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 protected] or Kevin at [email protected] 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.
Paramount Constructions’ “Madison” Home is winner of Maryland National Capital Building
Industry Association Award. The category is Best Traditional Home Award
The Madison House Plan by Paramount Construction Kitchen
The owners’ intent was to build a new home for sale.
Our design goal was to create a marketable house plan
at a cost the owner could earn a profit.
We discovered that the lot was comprised of two
separate lots. The largest lot was large enough to
build a home on it. However, if we combined the lots
we could build a wider home with an elevation that
had more street presence.
After research and discussions with the county, we
concluded that the time and cost of combining the
lots was greater than the benefit, especially in a slow
market. So we designed a narrower home than we
could have designed had we opted to go through
the subdivision process.
The lot sloped front to back. The grade of the
lot made a walk-out basement plan a natural fit.
The lot is close to downtown Bethesda and the
homes throughout the neighborhood are Traditional style homes. So we designed a Traditional style home
with cottage and shake accents on the exterior to
blend into the surrounding neighborhood.
We concluded from our market research and
understanding of our target buyer, that an
open floor plan would be appealing.
Another major design consideration was
creating cost effective finished space to meet
the lenders’ appraisal requirements. Finishing
the basement and the third level achieved this.
Market research also drove us to place the laundry room on the second floor.
This is a convenience the majority of the
target market prefers.
The best view of yard was the back of the
lot, so we placed the family room and kitchen
as well as the master suite on the back of the
home. All views from these rooms face out
to the rear yard. The results is a very bright
and open feeling.
Our goal was to make the home feel as spacious
and roomy as possible, especially considering
that it was a relatively narrow floor plan due
to the self imposed lot constraint. To achieve
this effect we widened hallways, we created a
open loft area at the second floor landing area
and we designed the dining room and living
room to be open to one another, with minimal
wall area. Construction Details
We wanted a low maintenance exterior
so we specified Hardiplank siding and pvc
cornice. The siding was horizontal clapboard
siding with shake style Hardiplank accents at
the gables to add interest.
The finished third level was constructed
using room trusses. This saved money
compared to stick framing this area.
We gave the owner lots of free upgrades
because we wanted the home to show well
to our future prospects (and she is a nice lady).
One of the nice construction details we added
was the stone in the front of the exterior of
the home. We placed flagstone on the walkway
and laid a stone water table to accent the front
elevation. The wood floors were upgraded to three inch oak from 2 ¼” oak.
Montgomery County required installation of
three drywells in the rear yard to contain water
runoff from the home. We used terne standing
seam metal roof on the front elevation to the
Traditional design character. Specific Ways the house satisfied the client
The new home has a wonderful, bright, open floor plan.
It is a great plan for a family with a wonderful rear yard,
a walk-out basement with a ton of natural light,
generous room sizes and very close to all of the restaurants
and shopping downtown Bethesda has to offer.
The clients primary objective was to have house
that fit into the neighborhood and was a good value.
And a home that is marketable. The house was built
affordably and we incorporated design elements into
the home that didn’t cost a premium to build but
result in value. The is very pleased with the design
and the size of house we delivered. Unusual problems encountered and overcome
Originally, the owner purchased the home thinking
she would remodel the 70 +/- year old structure
that was originally on the lot. We actually drew
a full set of plans for a major addition and had
obtained a building permit for the addition.
We quickly performed a “new home” zoning
analysis and created a new home plan that
worked within the setbacks on the one parcel
(so we could avoid the cost and time of a lot
combination thru Park and Planning). We then
pushed through permitting and obtained a
permit for a new home. All of this took only
a few months more time.
List of major manufacturers
Pella WoodMode cabinets
Kohler Plumbing fixtures
Kitchen Aid appliances
Carrier heating and cooling
Hinkley light fixtures
I came across a very interesting Reuters story this month.
In 2009, the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE), a group of savvy real estate investors, plan to increase lending in U.S. real estate by 58%.
More amazing is that they plan on increasing equity investments in U.S. real estate by a whopping 73%!! That’s a huge number.
And are you ready for this? The premier market the group is targeting is … Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. is the BEST market in the world, according to this group.
This is consistent with what I see and experience in the Washington D.C. real estate market.
We have gotten a flood of new home starts in the last few weeks. I think the low rates don’t hurt (So please let me know if you are interested in selling your property).
Two other pieces that in my opinion have had an impact in the last month or so, atleast locally.
First, it sure seems (I’ve not done any analysis, just intuition, and anecdotal evidence from the flood of phone calls we have gotten) that the low rates have made starter home mortgage payments closer to the price of rental homes. And secondly, Montgomery County Maryland has alot of proposed legislation (as usual) that is making home building more restrictive and more costly to obtain permitting. There is a sping deadline for a vote on some of these laws. Give me a call or send an email if you want Park and Planning text of the proposals.
Sure seems to be pretty active new home real estate market from our client base.
Let me know what you think and see out there in the real estate world.
This past Thursday was a whirlwind day for us. HGTV ended up filming three of our projects under construction. Originally they were going to film just two, but we mentioned that in addition to two new custom homes under construction n Bethesda, we had another large home addition starting up right around the corner.
The footage will probably be used at the Builders Show in Las Vegas this week. We’ll let you know if and when it is used for HGTV shows on cable.
Their coming back Monday to finish up filming…so I’ll keep you posted.