for creating a custom design vs building a home plan from our Paramount Portfolio
of over 80 New Home Plans?
A: Currently, we do not charge anything additional to create a custom home design.
Q: Was there an existing home on the property that was torn down?
A: Yes (we had many questions about the potential tax benefits of tens of thousands of dollars associated with the
tear-down, and a subsequent email will detail the benefits and how that works)
Q: What was the price of the Berkley home and what was included? What was not included?
A: Price was in the $600K +/- range and was all inclusive – demolition of existing home, excavation, permitting,
blueprints, engineering, surveying, utilities, custom selections, etc.
Q: Do you take on home additions and home renovations, as well as new homes?
A: Yes. Currently we have six projects of that type in process.
Q: Do you take on small remodeling projects – $50k to $200K?
A. No, but given the demand, we are considering accepting a few projects on a very limited basis.
Q: I want to build a new home but I don’t have land. Do you have land or lots? Can you help?
A: Yes, we have about 10 lots in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Mclean and N. Arlington.
I hope this helped.
I’ll be sending out another FAQ in the next few days on some of the more technical issues brought up
and we’re working on a video series that will answer many questions at an even deeper level, which will
come out in the next few weeks.
Again, Kevin and I really appreciate your interest in what we do and please feel free to email me at
email@example.com or Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 301-370-6463
with any questions you have.
Happy custom home building client in Bethesda Maryland describes her process for selecting an architect and builder to design and build her custom home.
Lots of homeowners are trying to decide of adding on to their home is better than tearing the house down and building a new home. But where do you start? Who do you turn to?
Yingjie was faced with this dilemma. So listen and watch Yingjies story.
Yingjie first met with an architect. But the architect wasn’t much help. He was not able to tell her if adding on to the existing home or knocking down and building new was the best way to go.
Next, she met with a builder. But the builders home plans were unimaginative and looked like “one of those” homes that
so many builders put up – B-O-R-I-N-G!!!
Then, her life magically changed when she received a message one day from Paramount Construction.
Listen and watch Part 1 of her story here:
Here is Part 2 of Yingjies story and about her new Bethesda custom home building experience and how she went through the process of of selecting an architect and builder and what some of her concerns were:
Read the full interview here:
A Life-Changing Story Yingjie Shu, of Bethesda, Tells How Life Has Changed Since Rob & Kevin Designed & Built Her Custom Home (Winner of the Gold Award)
Hint: Yingjie has Become Self-actualized due to her New Custom Home Which Reflects Her True Essence….
Ok, Maybe That’s a Bit Lofty, but She Sure is HAPPY
(R = Rob)
(Y = Yingjie)
R: What is your name?
R: What is your name?
R: Where do you work?
Y: U.S. News and World Report. (laughter). I really don’t know how to get started. Like you said, it took us years on debating, wrestling whether to expand our house, or tear down our house, we do love our old little house.
R: So, you….what’s your process?
Y: At first, we hired an architect, the architect came here and talked to us about one hour. I thought before the guys came here that he should have ideas and at the end he would give us some ideas whether to build a new home or expand our house. So, after I talked to this architect, I still don’t have any idea.
R: Because you are just not sure whether you should knock it down or add on?
Y: Yes, after we talked to him, we still have no idea. Looks like we have to pay him in order to have some ideas. At that point because we don’t know that architect, we are not willing to do that. So, we gave up that idea and started to look at other builders. There’s one builder that came over, you know, his plans, whatever, then he showed us, took us to of the some houses that he built and when I looked at that house, I’m not impressed, you know, they all looked like one of those houses up there. There is no character, you know. So, we let it go, you know and then suddenly, we received Paramount’s Open House Invitation in Falls Church, so you know, it was like winter time. So I said, hey, let’s go, let’s just check out. So, we went there. So, when we were driving close to the house, I said to Bill, ‘That’s it!” Co’z the house looks so charming from outside and then we went inside and our hat just brimming. I just said “Hey, Bill, that’s it”. We love the floor, we love the fixtures, we love the design especially the master bedroom, you know. So, at that point, I said “Hey Bill …….
R: Did you talked to Kevin or Rob there?
Y: Yeah, we talked to Kevin and Rob and have some ideas. I guessed Kevin asked us, you know, what we want, what we liked at the house, whatever. So, then you came over to our house with a sketch, what our house should look like. And we discussed whether we should, you know, renovate or tear down the house. You did some analysis and you said, “Tear down, get a new one”. So that’s what we did. And then you gave us some reference to another house in DC and I went there and when I saw the house, I said, “Oh, my gosh, I love this house”. So, I said, you know, we will stay with Paramount. Build a house that has us, that has the character, has the charm, something really referencing us instead of just one of those out there. And we’re very happy.
R: Now that you’ve lived in here for…., how long have you lived here?
Y: About how many…three, four months.
R: How’s your life now compared to the old house?
