Your Building Blog for the Rochester Area

Custom Building in Rochester: Controlling Creeping Cost

Posted by John Graziose on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 @ 09:07 AM

Custom Building in Rochester: Controlling Creeping CostOne of the most prevalent “horror stories” about building a custom home or doing a home remodeling project has to do with homeowners going over budget. That tale of woe is followed closely by stories about projects that took much longer to complete than planned. Sometimes that happens when a homeowner doesn’t take enough time to think through what they really want and need. That may mean adding options later that weren’t in your original budget (here’s a post that deals with that in more detail).

There are some other things that can cause building and renovation projects to exceed their budgets and deadlines—and homeowners often get surprised by these things.

Home Size

It's no surprise that (generally) a bigger house costs more money. Your builder will use more materials and more labor. One housing trend that may be a bit of a surprise for you has to do with the size of homes. For many years new home sizes got gradually bigger and bigger. House sizes took a dip around 2008 but then began edging up again. Around 2013, however, that growth flattened out and actually started down. Instead of focusing so much on the size of their homes, owners were paying more attention to the comfort and quality of their homes. They wanted homes that fit their lifestyles. Here’s an article that talks about the emphasis on better over bigger.

Home Layouts

Size isn’t the only physical characteristic that can affect your building cost. The layout of your home can have an impact as well. Some plans are more expensive to build than others. Here’s a look at the cost difference between building a one-story home, a one-and-a-half- story home, and a two-story home.


Sometimes new homeowners forget that the money they spend on their lot is actually a pretty significant portion of the overall cost of the home. Location and size obviously affect the price of the lot, but the condition of the lot (it's suitability for building) can also affect your cost.


When you’re looking at the finishes for your new house, it can be tempting to add more upgrades than you really need. It’s not that you shouldn’t do it (sometimes it’s the right thing to do), but lots of little upgrades can add up fast. Here’s a post that looks at the surprising impact of both property costs and upgrades.

Scope Creep: Small Changes That Aren’t So Small

This is a problem that hits a lot of homeowners. Part of what makes this issue so insidious is that it doesn’t happen all at once. It tends to creep up on homeowners without them being aware of it. Some builders call it “scope creep” and here’s how it can happen.

It begins when you add “small” features to the plan or contract you’ve already agreed upon with your contractor: “Let’s move that wall 5 inches to the right.” Five inches isn’t much, but sometimes it leads to having to move an outlet. In your kitchen, it could mean moving some plumbing. Or moving the wall may affect the light in the room, so you want to add a window to compensate. What seemed like a really small change can end up having a big impact.

Of course, not every change has major ramifications, but you get the picture. Changes happen in small increments that don’t seem like a big deal. But it can cost you considerably more money and add to the time it takes to complete your project.

How can you avoid scope creep?

Start by paying close attention to the plans you and your builder have created before construction starts so you both know what to expect.  If you feel strongly that something needs to change, talk to your builder about it. Tell him what you want (or don’t want) but don’t dictate the solution. Your builder may come up with an answer that doesn’t cost you more or extend your deadline. When you tell your builder what you want, he’ll probably respond in one of the following ways:

  • Sure, we can do that! Here’s the revised estimate, reflecting the increased cost.
  • No problem! That’s a change we can make, but it will take us an extra week.
  • Yes, that’s something we can do. It will cost you an additional $X and it’s going to take us an additional five days to complete the project.
  • Sorry! If you’re not willing to spend any more money and if you aren’t willing to extend the amount of time it will take to complete, we can’t make this change for you.

Talk to Your Builder and Focus on What You Can Control

Sometimes circumstances beyond anyone’s control (unforeseen increases in material costs) can increase your costs some. Unexpected material shortages or bad weather can cause delays. And sometimes things are just more difficult than expected. But you can avoid the horrors of “scope creep” by maintaining clear communication with your builder.


Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, Staying on budget

What’s the Value of a Home Renovation Project?

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 @ 08:12 AM

Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NY, Home-Renovation, home-remodeling, Remodeling-Rochester-NY, Real-Value-of-Home-RenovationBefore jumping into a home remodeling project many homeowners want to know the value of what they’re getting. That’s smart thinking, but it’s a little bit tricky because you really have to consider value from two points of view. 

On the one hand, you have to evaluate how much enjoyment and comfort you’ll get out of the project. This isn’t just an investment we’re talking about—it’s your home, and you shouldn’t underestimate the value of feeling comfortable, secure and happy in the place where you spend a lot of your time.

On the other hand, your home is probably your single largest investment. If you decide to sell your home in the future, you want to be able to get the most out of it that you can—and that means making improvements that will increase resale value. Here are a few remodeling projects that generate the best return on the money you’ll spend to complete them.

Remodel Your Kitchen. Because the kitchen is the heart and hub of the home, it’s the room that potential buyers pay most attention to. Some reports show that homeowners can recover between 70 to 80 percent of the money they spend remodeling the kitchen. But guess what? You’ll be spending a lot of time in your newly remodeled kitchen as well and you’ll get to enjoy it. So even if the financial payback isn’t quite what the reports project, it will be worth it!

Add Some Living Space. Generally speaking, when you add functional living space to your home, you increase the value. People may have differing tastes when it comes to style, but space is something everyone values. Projects that add useable space hold their value better. If you turn your unfinished basement into an entertainment room or convert your attic into a spare bedroom you may be able to recoup about 75 percent of your cost. Again, think about the benefit you’ll get from this project. What is that worth to you?

Build Out Your Bathroom. Bathroom remodels remain the second most popular remodeling project, partly because these rooms are used frequently! A full remodel of an existing bathroom can pay back approximately 65 percent of the cost. And if you’ve got a growing family, having a fully functional bathroom for the kids (instead of having them share yours) is priceless!

Do a Deck. Many homeowners are surprised at how much value a well-done deck adds to their home. And yet, homeowners who add decks generally recover as much as 85 percent of their investment. One of the nice things about putting on a deck is that it doesn’t disrupt your normal routine as much during the construction process. It’s fairly quick and painless to do. And it’s like adding another “room” to your house at a greatly reduced cost.

So what’s the value of a home renovation project? First and foremost you need to decide what it’s worth to you. How much enjoyment will you derive from it? Will it improve your quality of life? Will it relieve stress? Then consider which projects are most likely to retain the value and appeal to someone who might want to buy your house later. 

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Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Remodeling Rochester NY, home remodeling, Home Renovation, Real Value of Home Renovation

How Can You Plan for Your Rochester Dream Home?

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

 Custom-home-building, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NY, Dream-Home, Staying-on-budgetDream homes don’t just happen over night. They take a lot of planning and there are a ton of details to keep track of. Of course, choosing the right builder can make a lot of those details a lot easier to manage. But even after you’ve found a builder with whom you feel confident, he can’t build your dream home without a plan.

So how do you go about choosing the plan that’s right for you? Some builders will offer you plans that they feel comfortable building.  But is that the right plan for you and your lifestyle?

At Gerber Homes, we think floor plans are a great starting point—but they shouldn’t keep you from building the home that really reflects your personality and lifestyle. That’s why we offer an extensive selection of floor plans that give you lots of choices. Here are just a few:

  • Maybe a Cape home is what you have in mind—but you’re not sure exactly how you want to configure it. We’ll give you five different plans from which to choose.

And each floor plan we offer is customizable with numerous options. Nothing is set in stone until you say so! And if you still don’t find what you’re looking for, you can enjoy the outstanding quality and craftsmanship of a Gerber home.  Just bring in your plans and we can review them together to make your dream home a reality.

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, Staying on budget, Dream Home

Rochester Area Commercial Properties: 50 Years of Experience You Can Trust

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

Gerber-Homes-Family, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NY, Rochester-NY, Experience Many in the Rochester area know Gerber Homes as a builder of quality family residences. That’s not surprising, since we’ve been building our reputation (along with a lot of residential homes!) since 1981. What you may not know is that we’ve also been building quality, innovative commercial projects for more than 50 years.

Gerber Commercial has built and remodeled office space for both the legal and medical professions, in addition to numerous retail establishments, apartment complexes, restaurants and manufacturing/warehousing facilities.

Don’t want to wait to have your commercial property built? Check out our selection of existing commercial properties for purchase or lease. You can even take a virtual tour of the properties you’re considering.

Whether you’re building a home, building an office or looking to buy or lease, you want to deal with people you can trust—people you know will be there for you when you need them. As long-standing members of the Rochester and Finger Lakes Area, we’ll be there for you! We haven’t just been building homes and commercial buildings for the last 50 years—we’ve been building a reputation.  

So whether you’re looking to remodel, expand your business space or start from the ground up, you can trust Gerber to provide the same attention to detail to your commercial property that we give to the homes our friends and neighbors live in.

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Family, Experience

Planning Your Rochester Remodel: Organizing Your Ideas

Posted by John Graziose on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

Gerber-Home-Rochester-NY, Remodeling-Idea-Notebook, Remodeling-Rochester-NY, remodeling-tipsPlanning the remodeling of your Rochester area home can be a lot of fun. At the beginning of the process the sky is the limit. And once your mind is tuned in to the remodeling process, it seems like there are new ideas everywhere you turn.

There are online decorating sites that are chock full of new ideas. Newspaper and magazine ads catch your eye in ways they never used to. And even when you watch television, you find yourself looking at how some TV family has designed their kitchen or family room. Ideas seem to come from everywhere.

That’s part of what makes the remodeling process fun! But it can also be overwhelming.  That’s something we’ve observed as we’ve met and talked with clients during the past 30+ years we’ve been building and remodeling homes in the Rochester area. It’s hard to remember all the good ideas and then sort out the ones that really fit your plan.

How can you remember all those cool ideas—and how can you organize them so that you can access them later? Here’s a tip. Create a Remodeling Idea Notebook. If you’re more of an “analog” person, it can be an actual notebook where you collect ideas and images. If you’re more “digital,” you may want to create a folder on your computer, tablet or smart phone. At this stage, you don’t have to eliminate any ideas. Anything that strikes you as interesting or useful should go into your file.

However, you’ll want to organize your ideas into three categories:

  • Must Have;
  • Nice to Have;
  • If Money Were No Object.

Then when it’s time to create your remodeling budget, you’ll have an easier time deciding which ideas you can act on and which you’ll need to let go. 

Here’s one reason why you don’t want to let go of your ideas too early. You can share your ideas with your designer or builder. We’ve been around the remodeling block a time or two. If you have an idea that you think is too expensive or impractical, we may have a more cost-effective way of making it happen.

If you’d like to talk to someone about your remodeling ideas, call or contact any one of our professional staff. We’ll be happy to help you turn your ideas into reality!


Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Remodeling Rochester NY, remodeling tips, Remodeling Idea Notebook

Choosing a Rochester Area Homebuilder: What Really Matters?

Posted by John Graziose on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

Custom-home-building, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NY, Rochester-NY, Choosing-a-BuilderOnce you’ve decided to build a custom home in the Rochester area, the next big decision you have to make is who is going to build it for you. What really matters when making that decision? Here are a few things that should play a big role in your decision. Year after year, these are the things that homeowners say really matter.

Experience: Maybe you’ve never built a custom home before. That’s not a problem. But when you select your builder you don’t want him learning on the job. There is a lot more involved in building a quality custom home than just hammers, nails, saws, wood, wiring, and plumbing. You will run into unexpected issues and you want to have a builder that has been around the block a time or two and can help you understand the consequences of the decisions you’ll have to make. And that kind of understanding only comes from experience. At Gerber Homes we have three generations of experience, and we’ve worked on more than 3,000 homes. We’ll guide you in the right direction.

What the Neighbors Say: Sometimes you just don’t care what your neighbors say. But when it comes to choosing the right builder, it’s a good idea to solicit their opinion. You’ll want to know what experience your neighbors had with homebuilders in the Rochester area. That means asking potential builders for references from other homeowners in the area. But don’t simply file that information away in a folder. Talk to some of those neighbors and ask them to tell you what it was like to work with this builder. Were they happy with the quality? Did the builder listen to them? How did it go when there were minor setbacks? Did they feel that the builder was responsive? Did he offer good ideas and alternatives?

We’d love to have you hear what our customers say about us!

Your Gut: Don’t be too quick to dismiss your “gut reactions”. You should feel comfortable with your builder because you’ll be spending a lot of time together and some of those times can be a little bit stressful. That’s why it’s important to select someone who genuinely listens to you and understands your concerns. He may not always agree with you—but at least you know your opinion has been heard and considered.

Information: It’s really important that your builder gives you helpful information that makes you feel good about the decisions you make. He shouldn’t make them for you (After all, it’s your home!), but you should feel like you’ve been given the best information possible in order to make a good decision. 

We’ve been building quality homes since 1950 and we’d love to build yours. Shoot us a note and tell us what your dream house looks like. Then let’s talk to see if we’re a good fit for you. Because it’s what you think that really matters!

Bathroom blog

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, Choosing a Builder

4 Things That Affect the Cost of Your Rochester Area Home

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

Cost-of-Building, Custom-home-building, Rochester-NY, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NYIt’s not unusual for someone to ask us what a new custom home in Rochester or the surrounding area will cost. Some people even ask us what the cost per square foot will be. And while knowing what your house is going to cost you before you build it is a really good idea, there’s not a single, simple answer. It’s a little bit like walking into a car dealer and asking a salesman what “a car” will cost. The real answer, of course, depends on exactly what kind of car (or home) you want.

If you ask a salesman at a Ford dealership how much a car costs, he’ll give you a range of prices depending on the model of Ford you want and upon the options you choose. If you ask the same question at a BMW dealership, you’ll also get a varying range of prices depending on the model and the options you specify. But the range at the BMW dealership, will be considerably higher than the range at the Ford dealer.

You’ll have the same kind of experience when pricing homes. Custom homes cost more than standard “tract” homes. And not all custom homes will be the same price, because—well, they’re custom built! But here are several factors that play a major role in determining the cost of your home—whether you’re looking at the cost per square foot, or the total cost.

Complexity: A more intricate home design simply requires more labor. That’s why a simple rectangular house with square corners costs less to build than home with odd angles and 20 different corners. If you’re building on an unusual lot or want to add something such as a steep roof or other custom features, your costs will increase.

Finish: The materials you select for your finish (using wood or stone instead of vinyl on the floors; using granite instead of Formica for countertops; or using tile instead of shingles on the roof) will increase your cost. The number and variety of options you choose will have a direct impact on the cost.

Size and Components: When it comes to building a home, size really does matter. A 6,000 square foot home will cost more than a 2,000 square foot home. We’ve included components in with size because larger homes often include components that aren’t commonly found in smaller homes—such as a three-or-four-car garage. Larger homes are also likely to have additional features such as porches or multiple decks. 

Labor: People who build custom homes generally insist on a higher quality of craftsmanship than you’ll find in mass-produced houses. The features that are built in often require a level of skill that lower-end builders simply can’t afford.

Once you have a pretty good idea of what the specifics are (complexity, level of finish, size/components), shoot us a note. We’d be happy to give you a general range of the cost.

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Saving Money, Custom home building, Cost of Building

Planning Your Custom Home in Rochester: Don’t Forget Storage Space

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

Gerber-Homes-Custom-Home-Builder-in-Rochester-5It’s easy to accumulate “stuff” over time. We all do it. We keep things that have sentimental value. We have items that we only use on special occasions (like holiday decorations).  Some of us have tools or hobby items that don’t get used regularly, but need a place to live.

When building a new home, it’s easy to underestimate how much storage room you’ll really need—or to forget about it entirely. But it’s a great thing to think about early in the planning stages because the additional cost to add storage space is minimal if you let your builder know about it up front. And what’s great about building storage in from the beginning is that your builder can often be creative about finding what otherwise might be unused space and converting it to storage. That’s really nice because it doesn’t take living space away.

You may be able to have storage space built into the side of a stairway. Or, if you’ve got walk-in attic space that’s easily accessible, that’s another option. Your builder may be able to build storage capabilities in between studs in your garage—or in the space above the garage. And don’t forget to ask you builder about taking advantage of space in the basement. 

Your builder may have ideas you’ve never thought about. But the important thing is to think through how much space you’ll need ahead of time and talk to your builder first. Don’t give up precious living space to store stuff you only use occasionally.


Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, home remodeling, Storage

Building Your New Rochester Home: Don’t Let Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Budget

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

 Rochester NY, Under Budget, Custom home building, Gerber Homes Rochester NYEvery now and then as builders we run into a bit of an awkward situation when discussing a new home with a prospective homeowner: The homeowner’s eyes get bigger than his budget and he starts planning features for his new home that he really can’t afford. 

We love to give clients what they want in their homes, but we hate to see the stress it causes them when they get over-extended. How does it happen—and how can you avoid it when you plan your Rochester area home?

It’s really pretty easy to understand how it happens. It’s a little bit like going to a car dealer and planning to buy a nice $30,000 car. You see one you like on the floor, but it’s $34,000.  You test drive it anyway and love it. But of course the cars on the lot are always loaded with options. You get the $2,500 sports suspension package because it handles so well. Then you add $1,000 for the super stereo with satellite radio and MP3/DVD player. Of course the color you like is a custom metallic paint—but it looks so nice.

All of a sudden that $34,000 car is a $45,000 vehicle—and you don’t even remember that you were planning to spend $30,000 when you walked in!

The same thing happens to people planning to build a custom home. They’ve seen cool websites and beautiful magazine photos. They’ve watched TV shows where budgets are never mentioned. And they have lots of great ideas.

However, when they don’t rein in their expectations early in the process it’s easy for them to get into a financially stressful situation. Later they can get really upset over a simple “should do” upgrade that costs them a few hundred dollars.

That’s why it’s critical to have a firm grasp of what your realistic budget is before you get too far into the process. It doesn’t mean you cut corners or try to do things cheaply. But it’s important to communicate with your builder about what you want and to work with him to see if it fits within your budget.

Building a custom home should be a great experience. But knowing you’re in over your head can take the joy out of it. Talk to us about your dream first. We’ll help you build it so that you can enjoy it!

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Saving Money, Custom home building, Staying on budget, Under Budget

Remodeling Your Rochester Bath: What Comes First?

Posted by John Graziose on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 @ 08:09 AM


When it’s time to remodel, the project most homeowners tackle after thekitchen is the bathroom. Maybe that’s because they get more out of that investment when it’s time to resell. Part of it, however, may have to do with the fact that the bathroom (whether it’s a guest bath or a master bath) lend themselves to personal touches and can exude their own personality. 

So what’s the first thing you want to do when remodeling your bathroom? Before you get too wrapped up in picking out fixtures, tile, and color schemes, you’ll want to do some thinking. Thought is the first thing you want to put into your bathroom! Here are a few questions to consider before you delve into the “fun” details. 

  • Who is this bathroom for? Will this be your master bathroom—set aside for your exclusive use? Or will your kids be using this space as well. Do you have enough space to comfortably accommodate everyone?
  • How many sinks do you want? Some people like the look of a single sink. Maybe you do, too, but are you going to be willing to share your sink or would you rather have one for your own use. This can be really important if two of you are trying to get ready for work at the same time in the morning!
  • Do you have adequate counter space? Can your builder “engineer” more space without adding on to the house?
  • Bath or Shower? Do you prefer taking baths or showers? What about both options? Have you thought about including a whirlpool or spa? Do you want your bath/shower in the same space as your sinks—or separate?
  • Have you planned enough storage space? Storage may not be sexy, but later you’ll be really happy you thought about it. Consider things like toiletries, first aid, medication, and cleaning supplies.
  • What about lights? You can vary the lighting for different parts of the bathroom according to what happens there: Brighter lighting for makeup and shaving, and softer lighting for the shower/bathing area.
  • Can you add “green” features? Conserving water and electricity doesn’t have to be a Spartan experience. You can still enjoy comfort and luxury in your bath while being environmentally conscious 

Looking for more ideas you can use for remodeling your bathroom? Download our free 5-page guide, Design the Ultimate Bathroom here!

Bathroom blog

Topics: Rochester NY, bath remodeling Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY

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