Whether your style is classic or modern, old school or high-tech, everyone has dreamt of building their idyllic, one-of-a-kind abode. Maybe it’s the beach cottage in a Nancy Meyers film or a clean-lined staircase from the pages of a design book—inspiration can strike anywhere. But any good builder will tell you that no house can become a reality without the proper foundation. We asked the city’s top builders for their advice on planning your space from start to finish—including all the embellishments to design a home that’s all about you. It’ll make the work of planning feel like, well, playtime.
How are homeowners spending their budgets?
“Outside of structural components, we see a majority of budget going toward premium window and door packages, the kitchen (appliances and finish out), and outdoor environments (cabanas and summer kitchens).” –Mark Danuser, Tatum Brown Custom Homes
“Well, I know the ‘fun stuff’ is the part you see (finishes, furnishings, etc.), but you have to start with the important things: a solid structure, great mechanicals (HVAC, electrical, plumbing), foam insulation, durable and energy-efficient windows, and a great roof.”–Kurt Bielawski, More Design + Build
“The kitchen is the most expensive area to remodel or build. Once the budget is set, I often see clients spend more because there is always something new or better coming out when you’re ready to purchase. For example, a new 18-inch Sub-Zero wine tower that mounts next to the refrigerator offering double storage for wine.” –Mark Molthan, Platinum Series Homes
“Items that make you happy every day when you see them. Luxury is different to everyone.” –Chad Dorsey, More Design + Build
“Budgets should be aligned to fit areas of need and function, such as appliances, cabinetry, flooring, and stone.” –Michael Munir, Sharif & Munir
What trends are you seeing for 2017?
“Special get-away spots: a reading/relaxing room off the master bedroom, a fabulous screen porch in a quiet part of the yard, a nook for kids. Places to get away and turn off the phone.” –Kurt Bielawski
“We are seeing more traditional elements being incorporated within the transitional style—trim detail in entryways, for example.” –Cory Ingram, Douglas Signature Homes
“LED lighting packages are very popular, from accent lighting and advanced dimming features to creating ‘scenes’ for entertaining and everyday living.” –Mark Danuser
“The open concept is done. Fewer people are interested in seeing the mess from the kitchen from the living space. We’re seeing more delineated spaces.” –Chad Dorsey
“Garages can’t be big enough.” –Mark Molthan
Any new materials you’re excited about?
“Thermally engineered woods, like Thermoly, and products that don’t shrink or warp are good substitutes for exotic woods used for decks. In home building, lap siding and board and batten are making a huge comeback—siding has improved dramatically.” –Mark Molthan
Start with a good plan, then add the doorbells and whistles to make it Yours.
“Believe it or not, there are some amazing granites in a range of colors. We are ready for something more than white in our kitchens and bathrooms.” –Chad Dorsey
“Thin porcelain floor tiles that look like stone, polished concrete, or even wood are amazing and available in large-format sizes and great price points. They’re a real game changer, especially in modern homes.” –John Sebastian, Sebastian Construction Group
“Tesla has created solar shingles—the solar panel created in individual shingles—resulting in a more affordable and aesthetically pleasing way to harness solar power to power your home.” –Mark Danuser
Any new features/spaces/styles making a comeback?
“We are going to see brick exteriors make a comeback—in modern and traditional homes. We have gone through two or three decades of stone exteriors in Dallas, and I think people are starting to look for something different and more timeless.” –John Sebastian
“Bars continue to be popular requests.” –Kurt Bielawski
“We are starting to see a trend back toward more subtly traditional features—a more modern interpretation of Georgian, Colonial styles. The traditional study seems to be making its way back into architectural plans, too, but as more multifunctional space that includes a lounge or bar area.” –Mark Danuser
What are you ready to say goodbye to?
“White painted exteriors and gray interiors. They are a dime a dozen.” –Cory Ingram
“Whether it is a material or a style, the problem is usually that things get used in formulaic ways. When something is everywhere, it’s time for a new way of doing it.” –Kurt Bielawski
“The Texas rubble stone on the mini-mansions has been way overused by spec builders. It will be very easy to date these houses 30 years from now.” –John Sebastian
What are homeowners asking for in exteriors?
“Using landscaping as a way to incorporate texture and added color around a home can really bring a home’s exterior to life. And it is a great way to create outdoor living spaces—like an open patio area in the front of the home.” –Mark Danuser
“We’ve done a lot of phantom screens for outdoor porches and patios in the last year—kind of the best of both worlds.” –Kurt Bielawski
“Water features—and not just traditional swimming pools— but reflecting pools integrated into the design of the house, water rills running through the site, and fountains of various types.” –John Sebastian
What should a homeowner consider when making a technology plan?
“The most important thing for anyone to consider is how you want your technology to serve you. Your home’s technology should be designed to respond to the way you live, not the other way around.” –Daniel Pidgeon, Starpower
“There are lots of do-it-yourself products out there. With whole-home automation, it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable integrator. This is key in a seamless experience.” –Steve Elliston, Elliston Systems and Design
While building or remodeling, when should one consider the technology plan?
“Technology should be considered early in the building or remodeling process. Some questions are not so obvious, like ‘Where do we put all of the gear?’ It may seem silly, but we have seen multi-million-dollar homes that fail to consider where to place racks of equipment. Moreover, many of these items require proper ventilation that need to be engineered into the design.” –Daniel Pidgeon
What should take priority in your tech plan?
“Typically, we begin with the client’s interests and desires and build from there. We are seeing an uptick in LED lighting and motorized shades, in addition to the traditional A/V needs. We’re also seeing a renewed interest in private cinemas.” –Steve Elliston
“You should prioritize based on how you use your home. For example, most people only use a few rooms. Wiring those few rooms is a good way to prioritize budget.” –Daniel Pidgeon