Y: I think it’s beyond what I can say, it’s beyond. I am extremely happy, you know. I think the house is not huge but it’s the perfect size for us and the space is really well-designed, well-used, you know. Pretty much we can use every room, you know, we have in the house. We just love everything in the house. We love the windows, we love the kitchen cabinets, we love the lights, we love the wall, the shape, you know. We love the basement, we love the loft, oh, we love the floor. We just love it, we love everything.
R: How was the design process from the beginning? When we first met you, how was the process?
Y: I think the process was really really easy. I think Kevin did a good job to get us through what we need to do. So, a lot of things we have no idea, you know, the color, the design, all that kind of things. He really get us to, you know, what will fit, you know, meet our need, meet our budget, you know, fit our style and everything came out well.
R: How about during the actual building, during the actual construction period, how was that?
Y: It’s great, really. I think everybody is really really professional. I think the neighbors love it too, you know. The impact on the neighborhood is very minimum. And whenever we come here, we always see progress, you know,”how’s the house by the way?”. We come here everyday, we passed by, you know. So, everyday, there is some progress, you know, and we’re really happy.
R: And where there meetings on a regular basis during the construction period?
Y: Yeah, yeah, we had weekly meetings.
R: You had that? How was that? Did they keep you informed?
Y: Yeah, they kept us informed, really helpful. What hasn’t been done and what’s, you know, going to be done. I think that’s really really good.
R: What do you think of the quality of the work?
Y: Oh, great. Oh, by the way, there was once… Because I don’t know much about building, that kind of thing. So, there was once I took a guy at work. He is like our facility manager, he came here. So, I showed him, at that time we were doing the outer trimming, you know. So, he said, “This is definitely a Bethesda house, not a Rockville house”.
R: What did he mean?
Y: Quality. He said its top quality stuff. He said, “Yingjie, just relax, everything’s gonna be alright for you”. So, that made me…from a colleague, somebody I can trust, somebody who knows about facility. So, that’s really comforting.
R: Where there any unpleasant surprises or changes that came up here during the construction?
Y: None that I am aware of. No.
R: How about the timeframe. How fast did it go, the construction? Did they deliver on time?
Y: I think what’s really beyond our expectation, you know, I think it’s longer to get a permit than build the house, you know. But I guess the permit is just America’s deal.
R: How about the after construction service or issues that came up?
Y: Oh, it’s great! Actually the part I was really impressed… couple of times, you know, Mike showed up to see and say, “Ms. Shu you need to do this”. “Oh, my gosh, Mike I completely forgot about it”, you know. It’s really really good, follow-up.
R: Has ______Zuckerman said anything about the house?
Y: No. But I did talk to his nephews. (laughter)
R: And are they gonna come over?
Y: I told them. I said, “ I have an open invitation, come over”.
R: How about the Obama children. Have they been over to play with Ray yet?
Y: Not yet. (laughter) They’re too young for Ray.
R: I thought Ray likes older women.
Y: But they are younger. (laughter)
R: They are younger? I thought they are older than him.
Y: They are ten (10) and seven (7).
R: Could Ray bay-sit, at least? (laughter)
R: So well, when friends have their Christmas party here, will the Obama’s be here?
Y: (laughter) I have to ask him. We’ll love to have them here.
R: Ken what am I missing? (video taping about to end)
A Life-Changing Story
Yingjie Shu, of Bethesda, Tells How Life Has Changed Since Rob & Kevin Designed & Built Her Custom Home (Winner of the Gold Award)
Hint: Yingjie has Become Self-actualized due to her New Custom Home Which Reflects Her True Essence….
Ok, Maybe That’s a Bit Lofty, but She Sure is HAPPY
R: You’re really on trying to decide if you should knock it down or build new, you’ve interviewed the architect, you’ve interviewed the builder.
What kept you up at night? Was there any… like.. what went through your mind, if there was any fear, what was it? Before, pre making any decision?
Y: I think it’s still we’re making big chance, you know. There’s a lot of money gonna be involved. We don’t’ know anything about building and even though we went to your Open House, we got some references, but still there’s risk out there, you know. So, there were period of times at the beginning, I said, “Oh, my gosh, did we make the right decision?” you know. How about the house, is it gonna come together, how about wasting all the money, co’z we hear all the stories, you know.
R: Stories like what? What’s the worst story that you’ve heard?
Y: Like for example, I have a friend. Her sister is building the house, then suddenly, I think they poured the concrete in and there were cracks, you know. So, they have to stop the work, hire another contractor to pour the concrete and do that whole thing again, then re-fill it again. And eventually, they went to a, they had to go to the court, you know, that kind of things, throw the money down the drain, you know. That’s just really horrible, you know. I think, that house, their house, my friend’s sister started early in that house but then, you know, when they’re getting close to finish everything, they were still gonna finish the trimming. So, you hear a story like that or something, you know, people stopping the work for whatever reason, you know, the builder would go bankrupt, you know, whatever. And then the job is hanging there, never finished. So, you hear those kinds of stories. Or another thing is just, you know, you have a fixed price and then they keep raising the price and then saying, “We need to do this, we need to do that”, and all kinds of problems and then the price just went up, you know, dramatically and that’s kind of a nightmare too for us.
