a custom home built by norman graham builders

Simple Ways to Save Money While Building a Home

One of the most common questions any homebuilder gets is “How much does a custom home cost per square foot?” Well, it depends. Just as the price of a new car varies with options, a new home’s cost varies based on the features, layout, and materials selected. The good news is that this provides flexibility for experienced homebuilders like Norman Graham Builders to create your dream home within your targeted budget.

If you’re looking to build a new custom home, but are worried about exceeding your budget, read on for advice on some money-saving strategies. The great part about these tips is you won’t be compromising on the home you want!

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3 door garage

5 Simple Garage Door Maintenance Tips

One of the most overlooked maintenance areas of the home is one you probably use the most if you happen to park your vehicle inside a garage. Automatically opening garage doors toil away pretty much unnoticed until something goes wrong, but you can help keep yours running trouble-free by not waiting for a malfunction. Instead, get into the habit of performing a few regular maintenance tasks as you would with any other mechanical device you own. If your garage door is among the neglected hordes, we encourage you to follow the maintenance tips below.

Before you begin, however, we want you to take a few precautions. Be sure to unplug the door opener so the door can’t be activated. Never touch overhead torsion springs, and clamp locking pliers on the roller tracks below the roller before doing any work so the door won’t fall on you. If you’re removing lift cables, make sure to remove tension from the door spring first. Continue reading

open floor plan showing fireplace with tv mounted above

Open Floor Plan – Good or Bad for the Home?

Open floor plans have received a lot more interest in the last several years, with many places of business experimenting with the Google model of open and fun workplaces. But the open plan may make even more sense for private homes. Results from an NAHB survey of home buyers the last two years have revealed that buyers strongly prefer open floor plans for their homes.

As with most design choices, choosing whether to adopt an open floor plan for your new custom home- or remodeling your existing home and including an open floor design- mostly depends on your family’s preferences.

Today we want to help make your decision a little easier by breaking down the pros and cons of choosing an open floor plan. Follow the helpful guide below to decide if an open floor plan is right for you.

Benefits of an open floor plan

Open floor plans offer several benefits to the homeowner. These include: Continue reading

All about Bathroom Ventilation

We all know how good a nice hot shower can feel after a cold Pennsylvania winter’s day. Indoor plumbing and automatically heated water are truly great inventions from the 19th century (the water heater was invented in Pittsburgh in 1889).

Unfortunately, your bathroom may not be enjoying your toasty showers as much as you are. The humidity generated by your hot shower can build up as moisture on the walls and ceiling, and if the room is not suitably ventilated, mold and mildew will form.

How can you prevent this unpleasant prospect? Look no further than your bathroom’s exhaust fan. Tasked with removing excess moisture and smells, the bathroom exhaust fan is your best defense against mold and mildew.

water drops on glass

Preventing moisture buildup in your bathroom is crucial for your families health.

Today’s bathroom ventilation fans come in all shapes and sizes, and offer a few optional features as well. This can make choosing a bathroom fan a bit confusing, so we want to help you make the proper choice.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you choose your new ventilation fan.

How large is my bathroom?

Measure your bathroom and calculate the square footage. For example, a six by six foot bathroom would calculate out to 36 square feet. As a rule of thumb, you should choose a fan with a CFM rating that matches or exceeds the room’s area. So for your 36-square-foot bathroom, a 50 CFM fan would suffice.

For bathrooms with square footage over 100, you should add 50 CFM for each toilet, shower, and bath, and 100 CFM for each whirlpool. One more thing: the rule of thumb above is based on 8-foot ceilings, so if you have a higher ceiling, you’ll need more CFM. Here’s a handy online calculator that takes ceiling height into account. Continue reading

kitchen island

Choosing the Right Countertop – Part II

In our last blog, “Choosing the Right Countertop – Part I,” we broke down several of the most common countertop options to consider when building or renovating your home.

In today’s blog, we’d like to finish simplifying the process of choosing the right countertop for your job. With so many options to choose from, you’ll want to select the one with the features, look, and cost that fit your budget. We hope this list helps you narrow those options down. Continue reading

Choosing the Right Countertop – Part I

Updating or remodeling your kitchen eventually leads to the question, “What should we do about these countertops?” Seasoned professionals like Norman Graham Builders can make suggestions based on our experiences, but the choice ultimately comes down to what countertop you like best.

We’d like to simplify the process for those of you who may not be familiar with all of today’s countertop options. From ceramic tile and concrete to quartz and wood, there are a dozen great options to choose from. Naturally, you’ll want to select the one with the features, look, and cost that fit your budget. Continue reading

bathroom remodel

Bathroom Remodeling & Renovation FAQ

Updating your home is often an adventure– exciting, but fraught with issues and uncertainties. Choosing a trusted partner is the first step in making the process manageable and even enjoyable.

At Norman Graham Builders, we’ve been building custom homes and performing home renovations and remodeling projects in Lancaster County for many years. We’d like to share some of what we’ve learned.

As you look to escape your dark and dingy bathroom from a previous decade, check out the frequently-asked questions below. Once finished, if you think of anything we didn’t cover, give us a call at 717-656-7336 and we’ll be glad to talk.

What’s the best way to choose a contractor for our bathroom remodel?

Start by researching local companies and getting references from clients they’ve done work for. It’s easy to find reviews online. Some great places to start are:

  • Houzz (We’re rated 4.7/5 stars)
  • Facebook (We’re rated 5/5 stars)

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custom kitchen

Hitting the Floor – The Helpful Flooring Buyers Guide

We all know how important the floor is in your home, as it is the only surface you touch every time you enter, and it makes up the largest portion of visible space. Flooring can make your room or date your room (think shag carpets in the ‘70s), as it is the foundation for the entire room’s design. This is why it’s important that flooring be one of your first selections in the planning process, even though it may be one of the last items installed during a new construction or remodeling project.

When discussing flooring options we often hear only the standard debate between hardwood and carpet. This does a disservice to many other fantastic flooring options that are becoming more popular.

In this blog, we’ve broken down flooring options to help assist you in choosing the best flooring for your new custom home or renovation project. Continue reading

Do-It-Yourself Renovation Headaches

hallway under constructionWe all love saving money, but did you know that do-it-yourself renovations can actually end up costing you much more than hiring a professional?

In our experience with hundreds of home renovations throughout Lancaster County, no two renovation projects are alike. Each presents its own unique challenges, so be sure to educate yourself before diving into the unknown.

Here’s a list of some things to consider before jumping into that next home remodel project: Continue reading

5 Ways to Age in Place

Home is where the heart is, so it’s no surprise that most people want to remain in their own home long after retirement. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that living independently at home can become more difficult with each passing year, especially if a spouse passes away.

If you are looking into aging in place for either yourself or a loved one, there are several ways to make it easier on everyone involved. In today’s blog we discuss some home modifications you can make in preparation for living independently well into your senior years. The good news is, these modifications are much cheaper than assisted living communities and their ever-rising healthcare costs!

Each of these modifications comes directly from a livability survey performed by the AARP, which surveyed residents age 50 and older in 11 metropolitan areas across the US, the closest to us being Philadelphia, PA (whose survey actually covered residents aged 45-plus). Continue reading