custom home exterior

How to Spot a Great Custom Home Builder

When shopping for anything, we instinctively try to separate the good from the bad. Experience teaches us that cheaper is not always better, especially when making large purchases like a home or car.

But sometimes it seems we have little to go on besides price. With cars, you can read automotive experts’ opinions, browse websites for customer reviews, and look at frequency of repair records in Consumer Reports. Shopping for a home builder can be much more difficult, however, since there aren’t nearly as many studies, websites, and customers that help review and rank the quality of their work.

This is why we’ve taken some time to establish a list of things you can use to help qualify the homebuilders you’re researching for your new home. Follow this list and it will make choosing the best home builder a simple task and quite possibly save you some expensive headaches later on. Continue reading

custom built rancher

First-Time Home Buyer’s Checklist

Purchasing your first home is an exciting event! Whether you are building your perfect custom home with a trusted name like Norman Graham Builders, or buying a used home, being a first-time home buyer is one of the most memorable experiences you can have.

The first time you go through the home-buying process it may seem a little overwhelming, so we hope to help ease some of that stress by providing this helpful checklist of items to consider when you’re about to make that first purchase. If you’ve bought a home before, consider this a refresher. Continue reading

3 Things to Know about Radon in Pennsylvania

radioactive symbolPerhaps you’re looking to buy or sell a home, and this was the first time you’ve heard the buyer, homebuilder or your realtor discuss radon. Or maybe a neighbor or family member installed a radon mitigation system and now you wonder if you need to worry about one for your own home.

Whatever the case, we’re glad you’re learning about this odorless, invisible, radioactive gas, because nearly 40 percent of homes here in Pennsylvania have radon levels above the EPA’s recommended action level of 4 pCi/Ls (pico-Curies per liter). In fact, of the three radon zones classified by the EPA, Lancaster County and most neighboring counties are in zone 1, which means the predicted average for an indoor radon screening is greater than the recommended 4 pCi/Ls. Continue reading

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

a remodeled bathroom by norman graham builders

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

a kitchen island

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)

Continue reading