R: How did you get the comfort level that Paramount wouldn’t do that or wouldn’t go and have cracked foundations or wouldn’t have a price that they kept going up or wouldn’t build a complete job on time?
Y: Well, I think when everything goes on schedule
R: But how did you make that decision with Paramount?
Y: At the beginning….?
R: Yeah, because how did you determine that the price was fair, that Paramount could perform?
Y: Well, um, well the price of course we checked with some other builders, you know, we checked with a friend. So, we have some rough idea how much it’s gonna cost, so the price, you know, Paramount presented to us, like it fit in our budget, we can do what. And in terms of, you know, assurance of the work, we talked to the references and all the references we talked to were happy with the work, you know. So, we just feel like, you know, we checked, we checked with all the references, we checked like 4 or 5 references and every single one praise Paramount. So, we feel like, you know, we just have to take a chance. And also, we saw the Open House in Falls Church in 23rd St, we saw the quality of the house and I said, “Hey, we cannot go wrong”. So, we did take our chance but the risk is worth it and yeah, everything is just worth it.
R: Last question. (laughter)
Were there things that kept you up at night during construction?
Y: No. No.
Read The Reasons why Bill chose Paramount Construction to
design and build his custom home:
BILL: My name is Bill Adams.
I work at the Urban Institute.
INTERVIEWER: And before how did you make
the decision to go through the design and build process? What
was your process?
BILL: Well I think you know we were thinking
about do we need an architect first, do we, and we did. We talked to a couple of
architects, had them come out to our previous home and we were struggling
at the beginning with do we expand the house
that we have or do we tear it down and build a new one. And so we were looking
for a little guidance there. The first, or
actually more than one, a couple of architects we talked
to they didn’t give us that on the initial visit. And it was
require us, you know investing some money. We didn’t feel
comfortable with that. So we kind of just you know, some time
went by, we went to a couple of open houses. And then one
time we went to an open house for Paramount Construction.
Paramount Construction was building a house in Falls Church.
And we were really impressed by the house. Very you know,
well make house, very good quality, well designed. And immediately we both felt that wow, these are really top-notch builders.
And we thought right then and there you know, this company is going to build our house for us.
And when we met with the Paramount professionals, they came out to our old house and we were, as I said we were unsure about
whether we should expand our old house or tear it down. And they went through a couple of different scenarios but in the end,
we trusted them and they had the recommendation of tearing down the old house and building a new house. And we felt very
comfortable after that conversation with them that we were doing the right thing.
INTERVIEWER: How did the whole process go? The design process with Paramount.
BILL: The process went great, very smooth. We would meet on a weekly basis with Paramount staff, with the architect and others.
And it was, it was very well planned out and we had at various times make decisions about certain features and we weren’t always
sure about what we wanted. And so we were presented several alternatives and you know after talking a little bit with the architect,
we were able to make decisions very quickly. And in many cases he was, the architect was recommending things that we hadn’t thought
of and suddenly a light bulb went off and said yeah, that’s what we want.
So it was, in that sense it was, it was a pretty easy process.
INTERVIEWER: And how about the quality of the workmanship?
BILL: The workmanship is superb. Just looking around the house, I mean the features are excellent, very detailed features. Very, you can
tell just looking at it, it’s very high quality work. And we’re just extremely happy with the way it came out.
INTERVIEWER: And you looked at like standard builder plans as part of your research.
BILL: We did. We looked at some model homes. We talked to a builder, another builder and we went to see one of the homes that he had
built. And it was, it was okay. It was nice but it just, it didn’t have that spark. Okay, it was basically a big box and had some nice features
inside. But what appealed to us about Paramount was the customized nature and the different features we could introduce into the home
to make it unique and to make it our own. And so you know, we did compare with other builders but I think none of those other builders
had what we wanted. But right away with Paramount, we knew okay, this is a company that I can handle customized designs, can handle
special features, and build it all into a home that we’d be happy with.
INTERVIEWER: Do you feel you paid any premium for that?
BILL: No, I mean I think we, it was really included in the baseline price, which we very much appreciated. Just the fact that we could have
an architect available to us at no cost, it was included in the whole package, we thought was tremendous.
FEMALE: Yeah, especially after we changed the plans.
BILL: Right, that’s true. Several times we had to make adjustments to the plan because of various issues that came up, in some cases out
of our control because the county had certain requirements about the footprint, the building space. And that’s one thing that impressed
us is that Kevin, the architect for Paramount, was able to really come up with some excellent alternative designs that met our needs.
INTERVIEWER: Were there any additional design fees with all these changes?
BILL: There were none. There were none. So we really appreciated that aspect of the whole project.
Across the board (with the exeption of of a few vendors like appliances ) our vendors are reporting that their labor and material costs are relatively low. The pricing we have been getting for direct costs of new custom homes & large additions to homes in the Washington DC area have remained low for a few years now. However, we are noticing vendors getting slightly busier than they’ve been in the last year or two.
Here’s one of our excellent vendors, Glen Embry, of Metcalf HVAC, explaining what he thinks of the current market: